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.
Foetus & Jim Thirlwell
Jim Thirlwell, c 1987
Wikipedia is useful in clarifying who/what Foetus is:
Foetus is the primary musical outlet of industrial music pioneer J. G. Thirlwell. Until 1995 the band underwent various name changes, all including the word foetus. Monikers adopted at different times include Foetus Under Glass, You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath and Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel. After 1995 the name permanently became Foetus, though the related project The Foetus Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1997 and continues. Thirlwell acts as the sole instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer for all Foetus works and as such is the only member of the band. Other artists may occasionally collaborate with Thirlwell on Foetus works but are not considered members of Foetus. Thirlwell is solely responsible for the musical output of the band.
This laudatory assessment posted by Andy Hinds at AllMusic is, however, helpful in characterizing the band’s music and style:
Although some may dismiss Jim Thirwell, aka Foetus, as a confrontational, rabble-rousing noisemaker (which he is), his eccentric and wide-ranging talent is usually overlooked; the trouble is, most listeners simply don’t have the patience to find Thirwell’s genius amongst the deranged sound sculptures that are his songs….Seemingly a musical omnivore, Thirlwell devours everything — from swing to Krautrock — and spits it back out in a scrap heap of sonic chaos, twisted beyond recognition. His oblique yet subversive lyrical themes don’t make Ache [the album in which Gums Bleed resides] any more palatable for the faint of heart. This is the sound of unfiltered imagination, absolutely unencumbered by notions of commerce or accessibility. Brilliant.
Well, Leonard Cohen did not overlook Mr. Thirlwell’s “eccentric and wide-ranging talent” nor did he lack “the patience to find Thirwell’s genius.”1
From Tortoise-Shell by Biba Kopf (New Musical Express, March 2, 1985), we learn
For his [Leonard Cohen's] part he claims a You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath song, called “Gums Bleed,” to be a favourite.
When Jim Thirlwell signed with Cohen’s label, Sony, an interviewer asked,2
Long ago, in an interview with Leonard Cohen, he named you as a songwriter he admired, now that you two are label-mates, will we see a collaboration?<grin>
Yeah, I’m doing a dance remix of Suzanne….
Ache by You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath
Video – You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath – Gums Bleed
Gums Bleed – Lyrics:
Written by Jim Thirlwell
God! but this silence hangs heavy, it gives me a pain in the thigh What a weight on my shoulders..the atmosphere’s colder No one gets out of life alive You just wear your umbilical cord like a noose and make believe it’s a tie
I got a mouth full of ulcers I’m digging my grave with my teeth This pain is silence beyond belief My gums bleed for you
If this is god’s gift, he can keep it I can’t let myself forget about When I exaggerated the role of my coffee, my cigarettes I wear the mark of the iconoclast across my bleeding back
I’ll be reincarnated as a hermit. (from under, the future looks black) I got a mouth full of ulcers I’m digging my grave with my teeth Can’t stop thinking about my lip
This pain is silence beyond belief Dying to an audience of one My gums are on fire for you I’m gonna grind myself into the ground and ground myself into the grind
Keep turning the key to wind up and kill yourself to unwind… I got a mouth full of ulcers I’m digging my grave with my teeth Can’t stop thinking about my lip? this pain is silence beyond belief
Dying to an audience of one…..my gums bleed for you The burgers are now mounting bethlehem and my gums are on fire for you Hitmeonetimehitmetwotimeshitmethreetimeshitmefourtimeshitmefivetimeshitmesixtimes hitmeagain!
Credit Due Department: he photo of Jim Thirlwell is from foetus.org
One possible connection between Cohen and Thirlwell is Thirlwell’s collaborator, Nick Cave, who is also a long-time, ardent fan of Cohen who has covered Cohen’s songs and performed in Cohen tributes. For more about the Cave-Thirlwell connection, see Nick Cave and Foetus [↩]
I found Cohen Upstairs, the first of Oana Cajal’s Leonard Cohen-inspired videos, so impressive and gratifying that I asked its creator, , to tell me something about how she became a Leonard Cohen fan.
“Cohen Upstairs” is my exhibition presented now at Centaur Theatre in Montreal, during the Danish theatre-dance production of “Dance Me To The End Of Love”.
How I became a Leonard Cohen fan? I wouldn’t call myself a “fan”. Would be too simple.
I was born a Longingner. I only don’t remember if I longed to be born but, once arrived Here, or There (Bucharest, Romania), I began longing with passion. Very young, I was longing for love, freedom, knowledge, God, guilt, forgives and a pair of American blue jeans.
I was longing for Leonard Cohen before I even heard him. Then I heard him and it was like glancing at the mysteriously carved effigy of my destiny. Suzanne was the freedom of my youth, the crack in the walls of communist hell. My one way ticket to America!
I am a poet, a playwright, a painter. I believe the poetry created the world. My hobby: Survival!
My message is urgent: In the Spotlight of Death, Life shines in its brightest colors. Celebrate! This very second! Right Now! (See my series of paintings “Posters for Unwritten Plays”)
I also asked how she came to produce this video (and what a “Picto-Impulse” is).
What are the Picto-Impulses? Imagine that your soul is a ball of words and emotions. Imagine that you suddenly let it go down on Mount Baldy. The line of its descent is unpredictable, desperate, frightened, elated, funny, foolish, sacred, painful! My hand follows graphically the incredible journey of the Mind of This Line. A Line with blood in its veins… Red is my favorite color. “Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written in its own blood” (Nietzsche)
My cohenesque plans: 2 more videos: “Dreaming sweet and salty Suzanne” and “Hallelujah on Fire!” Also a picto-drama, “Entertaining The Gods with Roshi”
All three videos by scorpiontigress were just uploaded (none show more than 5 viewings). All were taken from above the stage on the audience’s right (see screenshot above). There are no closeups, but these are sharp, enjoyable full stage views, and the sound is excellent.
Account of Leonard Cohen’s first recorded performance: “The Gift” with Maury Kaye – Montreal, April 8, 1958, including video (audio recording of Cohen poem recitation and photos from first performance)
Background information re Bandleader Maury Kaye (including his role in Leonard Cohen’s performance) & the mid-century Montreal jazz scene, including Leonard Cohen’s participation in it
Examples of ongoing influence of that jazz culture on Leonard Cohen
: Indicates original content, material not found in other considerations of this subject, or unique perspective
Leonard Cohen’s First Recorded Performance: “The Gift” With Maury Kaye – April 8, 1958
[In 1957,] as a post-graduate at New York’s Columbia University (where Jack Kerouac got in on a football scholarship), Leonard Cohen had spent much of his spare time in the boho clubs of the Village, where the Beat-style fusion of poetry and music — “I heard Kerouac read to piano, that was good” — was drawing crowds…1
The next year, through the efforts of Maury Kaye,2 (pictured on right), an outstanding jazz pianist and trombonist as well as probably the most sought after and popular bandleader in Canada,3 Leonard Cohen and other poets were presenting their work in similar fashion, accompanied by the music of Kaye and members of his band, to club audiences in Montreal. The following excerpt is from Swinging in Paradise, The Story of Jazz in Montreal by John Gilmore:4
Original caption: “One of several versions of Maury Kaye’s group at the Black Orchid Room above Dunn’s.”
Video: Leonard Cohen’s Performs The Gift
Montreal – April 8, 1958
As it happened, at least a couple of photos were taken of Leonard Cohen’s first show with Maury Kaye and a recording was made of him reciting one of his poems, “The Gift” (later published in The Spice-Box Of Earth) and answering a question about the propriety of a poet being a “nightclub celebrity.”
The following video comprises that recording as the audio track and the photos of Cohen and and other images of Dunn’s and St Catherine Street as the visual elements.
Leonard Cohen With Maury Kaye – The Gift
Dunn’s – Montreal: April 8, 1958
Video by Allan Showalter
In addition to Cohen and his friend, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, who reigned as Canada’s premier man of letters until his death in 1984 and was Leonard Cohen’s Literature professor at McGill University, partnered with Kaye, as indicated in this excerpt from Friends Bid Farewell To Great Maury Kaye by Len Dobbin:5
Leonard Cohen talked about his collaboration with Kaye in an interview with William Ruhlmann:6
I don’t think there were too many people doing it at the time…I was working with a pianist and an arranger, Maury Kaye. I did a few weeks with him. We worked together at a place called Dunn’s Birdland, which was a room on top of Dunn’s delicatessen on St. Catherine Street in Montreal. He used to write big band arrangements. He had about a 12- or 15-piece band and this little stage, and it was his gig. I’d come on at midnight, and I kind of improvised while he played. Sometimes he was playing the piano by himself and sometimes doing parts of arrangements or tunes played in a somewhat subdued way while I took my own riffs. Or sometimes I’d do set pieces, like a poem from Let Us Compare Mythologies. We did that off and on for a month, and then I worked with a great jazz guitarist from Winnipeg by the name of Lenny Breau.
Poster promoting “Poetry & Jazz With Leonard Cohen; Lenny Breau & Trio,” an event held Feb 9, 1964 at the Manitoba Theatre.
Sylvie Simmons writing in Mojo,7 provides a similar description and more specifics:
Perched on a stool in the middle of the stage, flanked on one side by Maury Kaye on the piano and, in any space available, by various members of Kaye’s 15-man band, at around midnight on April 8, 1958, Leonard Cohen, 23, gave his first professional performance.8
“Maury Kay, who was a very gifted pianist and jazz arranger, had a jazz band,” recalls Cohen, “and we started improvising together in a club on St. Catherine’s Street” — Dunn’s Jazz Parlour, which occupied the uppermost floor of a Montreal smoked meat delicatessen.
Already an acclaimed poet in Canada, Cohen had quickly developed a distaste for the poet’s usual form of performance, the poetry reading.
“I was invited to read, but I never really enjoyed them. The idea — the influence of the universities — was to read with a slight English inflection, which was meant to dignify the poem. But I liked singing, chanting my lyrics to this jazz group. It felt a lot easier. And I liked the environment better. You could drink.”
In An Interview with Leonard Cohen conducted by Michael Harris,9 Cohen again set his performances at Dunn’s against an academic perspective on poetry. To the question, “What do you think of academia and/or academic poets,” Cohen responded
I never saw myself in the academy. In fact, as soon as I could, you know, I got work in a nightclub above Dunn’s restaurant, called Birdland. I used to read poems or improvise them while Morrie Kay and his jazz group played. I even thought that that was somehow too tame for it, too academic.
Ira Nadel expands on the episode in his Leonard Cohen biography, Various Positions:10
Leonard Cohen & The Montreal Jazz Scene
You Can Take The Poet Out Of Saint Catherine Street But You Can’t Take Saint Catherine Street Out Of The Poet
Postcard featuring St Catherine St in Montreal, c 1960, The Dunn’s sign is visible near the left side, between the Capitol and Pigalle.
Accounts of Leonard Cohen’s jazz club debut have sometimes suffered from lack of context. Ones understanding is abetted by the knowledge that, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, jazz has thrived in Montreal, lending an unmistakable flavor to the metropolis. As the introduction to Jazz City Montreal puts it:
There are many different ways to interpret Montreal’s rich jazz history…New Orleans’s mom, proximity to New York City, a longtime culture of cafés and nightclubs, a gangsta’ town, a place of convergence of rivers and railroads, a multicultural town with French flair, Paris’s daughter, Canada’s first real city. Each of these factors and many others, have all contributed to creating a place where live music thrives day after day, year in, year out. From the early ragtime period, right up to today’s zero tolerance progressive’s, there has always been the idea that jazz music was fun, and that it should swing… all nite long.
Montreal hosted premier world-class jazz players, including Louis Armstrong, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, and many, many others, as well as Canadian performers like Maynard Ferguson and Oscar Peterson. And venues for jazz, including but mot limited to jazz clubs, have long proliferated. 11 Performing above Dunn’s, Leonard Cohen was in the middle of Montreal’s night life – St Catherine Street.12
Promotion for The Black Orchid Club, located above Dunn’s
Promotion for jazz at Dunn’s
Moreover, during his adolescent and young adult years, Cohen was a stalwart participant – as a performer, as an audience member, and in some cases as a celebrity guest – in Montreal’s extensive and important jazz community.
And Leonard Cohen’s professional career as a singer-songwriter has been impacted by those experiences.
Not only are jazz influences evident in the musicology, for example, of Leonard Cohen’s Recent Songs and Dear Heather albums (it is easy to imagine “Villanelle For our Time” or “Morning Glory,” sans female vocals, as part of a setlist during the 1958 Cohen-Kaye collaboration), but Saint Catherine Street is still a feature in Cohen’s style and stage demeanor, as set forth by Walter Tunis in his review of the March 30, 2013 Leonard Cohen Louisville concert:13
[Leonard] Cohen portrayed elder romantic, poet philosopher, enlightened mystic, jazz hipster, socio-political correspondent and, yes, even dirty old man. [emphasis mine]
And, I would submit that Leonard Cohen’s early interactions with Maury Kaye and the other components of the Montreal Jazz Scene are the genuine provenance of “Anyhow” from the Old Ideas album.
Note the final portion of Cohen’s introduction to the song [emphasis mine]:
This is the moment when I take my first cigarette … I’ll step back into my old self. I’ll begin to hear the strains of the music of the most beautiful jazz orchestra in the world. My thoughts will settle, they’ll smooth out. I’ll be able to develop some kind of charitable take on my shabby life. I’ll be thinking of the past.
Leonard Cohen – Anyhow
Louisville: March 30, 2013
Video by Wirebirds (Henry Tengelsen)
Credit Due Department:
I owe special thanks to jazz pianist and adventurer, Billy Georgette, who provided invaluable insight into the Montreal jazz scene during the 1950s and 1960s as well as information specific to Maury Kaye, Dunn’s, and Leonard Cohen. His web site, Jazz City Montreal offers a unique perspective on that city’s rich jazz history.
The photo of Dunn’s atop this post and at the beginning of the video was taken by Al Bohns. That shot will also appear at the Centre d’histoire de Montreal, starting November 2013, when the museum presents the exhibit Scandal! Vice, Crime, and Morality in Montreal, 1940–1960.
The photo of Maury Kaye is by Ernie Mills. The photo of Maury Kaye and his band is by O’Neil of Montreal – Hal Gaylor, John Gilmore Jazz History Collection, Concordia University Archives.
The original Leonard Cohen-Lenny Breau poster is held in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. The ads for the Black Orchid Club and Dunn’s were found on Jazz City Montreal
The colorful view of St Catherine St midway through the video is a postcard found on several sites without attribution. The final black & white view of St Catherine St in the video is from the exhibition, St. Catherine Street Makes the Headlines!, at the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History.
The audio track used in the video is from the private collection of Hippy1948.
Leonard The Versifier by Sylvie Simmons, Mojo, April 2002. Found at the phenomenal Speaking Cohen site. [↩]
Publications offer various spellings, but the name of Montreal’s jazz pianist and bandleader was Maury Kaye (born Morris David Kronick) [↩]
Billy Georgette, personal communication, May 15, 2013. An incomplete but helpful, succinct biography of Maury Kaye can be found in the Canadian Encyclopedia. A sense of the esteem in which Kaye was held can be garnered from his obituary, Friends Bid Farewell To Great Maury Kaye by Len Dobbin. Montreal Gazette: Feb 10, 1983 [↩]
Swinging in Paradise, The Story of Jazz in Montreal by John Gilmore. Ellipse Editions, Victoria, Canada: 2011 [↩]
“The Stranger Music of Leonard Cohen” by William Ruhlmann, Goldmine, February 19, 1993. [↩]
Leonard The Versifier by Sylvie Simmons, Mojo, April 2002. Found at the phenomenal Speaking Cohen site. [↩]
Designating Leonard Cohen’s “first professional performance” is a matter of art rather than science. I would hold that Leonard Cohen’s first professional performance was his initial paid gig as a member of the Buckskin Boys, which preceded his jazz-accompanied poetry recitations by several years. [↩]
While the location of this Leonard Cohen performance, the uppermost floor above Dunn’s delicatessen on St Catherine Street in Montreal, remains constant in the different versions of this story, the name of the location has varied to include, either alone or in permutations, Birdland, Jazz Parlour, Progressive Jazz Parlour. Moreover, Billy Georgette, a Montreal jazz pianist, who was a contemporary or and acquainted with Leonard Cohen, reports he and his colleagues are unfamiliar with these names. That location was most widely known as simply “Dunn’s Upstairs” or the “Black Orchid Room.” [↩]
As was announced in my last published post, I have been
taking some time off from blogging to fry those other fish about which one hears so much.
Some readers, observing that no new posts have appeared at DrHGuy.com or 1HeckOfAGuy.com for three weeks, more than ample time to serve up a mess o’ fish, even allowing for cooking the hush puppies, mixing the iced tea, and purchasing paper plates and plastic sporks, have expressed their suspicions that these sites are have met their demise.
And, I confess to extending my sabbatical beyond the time originally anticipated, initially because, as it turns out, self-indulgent malingering in the land of the Lotus-eaters is not an altogether unpleasant alternative to composing, formatting, and publishing a dozen posts each day, seven days a week – and paying for the privilege.
An even more compelling reason for deferring my return to active posting, however, was the revelation that many other activities, some of which don’t even require a computer, earn more applause and appreciation with markedly less effort than Cohencentric blogging.
Nonetheless, the Heck Of A Guy and DrHGuy sites are not dead; in fact, I now like to think of them as the undead.1
I Have Seen The Future, Baby: It Is – Different
So, yes, I intend to return to that voodoo I do – blogging, mostly about Leonard Cohen – albeit with some changes in methodology and strategy. One tactical sift, for example, will result in the elimination of those posts that are easiest to create and draw the most viewers. Cagey move, eh? More about this and other changes later.
Because our annual Hilton Head Hiatus begins at the end of this week, posting on both sites will be sporadic for at least the next two weeks.
In the realm of undead characters, zombies admittedly offer a metaphysically richer imago than any of the other classifications, but their suboptimal hygiene and shabby appearance conflict with my self-concept, leading me to opt for something in the contemporary vampire category instead. [↩]
And she feeds you tea and oranges That come all the way from China
Today’s post examines these two well-known lines from Leonard Cohen’s classic, “Suzanne,” to offer insight into Cohen’s songwriting methodology,
Origin: In The Beginning …
Leonard Cohen’s songwriting process is an inversion of premise set forth in the opening verses of the Gospel of John. John 1:1 begins
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
There follows an elaboration of the creation of all things by God through the Word. Then, verse 14 identifies this Word:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
The Cohen creation mythology, however, has the flesh becoming the Word. The content of “Suzanne,” like much of Cohen’s oeuvre, is grounded in the Canadian singer-songwriter’s personal experience, as Cohen himself points out in these two excerpts:
From a 1994 Leonard Cohen interview on BBC Radio:1
She [Suzanne Verdal] had a space in a warehouse down there, and she invited me down, and I went with her, and she served me Constant Comment tea, which has little bits of oranges in it.
From Leonard Cohen: Inside the Tower of Song by Paul Zollo:2
It [Suzanne] is a miracle. I don’t know where the good songs come from or else I’d go there more often. I knew that I was on top of something.
… I was spending a lot of time on the waterfront and the harbor area of Montreal. It hadn’t been reconstructed yet. It’s now called Old Montreal and a lot of buildings have been restored. It wasn’t at that time. And there was that sailor’s church that has the statue of the Virgin. Gilded so that the sun comes down on her. And I knew there was a song there.
Then I met Suzanne, who was the wife of Armand Villancour a friend of mine. She was a dancer and she took me down to a place near the river. She was one of the first people to have a loft on the St. Lawrence. I knew that it was about that church and I knew that it was about the river. I didn’t know I had anything to crystallize the song. And then her name entered into the song, and then it was a matter of reportage, of really just being as accurate as I could about what she did.
[Interviewer]: Did she feed you tea and oranges, as in the song?
She fed me a tea called Constant Comment, which has small pieces of orange rind in it, which gave birth to the image.
Constant Comment: From Grocery To Sacrament
Some background information about Constant Comment tea is helpful.
Constant Comment, a black tea flavored with orange rinds and sweet spices, was the foundation upon which Connecticut-based Bigelow Tea Company was built in the 1940s and is today America’s most popular specialty tea.3
Constant Comment was the subject of a 1945 New York Times article, News of Food: New Tea Mixture Appears in the Market; Economy of Use a High Recommendation, by Jane Holt:4
Ruth Campbell Bigelow and Bertha West Nealey [are] both interior decorators whose enthusiasm for tea has led them to blend their own… an unusual and delicious brew called Constant Comment, which has just been introduced in city stores…. Unlike the ordinary sorts, it is so concentrated that a little goes a long way. For example, in preparing it, a scant half-teaspoon is recommended for three cups…. Several other varieties are in the process of experimentation in the laboratory…. The price ranges from 67 to 75 cents a [two-and-a-half-ounce] jar.
Constant Comment is not considered an exotic or gourmet item. According to a 2003 article in TeaMuse,5
[Constant Comment] was named by its creator, Ruth Campbell Bigelow, who developed the tea at her kitchen table in the mid-forties, allegedly using an “old Colonial recipe” as inspiration to achieve a more zestful flavored black tea. Why she wanted her tea more zestful is an enigma …
After testing it on her friends and receiving those “constant comments” of approval, Ruth and her husband David launched their company, Bigelow Tea, in 1945 to great and continued success. Constant Comment could have been called constant success as it remains the number-one selling flavored black tea in the United States. That such an ordinary product with a clinging, intense fragrance should achieve this rank is an amazement to this author.
Often designated as a “tea connoisseur,” Mrs. Bigelow was a few notches below having a sophisticated palate. What she did have was a keen sense about what would sell and an understanding that catering to the American public’s desire for “zestful” in fragrance and taste is a key to financial success. Constant Comment retains its huge appeal because it has a strong aroma (predominantly cinnamon, that feel-good spice that connotes hot chocolate, New Year’s eve eggnog, and Christmas all in one.) It also has the bit of citrus in its orange peel and “holiday” spices. The reason it is hardly a connoisseur-level product is that it would be impossible to tell what kind of tea is underneath all that flavoring. If anyone can determine if the black tea used is from a particular region in the world, they win the Lynn-Worthy Tastebuds of the Year Award.
… Bigelow Tea, which produces approximately 1 billion tea bags a year, (about 150 to 400 bags per minute) has 330 employees …
The company is a true American success story. It has not only carved out a particular niche in the American tea market, it has made it primarily on the foundation of one consistently produced product, added others designed with bright graphics, careful packaging, and consistent if mediocre ingredients.
To summarize, the tea Suzanne prepared for Leonard Cohen, the tea that inspired those compelling lines, is a popular, widely distributed commodity, developed and manufactured by a Connecticut-based company, the chief gastronomic virtues of which are “consistent if mediocre ingredients” and “economy of use.”
And as for the tea and oranges “com[ing] all the way from China,” the customer service folks at Bigelow inform me that neither the tea or the orange rinds are imported from China. The black tea used is grown primarily in Sri Lanka and India; the orange rind is obtained domestically.
Leonard Cohen’s preferred field of exploration is Leonard Cohen.
He eschews, in fact, the conceptual and metaphysical:
I think you work out something [by writing songs]. I wouldn’t call them ideas. I think ideas are what you want to get rid of. I don’t really like songs with ideas. They tend to become slogans. They tend to be on the right side of things: ecology or vegetarianism or antiwar. All these are wonderful ideas but I like to work on a song until those slogans, as wonderful as they are and as wholesome as the ideas they promote are, dissolve into deeper convictions of the heart. I never set out to write a didactic song. It’s just my experience. All I’ve got to put in a song is my own experience.6 [emphasis mine]
…most of the time you’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel to find any kind of voice at all. It could be a few words, a tone of voice, two chords together–it’s a ragpicker’s trade as I practice it; I don’t stand on the mountain and received tablets.7
Cohen possesses three qualities that come into play at this point in his songwriting.
First, he has the capacity to invoke what psychoanalysts call an observing ego. In oversimplified form, the observing ego is the part of the self that can view ones own behavior as it happens with curiosity and interest but without judgement, thus allowing the toleration of anxiety produced. The observing ego has no emotional reactions, is not concerned about making decisions or changing ones life. It simply perceives the internal psychological movements. Leonard Cohen’s observing ego is particularly robust and can inspect his own behavior without guilt, defensiveness, angst, rationalization, or any similar feeling-states.8
Second, he is able, by intuition or intellectual deduction or some combination of the two, to recognize the potential of certain actions, objects, people, etc. that have been part of his experience to serve as elements in his songs. In this case, he perceived in the tea he is served by Suzanne something emblematic – and that, as he says, “gave birth to the image.”
Third, Leonard Cohen is a gifted wordsmith who is skilled in the mechanics of poetry. He can create lyrical imagery that powerfully and gracefully affects the listener.
And that’s how it works. Leonard Cohen, having detected something special in being served a rather ordinary brand of tea, artistically reconfigured that action into an image that conjures up, in those who listen to those two lines of “Suzanne,” exotic, oriental tones and intense sexuality, an integral part of the gratifying experience of listening to the song.
And she feeds you tea and oranges That come all the way from China
Transcript of BBC Radio 1 programme about Leonard Cohen, broadcast Sunday August 7, 1994, found at Speaking Cohen. [↩]
Leonard Cohen: Inside the Tower of Song by Paul Zollo. SongTalk, April 1993. Found at Speaking Cohen. [↩]
That Leonard Cohen can observe his internal psychological state does not, however, mean he will reveal that intimate understanding to others. An observing ego can be used to protect secrets as well as set them out for examination by others. [↩]
Do I Have To Dance All Night Surpasses 70,000 Views
"Do I Have To Dance All Night" was performed many times in concerts but was never released in the US.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I've cobbled together 2 videos - one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version - that kinda sorta fit the music.
As of Dec 19, 2012, the video of the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night has been viewed 70,152 times.
Heck Of A Guy offers 3 videos of clips and photos from The Leonard Cohen World Tour:
1. The Original Heck Of A Guy Dear Leonard Cohen - Thanks For The Tour. I Hope It Was Good For You, Too. Video Celebration Of The First 14 Months Of The 2008-2009 World Tour can be viewed at Thanks For The Tour
The Cohen Fandemic
Endemic for decades in areas such as Canada, Norway, Poland, and France, Leonard Cohen Fan Syndrome has become a world-wide epidemic in the past 2 years, spread by the Leonard Cohen World Tour and abetted by proselyting carriers despite efforts by authorities to quarantine these individuals at LeonardCohenForum.
Based on the observations of DrHGuy, standardized criteria for the pertinent Axis II diagnosis are now available at
In addition to the formal medical description of this diagnosis, Heck Of A Guy has also compiled a list of the aberrant behaviors which indicate one is at high risk for being a full-fledged fan of Leonard Cohen. These signs and symptoms can be found at
Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1
This video features the first version of the song Leonard Cohen would later revise into "Chelsea Hotel #2" along with images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin - whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song, the Hotel itself, and other associated people & places.
Photos of or related to Leonard Cohen that fall into specific themes have been among the ongoing features at DrHGuy, HOAG's sibling site. Galleries displaying collected images of 3 of these themes are now available at
Over 35 tunes performed by Dylan, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, The Platters, Joni Mitchell, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Jay-Z, and other musicians.
Read what Cohen said about them and listen to the music at
Photos, Videos, & More
See photos of Leonard Cohen's arrival in Oviedo, the opening of Leonard Cohen: The B-Side - Drawings And Engravings Of A Multidisciplinary Artist, his speech and press conference, his tribute conference, the lost and found Famous Blue Sharpie, and more at:
Note: Almost all HeckOfAGuy and DrHGuy posts contain different content.
And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – Julie’s Story & Video
... I never had a chance. I was - and this is the only word that fits - smitten. I still am.
She was smart and quick-witted, although it would take me 3 years to recognize that she was, in fact, much smarter than me, and then another 2 years to forgive her for that. She was also good-looking and unabashedly sexy.
And, we fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love.
Complementing the unlikely story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and - 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later - got together to spend an outrageously wonderful 20 years together before her death, a video, set to the poignant "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, is now available that evokes the role Julie, who died 10 years ago, continues to play in my life.
Clicking on Taste of LC - Heck Of A Guy and Taste of LC - DrHGuy finds posts from those sites that feature Leonard Cohen's choices in furniture, clothing (including suits, fedoras, caps, berets, other hats, boots and other footwear, swimsuits, and in at least one case cut-offs), art, jewelry, food, books, magazines, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, ... - all of which offer a different perspective on Leonard Cohen.
This Heck Of A Guy compilation includes unreleased Leonard Cohen performances over a 30+ year period.
Track List: Vol 1
1. Feels So Good (The Other Blues Song)
2. Book Of Longing
3. The Darkness
6. Do I Have to Dance All Night (1976)
7. Blues By The Jews
Track List: Vol 2
1. Red River Valley
2. Never Got To Love You (Duet with Anjani)
3. Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Ride Around
5. The Union Makes Us Strong
6. We Shall Not Be Moved
7. To Love Somebody
8. The Hypnotist (Poem)
9. Chelsea Hotel #1
10. There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me
11. Streets Of Laredo
12. Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Now, Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, the second collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs joins the popular The Other Leonard Cohen Album to offer fans of the iconic singer-songwriter a total of 3 CDs of musical treats. Another Other Leonard Cohen Album includes the following tracks plus liner notes by Sylvie Simmons.
1. Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul
2. Kevin Barry
3. Die Gedanken Sind Frei
4. Store Room
5. As Time Goes By
6. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on
7. Blessed is the Memory
8. Silent Night
9. Dead Song
10. Another Saturday Night
11. Ballad of the Absent Mare
13. The Butcher
14. Un As Der Rebbe Singt
15. Song to the Machines
16. If It Be Your Will
17. Thirsty for the Kiss
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep
19. I Tried To Leave You
20. Whither Thou Goest
21. Mr Cohen Must Be Going
Heck Of A Guy celebrates Leonard Cohen’s 77th birthday (September 21, 2011) with a video of scenes from Leonard Cohen’s life and photos of fans expressing their affection for Mr. Cohen, all set to “I Love Leonard Cohen” by Robin Grey.
Video – Jennifer Warnes’ Way Down Deep & Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep
The video begins with Jennifer Warnes singing the gorgeous but routinely overlooked "Way Down Deep," which is followed by Leonard Cohen's recitation of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" in Dublin to juxtapose the earliest performed precursor of Cohen's now classic "A Thousand Kisses Deep" with the most recent version.
Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling in the 1960s that, for unspecified reasons, was short-lived, with Cohen instigating the parting.
It was then and is now a complex connection. In 1988, Cohen said, I'm still very friendly with Joni - I had dinner with her before the tour, and I have the same admiration for her as you do. But I think it was Noel Harrison who came up to me in the LA Troubadour and said "How do you like living with Beethoven?"