Hear Leonard Cohen Read From Beautiful Losers


You plagued me like the moon. I knew you were bound by old laws of suffering and obscurity. I am fearful of the cripple’s wisdom. A pair of crutches, a grotesque limp can ruin a stroll which I begin in a new suit, clean-shaven, whistling. I envied you the certainty that you would amount to nothing. I coveted the magic of torn clothes. I was jealous of the terrors I constructed for you but could not tremble before myself. I was never drunk enough, never poor enough, never rich enough. All this hurts, perhaps it hurts enough. It makes me want to cry out for comfort. It makes me stretch my hands out horizontally. Yes, I long to be President of the new Republic. I love to hear the armed teenagers chant my name outside the hospital gates. Long live the Revolution! Let me be President for my last thirty days.

Originally posted May 16, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Lou Reed] was an early reader of Beautiful Losers which he thought was a good book… He wasn’t getting very many compliments of his work and I certainly wasn’t. So we told each other how good we were.” Leonard Cohen

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He [Lou Reed] was an early reader of Beautiful Losers which he thought was a good book. In those days I guess he wasn’t getting very many compliments of his work and I certainly wasn’t. So we told each other how good we were. I liked him immediately because Nico liked him.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From September 15, 1974 Leonard Cohen Interview by Robin Pike (ZigZag, Oct 1974). Photo shows Lou Reed introducing Leonard Cohen at Cohen’s 2008 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. Originally posted Apr 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Miracle Of The Storks: Leonard Cohen Talks About His Breakdown & Recovery After Writing Beautiful Losers

I had a pretty rough time with Beautiful Losers, but I didn’t know it. I broke down after it was over… When I finished Beautiful Losers I was living on Hydra. I went to another island and when I wanted to come back I hired a boatman to get me to another, bigger boat that was headed that way. It was about 110 degrees, very hot sun. The fisherman said to me, ‘You’d better come in under the tarp.’ I said no. He said, ‘Sea Wolf, huh?’ When I got back to Hydra I couldn’t get up the stairs to my house. They got a donkey and took me up. I went to bed and I couldn’t eat for 10 or 15 days. They finally called a doctor and I was hallucinating and going crazy and went down to 116 pounds and, you know, a breakdown of some kind. But that seemed right: I’d been working pretty hard and taking speed. I’d had a sunstroke, obviously. And I’d just finished this book. The day the storks came to the island was the day I recovered. They stop over and land on their way to Africa, or maybe coming back from Africa; they nest on the highest buildings, which are usually churches. So there’s a curious feeling; they come in and sit on the churches and leave the next morning. They just spend one night. And the morning they left I recovered, I stood up and I addressed the people of my family and it was a miracle. The miracle of the storks. [laughter] quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. Photo by Iglesia_de_San_Isidoro._Cigüeñas_en_el_campanario.jpg: Mr. Ticklederivative work: Snowmanradio (talk) – Iglesia_de_San_Isidoro._Cigüeñas_en_el_campanario.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

“I have nothing against the Queen of England. Even in my heart I never resented her for not being Jackie Kennedy. She is, to my mind, a very gallant lady, victimized by whoever it is who designs the tops of her uniforms.” From Beautiful Losers By Leonard Cohen

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II with John Clyne, the Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, during her 1983 royal tour of Canada by SoftwareSimian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The Back Cover: Beautiful Losers 1998 Sweden

Sköna Förlorare [Beautiful Losers] by Leonard Cohen. Translated by Erik Sandin. Photo of Leonard Cohen taken by by Hols/Semneby at Borgholm, Sweden (July 15, 1985). Published by Bakhåll: 1998.

View other Leonard Cohen photos used as back cover art at Leonard Cohen On The Back Cover

Credit Due Department: Contributed by Dominique BOILE

Hear Leonard Cohen Read “My Poor Top Ten” From Beautiful Losers – 1966

Leonard Cohen’s reading took place at The 92nd Street YM-YWHA (The Young Men’s-Young Women’s Hebrew Association) Hotel, New York City, New York on February 14, 1966. The recording below begins at the first of the excerpt. There are some minor variations between Leonard’s reading and the text of his novel.

What bravado impelled me to come here without my radio? Three months without my radio, humming the obsolete Top Ten, my Top Ten removed so abruptly from history, cut off from the dynamic changes of jukebox stock market, my poor Top Ten that no thirteen-year-olds energize by slippery necking on the carpet beside the hi-fi, my over-serious Top Ten goose-stepping through my head like the generals of a junta who do not know the coup d’etat has been staged the very night of the formal ball, my dear old Top Ten like a battalion of gold-sleeved tramway conductors patiently steering for seniority and retirement while the subway has been decreed in a board room and all the streetcars are in museums, my awkward Top Ten of electric echoes and longing puberty voices crying down my heart like a squad of bare-thighed cheer-leaderettes turning cartwheels before the empty benches, their delicate bra-straps bunching the skin ever so sweetly, their shiny fluorescent underwear flashing out of little upside-down pleated skirts as they pivot on their friendship fingers, their school-spirit satin-clad gym-trained firm little rah rah bums describing unutterably lovely and brief rainbow-shaped streaks of mauve and orange, the round metal mouthpieces of their megaphones warm with Alma Maters and smelling of white lipstick, and for whom these moist Technicolor acrobatics? for whom these inflammatory arcs of unskirted exhibition panties gleaming through the cheers like so many expertly peeled fresh figs, yes, a million seedy secrets in each sealed purse, wheeling down the damp sidelines into the stumpy mouth of time? for whom do you sail, little bums of the Top Ten? The Leader of the Pack lies mangled under his Honda in a wreck of job prospects, the ghostly Negro fullback floats down the wintry grid-iron into Law School prizes, and the lucky football you autographed takes pictures of the moon. Oh, my poor Top Ten, longing to perish in popularity, I have forgotten my radio, so you languish with the other zombies in my memory, you whose only honor is hara-kiri with the blunt edge of returned identification bracelets, my weary Top Ten hoping to be forgotten like escaped balloons and kites, like theater stubs, like dry ball pens, like old batteries, like coiled sardine keys, like bent aluminum partitioned eaten tv dinner plates–I hoard you like the stuff of my chronic disease, I sentence you to National Anthem hard labor, I deny you martyrdom in tomorrow’s Hit Parade, I turn you into boomerangs, my little Kamikazes, you long to be the Lost Tribes but I burn arm numbers, I pour miracle drugs in the Death House, from bridges I hang suicide nets. Saints and friends, help me out of History and Constipation. Make the birds sing slower, make me listen faster. Remove yourself from this treehouse, Pain, you tree-climbing frog, large as industry.”

DrHGuy Note: The line, “The Leader of the Pack lies mangled under his Honda in a wreck of job prospects” from this excerpt was brought to mind by my recent post, I’ll Never Forget Him – The Leader Of The Pack.