I went to his [Bob Dylan’s] concert. It was terrific. I’ve been to many Dylan concerts. This one, there was a walkway from the hotel to the auditorium, so you could enter into this private area, the people who had boxes. We were in one of those boxes. First of all, I’ve never been in a private box in an auditorium. That was fun. And a lot of members of the band came. But it was very loud. Fortunately, Raphael, our drummer, had earplugs, and he distributed them. Because our music is quite soft and that’s what we’ve been listening to for three or four months. As Sharon Robinson said, Bob Dylan has a secret code with his audience. If someone came from the moon and watched it they might wonder what was going on. In this particular case he had his back to one half of the audience and was playing the organ, beautifully I might say, and just running through the songs. Some were hard to recognize. But nobody cared. That’s not what they were there for and not what I was there for. Something else was going on, which was a celebration of some kind of genius that is so apparent and so clear and has touched people so deeply that all they need is some kind of symbolic unfolding of the event. It doesn’t have to be the songs. All it has to be is: remember that song and what it did to you. It’s a very strange event.
Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008). Photo of Dylan playing Barcelona in 1984 by Stoned59 – originally posted to Flickr as Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia
For an account of another Dylan concert Leonard Cohen attended, see Leonard Cohen Declines Bob Dylan’s Invitation To Play In Rolling Thunder Revue
Leonard Cohen-Bob Dylan Interface
A collection of posts about the interface between Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan, including their opinions of each other, their interactions, and their occasional differences can be found at Leonard Cohen-Bob Dylan Interface
One of the reasons was that I was so wiped out physically by the end of my last tour because I was drinking heavily. I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour… Before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert. I would never drink after intermission. It was a long tour. It must have been 60 to 70 concerts. [Interviewer: Why did you need to drink?] I was very nervous. And I liked drinking. And I found this wine, it was Château Latour. Now very expensive. It was even expensive then. It’s curious with wine. The wine experts talk about the flavour and the bouquet and whether it has legs and the tannins and the fruit and the symphonies of tastes. But nobody talks about the high. Bordeaux is a wine that vintners have worked on for about 1,000 years. Each wine has a very specific high, which is never mentioned. Château Latour, I don’t know how I stumbled on it, but it went with the music, and it went with the concert. I tried to drink it after the tour was over, and I could hardly get a glass down. It had no resonance whatsoever. It needed the adrenaline of the concert and the music and the atmosphere, the kind of desperate atmosphere of touring—desperate because I was drinking so much! I had a good time with it for a while, but it did wreck my health, and I put on about 25 pounds.
Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008)
The video automatically starts with the final chorus, which ends with Leonard affirming the audience’s completion of his lyrics.
Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
Oslo: August 20, 2013
Video by TheMusikkdude
Originally posted Aug 21, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The methodology of choice employed by folks to prove they really know Leonard Cohen is pointing out that Mr Cohen – aka the High Priest Of Pathos, aka the Poet Laureate Of Pessimism – is actually a pretty funny guy. Given that, it’s remarkable that I can find only two full-blown attempts in the literature to list the “Funniest Leonard Cohen Songs.”
1. In its May 19, 2006 issue, Stylus Magazine published “Top Ten Funniest Leonard Cohen Songs” by Mallory O’Donnell. The piece is no longer online (Stylus closed as a business on 31 October 2007), but I can characterize the article with two examples:
- Included in the list of hilarious ditties was the laugh-a-line Who By Fire.
- The description of another entry, Leaving Greensleeves, focuses on “the way he sings much of the song—especially the word “greensleeeeeeeves”—as though he were taking the world’s most painful crap through an iron grate. I mean, Lord, you can almost hear the chafing.”
Are you slapping your knees and guffawing uproariously?
I didn’t think so.
2. A Listicle of Leonard Cohen’s Funniest Songs, published Feb 13, 2018 at One Week // One Band, is available online. I’ve excerpted one of the five entries below:
5) “Tower of Song”
It’s a shitpost, is what it is. Full on Blingee and MS Paint. *Casio preset* “I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” *Keyboard solo played on one index finger* “Do you want to hear The Answer? Are you, truly, hungry for The Answer?”
Doo dum dum dum, de doo dum dum.
“Tower of Song” is also what Leonard Cohen recited at his induction to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. One career summary, two ways.
I find it difficult to ascertain what is meant by “funniest” because the definition seems inconsistent, but that may be my idiosyncratic, used-to-be-an-English-ajor interpretation, and your mileage may vary. The full discussion of this and the other songs on the list (One of Us Cannot Be Wrong, Tower of Song, Jazz Police, I’m Your Man, and Memories) are “funniest songs” is available at the link.
There are also lots of references to humorous Leonard Cohen lines in articles, on social media, and in fan forums, but none of these rise to the level of a ranking.
Searching For Leonard Cohen’s Funniest Song Lyrics
Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. Photo by stunned
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 Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.
I think if I had one of those good voices, I would have done it completely differently. I probably would have sung the songs I really like rather than be a writer. When I was a kid I always had this fantasy of singing with a band. We’d have get-togethers and I’d sing ‘Racing with the Moon,’ stuff like that. I just don’t think one would have bothered to write if one could have really lifted one’s voice in song.1
While Leonard didn’t mention a specific artist, Racing With the Moon was the signature tune of Vaughn Monroe, who sold over one million copies by 1952,
- Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough By Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. [↩]
For someone who’s Jewish, your music often seems obsessed with Catholicism. Why?
I grew up in a Catholic city, and all through Quebec the church is very strong. And I had an Irish-Catholic nanny; because my father was sick and my mother was usually at the hospital taking care of him, I was brought up part Catholic in a certain way. The figure of Christ touched me very early in my life. My radical Catholic friends were very angry at me for this Christological infatuation. Because they had really been oppressed by the church. To me it was romance. And there were many georeligious ideas I could speculate on. For one thing, I could see Christianity as the great missionary arm of Judaism. So I felt a certain patronizing interest in this version of the thing. I didn’t have to believe it. But I was talking today to a friend of mine, and it came to me that Christ’s image is just the perfect symbol for our civilization. It’s a perfect event for us – you have to die to survive. Because the personality is crucified in our society. That’s why so many people collapse, why the mental hospitals are full. Nobody can survive with the personality that they want, which is the hero of their own drama. That hero dies, it’s massacred, and the self that is reborn remembers that crucifixion. And we’re doing that every day. This Christian myth at the center of our society is very good. It’s workable.
Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. Photo of statue of Christ taken in Montreal by rik-shaw (look 4 light)