Billy Joel’s "Light As The Breeze" Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox


Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: In interviews through the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a handful of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Heck Of A Guy feature playing those tunes for your edification and entertainment.

Billy Joel Covers Leonard Cohen’s “Light As The Breeze”

tower_of_songtrib150Billy Joel’s version of “Light As The Breeze” is his contribution to Tower Of Song, a 1995 collection of Cohen’s tunes covered by artists such as Willie Nelson, Sting, Bono, and Peter Gabriel.1

It also appears on Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volume III.

Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen Covers

Leonard Cohen is notoriously positive toward versions of his songs performed by others. As Cohen himself points out,

But as for myself, whenever I hear anybody do one of my songs my critical judgments go into immediate suspended animation. I’m just knocked out when anybody does a cover of mine.

This blanket endorsement is hardly equivalent to his specific praise for songs such as  “Unchained Melody” or “Blueberry Hill,” the tunes featured in the first two Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox posts; consequently not every cover of “Hallelujah,” for example, will appear in this series.

In those instances in which Cohen unmistakably lauds a specific cover, however, the admittedly subjective criterion for inclusion of a song on this list would seem to be met.

With that in mind, consider …

Leonard Cohen On Billy Joel’s “Light As The Breeze”

From KCRW Interview With Leonard Cohen2

I think there are songs that are better done than I have done them. Just more successful versions of the songs that I have done. For instance, We were talking about “Billy Joel’s Light As A Breeze.” I think it’s a much much better version of the one I came up with.

Billy Joel – Light As The Breeze

Bonus: Leonard Cohen – Light As The Breeze


Credit Due Department
I was first alerted to the unanticipated  (by me, at least) Lenny likes Billy’s cover phenomenon by UrPal at LeonardCohenForum.

Other Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Posts

All posts featured in the Heck Of A Guy Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at the end of the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

  1. Tower Of Song Track List:
    1. “Everybody Knows” – Don Henley
    2. “Coming Back to You” – Trisha Yearwood
    3. “Sisters of Mercy” – Sting with The Chieftains
    4. “Hallelujah” – Bono
    5. “Famous Blue Raincoat” – Tori Amos
    6. “Ain’t No Cure for Love” – Aaron Neville
    7. “I’m Your Man” – Elton John
    8. “Bird on a Wire” – Willie Nelson
    9. “Suzanne” – Peter Gabriel
    10. “Light as the Breeze” – Billy Joel
    11. “If It Be Your Will” – Jann Arden
    12. “Story of Isaac” – Suzanne Vega
    13. “Coming Back to You” – Martin Gore []
  2. Interview by Chris Doritos, KCRW-FM, Los Angeles, February 18, 1997 []

0 responses to “Billy Joel’s "Light As The Breeze" Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

  1. Hmm, I think Leonard’s version (and I may be partial here for I really love the original) goes much better with the emotion.
    Somehow B.J. seems more occupied with the music than with the lyrics – which is probably the thing Cohen appreciates in other singers, that they “carry the tune” ;) So, B.J. does a grand job especially towards the ending when it gets all pompous and blueslike. Yet, it is also true that the lyrics could be about anything I think (Popsicles?).
    So, as for me, I think Leonard’s desperate rasping is just what the song needs. So, he is the one on my jukebox for Light As The Breeze ;), although I got lots of covers on it too.

    • The Lenny Likes Billy’s Light As The Breeze phenomenon is, as far as I can determine, an example of

        Leonard works in a mysterious way
        His wonders to perform.

      The assessment of the Billy Joel version by the fan who originally told me about Cohen’s approving reference to it is, in fact, more negative than yours. And, this probably won’t be the only Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox selection that seems a tad perplexing to some of us.

  2. Okay, then I can be more explicit:
    B.J. can sing but his version sucks! :)

    Thanks for the reply and all those interesting tidbits of information – you really make life easy for any Cohenite ;)

  3. I like it! The atmosphere of B.J. recording is very similar to Cohen version. And I feel more emotions in this. I really, really like it. I don’t know if it’s better (in my opinion) after 15 years of being used to original, but I enjoy it very much.