The standout performance of the first episode of Maya & Marty, NBC’s variety show (May 31, 2016) starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, was a performance of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” and Peggy Lee’s “I’m a Woman” by Miley Cyrus. The response from fans, press, and social media has been significant in size and content.
There’s A Back Story
Almost all of the comments and stories appeared to perceive Miley’s cover of “I’m Your Man” as a de novo phenomenon. Ongoing readers, however, may recall that Cohencentric’s predecessor, DrHGuy.com, reported an Instagram, dated Sept 4, 2014, from Ms Cyrus promising/threatening to cover Cohen’s classic “I’m Your Man” or, in Miley’s own words, “gonna cover dis shit.” The same image of Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album reappeared on the Miley Cyrus Instagram account 10 months later, albeit with a different caption, “Sexiest fuckin jam.”1
In fact, Leonard Cohen commented on the possible cover in a Rolling Stone interview:
I know my songs are not that important, but I feel they are available for reinterpretation. I never get jaded about that. When somebody like Miley Cyrus or [Michael] Bublé covers that song, I look forward to it. I’m so delighted when anybody covers a song, my critical faculties go into suspension.2
Then, on Oct 17, 2015, Miley Cyrus sang “I’m Your Man” (and “Super Freak”) during a charity fundraiser . According to NME,3
Cyrus appeared at James Franco’s Bar Mitzvah, a spoof Jewish coming of age ceremony for the Spring Breakers actor that was also a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association hosted by Funny Or Die.
That performance can be viewed at Video: Miley Cyrus Covers Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man”
What They Said About Miley
I’ve extracted a few comments about the Maya & Marty performance and added a few annotations of my own.
Spectacularly old-school musical performance
– See Miley Cyrus, Maya Rudolph Mash Up Leonard Cohen, Peggy Lee by Brittany Spanos. Rolling Stone: June 1, 2016
Watch Miley Cyrus’ sultry cover of Leonard Cohen for Maya & Marty
Miley Cyrus Rips Off Her Clothes During Powerful Performance on ‘Maya & Marty’
ET Canada Note: I think it’s significant that “rips off her clothes refers to Ms Cyrus removing her tearaway pants when she shifted from singing “I’m Your Man” to “I’m A Woman.”
Miley Cyrus Rips Off Clothes Performing ‘I’m Your Man’ On ‘Maya & Marty’ Premiere
Miley Cyrus Rips Off Clothes Performing ‘I’m Your Man’ On ‘Maya & Marty’ Premiere by Emily Longeretta , Hollywood Life: May 31, 2016 Note: as above
Cyrus embraces her gender fluidity (albeit in a far more subdued manner) as she follows up with Peggy Lee’s ‘I’m a Woman’
WATCH: Miley Cyrus Covers Leonard Cohen’s ‘I’m Your Man’ . The Hot Press Newsdesk: June 2, 2016
The premiere of Maya Rudolph and Martin Short’s new variety show Maya and Marty featured quite the star-studded guest list for its premiere episode last Tuesday night — but the highlight of the show was easily Miley Cyrus’ ridiculously sexy performance of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” and Peggy Lee’s “I’m a Woman” at the end.
Miley Cyrus’ Latest Performance Might Just Be Her Sexiest Yet by Gina Mei.Cosmopolitan:
In case you forgot just what a gifted singer and showman Miley Cyrus is, NBC provided another reminder last night. Miley performed a saucy medley of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” and Peggy Lee’s “I’m a Woman” on the premiere of the Maya and Marty show.
Miley Cyrus Singing “I’m Your Man”/”I’m a Woman” Is Pure Wow by Alyssa Bailey. Elle: June 1, 2016
In an premiere that featured such heavy hitting guests as Steve Martin and Tom Hanks, Cyrus managed to steal some of the spotlight with a gender-bending two song mini-set that seemed determined to prove that you can have it both ways.
Miley Cyrus Sings ‘I’m Your Man’ and ‘I’m a Woman’ on ‘Maya and Marty’ Debut: Watch Billboard: 6/1/2016 by Gil Kaufman Note: “Gender-bending,” “gender fluid,” and similar terms were frequently used in these descriptions.
Miley Cyrus combined three of her trademarks — gender bending, classic cover songs, and taking her clothes off — to create a gender-fluid medley for the ages.
Miley Cyrus Sang a Perfect Medley of ‘I’m a Woman’ and ‘I’m Your Man by Anna Silman. New York Magazine Note: This article managed to incorporate “gender bending,” “taking her clothes off,” and “gender-fluid” in one sentence.
Note: The winner of the award for most condescending report on the Miley Cyrus cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” follows:
Congratulations Miley Cyrus! You totally stole the first episode of “Maya & Marty” with your … um, outside the box … rendition of Leonard Cohen’s 1988 classic “I’m Your Man.” You sure did rock those tear-away pants! Now that you’ve professed your love for the Canadian poet/singer/songwriter — who began his career in 1956, nearly 40 years before you were born — we thought you might like to learn a little bit about him. With that in mind, here are 5 fun facts about one of the greatest songwriters, most distinctive voices and most enigmatic performers, still going strong (he released an album in 2014 and has been touring extensively) at age 81.
Is he your man? 5 things Miley Cyrus doesn’t know about Leonard Cohen by Larry Carroll Zap2iIt: May 31, 2016
Note: Unsurprisingly, the most thoughtful and elegant piece on this topic was Miley Cyrus as Leonard Cohen? Hallelujah by Liel Leibovitz. Tablet: June 1, 2016. An excerpt follows but do yourself a favor and read the entire article;
When it comes to covering St. Leonard’s masterworks, Miley is one of the greats. She proved it on the premiere of NBC’s ‘Maya & Marty.’ …
Whereas most of her contemporaries offer music that’s designed to deliver, like a cheap over-the-counter drug, instant relief from minor irritations, Cyrus explores more profound pains and yearns for more perfect remedies. She knows, to borrow a few choice lines from Rabbi Cohen, that there’s a crack in everything, which is how the light gets in. Taking on “I’m Your Man” last night, then, she joined a very small group of Cohen interpreters—John Cale, Nick Cave, Suzanne Vega—capable of containing both the sensual and the sacred, and interested not in pretty pop but in a beautiful and broken hallelujah.
To provide context, I’ve embedded a few videos.
Miley Cyrus – I’m Your Man
Maya and Marty (NBC): May 31, 2016
So, is Miley’s performance any more salacious than Leonard’s own?
Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
Radio City Music Hall, New York: May 17, 2009
And Miley Cyrus is hardly the first woman to perform “I’m Your Man”
Patricia O’Callaghan – I’m Your Man
Lauren Fox – I’m Your Man
Nadia Kazmi – I’m Your Man
- “Sexiest fuckin jam” Miley Cyrus Instagram Of Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man Returns + Leonard Cohen On Potential Miley Cyrus Cover [↩]
- Leonard Cohen Can’t Slow Down by Gavin Edwards. Rolling Stone (India): October 24, 2014 [↩]
- Miley Cyrus performs ‘Super Freak’ with The Super Jews as part of James Franco Bar Mitzah by David Renshaw (NME: Oct 18, 2015) [↩]