Leonard Cohen Getting His Licks In1
Upon receiving this photo of Leonard Cohen from Christine Geyer, I instantly sensed there was something special about it.
Note the respect, gratification, and bemusement reflected in Cohen’s aspect as he contemplates the frozen novelty treat.
This is something more than appreciation for a “frozen drink on a stick,” despite that snack’s undeniable appeal.
Inspiration In A Variety Of Flavors
After many seconds of reflection, the possibility that the ice pop could have been Cohen’s source of a fundamental set of imagery in his music and poetry became unavoidable. Consider, for example, the opening lyrics to “Lullaby,” the unreleased song Cohen has been singing at his recent concerts:
I can’t break the code
of our frozen love.
It’s too late to know
what the password was.
The phrase, “frozen love,” was also used in “The Window:”
O chosen love, O frozen love
O tangle of matter and ghost.
O darling of angels, demons and saints
and the whole broken-hearted host
If “frozen love” isn’t the musicological equivalent of a popsicle, I don’t know what is.
But there’s more. A partial list2 follows (all bold emphasis mine):
…And my heart is like ice. / And it’s crowded and cold / In My Secret Life (My Secret Life)
…it’s a cold and it’s a lonely Hallelujah! (Hallelujah)
…I’m cold as a new razor blade / You left when I told you I was curious / I never said that I was brave / O you are really such a pretty one / I see you’ve gone and changed your name… (So Long, Marianne)
…and the cold is running thin. / Well, what do you expect from / the kind of places you’ve been living in? / Don’t drink from that cup, / it’s all caked and cracked along the rim. /… (Dress Rehearsal Rag)
…and ice upon my soul, / lead on, my son, it is your world. (The Butcher)
Investigating Cohen’s Cold Case Files
Forming an international task force to investigate this hypothesis, Ms Geyer and Heck Of A Guy operatives unearthed from a Montreal warehouse, otherwise filled with a strange assortment of garbage and flowers, a wad of papers that first appeared to be no more than a batch of opened Popsicle wrappings that somehow didn’t make it to a trashcan.
Closer analysis, however, identified fragments of writing, which, when reconstituted by the Heck Of A Guy Lab’s CSI Physics-Defier Plot Device 734XL, yielded the earliest known manuscript of what would become the lyrics to “Everybody Knows.” Although the words vary significantly from the final version of the song, the parallels are unmistakable.
Click on images for best viewing.
For clarity, a transcription is provided:
Everybody licks raspberry ‘sicles
Everybody licks lime and pistachio
Everybody licks blueberry and chocolate
Even with a mustachio.
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many flavors you just had to eat
You must come quick,
I’ll give you one more lick.
Everybody licks, everybody licks
When it drips it sticks
So everybody licks
Everybody licks, everybody licks
To get their kicks
In confirmation, an extended exploration of the same area turned up this contemporary photo of Cohen …
… and on another wrapper, these few lines which constitute the link between “Everybody Licks” and “Everybody Knows:”
The transcription follows:
Does everybody lick?
Does everybody know everybody licks?
Of course, Everybody Knows
Frozen Assets Excavation Ongoing
In the course of this investigation, other frozen concoction-related artifacts were discovered. A torn wrapper with only the title and first lines of “Licks Just Keep Getting Harder To Find,” for example, has been forwarded to the Institute For Advanced Monkees Research for verification.
Most intriguing, however, is this video, which appears to show music being emitted from a primitive device somewhat similar to a compact disk of the sort used by earlier generations.
Scholars are now debating the fine points, but it now seems likely that the song itself, by Jan and Dean (code names for the Sisters of Mercy?), is actually an homage to Leonard Cohen.
Jan and Dean – Popsicle Man
Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post taken by Darcy Hemle