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.
“Ray Charles The Singer I Would Never Be” – Leonard Cohen
Typically, candidates for the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox feature are discovered in his interviews. And, indeed, Cohen has often told interviewers about listening to Ray Charles albums when he and Marianne lived in Hydra:
I had a little record player that ran on batteries. I would work outside on my terrace [of the house in Greece], and if I would forget how fast the sun was moving and forget to move, the record would melt, right over the turntable. I used to play Ray Charles all the time and I lost a couple of Ray Charles records, I still have them, they’re just like Dali watches,1 just dripped over the side of the turntable.2
But, in this case, the specific Ray Charles song Leonard Cohen admired was revealed in a serendipitous reading of his poignant poem, Much Later, published in Book Of Longing.
Ray Charles singing You Win Again
in the sunlight
twenty years ago
Ray Charles the singer I would never be
and my young wife
‘the wife of my youth’
smiling at me from an upstairs room
in the old house
Ray Charles and Marianne
dear spirits of my Greek life
now in the sunshine of every new summer
Marianne coming down the steps
‘the woman of the house’
Ray Charles speaking fiercely
for our virgin humanity
Twenty years ago
and again in this Hollywood summer
still companions of the heart
as I measure myself once more
against the high sweet standards
of my youth
– Los Angeles 1978
From Book Of Longing by Leonard Cohen
You Win Again is a track on Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, the ABC-Paramount Records album Ray Charles released in April 1962. It was #1 on the Billboard Pop Album chart for 14 weeks and remained on that chart for two years.
The poem’s text and the conjunction of Cohen’s years of residence on Hydra and the release date of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music make a strong presumptive case for this being one of those albums the Greek sun fashioned into vinyl replicas of Dali watches.
You Win Again – By Hank Williams
And, You Win Again was written by Hank Williams, Leonard Cohen’s upstairs neighbor in the Tower Of Song.
Is that great or what?
Leonard Cohen And Marianne Listen To Ray Charles Singing You Win Again By Hank Williams
Credit Due Department: Photo by Rob Bogaerts (ANEFO) – GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia
Note: Originally posted May 4, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric