Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You” Is – Intriguingly – On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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The Original 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 Fsongs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric 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 Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Joni Mitchell And A Case Of Who?

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The formal documentation of Leonard Cohen’s approbation of “A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell comes from “Leonard Cohen – In Eigenen Worten [In His Own Words]” by Jim Devlin,1 in which the song was ranked #2 in the list of Leonard Cohen’s favorite songs in 1988.

As one might infer from the above photo, however, there is more to the story than a personal hit parade listing. After all, #1 on that 1988 compilation was a tune by George Jones and #3 was by Bob Dylan, but I haven’t found a photo of George or Bob happily hugging Leonard like that.

As it turns out, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, both of whom are iconic Canadian singer-songwriters who came of age professionally in the late 1960s with roots in the folk movement of that era, also shared a short-lived romantic liaison which is summarized in this excerpt from  what has become one of the most-read Heck Of A Guy/Cohencentric posts, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell: Just One Of Those Things:

For a few weeks in 1967 and 1968, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling, the consequences of which continue to echo in their work.

Introduced to each other backstage at Judy Collins’s songwriter’s workshop2 at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival  by Judy Collins herself,3  who was, in large part,  responsible for jump-starting the musical careers of both singer-songwriters, Cohen and Mitchell were officially an item by the time the two of them co-hosted a workshop at the Mariposa Folk Festival.4 Their romance ignited, flared, and exhausted itself within weeks. Depending upon the source and the skew of ones perspective, preferences, and prejudices, Cohen either terminated the relationship himself for unspecified reasons or incited Mitchell to end it because of his interest in other women.

Also included in that post is a discussion of songs Mitchell wrote which have been identified by some as having been inspired by her relationship with Leonard Cohen: “Rainy Night House,” “That Song About The Midway,” “The Gallery,” and “A Case Of You.”5  It seems significant that, by my unofficial and unscientific count, the word most commonly used by politic writers to describe the mood of all these songs is “bittersweet.”

This commentary on the psychological provenance of “A Case Of You” is also from Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell: Just One Of Those Things:

In his 1996 biography, “Joni Mitchell,”  Brian Hinton offers his “own uninformed guess …  that ‘A Case Of You’  is also about Leonard Cohen.” Mitchell herself, according to Sheila Weller, told “a confidante in the mid-1990s that it was about Leonard Cohen” but told Estrella Berosini the song was about another lover, James Taylor.6 In any case, the chorus does have a Cohen sort of ring to it.7

Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
And you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you
I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
And still be on my feet

Regardless of the origins, it is a wonderful song that evokes and resonates with the joys and vicissitudes of love once embraced and then lost. That Leonard Cohen lists it as one of his favorite songs 20 years after the romance that appears to have spawned it is – well, like most Leonard Cohen behaviors, it’s intriguing.

Joni Mitchell Performs “A Case Of You”

Joni Mitchell – A Case Of You
Video from

Credit Due Department: Photo  of Joni Mitchell by Matt Gibbonshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/ultomatt/3126812062/, CC BY 2.0, – Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted May 4, 2010  at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. This invaluable reference was offered by Florian at LeonardCohenForum. []
  2. Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period by Michelle Mercer. Free Press; 1st Edition, April 7, 2009 []
  3. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation by  Sheila Weller. Atria: April 8, 2008 []
  4. Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period by Michelle Mercer. Free Press; 1st Edition, April 7, 2009 []
  5. On a tangential note, both Cohen and Mitchell wrote songs called “Winter Lady.” A comparison of the two works can be found at “Winter Lady” By Leonard Cohen Meets “Winter Lady” By Joni Mitchell. []
  6. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller. Atria: April 8, 2008. P 314 []
  7. The complete lyrics of “A Case Of You” can be found at http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/joni+mitchell/a+case+of+you_20075257.html []

One Reply to “Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You” Is – Intriguingly – On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox”

  1. Alex

    I much prefer kd lang’s version, on “Hymns I the 59th Parallel” ….Hallelujah and Bird on the Wire are on it, too

    Alex