Leonard Cohen Clarifies His Work On Lullaby In Blue Before He Gave To Adam Who Bestowed It On Bette Midler

Tracking The Source Of  Lullaby In Blue

Bette Midler recorded Lullaby In Blue on her 1998 Bathhouse Betty album, describing it as her favorite of the tracks:

I’ve never heard a pop song about a person who gives their child up and is missing the child… The first time I heard that song, I burst into tears. I had to pull over to the side of the road. 1

On the album, the song is listed as having been co-written by Adam Cohen and Brock Walsh.

A reader referencing I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons (Ecco: 2012), however, points out that Leonard Cohen originated the song:

Leonard [Cohen] gave his son [Adam Cohen] a song that he had been “working on for years” and knew he’d “never get around to doing,” “Lullaby In Blue.”

How  similar the iteration Leonard Cohen gave Adam is to the final version Bette Midler song is unknown.2

DrHGuy Note: That’s where things stood when this entry was posted. About eight minutes after it went online, I heard from Leonard Cohen, who was then ensconced at the Regina Encampment, where a concert had been canceled because of wide-spread illness among the Unified Heart Touring Company. As Joey Carenza posted on March 10, 2013, Cohen & crew were “bunkered in Regina and on the mend.”

Regina Airport: Photo by Joey Carenza

Well, it turns out that Leonard found time during this hiatus to check in on my online ramblings and respond to “How  similar the iteration Leonard Cohen gave Adam is to the the final version Bette Midler song is unknown:”

Dr Heck,

The tune and the words are Adam’s

All I gave him were the words:

The child I never knew
My lullaby in blue

Warm Regards,


And thus is another seemingly unanswerable query concerning the life and times of Leonard Cohen answered. It’s just another day at the premier Leonard Cohen blog noir.


Note: Originally posted February 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. “Midler makes Warner Bros. debut with ‘Bathhouse Betty’” by Melinda Newman. Billboard: Sept 5, 1998 []
  2. I checked with Sylvie, who concurred that she had no further information on this point. []

“They understand I’m not Depeche Mode, but I think they take the measure of it” Leonard Cohen Talks About His Teenage Kids’ Opinions Of His Music And The Prospect Of Adam Becoming A Musician (1988)

Now that they’re teenagers, what do your kids think of your music?

Leonard Cohen: I just spoke to my son — he’s 15 — on the telephone and he said, “Dad, I’ve just been listening to Various Positions and I want you to know I really respect your writing.” It was pretty nice. I gave him a cassette of I’m Your Man before it came out and both my children recited all the lyrics to me.

So they’re fans.

Leonard Cohen: They are very judicious. They understand I’m not Depeche Mode, but I think they take the measure of it. My son has started to write lyrics, so he knows what some of the problems are.

Does he want to be a musician?

Leonard Cohen: I don’t think so, but he happens to be gifted in that realm, so there’ll always be that temptation. He’s a very good singer – a real singer. His pitch is good, he could do it.

He could sing your songs.

Leonard Cohen: He could, but I don’t think he’s interested in the business, in a career in showbiz. I never was. I never thought I was until I had the revelation that I was a songwriter living in L.A.

From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988

Adam Cohen & Anjani Thomas Perform Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz In Spanish – Barcelona 2007

Acords Ambs Leonard Cohen Barcelona Concert: Jan 13, 2007

One of the highlights of Acords Ambs Leonard Cohen, a tribute concert to Leonard Cohen featuring Spanish and international artists, was Anjani and Adam Cohen joining voices to perform Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz in Spanish.1

Adam Cohen & Anjani – Take This Waltz (Spanish)
Barcelona: Jan 13, 2007

Note: Originally posted Dec 10, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz is, of course, based on his translation of Pequeño Vals Vienès (“Little Viennese Waltz”), a poem written in Spanish by Federico Garcia Lorca, []

Adam Cohen On Leonard Cohen As Mentor

No one can pay enough money to have Leonard Cohen stand over your shoulder and say, ‘This is good work, this is not good work.’ I am the beneficiary of his taste and wisdom and experience.quotedown2

Adam Cohen

Also see Anjani Thomas On Leonard Cohen As Mentor

Kids of Carlos Santana, Bob Marley sing their dads’ praises in ‘A Song for My Father’ compilation by Jim Farber (Daily News: June 19, 2010)