In the photo, Leonard Cohen is made Companion to the Order of Canada by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in Ottawa, October 24, 2003.
Credit Due Department: The quote is from Leonard Cohen leaves a shimmer on Montreal by Ian McGillis. The Gazette:September 19, 2014. The photo is by Jim Young and was found at Leonard Cohen Debuts New Single on CBC Radio 2 on CBC Live.
Now, Leonard Cohen certainly has the right to emulate his fellow rock stars and professional entertainers who, once they achieve fame and fortune, dump their menial but necessary chores – such as carrying a singer’s guitar or a cleanup hitter’s bat from location to location – onto underlings who have no other occupational options. Further, this elderly gentleman, who appears to be in his mid 70s, might have been thankful for the work, perhaps having suffered some kind of fiscal reversal that compelled him to take a position as an unskilled laborer when he should have been playing with his grandchildren or going on a spiritual retreat.
But shouldn’t he at least have been treated with respect? In various concerts and in interviews over the course of the past three years, Cohen lavishly thanked his band members, his backup singers, those who prepared food for the troupe, those who arranged transportation, those responsible for setting up and taking down the equipment, the lighting director, the person who cared for the fedoras, and many others involved in the success of the Tour.
Not once, however, did he publicly recognize, let alone commend the impeccably reliable service of this individual (as far as I can determine, Cohen has never found himself sans guitar when he stepped up to play “The Darkness” or “Feels So Good”), a man who uncomplainingly carried out his demeaning job in the service of the Tour and always managed to keep himself clean and decently groomed.
More recently, however, we’ve discovered that guitar-carrying is by no means the only task that falls to this guy (or guys – it’s difficult to discern whether all of these jobs fall to the same guy or there is a retinue of these guys who resemble one another).
You Don’t Have To Be Jewish To Love Popular Problems – But Looking At The Album From That Perspective Couldn’t Hurt
Liel Leibovitz, author of A Broken Hallelujah, has written a smart, insightful, and accessible essay on Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems album that uses Judaism as a prism for apprehending the methodology and significance of Cohen’s songwriting genius.
Think of [Leonard Cohen's] new album, Popular Problems, as dawn on Mount Baldy, inviting you into a sparsely decorated landscape that nonetheless gives you all the discipline and all the space you need to contemplate the questions that are truly worth considering.
Here he is, for example, in “Almost Like the Blues,” reciting over a piano track that manages to be at once sober and seductive: “So I let my heart get frozen /To keep away the rot /My father said I’m chosen /My mother said I’m not /I listened to their story /Of the Gypsies and the Jews /It was good, it wasn’t boring /It was almost like the blues.” It is, first and foremost, a funny line: Is Cohen chosen? Depends on which of his parents you ask. But if it’s a joke, it’s a cosmic one: The very nature of chosenness, the spiritual engine of Judaism for millennia now, is that our seminal moment at the foothills of the mountain came with no instructions. Who’s chosen? For what? For how long? Can we be unchosen? Are our children chosen by default? God never says, leaving us to wonder for eternity what it means to have been chosen. In the meantime, all we can do is guess and make up stories—and songs—that are good, that aren’t boring, and that come as close as is possible to the pure emotional convictions of something like the blues, as transcendental an art form as we’ve got. This sort of songwriting is harder to pull off than you’d think. Any other artist looking at the mirror and seeing himself at the peak of his success might have been tempted to become, as one Israeli rock journalist put it, the Shimon Peres of rock ’n’ roll, dispensing platitudes and enjoying the comfort of his laurels. But Cohen is remarkably unsentimental. Lighter on his feet now than he’s ever been, he delivers his line with humor and with charm, but he’s still as committed as ever to the role that has made him mean so much to so many of us, namely that of the chronicler of the secret particles of truth and beauty most of us are too dense to absorb.
Although Cohen sang “Do I Have To Dance All Night” frequently during the 1976 and 1980 Tours, it was been for retail purchase only as a seven inch single, originally recorded at a 1976 concert in Paris and pressed in Holland for sale in Central European countries.1 That’s a shame because, as I’ve noted, …
Do I Have To Dance All Night is a great song because it is quintessential Cohen: it’s evocative, it’s plaintive, it’s self-effacing, it’s sly, sexy, salacious, and seductive, … it is way cool.
Of course, that’s just one guy’s opinion. Listen to the song yourself.
Be aware, however, that if you happen to be as infatuated with Do I Have To Dance All Night as I am, you may find yourself spontaneously singing, at the most unexpected times, the refrain of
Ooh tell me, Bird of Paradise,
do I have to dance all night?
This can be a wonderful thing if it happens, for example, while one is dancing and the words are sung just barely above a whisper through lips that are almost touching a sweetheart’s ear. If it takes place in the middle of ones presentation on shower curtain sales trends in the Midwest, not so much.
There is more information at that first post and at least 25 other entries that have to do with the song.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I’ve cobbled together two videos – one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the more gypsy, less disco 1980 version – from segments of Cohen-associated videos and photos that kinda sorta fit the music.
Leonard Cohen – Do I Have To Dance All Night (1976)
Video by Allan Showalter
Leonard Cohen – Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Video by Allan Showalter
The record’s cover art, I now believe, is based on the scene that followed the woman’s accusatory query, “Is it true that ‘Do I Have To Dance All Night’ won’t be included on an album?” Why else would Leonard Cohen look remorseful? [↩]
Not quite certain about a word or two when you listen to “Samson In New Orleans?” Puzzled over a phrase in “Nevermind?” Well, there is good news. The official lyrics of the songs from the Popular Problems album are now available online. So, delight in Leonard Cohen’s genius, ponder his rhyme schemes, win bar bets, …
Note: The wordle atop this post displays the 150 most frequently used words (with common words such as “the” and “a” removed) from the lyrics and titles of the songs on the Popular Problems album. The frequency of a word’s use is proportional to the size of the typeface for that word.
I suspect some folks may wonder why I’m already focusing on Leonard Cohen’s next album.The answer is simple – it should be out any time now. Consider this report from The Guardian:
Some of the songs on the new record [Popular Problems] came together at “shockingly alarming speed”, Cohen said, and the duo have already finished “half of another” LP
Consequently, if the next album is to benefit from my recommendations, the time to make them is now. And, I do have a couple of songs on my personal wish list, including today’s suggestion, …
The Other Blues Song – Feels So Good
Leonard Cohen first performed this song in concert at the October 29, 2009 Rosemont Theatre (Chicago) concert. I was lucky enough to hear it twice that day, once at the concert itself and, a few hours earlier, at the soundcheck.
The soundcheck was already underway by the time we had been credentialed and had wended our way through the backstage labyrinth to the auditorium. Shortly after we had settled into our seats, Leonard Cohen1 brought the song they were playing to an end, saying, “Let’s try the other blues song.”
Following which, I heard – for the first time – the song beginning, “Feels so good, … .”
I heard it again, from better seats but in a less exclusive environment, during the concert that evening.2
Eventually, of course, the song came to be known as “Feels So Good” for lots of reasons. I came around when it began appearing on the stage setlists as “Feels So Good.”
Leonard Cohen – Feels So Good
Rosemont Theatre – Chicago: Oct 29, 2009
Video by albertnoonan
Or, as I then identified him mentally, “That is really Leonard Fuckin’ Cohen” [↩]
The depth of my respect for Leonard Cohen is evidenced by the fact that when I recognized the song during that night’s performance from the first bars played, I did not arise in my seat, turn to the audience, and announce “You have never heard this song before – but I have.” [↩]
One reference page with links to the best and most useful Leonard Cohen online resources: discography, concordance, articles, press coverage, humor, ...
Latest Addition: Symposium for English Language Jewish Writers - June 7th, 1964 (audio recording) Leonard Cohen is a provocative member of a panel discussing what it means to be a Canadian, a Jew, & a writer.
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.
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?"
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.
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
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
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.