Just To Make It Official: Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen
Well, at least every Cohenthusiast knows that Leonard Cohen was born September 21, 1934.
The question, however, is – are you prepared?
Growing up in the Bible belted-and-suspendered Ozarks, I heard the following question repeatedly proposed from the church pulpit and the Sunday School lectern: “What would you do if Jesus came to your house today?”
Well, the truth is I would have been creeped out, especially if he didn’t call first, but I understood the message underlying this query: we should live our lives in such a Christian manner that we would be prepared if Jesus dropped in for a visit to the point that the only change we would need to make would be frying up an extra pork chop for dinner.
I now find it more pleasant and enlightening to ask myself “What would you do if Leonard Cohen came to your house today?”1
Given that today is his birthday, a host would surely want to acknowledge that with a celebratory ceremony of some sort, but a generic funny hats and gag gift sort of affair just doesn’t seem to fit and, as far as I know, Hallmark doesn’t yet sell a Leonard Cohen birthday pack with paper plates, napkins, cups, and decorations all coordinated in a “Tower of Song” theme.
Stepping into the breach, the Heck of a Guy blog is proud to offer the
Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit2
For the natal day entrée, the kit provides a uniquely Cohenesque dish. As Anjani Thomas noted in a Pitchfork interview, Leonard Cohen is “the only man I know who pairs Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a 1982 Chateau La Tour.”
And what could more effectively insure festiveness than a pitcher or two of Red Needles, the cocktail concocted by Leonard Cohen himself in Needles, California and the fuel that drove the process that created his album, The Future? The recipe, according to the authoritative LeonardCohenFiles, calls for Tequila, Cranberry juice, Lemon (and/or exotic fruits), and ice. As indicated in the lower right corner of the graphic, the hard core Cohenistas may well wish to pop for the deluxe edition of the kit, which includes the services of the drink’s creator as bartender.
This 2007 version of the kit also contains 73 of those thin green candles.3
Finally, perhaps the trickiest question is what music does one play for Leonard Cohen’s party. An all-Cohen-all-the-time playlist smacks a tad too much of pandering, but blasting the kids’ hip-hop repertoire seems even riskier. Happily, Leonard has several times expressed his appreciation of one song appropriate to the occasion, noting, for example, in Martin Oestergaard’s interview, Leonard Cohen Gave Me 200 Franc, One of the greatest songs in history is “Blueberry Hill.’” “The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill.” I would be happy to have written that line.
All that’s left is the host issuing a heart-felt
Happy Birthday, Leonard
Bonus September 21st Trivia: Not Everyone Knows that September 21st is also
… the birthday of many other famous, infamous, & not so famous folks:4
- 1328 – Hongwu Emperor of China (d. 1398)
1411 – Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, claimant to the English throne (d. 1460)
1415 – Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 1493)
1912 – Chuck Jones, American animator (d. 2002)
1931 – Larry Hagman, American actor
1935 – Henry Gibson, American actor
1940 – Bill Kurtis, American television journalist
1947 – Stephen King, American author
1950 – Bill Murray, American actor
1967 – Faith Hill, American singer
1967 – Tyler Stewart, Canadian drummer (Barenaked Ladies)
1968 – Ricki Lake, American actress and talk show hostess
… and the date of several historical events of varying significance:
- 1745 – Battle of Prestonpans: A Hanoverian army under the command of Sir John Cope is defeated, in ten minutes, by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart
1765 – Antoine de Beauterne announces he had killed the Beast of Gévaudan, but was later proved wrong by more attacks.
1780 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.
1792 – The French National Convention votes to abolish the monarchy.
1827 – According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the angel Moroni gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Joseph translated into The Book of Mormon.
1981 – Belize is granted full independence from the United Kingdom.
1970 – The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets at Cleveland Municipal Stadium 31-20 on the first edition of Monday Night Football.
On a personal note, on this September 21st, I am finally coming to grips with the September 21, 1989 breakup of The Bangles, best known for “Walk Like An Egyptian” and “Manic Monday.”5_____________________
- Of course, the even more difficult question would be, “What if Leonard Cohen and Jesus came to your house today?” [↩]
- Note: The Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit is also certified for celebrating the songwriter’s birthday in his absence or, if one prefers, ones own birthday, or the birthday of Jesus. [↩]
- Hmmm. I just realized that if Leonard Cohen came to my house on this, his 73rd birthday, he would be the one with Anjani, and I would be the one with the walker. [↩]
- Source: Wikipedia [↩]
- Source: Streaming Oldies [↩]