Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

- Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a handful of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Heck Of A Guy feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

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And Tell Tchaikovsky The News

Song By Prize-winning Chuck Berry Added To Favorites Of Prize-winning Leonard Cohen

As foreplay for the  February 26, 2012 ceremony at which PEN New England will bestow their first annual Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award on Chuck Berry and Leonard Cohen,1 Heck Of A Guy is is extraordinarily happy to add Chuck Berry’s classic “Roll Over Beethoven” to the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series.

This excerpt from Leonard Cohen shows there’s life in the old dog yet with launch of new album by Alex Needham (The Guardian, 18 January 2012), the report on Jarvis Cocker’s Jan 18, 2012 interview with Leonard Cohen,2 evidences Cohen’s approbation of Berry’s iconic tune:

The Pulp frontman [Jarvis Cocker] finished by asking how Cohen felt about being awarded the PEN New England award for literary excellence in song lyrics.

“The thing I liked about this award was that I’m sharing it with Chuck Berry,” said Cohen. “‘Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news’ – I’d like to write a line like that.”3

Chuck Berry – Roll Over Beethoven 1972

  1. The 3 PM (Eastern) ceremony will take place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a live webcast of the program will be shown at the JFK Library’s website at www.jfklibrary.org/webcast. See Leonard Cohen To Attend PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award Ceremony []
  2. Quoted in  Jarvis Cocker & Leonard Cohen Discuss Pen New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award []
  3. As ongoing readers may recall, this is not the first classic rock and roll line Leonard Cohen has wished he could emulate. In Leonard Cohen: Love’s Hard Man by Alan Franks (The Times Magazine, 13 October 2001), for example, Cohen discusses this (misidentified) Fats Domino lyric:

    When I ask him which songs he is most pleased with, he doesn’t name any of his own but quotes the Fats Waller1 standard: ‘The Moon stood still on Blueberry Hill.’

    “If I thought I could write lines like that, I’d be more than happy.”

    See “Blueberry Hill” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox []

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