“Leonard would play his guitar and sing. My father would play the harmonica… He and my father would laugh. They’d drink whisky.” Kid Marley’s Son, Cody, Talks About Leonard Cohen In Franklin TN, c. 1970

Cody Marley Shares Memories Of Leonard Cohen

DrHGuy Note: Cody Marley is the son of Ray “Kid” Marley, the cowboy who lived near Leonard Cohen when the Canadian singer-songwriter resided from 1968-1970  on a 1,200-acre homestead near Franklin, Tennessee1 (rented from the writer of Bye, Bye Love for $75 a month). Kid” Marley is described in this except from I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons:


I’ve included excerpts from both posts but the complete pieces are accessible at the links.

Excerpt from Leonard Cohen Gave Me Candy By Eight-year-old Cody Marley

Once, my father went to the bank with Leonard because they wouldn’t give him any money. My father told the bank Leonard had money and everything was OK.

Leonard wanted to be a cowboy. He liked cowboy songs. My father sold Leonard a horse but Leonard didn’t ride good. He was from the city.

Except from Cody Marley LeonardCohenForum Post:

My father also became friends with Bob Johnston (he did Bob Dylan’s Nashville stuff) and, as I recall, that’s how Leonard came to rent the house on the same place as us. Mr. Johnston worked with Leonard. First of all, my memory of every one of these folks is that of being very nice and quick to laugh. Sorry if that crushes you suicidal Leonard Cohen fans. He and his gal (Sue, I think) would come over and he would literally sing for his supper. We’d eat then he’d pull out the guitar and do some cowboy/country songs. It seems if I remember correctly he’d always wanted to be a cowboy singer. Heck, a cowboy in general. My father (Kid Marley, not a music guy, he was a cowboy) would pull out his “french harp” (harmonica) and they’d play “Red Wing”, “Little Brown Jug”, or whatever. Man, that would be great to have on tape.

Yep, Leonard Cohen gave me candy. I remember riding my horse up to his house. He’d come outside or invite me in. Heck, I could just walk in. I don’t know what kind it was but I can still taste it to this day. It was great. My father was a good guy and a good judge of people. He liked Leonard. Me too. Thanks for the candy, Leonard.

  1. Nadel, Various Positions []

Property Wanted: Farm Near Nashville – Contact Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Intends To Settle Down

This May 23, 1969 press release from the London office of CBS Records for the single of Bird On A Wire and Seems So Long Ago, Nancy from Leonard Cohen’s second album, Songs From A Room, not only expounds on Cohen’s “unique and distinctive compositions, “his wry, gentle and unforced interpretations,” and the “tremendous amount of interest” he has generated, but also discloses that

Leonard is currently searching for a small suitable farm near Nashville on which he intends to settle permanently.

As far as I can determine, Leonard did not purchase that small suitable farm near Nashville, and it is uncertain whether he is still in the market for such a property.

Note: Leonard did, however, manage to rent a place in Tennessee.  “Song From A Room” and “Songs Of Love and Hate” were taped in Tennessee, where Cohen lived on a 1500 acre farm he rented for $75 fro Boudeleaux Bryant, who wrote “I’m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover” and “Bye Bye Love.” (Source: The Portable Leonard Cohen by Scott Cohen. Spin, August 1985)

Credit Due Department: This press release was contributed by Maarten Massa. Originally posted Dec 4, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen 101: Suzanne Identification Guide – Suzanne Elrod, Suzanne Verdal, & Suzanne Vega


Suzanne Elrod

Atop this post is a photo of Suzanne Elrod, the companion of Leonard Cohen in the 1970s and the mother of his children, Lorca and Adam Cohen. (She and Leonard were never married although he did occasionally refer to her as his wife.) Elrod shot the cover photograph of Cohen’s Live Songs album (under the name “Valentina) and is pictured on the cover of the Death of a Ladies’ Man album. More information about the relationship between Leonard Cohen and Suzanne Elrod, including her role in “My Gypsy Wife,” can be found at Cohencentric: Suzanne Elrod.

Suzanne Elrod is not the subject of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne.” That erroneous presumption, however, is so common enough that Leonard developed an explanation, which Adam has co-opted in this instance:

Q: Is your mom Suzanne, the same Suzanne from the song?

Adam Cohen: My father actually wrote the song before meeting my mother, but says he wrote it to summon her.1

Suzanne Verdal

Leonard Cohen wrote “Suzanne” about Suzanne Verdal, who was then the wife of Cohen’s friend, sculptor Armand Vaillancourt and who actually took Leonard “down to her place near the river” where she fed him tea and oranges. Leonard’s reflections writing the song and on Suzanne Verdal herself and Suzanne Verdal’s own account of the events can be found at Cohencentric: Suzanne Verdal.

Suzanne Vega

707px-Suzanne_Vega_mit_GitarreSuzanne Vega is a singer-songwriter who has long admired Leonard Cohen and has worked with and opened shows for him. More about her connection with Leonard can be found at Cohencentric: Suzanne Vega.

Suzanne Vega photo by Richard Huber – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0


  1. Adam Cohen charts his own path with homage to dad Leonard by Mike Benhaim. Toronto Metro: Oct 11 2012 []

Monkeying With Leonard Cohen’s Future


Leonard Cohen’s Future On Heck Of A Guy Discovery Channel

Because of the the following point from Leonard Cohen World Tour Predictions For 2010,

3. To appeal to the younger population – and show off his skills as a ventriloquist, Leonard Cohen will begin using a hand puppet for song introductions and commentary.

… I was taken to task by stalwart Cohen fan  MaryB in her post at LeonardCohenForum:

What’s going on here? Why is the puppet a frog? We need a minkey!!!

Edit – and if you can’t find a minkey ( 😳 ) a monkey will do.

For those not proficient in  the Cohen fan community traditions, conventions, and mores, “monkey” (and, for that matter, “minkey”) here refers to Fred or a reasonable representation of Fred, the Tour mascot1 pictured below in San Diego:2

Fearing the misunderstanding of my  role  implicit in MaryB‘s note may be widespread, I am repeating the explanation of the restrictions under which I operate, as well as the story behind the monkey’s loss of this prime role despite his popularity as the Tour’s emblematic small animal,  that I originally published in LeonardCohenForum:

Well, I can only portray the future as it is revealed unto me – it’s not as though I can just make up this stuff.

It appears, however, that in the future the monkey goes through a prima donna phase (that happily proves to be transient). Nonetheless, the frog will be chosen when contract negotiations break down between the monkey and Cohen’s organization over “artistic differences” with the monkey refusing to “play some kind of joke character” and insisting on rewrite privileges. After an extended effort, I did manage to envision an image of the monkey’s audition which illustrates the problems.

Later, the monkey explains, in a MOJO interview with Sylvie Simmons, that “I don’t know what happened. It was as if someone was putting words in my mouth.”

Again, I can only see through the mists and report what appears before me.  Attempting to influence future events would be a betrayal of my responsibility.  As the timeless aphorism  notes,

Monkey see
Monkey blog

For the record, I account myself a Friend Of Fred and am saddened to have  foreseen his loss of this future opportunity; I am, however, heartened by the knowledge that this will prove only a temporary setback in Fred’s career path.

Note: Originally posted Jan 4, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Why a monkey? Because of the lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan””:

    And I thank you for those items that you sent me
    The monkey and the plywood violin
    I practiced every night, now I’m ready
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

    Apparently, a plywood violin is a less attractive option on the spectrum of mascots []

  2. The photo of Fred in San Diego was taken by – yep, you got it – The Monkey (apparently with a delayed shutter) and posted at LeonardCohenForum []

Now In English: Leonard Cohen takes up smoking again at 80 – ¿Es posible morir viejo y dejar un cadáver feliz? [Is it possible to die old and leave a happy corpse?]


Note: During the 2012 Tour, Leonard Cohen instituted the “start smoking again at 80” stage shtick, based on the premise that he was waiting for his  80th birthday to take up smoking again. This routine culminated in the above photo from the Can’t Forget album booklet, captioned “Leonard Cohen enjoying his first (and last) cigarette on the occasion of his 80th birthday.”  The “start smoking again at 80” performances led not only to appreciative laughter from concert audiences but also to concerns from fans about the potential impact on Mr Cohen’s personal health and  observations on the purported plan as a sociological phenomenon by various pundits, columnists, healthcare professionals … . The article below is a prime example of the sociological phenomenon species.

¿Es posible morir viejo y dejar un cadáver feliz? [Is it possible to die old and leave a happy corpse?] by Carmen Mañana (El Pais: Oct 6, 2014)
Translated by Helen Ketcham

Is It Possible To Die Old And Leave A Happy Corpse?

Leonard Cohen has taken up smoking again at 80. When is it time to stop sacrificing for the future and enjoy the present?

Someone starting to smoke again is a long way from what could be considered news. For Leonard Cohen to do so would be at best, a curiosity in a trivia game about his life. But the matter starts to gain depth if it is a scheduled relapse and if the subject, in this case the Canadian composer, decides to surrender to nicotine to celebrate his 80th birthday. The most cynical will say – we will say– that the gesture is perfectly summed up by the Spanish proverb that begins with the prophetic “As much time as I have left in the convent …’ * But when life expectancy continues to grow as it does in Western society– in Spain it now stands at almost 83 years– and medicine focuses increasingly on preventing future ills rather than curing disease, the question about when it’s time to stop sacrificing for the future and start enjoying the present moment seems at least worthy of being raised. After reaching a certain age, is it worth savoring the forbidden pleasures—smoking, drinking, eating fat—even if that might steal a few years from us?, Is it worth it to us to live happier rather than to live longer? Perhaps one is still too young at 80 to stop worrying about the behaviors that can be harmful to one’s health? Especially considering that improving the quality of life allows many, like the singer, to stay active and motivated.

Cohen stopped smoking at 74 and drinking at 75. In an interview in 2008 he said he had just lost the “taste” for both pastimes, which had formed a distinctive part of his personality. He himself used to explain that his unmistakable voice was the result “of about 500 tons of whiskey and millions of cigarettes.” However, last year, during a concert in Birmingham, he announced that he planned to return to tobacco when he reached 80. And he has followed through. “I hope to tour a little more, but you are not going to be so happy when you know why. You see, I want to start smoking next year when I’m 80. I think that’s the right age to restart,” he explained on the English stage.

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Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Dark Side of the Gym By The National

The National – Dark Side of the Gym

“Just dance me to the dark side of the gym”

From Memories by Leonard Cohen

 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 and others name-check the Canadian singer-songwriter, today’s selection is the second entry that is built around one of his songs (the first was The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song By Jeffrey Lewis). Dark Side of the Gym, the title of a track on The National’s Sleep Well Beast album, refers to “Just dance me to the dark side of the gym,” a line from Memories, released on Leonard Cohen’s 1977 Death Of A Ladies’ Man. The melody and song structure of Dark Side of the Gym is also reminiscent of Cohen’s song.

Matt Berninger, frontman of The National, talks about Leonard Cohen in this excerpt from The National’s Super-Political Love Songs by Spencer Kornhaber *Atlantic: Sep 8, 2017)

Kornhaber: Speaking of sex being at the the core of all our dark desires: Leonard Cohen. You have a reference to him with the song title “Dark Side of the Gym.” What do you take from him?

Berninger: He wrote about sex, he wrote about God, he wrote about politics, all within the same verse. And they all were these beautiful, personal little stories. Everything feels so humongous, but then they also have all these little details.

“Famous Blue Raincoat” is the one I go back to just because it’s like The Great Gatsby or Lolita. That song has so many little details—about a house in the desert, and a lock of hair, and all this kind of stuff—but it’s so big. That song is just a giant, complex story that I don’t quite understand.

He’s one of 20 songwriters that I steal from. Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave—people like that really go right to the most sensitive parts of the skin. Which are the wires that are frayed and sparking? Those are the ones they’ll put their wet hand on. Because they just have to. It’s the only wire in the room that matters, the one that might burn the place down.

Posts about Leonard Cohen’s Memories can be found at Cohencentric: Memories.

Photo by Thepeoplesuck at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons