Do I Have To Dance All Night – The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve (Probably) Never Heard

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French Pressing

Note: Originally posted July 6, 2006 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Why You (Probably) Haven’t Heard Do I Have To Dance All Night – Even If You Are A Fan

Well, the simple answer is that you have heard the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night only if you attended one of the 56 concerts of Cohen’s European tour that took place between April 22 to July 8, 1976, if you obtained a bootleg of one of those concerts, if you bought it on the Leonard Cohen 45 rpm record  that was marked briefly in Europe, or if you stumbled across a crappy MP3 of Do I Have To Dance All Night on the internet.1

I, for example, fall into the third (i.e., the crappy MP3) category. In my more haphazard music downloading days, I somehow came into possession of an extraordinarily impaired MP3 file of Do I Have To Dance All Night. Despite the pops, hiss, and skips, the more I played it, the more I liked it.

When I could no longer endure the gross imperfections of the recording,2 I checked Cohen’s discography with the idea of buying an album that included Do I Have To Dance All Night, ripping an clean MP3 from it, and living happily ever after.

Not So Fast

This search was, however, to be unrequited. As I was to discover, of all the Leonard Cohen albums, this song is only on – exactly none of them,3 and, indeed, has been and continues to be officially available only as a seven inch single (CBS 4431), originally recorded at a June 1976 concert in Paris and pressed in Holland for sale in Europe.4  Do I Have To Dance All Night is Side A on the single; Side B features The Butcher, which is also available on the Songs From a Room album.


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French Pressing – Back Cover


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Portuguese Pressing



German Pressing

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Spanish Pressing


Why Do I Have To Dance All Night Is A Great Song

Assessing the quality of a pop song is, at best, an iffy business, calling for a dispassionate musicological analysis, a careful comparison of that song to others within its genre, and an unbiased judgment of its impact on listeners.

Well, that ain’t the way we roll here at Cohencentric.

I like almost everything Leonard Cohen sings; in fact, I like most of what he sings a lot. And, I have noticed that with the passage of time and repeated listenings, I like his songs more and more. Whatever discrimination I may have once had in regard to Cohen’s playlist has long since dissipated. I like covers of Leonard Cohen songs (there are over 180 Cohen covers in my iTunes Leonard Sans Lenny playlist), songs about Leonard Cohen (e.g., The Austin Lounge Lizards’ Leonard Cohen’s Day Job), and songs about Leonard Cohen songs (e.g., Jeffery Lewis’s The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song).

Anyway, consider yourself warned.

OK, But Why Is Do I Have To Dance All Night A Great Song?

Do I Have To Dance All Night is a great song because it is quintessential Cohen: it’s evocative, it’s plaintive, it’s self-effacing, it’s sly, sexy, salacious, and seductive, … it is way cool.

Of course, that’s just one guy’s opinion. Check out the lyrics and listen to the song yourself at the end of this post.

Be aware, however, that if you happen to be as infatuated with Do I Have To Dance All Night as I am, you may find yourself spontaneously singing, at the most unexpected times, the refrain of

Ooh tell me, Bird of Paradise,
do I have to dance all night?

This can be a wonderful thing if it happens, for example, while one is dancing and the words are sung just barely above a whisper through lips that are almost touching a sweetheart’s ear. If it takes place in the middle of ones presentation on shower curtain sales trends in the Midwest, not so much.

The Quest

I was originally convinced that Do I Have To Dance All Night would, sooner or later, take its place as a track on one or another of Cohen’s albums. After two or three years of waiting, I was still convinced it would turn up on a CD … sometime … eventually … perhaps even in my lifetime, but I decided, nevertheless, to go with Plan B.

As is often the case, Plan B could be accurately summarized as Throw money at the problem.

I tracked the vintage recordings marketplaces until a semi-pristine specimen of Do I Have To Dance All Night was listed by a courteous chevalier living just outside Paris. An exchange of emails between us followed by an exchange of electrons between his bank and my credit card company resulted in an exorbitant number of my dollars being converted to an equally impressive number of his francs and, after a ten day wait, a genuine, unscratched seven-inch record of the much longed-for song being delivered to my mailbox.


While a record in ones hand may be emotionally gratifying, producing an audible tune from it, it turns out, requires additional equipment. In fact, as those readers who are my contemporaries know, playing an record is somewhat more of an affair than sliding a CD into the slot on ones car dash or punching up the right tune on the iPod. The whippersnapper segment of the readership is herewith referred to How to Play A Record. (Yep, playing a record is now such a lost art that the folks at have posted a how-to tutorial.)

So, I resurrected my trusty, dusty Dual turntable from the basement, hit the net for a replacement needle and cartridge, and hooked up a spare receiver-amplifier.


Finally, I had to make a trip to our local used records store to purchase a 45 RPM spindle adapter insert ($0.25).


And, after all that money and hassle, what do I have to show for it?

I have a decent MP35 of the best Leonard Cohen song you’ve (probably) never heard


Video Update

Since the publication of this post, Do I Have To Dance All Night has been featured many times in posts on this site. Worthy (in my biased judgment, at least) of special note are two videos I’ve cobbled together – one for the semi-funky 1976 version of the song with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version – that kinda sorta fit the music. So, I’ve eliminated the audio-only recording and added these links to the videos:


Do I Have To Dance All Night

I’m Forty-One, the moon is full,
you make love very well.
You touch me like I touch myself,
I like you Mademoiselle.
You’re so fresh and you’re so new,
I do enjoy you, Miss.
There’s nothing I would rather do
than move around just like this

But do I have to dance all night?
But do I have to dance all night?
Ooh tell me, Bird of Paradise,
do I have to dance all night?

You never really have to tell me what
you really think of me – alright.
Let’s say I’m doing fine,
but do I have to dance all night?

Do I have to dance all night? …

I learned this step a while ago.
I had to practice it while everybody slept.
I waited half my life for you, you know,
I didn’t even think that you’d accept.
And here you are before me in the flesh
saying “Yes, yes, yes!”

But do I have to dance all night? …

I learned this step a while ago …

But do I have to dance all night? ...

 Credit Due Department: All the examples of cover art shown in this post are from the private collection of Dominique BOILE.


  1. OK, there are a few other categories. The studio musicians during the production of the never released recording of the song obviously heard it. The recording engineers for the central European 45 heard it. Heck, maybe Leonard played it for Rebecca De Mornay. I’m talking about civilians not having heard Do I Have To Dance All Night. []
  2. It required approximately 12 minutes (four replays of the song) for me to reach the breaking point; of course, I was younger then and my tolerance of such annoyances was far stronger than it is currently. I would not be the one bravely, grimly refusing to give up secrets despite torture. Nope, those interrogators ask me once, especially if they ask politely, and I’m spilling the beans, the creamed corn, the pork chops, whatever they want. []
  3. According to the Wikipedia, “Cohen wanted to include “Misty Blue”/”Do I Have to Dance All Night” as a free bonus single with the [Recent Songs] LP, but Columbia, his record company, rejected the idea.” []
  4. The woman on the French cover (the one atop this post) is Avril Giacobbi, the Personal Assistant to and girlfriend of Marty Machat, who was then Cohen’s lawyer and business manager. (Source: Dominique Boile, personal communication) []
  5. And decent is the correct adjective. Even though this MP3 file was made from a good copy of the record, the quality of the original recording is not superb. And, the live part of the live recording is, in my view, a liability rather than an asset; I find, for example, that I much prefer the one hand clapping phenomenon to a crowd’s synchronized hand-clapping during a concert. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful, touching song that makes me happy every time I hear it. []