Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

Pat Boone’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox – And In His Novel

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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 number 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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Breavman Listens To Pat Boone’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” in The Favourite Game

While Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox entries are typically discovered in interviews with the Canadian singer-songwriter, Pat Boone’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” is featured in a long section of Cohen’s novel, The Favourite Game.

From The Favourite Game
By Leonard Cohen

Now, Breavman, here is the proposition. Let us suppose that you could spend the rest of your life exactly as you are at this very minute, in this car hurtling towards brush country, at this precise stop on the road beside a row of white guide posts, always going past these posts at eighty, this juke-box song of rejection pumping, this particular sky of clouds and stars, your mind including this immediate cross-section of memory — which would you choose? Fifty more years of this car ride, or fifty more of achievement and failure?

And Breavman never hesitated in his choice …

Let the compounded electric guitar keep throbbing under the declaration:

When I lost my baby
I almost lost my mind.

Let the edges of the hills be just about to brighten. Let the trees never fuzz with leaves. Let the black towns sleep in one long night like Lesbia’s lover. Let the monks in the half-built monasteries remain on their knees in the 4A.M. Latin prayer. Let Pat Boone stand on the highest rung of the Hit Parade and tell all the factory night shifts:

I went to see the gypsy
To have my fortune read.

Let snow always dignify the auto graveyards on the road to Ayer’s Cliff. Let the nailed shacks of apple vendors never show polished apples and hints of cider.

But let me remember what I remember of orchards. Let me keep my tenth of a second’s worth of fantasy and recollection, showing all the layers like a geologist’s sample. Let the Caddie or the VW run like a charm, let it go like a bomb, let it blast. Let the tune make the commercial wait forever.

I can tell you, people,
The news was not so good.

The news is great. The news is sad but it’s in a song so it’s not so bad. Pat is doing all my poems for me. He’s got lines to a million people. It’s all I wanted to say. He’s distilled the sorrow, glorified it in an echo chamber. I don’t need my typewriter. It’s not the piece of luggage I suddenly remembered I forgot. No pencils, ball-pens, pad. I don’t even want to draw in the mist on the windshield. I can make up sagas in my head all the way to Baffin Island but I don’t have to write them down. Pat, you’ve snitched my job, but you’re such a good guy, old-time American success, naive big winner, that it’s okay. The PR men have convinced me that you are a humble kid. I can’t resent you. My only criticism is: be more desperate, try and sound more agonized or we’ll have to get a Negro to replace you:

She said my baby’s left me
And she’s gone for good.

Don’t let the guitars slow down like locomotive wheels. Don’t let the man at CKVL tell me what I’ve just been listening to. Sweet sounds, reject me not. Let the words go on like the landscape we’re never driving out of. g

gone for good

OK, let the last syllable endure. This is the tenth of a second I’ve traded all the presidencies for. The telephone poles are playing intricate games of Cat’s Cradle with the rushing wires. The snow is piled like the Red Sea on either side of our fenders. We’re not expected and we’re not missed. We put all our money in the gas tank, we’re fat as camels in the Sahara.

“I Almost Lost My Mind,” written by Ivory Joe Hunter, was published in 1950. Hunter’s recording of the song was a number one hit on the US Billboard R&B chart in that year. The best selling version of the song was Pat Boone’s cover, which hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1956.

Pat Boone – I Almost Lost My Mind

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New Video: Leonard Cohen’s Q&A At The London Popular Problems Preview – Naked

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On Sept 16, 2014, Leonard Cohen met with the press at the Canadian High Commission in London to preview his new album, Popular Problems, and answer questions. While this Q&A was broadcast at a later date, it was only 16 minutes of a one hour program that also included fragments of songs from the album, cover versions, commentary, and chatter.

Thanks to audio editing by AlanM5049, that filler has been stripped, producing a naked version of the session.

I’ve added visual elements, including photos, graphics, lyrics, and such, but – and this is key – none of these are essential to the overall experience. Some viewers may enjoy the view; others may find it distracting.  In any case, feel free to turn the video on, lean back, close your eyes, and just listen to 16 minutes of Leonard Cohen talking about songwriting, collaborating with Patrick Leonard, smoking, his Jewish background, …

Leonard Cohen Q&A At London Popular Problems Preview – Naked
Sept 16, 2014
Video by Allan Showalter

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post found at High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom Facebook page

Leonard Cohen Work Finds A Place (1985) by Mary Campbell Now Online

“I play at halls between 2 and 3,000 and 7 and 8,000. They’re mostly filled, about 90%. That’s not like Duran Duran plays but it’s there”

Leonard Cohen Work Finds A Place by Mary Campbell
AP – Kentucky New Era: June 29, 1985

This update on Cohen’s career includes

  • Cohen’s just released album, Various Positions
  • His slow rate of writing songs
  • His recent tour with a focus on his visit to Poland
  • The publication of Book of Mercy
  • His work with Lewis Fury on what was then called Angel Eyes
  • The completion of Death Of A Lady’s Man

Kentucky-New-Era---Jun-29,-1985

About Those New Leonard Cohen Videos On YouTube …

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Left: Leonard Cohen – Nevermind (Audio) video posted last week; Right: Leonard Cohen – Nevermind (Audio) video posted yesterday

20 New Revised Leonard Cohen Videos

LeonardCohenVEVO, the YouTube channel responsible for posting official Leonard Cohen videos in recent years, went on a posting frenzy yesterday, uploading twenty new Leonard Cohen music videos – or, more accurately uploading twenty graphically-modified, previously-posted Leonard Cohen music videos.

The Leonard Cohen – Nevermind (Audio), for example, posted a week ago is identical to the Leonard Cohen – Nevermind (Audio) posted yesterday except for the colors of the still graphic used (see image atop this post).

Similarly, Leonard Cohen- Firts [sic] We Take Manhattan is a parallel product to the official 1988 Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan video posted on this channel three years ago except for the graphic alterations and the video aspect ratio (see below).

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Left: Official (1988) Leonard Cohen First We Take Manhattan video; Right: Revised version, uploaded Oct 3, 2014

This process was carried out on all of the Popular Problems titles, including the lyric videos, as well as studio versions of Hallelujah and Waiting for the Miracle, Suzanne from “Live At The Isle of Wight 1970,” the official videos of Because Of, In My Secret Life, Closing Time, and First We Take Manhattan, the lyric video of Show Me The Place, and a live version of Hallelujah.

All of the revised Oct 3, 2014 uploads can be found at Revised LeonardCohenVEVO Videos. The standard VEVO videos list is at Standard LeonardCohenVEVO videos

Why?

Perhaps someone at VEVO just went into artsy-fartsy mode and began dabbling with their CinemaFX filters.

Based not on evidence but on my cynicism, I offer another possible motivation.

Wikipedia helpfully explains that

Vevo is a video hosting service owned and operated by a joint venture of Universal Music Group (UMG), Google, Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and Abu Dhabi Media. It launched on December 8, 2009. The videos on Vevo are syndicated across the web, with Google and Vevo sharing the advertising revenue … The concept for Vevo was described as being a Hulu for music videos, with the goal being to attract more high-end advertisers. The site’s other revenue sources include a merchandise store[12] and referral links to purchase viewed songs on Amazon MP3 and iTunes.

So, the more videos shown, the more advertising is displayed, and, in turn, the more ad bucks go to Vevo and Vevo’s owners. Now, given that, even at his recent accelerated rate of album production, Leonard Cohen doesn’t often produce new songs, how does Vevo get more of its Leonard Cohen videos seen? Well, one could produce 20 new Leonard Cohen videos at minimal cost by running them through those filters. That means there are 20 more LeonardCohenVEVO videos with ads in circulation for a viewer to watch. Plus, a YouTube search for “Leonard Cohen” filtered by upload date will shuffle these “new” videos nearer the top of the results – which is how I found them early this morning.

Nah, it’s probably the artsy-fartsy thing.

Now Online – Leonard Cohen: My Album Will Be Classic In 10 Years (1978) by Mary Campbell

Leonard Cohen: My album will be classic in 10 years By Mary CampbelL. AP: Feb 19781

Play It Loud

“My album” in the headline refers to Death Of A Ladies’ Man, an album he was ready to repudiate when a critic from Rolling Stone specified “You’ve got to play it very loud.” Cohen did so “and sat there engrossed.”  He goes on “I did feel somewhat encouraged. I’d never played it loud.”

Other noteworthy points:

  • The handclapping on Fingerprints is accomplished by “the highest-priced musicians in L.A., on double time and after midnight on quadruple time. Everything took place after midnight.”
  • The first portion of a session was devoted to non-musical issues: “Phil would make his opinions on LA football teams clear to everyone, taking a couple of hours. His analysis of the basketball situation in North America took hours every night and he talked about his devotion to laws that let us carry firearms.”
  • “The genius of Phil is to completely exhaust everyone and call on some special reserve that no one expects to locate and to manifest it. That is how he get the incredible energy.”

Observer-Reporter---Feb-15,-1978
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  1. This copy of the AP story is from the Observer-Reporter: Feb 15, 1978 []

Directions To Leonard Cohen’s Home … Then turn right & drive until you see a house with the Lord Byron Of Rock ‘n’ Roll waiting in the front yard

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Introduction: The Space-Time Warp

Today’s post goes back in time to an era when Leonard Cohen was a whippersnapper of 79 and the term “Popular Problems” meant nothing to a Cohen fan other than a list of issues such as committing to a single tune as THE best Leonard Cohen song and maintaining a respectful attitude when explaining to a Dylanologist precisely why Leonard Cohen is superior in every aspect to Bob Dylan. Yes, gentle reader, we are setting the Wayback Machine to August 6, 2014.

On that date, as ongoing readers may recall, the Duchess and I spent a sunny afternoon with Leonard Cohen and his personal assistant, Kezban Özcan, at his home in Los Angeles.

It will surprise no one familiar with Leonard Cohen’s style to learn that visiting the Canadian singer-songwriter was a treat, that food and drink were involved, and that there was conversation and music, but all that’s for other posts. Today’s entry focuses not on the communion but the  pilgrimage – and a small act of graciousness.

See You Down The Road – The Journey From Mount Baldy To Mid-town Los Angeles

Upon arriving on the left coast from Durham, our first stop was the home of the Duchess’ family, serendipitously located at the base of Mt Baldy,1 which is itself the site of the Zen monastery where Leonard Cohen was a monk in residence for several years.

Consequently, our drive from there to Leonard Cohen’s home was one the Rock Yoda2 has himself made many times. One suspects, however, that his trips have lacked the drama of our initial amble down that particular yellow brick road.

Our journey, you see, was marked by a certain angst laced with fear and trepidation – a reasonable enough response to the realization that our marriage had united in wedded bliss the two worst navigators in the Western Hemisphere. The first time we met, I arrived two hours late, having begun the twenty minute trip by driving in a direction precisely 180 degrees off course. Neither of us was surprised. We are likely the only couple of any sexual orientation who considers a GPS the quintessential marital aid.

Since we have, on many occasions, overcome the challenge of clear and thorough directions to become hopelessly lost, our anxiety was only modestly attenuated  by the turn by turn route, including a description of his car that would be parked in the driveway, Leonard had provided to his address.

And thus it came to pass that we made the final turn and were proceeding down the proper street at a safe and sane six mph, simultaneously monitoring street numbers, written directions, cars parked in driveways, maps, and the electronic guide on our dashboard when – and words cannot adequately delineate  the vastness of our relief  occasioned  by this event – we caught sight not of Mr Cohen’s vehicle but of the singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-icon himself seated in his front yard, arranged in a tableau reminiscent of the Old Ideas cover.3

Now, it is possible Leonard Cohen just felt like sitting in his front yard in his suit and tie on a hot August afternoon, but one wonders if he, perhaps aware that the Duchess & DrHGuy are the sort of folks who could be a tad apprehensive about locating  his digs, positioned himself as an unmistakable signal that the weary travelers had, indeed, reached their destination.

Or maybe he just wanted to be on hand to greet his visitors when they arrived.

Regardless, I offer this as one more example of the Leonard Cohen graciousness about which one hears so many good things.4

Coming Attractions: Lunch At Leonard’s In LA – Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan Host Nosh For Duchess & DrHGuy

For other examples of Leonard Cohen’s graciousness, see

Credit Due Department: Photo by The Duchess aka Penny Showalter
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  1. Before she ascended to Duchessness, Mrs DrHGuy grew up a Valley Girl []
  2. OK, this is an anachronism; Rock Yoda, the most recent entry, #270, to the Leonard Cohen Nicknames List, was not added until Sept 15, 2014. Still, it seems the right fit. []
  3. Note to those whom we may visit in the future, this sort of landmark is the kind of guidance system we need. []
  4. My working definition of  a “gracious host” is one who takes an active role to preclude a guest committing an embarrassing error or feeling uncomfortable. In my experience, a gracious host is an infrequent discovery. From my reading and the experiences of a few friends, I have reason to believe that such entities are even rarer among entertainment superstars. []