Leonard Cohen & Elton John Duet – Born To Lose

Elton John Does Duets

In 1993, Elton John released Duets, an album comprising 15 songs, each performed by Elton John and a different duet partner,1 including such notables as Kiki Dee, whose 1976 duet with Elton John, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” marked the zenith of her career, Gladys Knight, with musical accompaniment by Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Tammy Wynette, Bonnie Raitt, Tammy Wynette, RuPaul, and – most pertinently for our purposes – the Canadian singer-songwriter (but not yet icon) Leonard Cohen.

Born To Lose

“Born To Lose”  was written and first performed by Ted Daffan in 1942. Daffan’s songwriting skills surpassed Cohen’s in at least one category: velocity.  While Cohen labored over songs like “Hallelujah” for a year or two, Daffan observed,

If I have to fool around with a song for a day or two, I might as well forget it because it won’t be any good anyway.2

“Born To Lose” has been incredibly popular with music fans and other artists. In 1982, “Born to Lose” went platinum and Daffan himself noted

“Born To Lose” [was] my main money support most of my life. I have 141 singles and albums with ‘Born to Lose’ and I don’t have them all.3

Among those who have covered “Born To Lose” are   Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Don Gibson, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Bobby Goldsboro, Pete Fountain, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Everly Brothers, Jean Sheppard, Ray Price, George Jones, Pattie Page, Slim Whitman, Willie Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald, Jerry Lee Lewis, Boots Randolph, Eddy Arnold, Conway Twitty, and Johnny Rodriguez.

Elton John And Leonard Cohen Sing Born To Lose

While not a classic in either John’s or Cohen’s repertoire, “Born To Lose” does, to my ear, does fit especially well with Cohen’s voice and style and this joint performance qualifies as at least a guilty pleasure for listener4 and a reminder of the debt, often overlooked by fans, both singers acknowledge owing to country music.

Elton John & Leonard Cohen- Born To Lose (1993)

Video from mrseltonjohnII


Credit Due Department: Heck Of A Guy was alerted to this video by Sally Hunter.

  1. The complete set list of Duets  follows:
    1. Teardrops – Elton John, k.d. lang
    2. When I Think About Love (I Think About You) – Elton John, P.M. Dawn
    3. The Power – Elton John, Little Richard
    4. Shakey Ground – Elton John, Don Henley
    5. True Love – Elton John, Kiki Dee
    6. If You Were Me – Chris Rea, Elton John
    7. A Woman’s Needs – Elton John, Tammy Wynette
    8. Old Friend – Elton John, Nik Kershaw
    9. Go On And On – Elton John, Gladys Knight
    10. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John, RuPaul
    11. Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing – Elton John, Marcella Detroit
    12. I’m Your Puppet – Elton John, Paul Young
    13. Love Letters – Bonnie Raitt, Elton John
    14. Born To Lose – Elton John, Leonard Cohen
    15. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Elton John, George Michael
    16. Duet For One – Elton John []
  2. Daffan’s biography at Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame []
  3. Daffan’s biography at Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame []
  4. How could a Cohen fan not appreciate his final camped up line, “”Born to lose, and now Elton, I’m losin’ you?” []

One response to “Leonard Cohen & Elton John Duet – Born To Lose

  1. Christine Roberts

    Leonard is superb here and I suppose Elton is okay….I think.