Tag Archives: Phil Spector

Patti Page Song Was Starting Point For Leonard Cohen – Phil Spector Collaboration

From I Went To Your Wedding To Death Of A Ladies’ Man

As a teenager in L.A. in the early 1950s, Harvey Phillip Spector was glued to the sounds of the AM radio dial. He loved Patti Page singing “I Went To Your Wedding …”1

“I Went to Your Wedding,” written by Jessie Mae Robinson in 1952, became a hit for Patti Page, whose recording of it entered the Billboard chart on August 22, 1952, lasting 21 weeks and reaching #1 on the chart. A country music version by Hank Snow peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart the same year.

Twenty-four years after Patti Page’s rendition of  “I Went to Your Wedding” was the top pop song in America, it became the starting point for the  Leonard Cohen – Phil Spector collaboration that resulted in the “Death of a Ladies’ Man” album.  The following excerpt is from What Happened When Phil Spector Met Leonard Cohen? by Harvey Kubernik:2

Cohen and Spector first met late in 1974, when Cohen was in Los Angeles for a rare club appearance – a two-night gig at the Troubadour. After the last show on the second night, Spector hosted an informal reception for Cohen at his home – a Spanish-style mansion in the grand, excessive Southern California tradition.

Cohen was brought to Spector’s attention, and vice versa, by Martin Machat – who had independently become lawyer and business manager for both men. Machat took Spector to see Cohen perform. Throughout Cohen’s 90-minute show, Spector sat quietly, very still, immediately impressed (he later said) by Cohen’s mystery and his technique (or maybe the mystery of his technique…or the technique of his mystery…)

The two men got on well at the post-Troubadour reception, and kept in some sort of loose touch thereafter. Late in 1976, when Cohen visited Los Angeles again, Spector invited him to be his houseguest. The first night, the two worked out a new version of Patti Page’s “I Went to Your Wedding”; by breakfast, they’d co-written two new songs – Cohen the lyrics, Spector the music (picked out on the piano). The seed was sown for what ultimately became Death of a Ladies’ Man.  [emphasis mine]

Cohen’s own version of the story follows:3

After the [Troubadour] concert, Phil invited us to his house. The house was freezing due to the air conditioning, it was four degrees. He locked the door so we couldn’t leave. I said “Listen Phil, if you lock us in here, we are going to get bored… So as long as we are locked up we might as well write some songs together.” So we started that very night. We wrote songs together for about a month, it was fun. Phil is really a charming guy when you are with him alone. I would write the words, then he would work on the melody, then I would revise the words to better fit the melody. We would exchange ideas. But in the studio when other people were around he was a totally different man.

Phil Spector and Leonard Cohen spending a night together reworking a 1952 Patti Page hit song – scarey thought, eh?
album-Leonard-Cohen-Death-of-a-Ladies-Man

Of course, one has to wonder how the album would have turned out if Messrs. Cohen and Spector had chosen a different tune from among those favored by the teenaged Spector, say “Work With Me Annie” by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters,  the Chordettes’ “Born To Be With You,” or “Sixty Minute Man” by the Dominoes.4

Patti Page – I Went to Your Wedding (1952)

Other Posts Featuring Death Of A Ladies’ Man

  1. From Phil Spector, The Musical Legacy: Part One by Harvey Kubernik (Goldmine, February 20, 2011) []
  2. The Los Angeles Phonograph, January 1978. Found at Speaking Cohen. []
  3. Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992). Found at Speaking Cohen. []
  4. Phil Spector, The Musical Legacy: Part One by Harvey Kubernik (Goldmine, February 20, 2011) []

The Leonard Cohen Bomber Jacket Photo, Warner Bros., Phil Spector, & Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Warner Bros. Releases The Bomber Jacket Photo & The Death Of A Ladies’ Man Album

Dominique BOILE has sent a followup to The Sunday Leonard Cohen Pictorial – The Bomber Jacket Photo that includes the two pages of media information that were originally sent with the photo1  (click on images to enlarge) and this comment:2

This is the official promotional photo sent by Warner Bros. Records in October 1977 for the promotion of “Death Of A Ladies’ Man.”

album-Leonard-Cohen-Death-of-a-Ladies-Man

The association of the photo with “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” explains why the head shot bears the logo of Warner Bros., the company that first released the album, rather than that of Cohen’s own  label, Columbia Records, which did later pick up the album.

Moreover, the Warner Bros. involvement, it turns out, was more a cause than a consequence of the Phil Spector – Leonard Cohen collaboration that resulted in “Death Of A Ladies’ Man.”  The following excerpt is from Gods, Gangsters and Honour by Steven Machat, whose father, Marty Machat, was, until his death, Leonard Cohen’s manager:

In 1977, my father was confronted by a big problem that was threatening his relationship with Phil Spector. Dad had negotiated Phil a label deal with Warner Brothers that involved Spector getting a huge advance before he delivered his future product. Unfortunately, Spector had failed to deliver the product and Warners wanted their money back.

Machat Senior came up with the answer: stick two of his top clients in the studio. My dad would then give the album to Warners to keep them happy, clear the debts, and keep both clients happy. But this involved two of his most problematic clients. Not just Spector but Leonard Cohen,  who, like Phil, could not buy a pop hit in the US. Nevertheless, Death of a Ladies’ Man was born.

Even a cursory knowledge of the horrors that attended the creation of “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” may shift how one views this publicity photo of Leonard Cohen to an edgier perspective. This summary of the Cohen-Spector releationship by Susan Nunziata, writing in the Nov 28, 1998 edition of Billboard, is more benign than most such descriptions:

Of note was Cohen’s collaboration with Phil Spector on the album “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. The almost unimaginable combination of Spector and Cohen has been well documented. Spector’s obsession with guns, his heavy drinking, his tendency to surround himself with menacing henchmen, and his penchant to threaten musicians. The now infamous stories of Spector holding a gun to Cohen’s neck as a sign of his unswerving affection and his obsessive possessiveness of the master tapes, to the extent that Cohen was prevented from hearing the mixes before the album was released, are now legendary. The sound and style of Ladies’ Man were in such contrast to Cohen’s previous work that it came as a great disappointment to him.

In Gods, Gangsters and Honour, Marchat offers a more pointed quote  by Cohen about Spector:

The man is crazy. We were drunk and stupid. I do not wish for this album to see daylight.

Now when you  check the photo, doesn’t  Leonard look a little dazed and more than a bit uneasy, like someone who has been flinching way too many times lately?

Leonard Cohen “Touch[es] His Toe In The Mainstream”

This tempestuous history is – unsurprisingly – recast in the official media information sheets.

The Leonard Cohen data is standard Cohen boilerplate, although one wonders which demographic the “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” PR folks at Warner bros. were pursuing by pointing out, as part of a three paragraph publicity blurb, that he graduated from McGill and was “the recipient of an honorary LLD from Dalhousing College (Halifax, Nova Scotia).”

On the other hand, the second page, which deals with the Cohen-Spector collaboration,  is a PR masterpiece.  I’ve underlined some of the more startling revelations. such as “it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where Cohen leaves off and Specter begins, so closely did the two mesh talents and ideas on this album.”

And, while “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” may be funny, I suspect few who heard it – other than those whose salaries were paid by Warner Bros. – found it to be “as wry as they come.”

The final paragraph alone could serve as the basis for a dozen doctorate dissertations:3

Cohen has said that with this album [Death Of A Ladies' Man] he’s hoping to “touch his toe in the mainstream.” No doubt, it’s a place where he’s always belonged.

To which Cohen fans can only reply “Run, Leonard, run away from the mainstream.”

  1. The photo atop this post is from Dominique []
  2. Dominique also affirms that the name of the photographer and the date of this picture are not given. []
  3. Of course, at a place like University Of Chicago, the placement of the apostrophe in “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” could generate post-graduate papers in a quantity that would approximate the number of “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” albums sold in the eastern half of the US. []

Revisiting A 1998 Tribute To Leonard Cohen

Billboard’s 30th Anniversary Tribute To Leonard Cohen – November 28, 1998

The November 28, 1998 issue of Billboard contains a 14 page celebration of Leonard Cohen.  That section was described in a post at LeonardCohenFiles:

The tribute is a 14 page appendix in the middle of the magazine. A recent interview with Leonard written by with Susan Nunziata was also posted on Billboard’s own website, but there is more in the magazine – we can read comments from his co-workers and friends, like Phil Spector, Jennifer Warnes, and Steve Lindsey. Dylan Siegler writes about Leonard’s career. There are numerous stylish advertisements showing great photos of Leonard and his family. For instance the staff at Stranger Management, his promoters, record companies, financial advisors, music publisher, and TV/radio channels greet him. A touching ad is on page LC-12: photos from Leonard’s family album are presented with the text “With love from your family; Suzanne, Lorca, Adam and Esther”.

The Nunziata interview is studded with gems, including  Cohen’s acknowledgment of  his debt to Jennifer Warnes:

Jennifer Warnes practically revived me from the dead in America by putting out Famous Blue Raincoat.… She’s been an invaluable help in my life.

And there is also a discussion of Cohen’s project with Phil Spector:

Of note was Cohen’s collaboration with Phil Spector on the album “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. The almost unimaginable combination of Spector and Cohen has been well documented. Spector’s obsession with guns, his heavy drinking, his tendency to surround himself with menacing henchmen, and his penchant to threaten musicians. The now infamous stories of Spector holding a gun to Cohen’s neck as a sign of his unswerving affection and his obsessive possessiveness of the master tapes, to the extent that Cohen was prevented from hearing the mixes before the album was released, are now legendary. The sound and style of Ladies’ Man were in such contrast to Cohen’s previous work that it came as a great disappointment to him.

However, with the intervention of time, Cohen has mellowed and warmed toward the album and has now developed a great affection for it, even to the extent that he has entertained the possibility of working with Spector again. Spector, for his part, expressed great admiration for Cohen, and warmly cherished the honor of working with Cohen and of sharing in the writing and production of “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. [emphasis mine]

The Cohen Cover Photo

The intriguing qualities of the interview notwithstanding, I am more taken with the ads placed in the Cohen tribute section by his business associates and family (seen in the following sections) and the spectacularly cluttered cover (seen atop this post).

While I understand the significance of the Cohen-authored books and albums comprising the border of the cover and the fact that no periodical is likely to sacrifice its own logo to highlight a cover photo, I am convinced the simple image of Leonard Cohen, freed of the clunky icons surrounding the image’s perimeter, is far more striking. Click on images for best viewing.

The Leonard Cohen Family Ad

Clearly the highlight of the ads is the touching collection of family photos with the inscription

With love from your family;
Suzanne, Lorca, Adam and Esther

Ad From Moses Znaimer

Moses Znaimer was the head of several Canadian specialty channels, including  Much Music, MusiquePlus, MusiMAX, and MuchmoreMusic. His ad places Cohen on a background filled with images of music, Hebrew script, a rose, a statue emblematic of Eastern thought, and a list of Cohen’s roles: Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Rabbinical Student, Buddhist Adept, and Lover Of Women.

Ad From European Promoters

I first award this ad the prize for Funniest Tribute Ad because of its legend,

First we take Manhattan
Then we take a break

… and the accompanying pseudo-Polaroid of Cohen collapsed on the floor.

It also wins the award for Most Sincere Tribute Ad because of the openly self-serving signature lines:

Dear Leonard,
We can’t wait to see you back on the road.
Love, Fleming, Steen, & your European promoters.

Ad From Greenberg & Associates Financial Advisors

Things change. In 2005, Cohen and his legal team would accuse Greenberg of failing to warn Cohen about his dangerous financial situation. 1

Ad From Stranger Music

Some things really change. The text reads,

“Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free”

Dearest Leonard,
With great love and affection,
from Kelley [Lynch], Joan [Lynch], Jack [Lynch], and all your friends at Stranger Management, and from Steve Lindsey [arranger & producer]

The ad shows Leonard Cohen playing  at Statale Università, Milan, Italy (probably in 1974)2

 

Billboard's 30th Anniversary Tribute To Leonard Cohen – November 28, 1998
  1. Leonard Cohen’s Troubles May Be a Theme Come True By Marc Weingarten.  New York Times October 6, 2005. []
  2. LeonardCohenFiiles []

Warning Signs Of Leonard Cohen Fan Syndrome

dsm-cohenx

You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If …

Since the publication of the official criteria for the prototypical Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis, 301.LC Cohenphilic Personality Disorder, the Heck Of A Guy Leonard Cohen Fan Disorders Asylum and Sanitarium has received numerous messages asking if one or another behavior is a  symptom characteristic of a Leonard Cohen fan.

Consequently, Heck Of A Guy is publishing, as a public service, this non-exhaustive list of signs which indicate that you may be at high risk of being a full-fledged Leonard Cohen fan.1

You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If …

  • You have repeatedly suggested that a Leonard Cohen song would be ideal for a wedding, bar mitzvah, or high school prom.
  • You read a post at LeonardCohenForum that Leonard Cohen was seen buying a Filet-O-Fish at McDonald’s today in your hometown of Cedar Rapids and, although you know that he gave a concert in New Zealand last night,  you head to Mickey D’s,  … just in case.
  • You found The Watchmen to be miscast, overblown, and jejune – except for the use of  Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which transformed the three minute sex scene between superheroes, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II, into a tragicomic masterpiece destined to become a cinematic classic.
  • You like Dylan but sometimes wonder how much of that is because Leonard admires Bob so much.
  • In response to a friend who asks you for wide variety of music,  you burn her a CD with  tracks from every one of Leonard Cohen’s albums.
  • In response to that friend’s explanation that by “wide variety of music” she meant a collection of songs representing many different moods, styles, and eras performed by different singers, you replace three of the  original tracks on the mix CD with one selection each from Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, Sharon Robinson’s Everybody Knows, and Anjani’s Blue Alert albums.
  • You have constructed a six page spreadsheet of Cohen’s preferences in furnishings, condiments, household accessories, and foodstuffs from data garnered from studying photos and videos of Cohen being interviewed in his home.
  • settings2

  • You feel certain that, at least under the Canadian legal code, a spouse declaring “Cohen’s just another singer – and not an especially good one” is grounds for divorce – as is a spouse claiming that he or she “gets Leonard and you don’t.”
  • You carry photos of the kids in your wallet – Lorca & Adam.
  • You’ve taken to bestowing blessings on friends instead of saying goodbye.
  • blessing-screenshot

  • Your standard reply to “How are things?” and “What’s up?” is “I’ve seen the future, baby: it is murder.”
  • You can’t remember a time when you didn’t know Chelsea Hotel #2 was about Janis Joplin.
  • You considered converting from Presbyterianism to Judaism after the 2009 Tel Aviv concert.
  • You’ve lived your entire life in San Diego but claimed to be part-Canadian on the 2010 U.S. Census form.
  • You’ve dated a woman whose most attractive feature was that her name was Marianne or Suzanne.
  • You maintain the high point of contemporary TV was Cohen’s 1986 cameo on Miami Vice.
  • You felt closest to and proudest of  your 9 year old son when you overheard him singing to himself,  “… giving me head on the unmade bed.”
  • You find yourself  perpetually craving tea and oranges – and bananas.
  • leonard-banana

  • Your family and friends have begun responding to you asking “If you could only take three Leonard Cohen albums to a desert island, which ones  would you choose?” with lewd gestures or direct threats.
  • You are not typically an apostrophe aficionado but you are fascinated that the Leonard Cohen album is called “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” rather than “Death Of A Lady’s Man.”
  • Your mother is concerned that you own 182 blouses, all of which feature a polka-dot pattern.
  • You are vexed that Leonard Cohen has not yet made a guest appearance on “The Simpsons,” especially since the Ramones and Cohen lookalike Dustin Hoffman have already been featured on the show.
  • You know that some people listen to Leonard Cohen’s music and don’t like it, but can’t help wondering if they reallllllly listened.
  • You think an Icon Hall Of Fame is a great idea because Leonard Cohen would be a shoo-in for the charter class.
  • You routinely read biographies and watch documentaries about other singers on the chance that Leonard Cohen might be mentioned.
  • You are convinced that there are no covers of Leonard Cohen songs that improve on the original; you also own every cover now available.
  • You think Phil Spector should have already been in jail for ruining Leonard Cohen’s “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” album.
  • Phil Spector: Photo on left taken years ago; photo on right is recent.

  • You mourn the absence of “crack and anal sex” in recent years.
  • You’ve petitioned the city council of your home town to change the name of the road in front of your house to “Boogie Street.”
  • You own all the Leonard Cohen t-shirts, including the imaginary ones.

i-united-heart-lc

  • You remain convinced, lack of supporting evidence notwithstanding, that your Cohen-centric blog makes you desirable to women.

fedoradivider

Update: Additions to this list can be found at

All You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … entries
can be found at the
You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … Page

fedoradivider

Credit Due Department: Many of the warning signs listed above were inspired by discussions read at LeonardCohenForum; details have been changed to protect the afflicted.

  1. Clinical Note: Notwithstanding the popularity of the canard, “One either loves Leonard Cohen’s music or hates it,” early research results tend to support the the possibility that one may legitimately qualify as a Leonard Cohen fan without displaying the obsessive traits (or, in Cohenite terminology, “well deserved dedication to the holy cause”) required for a diagnosis of  Cohenphilic Personality Disorder. Long time Cohen followers, for example, even today tell of a confirmed identification of a Leonard Cohen Fan Without Cohenphilic Personality Disorder in 1992 in Des Moines and again in 1997 in a village near Brussels. Possible sightings have occurred as recently as 2006 in Krakow. It appears, however, that this may be a prodromal state, inevitably progressing to full blown Cohenphilic Personality Disorder. []

Compare & Contrast "Memories" by Leonard Cohen And "Excuses" by The Morning Benders

Leonard Cohen (left) and Chris Chu of The Morning Benders (right)

Two Phil Spector Wall Of Sound Commemorations Of Young Love – 1979 and 2010

Ongoing readers may recall a previous Heck Of A Guy post, Morning Benders Go Orchestral On “Excuses,” featuring a video by this young, talented band that especially impressed me. Those same ongoing readers will almost certainly know that I am quite the fan of "Memories" by Leonard Cohen, which has been the focus of several posts, beginning with Two Leonard Cohen Memories.

After posting the "Excuses" video by The Morning Benders, I found myself comparing it to recordings of Leonard Cohen singing "Memories" more than 30 years earlier.

The obvious link between these performances is Phil Spector, who is credited with writing the music for “Memories” by Leonard Cohen (released 1977; this performance 1979)  and is mentioned as an influence on this specific rendition of “Excuses”1 by The Morning Benders (released and performed 2010). Listen to both, however, and I think you’ll find other parallels.

OK, the backup singers don’t match up perfectly, but both sets do sing a lot of nice syllables.

Leonard Cohen – Memories (German TV, 1979)

Morning Benders – Excuses (2010)

The video is a tad slow to begin; be patient.

  1. This is a special video performance; the album version of “Excuses” is sans orchestra []

Halloween With Leonard Cohen, Allison Crowe, & The Pumpkins

When the calendar shows only one shopping day left until DrHGuy’s birthday, Heck Of A Guy traditionally offers readers a Halloween distraction to bind the anxiety generated by the anticipation of tomorrow’s double holiday: All Saints Day and DrHGuy’s natal celebration.1 If you’ve already purchased and wrapped your birthday gift, feel free to indulge in this year’s Heck Of A Guy Halloween Hodgepodge, starring Leonard Cohen, Allison Crowe, and the most twisted Jack-o’-lanterns you’re likely to come across.

The Leonard Cohen Mask

If you want a lover
I’ll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I’ll wear a mask for you

Find print it yourself masks of Leonard Cohen, Anjani, and Phil Spector at If You Want I’ll Wear A Leonard Cohen Mask For You

lc-pump

Halloween jack-o’-lantern carved by Leonard Cohen, 1994. From LeonardCohenFiles

The Lost Leonard Cohen Album – Songs Of Love & Halloween

Excerpt:

Leonard Cohen and his record company have consistently denied the existence of Songs of Love and Halloween, but to this day, those passing by a certain Montreal warehouse near the harbor after sunset on October 31st report hearing a low-pitched, gravelly voice singing – or wailing – about the woman who “… cut off my head on the unmade bed”

Read the complete story at The Lost Leonard Cohen Album – Songs Of Love And Halloween

Allison Crowe Contributes Skeletons and Spirits

Adrian du Plessis, Manager of Allison Crowe Music, has uploaded a season-appropriate tune from Allison Crowe, currently working on a new album, Spiral. The YouTube description is itself replete with horrifying puns. Consider yourselves warned.


A song in the key of Hallowe’en, a favourite holiday for musician Allison Crowe. Playing piano since age five and singing, almost as long, Crowe, inspired by Ani DiFranco and Loreena McKennitt, materialized her own record label in 2003. She’s now brewing her seventh album/CD, “Spiral”.

You could say Crowe is very ghoul-oriented.

“Allison Chains” (voice, piano) is linked to this track for eternity, with Dave “The Damned” Baird (bass), and Laurent “The Butcher” Boucher (percussion). This version is heard on “This Little Bird”, a CD for which Billie “The Wicca” Woods shot the cover. (Woods’ many portraits are fit to be hung in gallowries worldwide.)

Keeping an eye on all things newt, let us toast those musicians from the Netherlands to America, ‘cross Canada, en France and beyond – who’ve covered this song, including: Dhenzy, Victoria Venom, Lucresa, the friend of “dudelookslikealady2″, Natouchka38, Briauna Marijuana, and Eilish (estarhart).

From the brain of Logan Anschell comes just the right interjection – for those about to enjoy this musical treat. It’s the same thing, he whispers, a skeleton says to a vampire at dinner time:

“Bone appétit!”

May this raise your spirits ( :

Skeletons and Spirits ~ Allison Crowe (Happy Halloween)

Those Incredible Pumpkin-carvings

2007

Halloween Pumpkins 2007

During the short existence of Heck Of A Guy, we’ve been privileged to showcase some spectacular examples of traditional, artistic, and just plain bizarre pumpkin-carving.

The Jack-o’-lantern Gallery

  1. One who speaks of himself or herself in the third person is, it turns out, an illeist, according to the inevitably reliable Anu Garg at words-at-wordsmith.org. DrHGuy is fascinated by this discovery and hopes you are as well. []