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
Clearly, the task of evaluating the humor in Leonard Cohen’s songs falls – as it should – to Cohencentric readers.
First, a few guidelines to avoid the mistakes made by others:
1. We’re searching for the “Leonard Cohen’s Funniest Song Lyrics.” That means that one-off performances of standards, no matter how comical, are not eligible. So, for example, while Everybody Wants A Long Stem – Leonard Cohen’s Floral Fandango Version Of So Long, Marianne is, as we would say back in the Ozarks, funny as all get-out, it’s not in the running for Leonard Cohen’s Funniest Song Lyrics. Nor are covers (e.g., Choices) or improvisations like Dance, Dance, Dance.
2. Only songs can be nominated. Song introductions (e.g., the story of Leonard meeting Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel) and song extensions (e.g., “The answer to the mysteries: Do dum dum dum, de do dum dum [in Tower Of Song]), and stage banter (e.g., “Stages Of A Man’s Allure To Women” and “Start Smoking Again At 80”) are ineligible.
3. On the other hand, all Leonard Cohen songs — whether or not they were officially released — are permitted. That means that songs like Chelsea Hotel #1, Blues By The Jews and Do I Have To Dance All Night are OK.
While I have my own notions about funny Leonard Cohen lyrics, I’m most interested in what Cohenites think. So, submit your suggestions, and we’ll process them to choose the winner.
Note; Nominations should be left in Comments to this post at Cohencentric.com or sent to my email address (found at top right tab labeled “DrHGuy Info” on every page of Cohencentric.com). Suggestions left in Facebook comments or sent by Messenger may or may not reach me.
Just to get in the mood, watch this Leonard Cohen performance of Anyhow
Leonard Cohen – Anyhow
New York: April 6, 2013
Video by albertnoonan