"Cold Hard Truth" By George Jones Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox


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.

Leonard Cohen On George Jones – “Best voice in America”

Leonard Cohen’s interview with Mark Binelli for Rolling Stone in 20011 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.2 He has the best voice in America.

George Jones – Cold Hard Truth

Credit Due Department: Concerned that I could be overlooking Cohen-favored songs, I posted a request for help at LeonardCohenForum yesterday and have already received several generous, knowledgeable, and helpful responses offering more references to Cohen-favored songs than I could have hoped. I am grateful. One of those LeonardCohenForum responses was from MaryB, who recalled “an interview posted here [LeonardCohenForum] in the last 6 months or so where LC interrupted the interview to get the reporter to listen to some lines from a George Jones song.” A search quickly located the Rolling Stone article with the George Jones reference that is the basis for today’s entry.

  1. Q&A: The New Leonard Cohen by Mark Binelli. Rolling Stone: Nov 8, 2001. []
  2. 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. []