10 Unbelievable Secrets About Leonard Cohen

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Why Are These Revelations About Leonard Cohen Missing From Other Web Sites?1

While some are perhaps satisfied to keep the Earth’s environment stable by living green, DrHGuy perceives his responsibility to rest on a higher plane.  Specifically, DrHGuy recognizes that yesterday’s post, Ten Lesser Known Facts About Leonard Cohen, enlarged the total knowledge distributed throughout the cosmos   in a quantity equivalent to the sum of transmitted information units multiplied by the number of readers.

Without a counterbalance, this increase in human cognition could place the precariously maintained balance of the universe in jeopardy of gyrating into sequential harmonic vibrations which could lead to a catastrophe of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure sort 2 but on a celestial scale.


Leonard Cohen Facts (In A Parallel Universe, Possibly)

Consequently, to re-stabilize the cosmic knowledge flux equilibrium, today’s post lists ten Leonard Cohen items (plus bonus) that are so-called fakes but would be way cool if they were true.

1. The inspiration for the Leonard Cohen song, “Suzanne,” was actually Dolly Parton

Her service as Cohen’s muse was kept secret because of her personal respect for and professional dependence on her partner at that time, Porter Wagoner.

Also, the line from “Suzanne” that reads “And she feeds you tea and oranges” was originally “And her breasts are big as melons.”

Some psychoanalysts, in fact, have maintained that while Cohen was genetically predisposed to recurrent melancholic episodes, it was the existential angst he experienced subsequent to this introduction of “oranges” into the song’s rhyme scheme that exacerbated his depressive symptoms to the point that his despondency became a dominant force in every aspect of his life.

2. “Take This Waltz” was originally “Take This Waltz & Shove It”

Frustrated by his difficulty in learning to dance and embarrassed by the jokes made at his expense (e.g., “I guess that ‘end of love’ thing came along quicker than you expected, eh?,”)  Cohen responded by composing an embittered bit of doggerel called “Take This Waltz and Shove It.” It was only years later, after Cohen was hired to write an advertising jingle for the Arthur Murray Dance Studios, that he recalled his earlier sardonic verse and revised it into the song now known as “Take This Waltz.”

3. Leonard Cohen’s music is embedded in the core Linux source code

Linus Torvalds, the engineer who initiated the development of the Linux operating system, attributes his technological breakthrough to the imagery of Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire” performed at a concert in Finland.

Coincidentally, Cohen, who writes computer graphics programs as a break  from the rigors of creating poetry and music, contributed the final lines of code for Linux 0.11, the first self-hosted Linux release.

4.Leonard Cohen wails on “You Make Me Wanna Walk Like A Camel”

Despite the impressive quality and quantity of erotic music and poetry Cohen has himself written, he often uses the words and melodies of others in his own intimate moments. He favors songs by Boyce and Hart, The B-52’s, Meatloaf, Led Zeppelin, and Neil Diamond, among others, but has displayed a special predilection at such times for growling these lines from the Southern Culture On The Skids track, “Camel Walk:”

Little Debbie, Little Debbie
I’m a comin on home, baby, ’cause you make me wanna walk
Like a camel, OWWWW WEEE

To which, one can only add,  Gracious.

5. Leonard Cohen wrote “Hallelujah” by mistake

Cohen composed the signature song, “Hallelujah,” as a result of his misunderstanding of the limited nature of the expectations implicit in the “Do-It-Yourself” part of an invitation to the “Do-It-Yourself Messiah.”

6. Leonard Cohen had a significant, if little talked about, career in TV

The story about Cohen’s inheritance was a face-saving device. Other than a few dollars earned publishing his poetry and the occasional commission as a model for Karoll’s Red Hanger Shops, Cohen supported himself during the early part of his career by working, under assumed names, in the TV industry.

In this role, Leonard Cohen not only polished the lyrics (uncredited) of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme,3 but also played many minor roles on the series, usually being ambiguously listed in the credits (for example, “Cannibal #2″ or “Angry Headhunter”). He did, however, audition for the role of Thurston J. Howell III, losing that part to Jim Backus and triggering a lifelong feud so intense that Cohen once demolished a TV playing a Mr. Magoo cartoon.

Cohen  also provided the voice of Grandfather Clock on Captain Kangaroo, played a number of interchangeable befuddled government officials on I Dream of Jeannie, and, had Bewitched been renewed one more season, could well have been the third Darrin on that show.

7. “I’m Your Man” was commissioned as  the flip side of “Stand by Your Man”

“I’m Your Man” was initially envisioned as the counterpoint piece to complement Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man” in a call and response combination. Artistic differences between the two singers resulted in a premature termination of the project. Loath to waste the work he had already put into the song, Cohen finally completed the lyrics and music but was never able to heal the breach with Tammy.

8. Leonard Cohen’s TV stardom was thwarted by his predilection for Mock Swedish dialect

To this day, the producers of Miami Vice are mystified by Cohen’s polite but adamant refusal to follow the script for his role on that show.4 Because of his persistent use of Mock Swedish rather than French, as called for in the screenplay, Cohen’s lines spoken in his role as Director of the French Secret Service required expensive re-dubbing and resulted in the producers eliminating most of his scenes.

Cohen’s responses to queries about this issue have been enigmatic, perhaps because they have also been phrased in Mock Swedish.5

9. Elvis Presley and Leonard Cohen were barbershop buddies in more ways than one

Although Leonard Cohen and Elvis Presley were never close friends, they were contemporaries and, for a span of a few months, frequented the same Nashville barbershop, where they would talk sports while waiting their turns with the barber.

As it turns out, both harbored, unknown to the other, a secret passion for barbershop music, and each sang in barbershop quartets. Elvis was a fixture with the Melody Masters Of Music while Leonard routinely donned his striped vest, armbands, and straw hat to harmonize with the Southern Squires Singing Society.

10. The real events concerning Leonard Cohen, Phil Spector, and the gun is even odder than the official story – which is pretty odd itself

New evidence has come to light that contradicts Cohen’s description of the Phil-Spector-With-A-Gun episode. The following account is representative of the several similar renditions previously published:

Cohen would later recall how on one occasion in the studio Spector approached him with a bottle of Manischewitz (Jewish ceremonial wine) in one hand and a pistol in the other, placed his arm around Cohen’s shoulder, shoved the gun in his neck and said: ”Leonard, I love you.” Cohen, with admirable aplomb, moved the barrel away, saying: ”I hope you do, Phil.”6

A sound technician who reports being present during the confrontation and claims to have been paid to remain silent has now come forth with his story, apparently because of the publicity generated by Spector’s murder trial. In this version of the incident, Spector, frustrated with the lack of progress being made on the album, had fired several shots at windows and furniture and then approached Cohen with a gun pointed toward the singer. Cohen, rather than retreating, took a step forward, executed a devastating flying knee strike, dropping Spector, now barely conscious, to the ground and disarming him. Cohen then, according to the alleged witness, ”

… picked Spector up like a rag doll, applied a chokehold, and, just before Spector passed out, quietly said, ‘Phil, you don’t point guns at people you love. If you ever do anything like that again, I’m going to seriously fuck you up.’7

After Spector regained consciousness, the official story was concocted and the witness paid off to maintain everyone’s public image.

Bonus Fictoid

11. Currently, Leonard Cohen’s favorite after-dinner pastime is playing Strip Rock-Paper-Scissors with Anjani while sipping a decent Pinot Noir


Recent Posts Containing Leonard Cohen Information Also Not Found On Those Other Web Sites Limited To Facts:

  1. “Other web sites,” of course, are defined as those that unimaginatively limit themselves to facts about Leonard Cohen. []
  2. Video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure, the Tacoma Trailer as it were, is available at Tacoma Bridge Collapse. []
  3. Cohen changed, for example, the phrase, “an indeterminate period of time contingent on scheduling availability of local stations,” to the more easily vocalized “three hour tour.” He also successfully argued that meter trumped historical accuracy and that, consequently, “Crusoe” in the phrase, “Like Robinson Crusoe,” should be pronounced as “Caruso” []
  4. Update: see Leonard Cohen, Miami Vice Guest Star []
  5. In a recent interview, the reporter transliterated Cohen’s explanation of his dialog choice on the Miami Vice episode thusly:

    On Meeemi Feece-a, I ves Frunçooees Zulun,zee Durectur ooff zee French Secret Serfeece-a. Ooff cuoorse-a, I vuoold nut speek French. Thet vuoold refeel my identeety. Bork bork bork! I ves undercufer, deesgooised es zee Svedeesh Cheff. []

  6. Ten Lesser Known Facts About Leonard Cohen []
  7. Careful questioning of the witness reveals that Cohen actually said,

    Pheel, yuoo dun’t pueent goons et peuple-a yuoo lufe-a. Iff yuoo ifer du unytheeng leeke-a thet egeeen, I’m gueeng tu sereeuoosly foock yuoo up.

    This may explain why the testimony of this supposed witness was initially considered dubious by some authorities. []

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