Video: Leonard Cohen’s “That’s What I Heard You Say” Featured In Dramatic Sony Two Worlds Ad

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Note: Originally posted Oct 13, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Two Worlds Vs A Thousand Kisses

According  to Leonard Cohen’s official website, he “is featured in a new Sony commercial in which he recites a specially written verse called ‘That’s What I Heard You Say.'” The commercial itself is called “Two Worlds.”  The “specially written verse” is another modest adaptation of A Thousand Kisses Deep (see lyrics below), a poem that Cohen has reformulated numerous times as a song and, during the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour, as a recitation (and it was not uncommon for performances during that Tour to feature differing lyrics).

In addition to the interest generated by any new lyrical contribution, albeit a variation of a previous work, from Leonard Cohen,  this performance also holds potential significance because

1. It is one of those relatively few instances in which Cohen’s works are used in an advertisement

2. The commercial is for Sony, one division of which, Sony Music Entertainment,1 is Leonard Cohen’s record label.2 As is true of many artists and the record labels, the relationship between Leonard Cohen and Sony/CBS/BMG/Columbia/etc has sometimes been rocky. While one cooperative venture doth not a rapprochement make, it is nonetheless notable that the ad is featured not only on LeonardCohen.com but also his official Facebook page and the Cohen-sanctioned LeonardCohenFiles.

There is even (or inevitably) a Making of the film documentary.

Sony Two Worlds – Featuring Leonard Cohen

Lyrics: Two Worlds Ad

Don’t matter if the road is long
Don’t matter if it’s steep
Don’t matter if the page is gone 
It’s written that we’ll meet. 
I loved you when you opened
like a lily to the heat
and I love you when it closes
a thousand kisses deep.

I know you had to lie to me 
I know you had to cheat 
You learned it on your father’s knee 
and at your mother’s feet.
But did you have to fight your way 
across the burning street 
where all our vital interests lay 
a thousand kisses deep…

For comparison,  the lyrics recited in the March 3, 1998 KCRW broadcast follow:3

Don’t matter if the road is long
Don’t matter if it’s steep
Don’t matter if the moon is gone
And the darkness is complete
Don’t matter if we lose our way
It’s written that we’ll meet
At least, that’s what I heard you say
A thousand kisses deep

I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat
You see, I’m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second hand physique
With all he is and all he was
A thousand kisses deep

I know you had to lie to me
I know you had to cheat
You learned it on your father’s knee
And at your mother’s feet
But did you have to fight your way
Across the burning street
When all our vital interests lay
A thousand kisses deep

I’m turning tricks
I’m getting fixed
I’m back on boogie street
I’d like to quit the business
But I’m in it, so to speak
The thought of you is peaceful
And the file on you complete
Except what I forgot to do
A thousand kisses deep

Don’t matter if you’re rich and strong
Don’t matter if you’re weak
Don’t matter if you write a song
The nightingales repeat
Don’t matter if it’s nine to five
Or timeless and unique
You ditch your life to stay alive
A thousand kisses deep

The ponies run
The girls are young
The odds are there to beat
You win a while, and then it’s done
Your little winning streak
And summon now to deal with your invincible defeat
You live your life as if it’s real
A thousand kisses deep

I hear their voices in the wine
That sometimes did me seek
The band is playing Auld Lang Syne
But the heart will not retreat
There’s no forsaking what you love
No existential leap
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep

Also for comparison, the video below is a combination of the 2009 Live In London performance of  the poem with the unduplicated portions of one broadcast recitation from 1997 and one from 1998.one version of A Thousand Kisses Deep.

“A Thousand Kisses Deep” By Leonard Cohen – A Composite Presentation
Video by Allan Showalter

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  1. Those who have been Cohen fans for some time can be forgiven if they experience corporation confusion at this point.  On November 17, 1987, the Sony Corporation of America acquired CBS Records, which hosted many performers, including Leonard Cohen. CBS Inc., now CBS Corporation, retained the rights to the CBS name for music recordings but granted Sony a temporary license to use the CBS name. Sony renamed the record company Sony Music Entertainment (SME) on January 1, 1991. Cohen’s work also operated under the BMG aegis for some time; his own publishing company, Stranger Music, was, for example, purchased by Sony BMG. In August 2004, Sony entered into a 50-50 joint venture with Bertelsmann by merging Sony Music and Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) to form Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann announced on August 5, 2008 that Sony agreed to acquire Bertelsmann’s 50% stake in Sony BMG. Sony completed its acquisition of Bertelsmann’s 50% stake in the companies’ joint venture on October 1, 2008. The company, once again named Sony Music Entertainment Inc. (SME), became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation through its US subsidiary Sony Corporation of America. Got that? (This material was gathered from a number of sources but the basic Sony mergers and acquisitions  information can be found at Wikipedia.) []
  2. Sony Music Entertainment is also the current record label of Adam Cohen and Anjani Thomas. []
  3. From a  transcription by Hermitage Prisoner at LeonardCohenForum. []

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