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 songs 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.
Q: What music would you have played at your funeral?
A: The Grand Tour by George Jones. He’s showing somebody round this empty house and he’s saying here’s the nursery, she left me without mercy.
Leonard Cohen answering an awkwardly phrased query in “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” from the September 1994 edition of Q Magazine.
To put the period during which this Leonard Cohen quotation was made in context, 1994 saw Leonard Cohen completing his tour promoting The Future and beginning his five year retreat at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles.
George Jones has been featured in a previous Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox post, “Cold Hard Truth” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox:
Leonard Cohen’s interview with Mark Binelli for Rolling Stone in 20013 is, as suggested by its subtitle, “The cult hero on his songwriting, cooking and Chinese liquor,” wide-ranging. For the purposes of this post, however, the focus is on a few sentences about Cohen’s late night pleasures as a kid in Montreal, including a shout-out to WWVA in West Virginia:
I listened to country as a kid. I could get WWVA from West Virginia, late at night. Have you heard George Jones’ last record, Cold Hard Truth? I love to hear an old guy laying out his situation.4 He has the best voice in America.
According to Wikipedia, “The Grand Tour” was the title track to the album George Jones released in 1974 and became “Jones’ sixth No. 1 song on Billboard magazine’s Hot Country Singles chart in August 1974, and was the fourth-biggest hit of the year.”
George Jones – The Grand Tour
Note: Originally posted Jan 18, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- One of Leonard Cohen’s many nicknames. See Leonard Cohen Nicknames [↩]
- Jones was nicknamed “The Possum” by a disc jockey because of the supposed similarity between the country singer’s and the semi-arboreal marsupial’s close set eyes and upturned nose [↩]
- Q&A: The New Leonard Cohen – by Mark Binelli. Rolling Stone. Posted Oct 19, 2001. [↩]
- I also love to hear an old guy laying out his situation. Incidentally, George Jones was born September 12, 1931, making him only 3 years older than Leonard Cohen, who was born September 21, 1934. It was because Jones began his professional career at 16 and was singing on Texas stations in the 1940s that his songs could possibly have been available on radio while Cohen was still an adolescent. I haven’t been able to track down when Jones began singing at WWVA, but, according to allmusic, the first George Jones recording (a single called “No Money in This Deal”) was released in early 1954, just after Jones returned from a stint in the Marines, on a local Texas label where it received no attention. At that time, Leonard Cohen would have been 19 years old. [↩]