Qualities Shared By PEN Lyrics Award Winners Leonard Cohen & Chuck Berry – Seniority, Bolo Ties, Cool Hats

The PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award Cohen-Berry Criteria

In his acceptance speech at the Kennedy Library February 26, 2012, Leonard Cohen claimed he and Chuck Barry were chosen as the first recipients of the PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award1 on “the basis of seniority.”2

While others may be willing to take this at face value, that’s not how we roll at The Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency.3

Consequently, while I hesitate to disagree with this site’s icon of choice, I am obligated to point out that he – and the many periodicals, broadcast stations, and online sites reporting on this event – have inexplicably overlooked two other rather obvious attributes common to both him and the Father of Rock and Roll that were either coincidences on a cosmic scale or, one must assume, weighed in the judges’ decision to confer this honor upon them:  their respective signature hats and, of course, their bolo ties.4

And the perfect accessory to set off those bolo ties and hats?

Yep, a big ol’ shiny medal from those nice folks at PEN New England.

How To Win The PEN Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award

So, for all you aspiring PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award winners, Heck Of A Guy offers these recommendations based on the Cohen-Berry Criteria:

  1. Do not, advice from The Who notwithstanding, die before you get old.
  2. Wear a hat that fits your style.
  3. Drape a nifty bolo tie around your neck.
  4. Write exquisitely evocative song lyrics.
  1. Wouldn’t you think that an organization of “poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists” could come up with a name for their prize that flows off the tongue more trippingly than “The PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award?” []
  2. Seniority in songwriting may not an altogether displeasing notion for Leonard Cohen, who has previously stated his preference for songs featuring voices of experience. In an interview with Mark Binelli for Rolling Stone in 2001, for example, he said,

    Have you heard George Jones’ last record, Cold Hard Truth? I love to hear an old guy laying out his situation. [emphasis mine] []

  3. The Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency is a privately-funded organization dedicated to the rectification of inaccuracies promulgated by Leonard Cohen, no small task given the Canadian singer-songwriter’s admission that “I don’t want to let  the facts get in the way of the truth.” The most recent previous Leonard Cohen Corrections Agency post is available at The Case Of Suzanne Vs Volvo. []
  4. See Up Close With Leonard Cohen And His Bolo Tie []

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