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.
I have plans to sing an Elvis song on stage soon. … – I was a huge fan of Elvis! I was in town until today and bought a compilation LP of the man. Soon you will hear me sing “Don’t” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” – but not at the plate. My voice is too deep. 20,000 cigarettes have led my tone of voice three to four notches down too far.
Elvis Presley – Don’t
Elvis Presley – Are You Lonesome Tonight
DrHGuy Note: While I am unaware of any recordings of Leonard Cohen singing “Don’t” or “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” he did cover “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. He sings a bit of it, in fact, during this 1988 BBC interview.
Credit Due Department: Thanks to Hermitage Prisoner for help in ascertaining that the first Elvis Presley song mentioned by Leonard Cohen was “Don’t” rather than “Don’t Be Cruel” as I initially thought.
A Slip, A Clue, or a Plea for Help From Elvis Presley?
Listen to this 30 second clip from the opening of “The Wonder of You,” performed by Elvis Presley on closing night (23 Feb 1970) of his show at the International Hotel Las Vegas. Pay special attention to the lyrics following, “You give me … .”
Elvis Presley – The Wonder Of You
International Hotel Las Vegas Closing Night: 23 Feb 1970
My contention is that Elvis is clearly singing, “You give me hope and constipation.”
This phrase takes on a certain poignancy with the realization that on August 16, 1977, Presley was found on the floor of his bathroom, after apparently having been on the toilet, and was officially pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital.
So, was this just a careless error – or was it the consequence of Elvis so intently wondering about why he was suddenly constipated – a crucial element in a plot by person or persons unknown to kill him – that this concern slipped into the lyrics?
Or, was it a clue Presley consciously left in hopes of pointing to his murderer?
While an anti-Elvis conspiracy theory may sound unlikely, is there any better explanation for Elvis meeting Nixon later that same year to ask for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge and an appointment as a “Federal Agent at Large.”
Leonard Cohen, Was (Not Was), and Elvis’s Rolls Royce
No, the preceding heading is not an argument I’m having with myself. Leonard Cohen & Was (Not Was), as any member of the Hard Core Cohen Contingent knows, is the collaboration that led to another of those Leonard Cohen songs that you’ve probably never heard; in this case, however, it’s a song that is (relatively) easy to find.1
But before we get to the song, let’s ponder that positive-thinking group with the self-negating name, …
Was (Not Was)
Who remembers Was (Not Was)?
Need a hint? OK, perhaps you recall their one Top 40 hit, a 1988 dance ditty called Walk The Dinosaur. It had a contagious chorus that, once it infected ones brain, would nest in a sulcus, triggering its host to begin singing these lines2 at especially inappropriate times over the next several years:
Open the door, get on the floor
Everybody walk the dinosaur
I won’t ask who else, besides me, liked the song, because I know you too cool for school sorts won’t fess up to perpetually humming it from 1988 to 1996. Admit it, though. You would like to hear it just one more time, wouldn’t you? Maybe even see that silly music video? Well, I’m no spoilsport. Check it out.
It’s OK. Go ahead. I won’t tell anyone.
Was (Not Was) deserved more hits but, while they managed to release four albums from 1981 through 1990 as well as the occasional single and to develop a cult following, especially around their hometown of Detroit, they were never superstars. (Ongoing recording-contract problems may have had something to do with that.)
They specialized in R&B and funk, often played at an upbeat dance tempo, routinely integrating other musical genres, including but not limited to jazz, pop, hip-hop, hard rock, Motown soul, and spoken word poetry into the mix.
Their outstanding feature, however, in my estimation, was the humor and clever lyrics of their songs. How could anyone not like I Feel Better Than James Brown with its tune and lyrics (including the line, “And Fidel and I open a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken shops”) that play off James Brown’s I Feel Good? And I couldn’t resist smiling every time I heard the the lines in Somewhere In America that described a neighborhood with “no saber-tooth neighbors” and “no day care Felinis.”
Was (Not Was) was also known for their guest vocalists, including Ozzie Osborne, Elvis Costello, Mel Torme, Marshall Crenshaw, Doug Feiger (The Knack), and Frank Sinatra, Jr.
They also cut a track on one of their albums with a fellow named Leonard Cohen, which brings us to …
Elvis’s Rolls Royce
Was (Not Was) - Are You Okay?
In 1990, Was (Not Was) published the album, Are You Okay?, which included the song, Elvis’s Rolls Royce,3 with Leonard Cohen as lead vocalist (and Iggy Pop contributing backing vocals).
Otherwise competent music critics have described Cohen’s performance as rapping; I defer to those with more expertise than I, but to my ear, this track has more in common with T.S. Eliot or Yeats reading their own poetry than Dr. Dre or Jay-Z rapping. No one, I’ll wager, will confuse LC with Snoop Dogg, which will be, I suspect, a relief to both of them.4
In any case, one suspects that it was fun to produce, and it’s clearly fun to hear. This excerpt5 is characteristic of this song about Cohen chauffeuring the King from London to New York City:
I got a little nervous
I think I lost my poise
As we crossed the great Atlantic
In Elvis’s Rolls Royce
Elvis Presley, His Cars, & Leonard Cohen
Considerable poetic license was involved in the composition of Elvis’s Rolls Royce. Elvis owned many, many cars, a significant number of which he gave away to friends and family. He did own a Rolls Royce:
January 1961 Elvis signed a 5 year contract with Hal Wallis. To celebrate he went out and bought a Rolls Royce Phantom V from a Beverly Hills dealer only to bring it home and have his mothers’ chickens peck away at their reflections in the elegant finish. Most people would have just shot the birds but Elvis just chose to have the car repainted four or five times.6
That Rolls Royce is featured in the extraordinarily rare7 photo of Elvis, Leonard, & the Rolls atop this post.
Images in the accompanying video are likewise “inspired by” rather than “based on” Elvis’s cars. Viewers are advised to rev up their “willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith;”8 a literal-minded perspective may result in significant cognitive whiplash.
Video Added Nov 18, 2011: Was (Not Was) & Leonard Cohen – Elvis’s Rolls Royce
The complete lyrics of Walk The Dinosaur follow: Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom
Boom boom acka-lacka boom boom
It was a night like this forty million years ago
I lit a cigarette, picked up a monkey skull to go
The sun was spitting fire, the sky was blue as ice
I felt a little tired, so I watched Miami Vice
And Walked the dinosaur, I walked the dinosaur
Open the door, get on the floor
Everybody walk the dinosaur
I met you in a cave, you were painting buffalo
I said I’d be your slave, follow you wherever you go
That night we split a rattlesnake and danced beneath the stars
You fell asleep, I stayed awake and watched the passing cars
And walked the dinosaur, I walked the dinosaur
*One night I dreamed of New York
You and I roasting blue pork
In the Statue of Liberty’s torch
Elvis landed in a rocket ship
Healed a couple of lepers and disappeared
But where was his beard?????*
A shadow from the sky much too big to be a bird
A screaming crashing noise louder than I’ve ever heard
It looked like two big silver trees that somehow learned to soar
Suddenly a summer breeze and a mighty lion’s roar
For one thing, coming up with a rapper’s name for Leonard Cohen might be a problem: Ice Zen? LC Gaunt? Ur Mann? I don’t think so. [↩]
The lyrics to Elvis’s Rolls Royce follow:
Well I saw a crowd a-gathered
Must’ve been somebody shot
Reporters scribbled shorthand
And photographed the spot
I moved in a little closer
But I couldn’t see no blood
Just a gold-plated chariot
Arisin’ from the mud
Then I heard a soulful murmur
And it sounded like his voice
It began to sing, it was the King
It was Elvis’s Rolls Royce
Now the wood-grained bar was open
Like he was about to have a drink
A white-gloved chauffeur at the wheel
I never saw him blink
The bobbies looked indifferent
Clearly they were not amused
It was just another auction piece
And it didn’t matter whose
D-Day was upon me
And I had to make a choice
Next thing I know
I’m at the wheel of Elvis’s Rolls Royce
Well I made a left at Parliament
And hit the pedal hard
And I tipped my hat and I smiled
As I passed by Scotland Yard
Now the voice is talkin’ to me
It says “There’s nothing to fear”
It was coming from the back seat
But there was no one in the mirror
I got a little nervous
I think I lost my poise
As we crossed the great Atlantic
In Elvis’s Rolls Royce
When we got to New York City
The crowds went wild to say the least
As I steered my precious cargo
Through the belly of the beast
Then I took off down the Interstate
And drove throughout the night
Till I reached the state of Tennessee
In the early morning light
There they were, the gates of Graceland
My eyes got kind of moist
Home sweet home to rock’n'roll
And Elvis’s Rolls Royce [↩]
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?"