Story Of Leonard Cohen’s Bracelet Revealed – By Leonard Cohen

Yesterday”s post, Speculations On Leonard Cohen’s Bracelet, featured what appears  to be a silver-colored chain link ID bracelet that is seen on Leonard Cohen’s left wrist in several photos taken in 1978 and 1979 but not in earlier or subsequent photos.

The bracelet, seen in close-up below, was first noticed by Arlene Dick, who posted it at LeonardCohenForum with following text:

This wonderful photo was included in a Google alert recently and the bracelet caught my eye immediately. Several members of my family, including sonLeonard, wear a Medic Alert bracelet that looks similar. Is this a Medic-Alert bracelet?

After a round of online research, I proposed a more exotic hypothesis, supported exclusively by my desire for it to be true – I suggested the item could be a privately purchased military identification bracelet belonging to Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan Cohen, served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I. As noted in yesterday’s post,

While the Canadian armed forces did not officially issue metal ID bracelets when Nathan Cohen was an officer, many soldiers of the era obtained “private purchase” ID bands.1  An example of an ID bracelet that had belonged to a Canadian soldier during World War that I found at an auction site is shown below.

And The Answer Is …

This morning I found the following from Leonard Cohen:

The Military ID Bracelet Hypothesis

Now, what if that  pistol wasn’t the only World War I souvenir Leonard Cohen found among his father’s belongings?

While the Canadian armed forces did not officially issue metal ID bracelets when Nathan Cohen was an officer, many soldiers of the era obtained “private purchase” ID bands.

[The above lines of Leonard Cohen’s email are quoted from the “Speculations On Leonard Cohen’s Bracelet” post.]

Yes, Doctor, that’s it.

It was given to him by his father Lyon Cohen whose name was engraved on the back.

I wore it until I lost it.

There was a damaged link which I failed to repair.

I still miss it.

Warmest to you and the Duchess,


That is, I maintain, a touching story that might  never have been brought to light if Arlene Dick hadn’t noticed the bracelet in that photo and wondered what it was, if my ADHD pathology hadn’t propelled a search of almost-relevant topics, and if Leonard Cohen hadn’t taken the time he should be spending in preparation for his impending Tour to fill us in on hitherto unknown part of his life.

Way cool.

  1. Identifying the Dead: a Short Study of the Identification Tags of 1914-1918 is not only the reference for the footnoted issue at hand but also a surprisingly fascinating discussion of the philosophy, moral principles, and technology of identifying those killed in war. []

9 responses to “Story Of Leonard Cohen’s Bracelet Revealed – By Leonard Cohen

  1. More than interesting; thanks Allan I’ve shared.

  2. Very moving and very kind of LC to share this personal story.

  3. Dear Arlene and Allan,
    That’s why you are the greatest –except LC, that is! Moving and cool!

  4. What if … someone found this?

    What if … someone has it even now.

    A Missing poster may be in order.


  5. Way cool is right, Allan. This makes for a great new addition to your wonderful site. I expect it will be prominent in Arlene’s Scrapbook, as well.

    Thanks to both of you, Arlene and Allan, for bringing all of this to the fore. This and your prior observations have brought us much, Arlene.

    Thanks to Leonard for caring and participating in resolving the mystery. How sad that he was inattentive at the time to the needs of his bracelet. I can imagine how he misses it. Many thoughts pass through as I do.

    ~ Lizzy

  6. Excellent detective work!

    I recall a verse from one of my (many) favourite songs:
    Your father’s gone a-hunting
    And he’s lost his lucky charm
    And he’s lost the guardian heart
    That keeps the hunter from the harm.

    Any connection?


  7. Way, Way Cool! I feel Leonard’s loss.

  8. Had Dr. Heck been a regular at 221b Baker Street, even Moriarty would have proved little match for Sherlock Holmes and co.

  9. WOW! Alan – you rule!