Category Archives: Holidays-Celebrations

The Lost Leonard Cohen Halloween Album

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Leonard Cohen’s Record Company And Other Scary Things

Disappointed with the sales of Leonard Cohen’s first two albums, Songs Of Leonard Cohen and Songs From A Room, his record label demanded that he produce a novelty LP tied to Halloween to increase his commercial appeal. His protests that issuing an album in this genre would be incongruent with his style were countered by the corporation’s argument that “no one is buying the poet turned singer-songwriter shtick.”

The result was Songs of Love and Halloween, a collection of tracks which included

  • Nightmare On Boogie Street
  • Bates Motel #2
  • Monster Mash Me To The End Of Love
  • Tacoma Trailer Park Murders
  • Hey, That’s No Way To Say Trick Or Treat

Declaring the songs “too depressing for Halloween,” the recording company executives canceled distribution of the already pressed album.

Songs of Love and Hate, rather than Songs of Love and Halloween, eventually became the third Cohen album.

The songs themselves, refitted with new titles and minor modifications of the lyrics, formed the nucleus of Cohen’s repertoire over the course of his career.

Songs of Love and Halloween – The Afterlife

Leonard Cohen and his record company have consistently denied the existence of Songs of Love and Halloween, but to this day, those passing by a certain Montreal warehouse near the harbor after sunset on October 31st report hearing a low-pitched, gravelly voice singing – or wailing – about a woman “cutting off my head on the unmade bed”

fedoradivider

Leonard Cohen & Halloween

Over the years, the Heck Of A Guy and DrHGuy sites have accumulated a significant number of items associated with Leonard Cohen and Halloween (how many other sites offer a Leonard Cohen – Halloween category?) that are brought back to life for reposting this time of year. Leonard Cohen’s Songs Of Love & Halloween, a highlight of DrHGuy’s Leonard Cohen-Halloween catalog, was first posted Oct 31, 2008.

Wishing You The Bestest Christmas 2013

A Heck of a Guy Christmas Tradition

Since 2007, Heck Of A Guy has featured Lady Lawanda’s1 account of her “Bestest Christmas,” a story that I found – and continue to find – touching, wonderful, uncomplicated, profound, gleeful, poignant, heartening, and exactly the gift to offer readers.

That Christmas Day 2013 finds me devotedly and delightfully married to the Duchess, a woman who could have done so much better, does not diminish my feelings for Julie and Lawanda, both of whom brought joy into my life and both of whom were lost in death. Instead, it invests those feelings in Penny as well – and adds Penny’s memories of Don, to whom she was married for 24 years until his death on October 12, 2009, to our shared treasury of cherishments. This story is part of that mutual dowry.

Lady Lawanda’s Christmas Story

The child of devoted parents and the youngest sibling, by several years, of a swarm of indulgent brothers and sisters, Lady Lawanda was the unwitting star of a long-running series of theatrical productions featuring her as ingénue of an ensemble troupe with family members simultaneously playing support roles, exquisitely and exhaustively stage-managing the shows, and serving as an enthusiastic and starstruck audience.

A seasonal favorite was the annual Christmas pageant, central to which was the assumption that Santa Claus was a dramatic, all-embracing, benevolent figure no less real for completing his seemingly impossible tasks accomplished out of sight of those whose lives he blessed – not unlike the first Mayor Daley.

While the script of “Lady Lawanda’s Christmas” varied somewhat from year to year, the most ancient of the recurrent motifs was the the discovery of evidence that Santa had completed his holiday visit.

In the service of that goal, sooty footprints were manufactured that began and ended beneath the chimney, partially eaten remnants of the snack left for Saint Nick and the chow left for his reindeer were strewn artistically, and sound effects congruent with a rooftop landing of a sleigh powered by flying reindeer rendered.

To the young Lady Lawanda, the cumulative effect was utterly convincing.

By her own assessment, Lady Lawanda’s most memorable moment from all these Christmas performances occurred in her ninth year as the juvenile lead in this intimate, long-running, and remarkable theater in an instance which crystallized and preserved for all time her dramaturgical talent for playing a role with absolute conviction.

Lawanda’s Christmas Vision

Running a Christmas Eve errand with her father, perhaps her greatest fan, Lawanda glimpsed something in her peripheral vision. Although whatever had caught her eye had vanished within the fraction of a second required to shift her focus, she knew, wholeheartedly and unquestionably, that she had seen Santa Claus soaring across the sky in his sleigh making his deliveries.

The remaining plot is anti-climatic. Lawanda gleefully informed her father that she had just seen Santa Claus making his rounds, her father acknowledged her report without any suggestion of surprise, let alone doubt, and, on their return home, she found, indeed, that Santa had already come, dropped off her usual bonanza of gifts, and departed.

Epilogue

Lawanda’s glance of that communal myth, made all but inevitable by the ongoing machinations of a family smitten with her, distilled and condensed the innocence, security, delight, unalloyed joyfulness, enchantment, affection, and all that is special in a childhood that was imperfect, which all childhoods are, but suffused with love, which is not true of all childhoods.

If the celebrations, ornaments, feasts, and traditions of Christmas over the generations have accomplished nothing other than that moment when a nine year old girl, to the delight of her loving family, was convinced she saw Santa flying through the sky, I would maintain the time, energy, and expenditures2 have been well compensated.

My own Christmas wish is for each of you to be
likewise blessed, today and every day,
with signs and emblems that you are loved

  1. Lady Lawanda is the blogonym (and, I hasten to add, the self-chosen blogonym) of the woman in my life for the too few years before she died from breast cancer in June 2008. Lady Lawanda was a profoundly important and positive force in her close-knit neighborhood and the school where she was an especially effective and innovative teacher and leader. She was also a central, vital element in the lives of her family, her friends, and, not least, my children and me. I miss both Julie and Lawanda every day. []
  2. Including those aesthetic affronts committed in the name of commemorating the holiday []

It’s That Time Of Year When Visions Of Leonard Cohen Dance In Our Heads

Leonard Cohen shown caroling after completing his seasonal tradition of decorating his LA home with holiday lights. Asked about the significance of the lighted figure on the wall behind him, Cohen lyrically replied, “It’s just another snowman.”

Download Traditional 1HeckOfAGuy.com Holiday Music – Nobody Rocks Christmas Like Springsteen

bruce-santa

1HeckOfAGuy.com first posted Nobody Rocks Christmas Like Bruce Springsteen in 2008, and we continue to abide by that proposition today.

Best Bootlegs: Bruce Springsteen – Merry Christmas From Asbury Park

springsteen xmas blowup

Tracklist (the date refers to the Springsteen concert at which the song was recorded):

  1. Deck The Halls (12/08/01) (894k)
  2. Incident On 57th Street (12/08/01) (12.6MB)
  3. Blue Christmas (12/17/00) (5.9MB)
  4. Christmas Day (12/06/01) (9.0MB)
  5. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) (12-08-03) (6.1MB)
  6. Shine Silently (12/17/00) (8.9MB)
  7. The Wish (12-08-03) (7.7MB)
  8. Kitty’s Back (12/17/00) (14.3MB)
  9. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (12/06/01) (4.6MB)
  10. My City Of Ruins (12/17/00) (8.7MB)
  11. I Don’t Want To Go Home (12/17/00) (5.4MB)
  12. Rosalita (12/17/00) (10.3MB) (10.3MB)
  13. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (12/17/00) (7.9MB)
  14. WMMR Christmas Message (831k)

The tracks are MP3s with a sample rate of 192 kbps. The downloads are directly from the site (rather than through a service such as Rapidshare) and require no decompression or use of codes or passwords. According to the site, “As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.”

Download MP3s

Download at BigO: Bruce Springsteen – Merry Christmas From Asbury Park

Bonus: Found Art OR Cover Art Is Where You Find It

Ever wonder where they find the cover art for bootlegs? You may note a similarity between the cover of Bruce Springsteen – Merry Christmas From Asbury Park and DrHGuy’s homemade graphic seen atop this post and dating back to 2008. That perceived similarity is because the bootlegger used a portion of DrHGuy’s cut and paste art.

You’re welcome.

An Old-Fashioned Online Christmas Snowglobe

snowglobe

Once Upon A Time, Before 1HeckOfAGuy.com Became The Ne Plus Ultra of Leonard Cohen Sites…

This site held other attractions, including special Christmas posts. Indeed, Heck Of A Guy has been around long enough to accumulate quite a few holiday posts worth sharing. Today’s offering features an old-fashioned holiday snowglobe that goes back seven full years (who remembers 2006? wasn’t it great?).

The Heck Of A Guy Snow Globe was first posted December 20, 2006, accompanied by this description:

… the Heck Of A Guy blog now offers, for your viewing pleasure and DrHGuy’s (much deserved) aggrandizement, the perpetually post-shaken1 snowstorm simulation we like to call One Heck Of A Snow Globe

  1. Warning: It is not only unnecessary but potentially counterproductive to lift, shake, and otherwise agitate ones computer to produce the Potemkin snowstorm, which, through the Christmas miracle of Flash animation, is self-sustaining. []

Happy Birthday To The Dancing Duchess Of Durham

Dec 25, 2012 – Happy Birthday

to my resplendent, charming, unremittingly passionate, delightful, and altogether marvelous wife Penny, who could have done so much better.

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Video: You’ll Carry Me Down On Your Dancing
This video, set to Leonard Cohen’s “Take This Waltz,” was constructed as a gift to the Duchess1 and features dance sequences taped during ballroom competitions in which she participated as well as other scenes from her life and mine. Because it was a gift, it is indeed more sentimental than most of the movies produced here and it is studded with the type of indulgences lovers not only allow but encourage in one another.

Nonetheless, I’m proud of the final result which is true to the tone of Cohen’s “Take This Waltz.” As for the specifics, well, I’m not even going to try to explain the role of the bearded dancing partner, the shots of a house a few years and hundreds of miles from where we live now, why I’m wearing orange-tinted glasses in one scene, how the Beacon Theatre in New York appears in a cameo as a concert hall in Vienna, the alligator’s allegorical allusion, …

  1. aka Penny Showalter, aka my wife []