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.
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