“Losing Hand” By Ray Charles 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.

Losing Hand

Losing Hand was #5 on Leonard Cohen’s Top Ten songs of 1988.1

Recorded in New York City on May 17, 1953 in the same session that produced Mess Around, Losing Hand is a soulful blues written by Jesse Stone who worked for Atlantic as a producer, songwriter, and arranger. The song was released as a single with the composer identified as Charles E. Calhoun. On Ertegun’s advice, Stone used the pseudonym on his BMI tunes to avoid conflict with his membership in the other music licensing society, ASCAP. Stone was critical to the Atlantic Records label. He later wrote Shake Rattle and Roll, discovered the Raelettes, Ray Charles’ backing vocals group (remember the juicy call and response in What’d I Say?), and wrote many other hits for the label’s artists. A month after the recording of Losing Hand was made, Jerry Wexler joined Atlantic Records and the label’s rise to legend status was meteoric shortly after.2


  1. From “:Cohen – In Eigenen Worten” (In His Own Words) by Jim Devlin, which was pointed out to me by Florian []
  2. Losing Hand by Ray Charles (The Music Aficionado: April 21, 2016) []