Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Rarity By Lucinda Williams

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While most of the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen or, in one case, has been built around one of his songs, today’s entry name-checks the Canadian singer-songwriter in one line.

Your voice a cello
Your words speak volumes
In the night I run for
Like Leonard Cohen’s

Rarity by Lucinda Williams

As this excerpt from Lucinda Williams: On Record by Evan Schlansky (American Songwriter: Oct 29, 2008) explains, Rarity was inspired by another musician, Mia Doi Todd:

Did you write “Rarity” with someone specific in mind?
I was actually really inspired by this artist named Mia Doi Todd. She’s just a really, really brilliant songwriter kind of more in the underground folk pop thing I guess. She goes out and tours and stuff. I guess there was a situation that inspired the song, but of course all my songs are bigger than one person. But there might be a person or an event that plants the seed for the song, but then the song becomes bigger than that. But what had happened was, a friend of turned me on to her, a record she put out on a little indie label, and this was when I was still living in Nashville, before I moved back to Los Angeles about six years ago. And I really was just struck by her lyrics. Her voice was soft and moody sounding, and her melodies were great, but her lyrics really impressed me. I’d never heard of her before. Then I was in a record store in L.A. and saw that she had a record out on a subsidiary of universal, I think it was on hip-o, maybe. But obviously she had some major label distribution, and I went, yay, finally. She’s got a chance to sell some records and get better known and things. Next thing I know I read that she’s been dropped by Universal, and now her next record is out on an unknown little indie label, so that’s what spurred the idea for the song. Because I had seen that so often, and I’d been through that myself, to some degree, and seen it happen with a lot of really good artists: where if they don’t sell enough records, they don’t really get a chance. It’s the same old story that you’ve heard a million times. So that’s basically what planted the idea for the song.

We finally got to meet, she lives in L.A., and she had came in, and I recorded a song that was going to go on West, but we had so many songs that we couldn’t put them all on the record. We sort of ran out of time, budget, money, time to record all the songs. But I had a demo of it, she came in and heard the demo, and she was really touched.

I don’t get as chance to see her play very often, but she’s just one of those unusually brilliant songwriters who probably if she had a chance to do something back in the, if she’d been around back in the day, when people like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, writers like that were coming out, she would have probably stood a better chance in getting recognition. She definitely has a cult following, that’s for sure. That’s kind of the only way you can do it now anymore, if you’re just starting out. You have to build your own thing like that. I mean, I’m lucky, ‘cause I just barely got in by the skin of my teeth. But if I was just starting out now, I’d have a hard time. I’m lucky I got as far as I did! Just before the door slammed on me, before the industry kind of went to hell and a hand basket.

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Marching Band By Movits!

1200px-movits_at_sxsw is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen or, in one case, has been built around one of his songs, today’s entry name-checks the Canadian singer-songwriter in one line.

Yep, the sole rationale posting this video in Cohencentric’s Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen series is that one line of the (mostly) Swedish lyrics of “Marching Band” (the first section of the original lyrics and the Google English translation are available at the end of this entry) by Movits!1 references Leonard Cohen. And that I find the entire song oddly delightful.

The Leonard Cohen shout-out takes place at 0:20.

Original Lyrics (bolding mine):

Ta dig från Luleå till Mississippi
Johnny Hurt, Kentucky whiskey
Nån stans i en husbil utanför Philly

Får väl köra i streck till imorgon bitti
Frågar vart vi kommer ifrån, excuse me?
Say, where you guys from? Sapmi
Ôr det kanske nåt som du känner till?
Ingvar Kamprad eller surströmming
Sen tar vi Berlin, Leonard Cohen
Började ganska sent i tonåren
Sånger från rummet på andra våningen
Ut ur min skalle
Kan inte sova på flera månader, nej, men sömnlös i
Ã.tminstone alldeles för många dygn
Har klivit upp alldeles för tidigt
Med spänningshuvudvärk [unverified]
Har sålt slut biljetter

Google Translate (bolding mine):

Take from Luleå to Mississippi
Johnny Hurt, Kentucky whiskey
Someone somewhere in a camper outside Philly

May well run in the dash to tomorrow morning
Asks where we come from, excuse me?
Say, where you guys from? Sapmi
A “is perhaps something that you know of?
Ingvar Kamprad, or fermented herring
Then we take Berlin, Leonard Cohen
Began quite late in adolescence
Songs from the room on the second floor
out of my head
Can not sleep for several months, no, but sleepless in
Ã.tminstone too many days
Has stepped up too early
With tension headaches [unverified]
Has sold out tickets

Credit Due Department: Photo by Ann Larie Valentine – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia


  1. Movits! is a Swedish music group from Luleå that plays swing mixed with hip hop. []

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah Covered In English And Spanish At Hand In Hand Telethon By Luis Fonsi & Tori Kelly

“Highlight Of The Evening”

Luis Fonsi, the singer-songwriter responsible for the global hit “Despacito,” joined Tori Kelly at the Sept 12, 2017 Hand In Hand telethon, a star-studded affair that raised more than $40 million dollars in hurricane relief, for a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Here’s the report from They Sang ‘Hallelujah’ At Yesterday’s Telethon. By The Time They Finished? Not A Dry Eye In The Room (Society of Rock: Sept 13, 2017):

The highlight of the evening came after the event’s “Hand in Hand” prayer when Kelly, 24, took the stage and launched into a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” before being joined by Fonsi for the second verse, done entirely in Spanish; the pair made for quite the vocal powerhouse, quickly reminding viewers in the audience and at home why they’re widely regarded as two of the biggest global talents to emerge over the last two decades. By the time the final note rang out following a explosive vocal showcase from both Kelly and Fonsi, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and for good reason: during one of the most traumatic and fiercely divided times in our nation’s history, “Hallelujah” was exactly what everyone needed.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to CHEMA of Barcelona, who alerted me to this video,

Leonard Cohen Says Nick Cave “Butchered” Avalanche – But In A Good Way

721px-Nick_Cave_1986Who do you feel has done the best job with your music, and who has butchered it?

There have probably been some who have butchered it, but I’ve generally liked the job that people have done with it. I guess you could say Nick Cave butchered my song, ‘Avalanche,’ and if that’s the case, let there be more butchers like that.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Rebirth Of A Ladies’ Man by Steven Blush. Seconds No 22: June/July 1993. Also see

Video: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Avalanche 
From Her To Eternity album: 1984.


Credit Due Department: Photo “Nick Cave 1986” by Yves Lorson – originally posted to Flickr as Nick Cave. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Ballad Of Len Performed By Sylvie Simmons & Heidi Clare

ballladlen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. Today’s offering is a homegrown ditty, The Ballad Of Len.

The Ballad Of Len By DrHGuy

“The Ballad Of Len,” featuring lyrics by DrHGuy and set to music not unlike that of the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies, was performed August 4, 2012 by Sylvie Simmons, the renowned music journalist who authored the Leonard Cohen biography, “I’m Your Man,” and Heidi Clare, widely acknowledged as the best, most powerful old-time fiddler performing today, at the Madison Leonard Cohen Event held in Madison, Wisconsin.

No, I have no idea what Ms Simmons and Ms Clare were thinking – or smoking – when they agreed to this.

But, if you’ve always craved hearing a parody of “The Ballad Of Jed Clampett” commemorating the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour sung in a British accent accompanied by ukelele and exquisite fiddling well, friend, this is your big chance.

Sylvie Simmons & Heidi Clare – The Ballad Of Len
Video by Maarten Massa

Ballad Of Len – Lyrics

Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Len
Up on Mount Baldy he was contemplatin’ Zen1
Then one day checking his retirement stash,
He found out that he was plumb out of cash2
(Swindled that is, cleaned out, busted)

Well, Our Man’s3 future was looking insecure
Rob Hallett4 said “Len, you’ve gotta go on tour,”
Said on the road is the place you oughta be
So he bought a fedora and signed with AEG5
(Worldwide that is, Europe, North America, Down Under)

Well the concerts were a hit right from the kickoff show
Fredericton6 welcomed him with a standing O
The Tour earned big bucks and even more esteem
Not too bad for a kid with a crazy dream7
White man dancing, cheerfulness breaking through, dum, dum, dum, da, doo, dum, dum)

In Vegas three years later the tour was finally done8
When Leonard told the crowd, “God bless us every one”
Now Cohenites9 are happy from Manhattan to Berlin10
Leonard’s going back on tour11 – here we go again
(Presales, VIP packages, Y’all buy that I’m Your Man biography now, ya hear?)


  1. Leonard Cohen resided at the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles from 1994 – 1999. During his stay, Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk, taking the Dharma name Jikan. For more information, see 10 Years Ago – Leonard Cohen Comes Down From The Mountain []
  2. Cohen sued his former manager for stealing $5m from his retirement fund while he was at the Zen Buddhist monastery. []
  3. “Our Man” is one of Leonard Cohen’s many nicknames. See Leonard Cohen, AKA … – The Nicknames, Item #50 []
  4. Rob Hallett is a concert promoter for AEG, who among other accomplishments, is held to have coaxed Leonard Cohen out of retirement for the 2008-2011 World Tour. Source: Praise Be… Or How “Hallelujah” Man Leonard Cohen’s Comeback Actually Happened by Johnny Black (Rock’s Back Pages, Jan 9,. 2009) []
  5. The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is a sporting and music entertainment presenter and managed Leonard Cohen’s 2008-2010 Tour []
  6. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, was the site of Leonard Cohen’s first concert of the 2008-2010 Tour, performed on 11 May 2008. []
  7. A recurrent schtick in Leonard Cohen’s 2008-2010 concert routine was noting that when he last performed at a given venue when he was 60 years old, “just a kid with a crazy dream. []
  8. The 11 Dec 2010 Leonard Cohen Las Vegas show closed out the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour []
  9. Cohenites is the preferred term for Cohen followers []
  10. As in “First We Take Manhattan … []
  11. The 2012 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour begins Aug 12, 2012 []