Cars Of Leonard Cohen: Elvis’s Rolls Royce

Cars Of Leonard Cohen

is a series of posts about actual automobiles owned by or associated with Leonard Cohen, metaphorical cars he employed in his songs, and his thoughts about cars. All posts in this series are collected at as they go online.

Elvis’s Rolls Royce Featuring Leonard Cohen By Was (Not Was)

areyouokIn 1990 Was (Not Was) published the album, Are You Okay?, which included the song, “Elvis’s Rolls Royce” with Leonard Cohen as lead vocalist (and Iggy Pop contributing backing vocals). One suspects that it was fun to produce, and it’s clearly fun to hear. It seemed only fitting that it should have a fun video as well. That’s where DrHGuy, master of the cut and paste flick, came into the picture.

Considerable poetic license was involved in the composition of “Elvis’s Rolls Royce,” but Elvis did own a Rolls Royce:

January 1961 Elvis signed a 5 year contract with Hal Wallis. To celebrate he went out and bought a Rolls Royce Phantom V from a Beverly Hills dealer only to bring it home and have his mothers’ chickens peck away at their reflections in the elegant finish. Most people would have just shot the birds but Elvis just chose to have the car repainted four or five times.1

That Rolls Royce is the one featured in the extraordinarily rare2 photo of Elvis, Leonard, & the Rolls atop this section of the post. Elvis also owned a 1966 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.

In any case, images in the accompanying video are likewise “inspired by” rather than “based on” Elvis’s cars. Viewers are advised to rev up their “willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith;”3 a literal-minded perspective may result in significant cognitive whiplash.

Video: Leonard Cohen & Was (Not Was) – Elvis’s Rolls Royce

rrfly

“It was not only an act of supreme generosity on
[Leonard Cohen’s ] part but a flawless reading of the song

Those hearing reports of unprecedented beaming emanating from the vicinity of Durham, North Carolina needn’t be concerned that, say, a local nuclear power plant has gone Chernobyl. The phenomenon is instead the consequence of DrHGuy finding this message from Don Was, world class musician and Grammy-winning record producer,4 in his inbox:

hi allan –

just stumbled upon your video for our song “Elvis’ Rolls Royce”….i really love it! It’s exactly what I visualized when we wrote the song and seeing your video 20 plus years after we recorded the track gave me a renewed sense of how surreally awesome it was that leonard agreed to do the vocal for us…it was not only an act of supreme generosity on his part but a flawless reading of the song…thanks for putting so much work into the video….i hope everyone on earth gets to see it!

cheers,
dw

OK, let’s make that “Don Was, world class musician, Grammy-winning record producer, and one heck of a guy.”

Video by Allan Showalter

___________________________________________

  1. ElvisPresleyNews.com []
  2. It is so extraordinarily rare that it was, in fact, nonexistent in the pre-Photoshop world []
  3. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1817 []
  4. Don Was has produced every Rolling Stones album since 1993, co-led the 1980s group Was (Not Was), was appointed president of the jazz record label, Blue Note Records, in 2012, served as music director for a batch of movies (e.g., Thelma and Louise, The Rainmaker, Hope Floats), and has recorded with – well, just about everyone, including Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Ziggy Marley, Bob Seger, Al Green, Lucinda Williams, Garth Brooks, Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker, Hootie and The Blowfish, Amos Lee, Willie Nelson Elton John, Stevie Nicks, George Clinton, Randy Newman, The Black Crowes, Carly Simon, Travis Tritt, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, The Barenaked Ladies, Old Crow Medicine Show, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Richie Sambora, The Presidents of the United States of America, B.B. King, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Elling, Poison, Cheb Khaled, The B-52’s, Zucchero, Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, Jill Sobule and Solomon Burke. []

Leonard Cohen Lauds Elvis Presley, Sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love”

Elvis_Presley_1970

“I was a huge fan of Elvis”

~ Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I have plans to sing an Elvis song on stage soon. … – I was a huge fan of Elvis! I was in town until today and bought a compilation LP of the man. Soon you will hear me sing ‘Don’t’ and ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ – but not at the plate. My voice is too deep. 20,000 cigarettes have led my tone of voice three to four notches down too far.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Bård Oses intervju med Leonard Cohen by Linn Gjerstad (BA: March 26, 2012; from May 4, 1988 interview) via Google Translation.

 

“Presley had that special kind of voice”
~ Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I was relieved that all the stuff we’d been feeling for so long found expression in Presley and in rock in general, I was playing his records all the time to friends when they’d come over. I’d say, ‘This guy is a great singer’ – and they thought this was some kind of inverse snobbery. But it wasn’t. Presley had that special kind of voice which makes your heart go out to a singer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

Leonard Sings Elvis

Continue Reading →

Leonard Cohen on Elvis Presley

Elvis_Presley_1970

quoteup2
I was relieved that all the stuff we’d been feeling for so long found expression in Presley and in rock in general, I was playing his records all the time to friends when they’d come over. I’d say, ‘This guy is a great singer’ – and they thought this was some kind of inverse snobbery. But it wasn’t. Presley had that special kind of voice which makes your heart go out to a singer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

More posts about Leonard Cohen & Elvis Presley can be found at Elvis Presley @ Cohencentric

Credit Due Department: Photo of Elvis Presley “Elvis Presley 1970” taken by Ollie Atkins, chief White House photographer, when President Nixon & Elvis Presley met.

Listen To Leonard Cohen Talk About Phases Of His Career, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Humor, Women, Greece, Sports … 1988

619px-Leonard_Cohen17bTopics include Leonard Cohen on

  • Touring
  • His love of Ray Charles’ music (“the best there is”)
  • His fascination with country music (and his part in the Buckskin Boys), flamenco guitar, cantorial music in synagogues, and Arabic music
  • His life in Greece
  • His “notable disasters in journalism,” including his interview with Glenn Gould
  • His attempted role as TV host based on his reputation as a “witty young poet.” (He was “wiped out” by guests who he saw as brighter and quicker, especially his first guest, a Borscht Belt comedian who wouldn’t let Leonard “get a word in edgewise.”)
  • Book of Mercy being written “when [his] back was against the wall]
  • His relationship with Roshi: “Cohen, I’ve known you 18 years. I never tried to give you my religion – just pour you saki”
  • Elvis Presley, who was “next to Ray Charles’ in the group of “impeccable America singers” (Leonard also notes that Presley’s movies were his personal “Seven stations of the cross”)
  • The public’s preference for an artist’s older material
  • Setting First We Take Manhattan “to a kind of Sergio Leone Clint Eastwood soundtrack”
  • Ain’t No Cure for Love as an especially poignant song
  • “I don’t know any men who aren’t interested in women.”
  • His family’s preference hat he go into law or the family business ad his leaving law school because of his “burning desire to be a writer.”
  • Montreal School Of Poetry
  • His contention that the “real energy today” is in sports, not music
  • His admiration of “Concierto de Aranjuez” by Joaquín Rodrigo and “Je ne regrette rien” By Edith Piaf
  • His self-characterization as “not good father but a loving father”
  • His homes in Greece, Montreal, and Las Angeles and his preference for residences in the “less prosperous parts of town” with white rooms and little on the walls.
  • Growing old

From YouTube Description:

Gill Pyrah talks on The Night is Young to Leonard Cohen, in London as part of his European tour. On his background in Canada and early careers in poetry, writing, journalism and TV interviewing and years spent in Greece; touring and his concert in London; views of him and his music; whether he is a ladies’ man; his children; his painting. His musical choices are edited out. This is pretty rare so be sure to snatch/keep and disseminate since you wont find it anywhere else. The 1988 Leonard Cohen talks about women drugs, women again, booze and music and poetry.

 

Credit Due Department: Photo atop post by Roland Godefroy – Own work, CC BY 3.0, via Wikipedia

“Don’t” & “Are You Lonesome Tonight” By Elvis Presley Are On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

jukebox700

The Original 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.

Leonard Cohen – “I was a huge fan of Elvis”

Elvis_Presley_1970

From Bård Oses intervju med Leonard Cohen by Linn Gjerstad (BA: March 26, 2012; from a May 4, 1988 interview) via Google Translation:

I have plans to sing an Elvis song on stage soon. … – I was a huge fan of Elvis! I was in town until today and bought a compilation LP of the man. Soon you will hear me sing “Don’t” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” – but not at the plate. My voice is too deep. 20,000 cigarettes have led my tone of voice three to four notches down too far.

Elvis Presley – Don’t

Elvis Presley – Are You Lonesome Tonight

DrHGuy Note: While I am unaware of any recordings of Leonard Cohen singing “Don’t” or  “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” he did cover “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley.  He sings a bit of it, in fact, during this 1988 BBC interview.

A full version of Leonard Cohen singing “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is available on The Other Leonard Cohen Album.

For another Leonard Cohen-Elvis Presley connection, see Elvis’s Rolls Royce

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner for his help in ascertaining that the first Elvis Presley song mentioned by Leonard Cohen was “Don’t” rather than “Don’t Be Cruel” as I initially thought. Photo of Elvis Presley “Elvis Presley 1970” taken by Ollie Atkins, chief White House photographer, when President Nixon & Elvis Presley met.

Note: Originally posted April 6, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Elvis’ Rolls Royce Featuring Leonard Cohen By Was (Not Was) – “I Really Love It!” Don Was

rrfly

“It was not only an act of supreme generosity on
[Leonard Cohen’s ] part but a flawless reading of the song

Those hearing reports of unprecedented beaming emanating from the vicinity of Durham, North Carolina needn’t be concerned that, say, a local nuclear power plant has gone Chernobyl. The phenomenon is instead the consequence of DrHGuy finding this message from Don Was, world class musician and Grammy-winning record producer,1 in his inbox:

hi allan –

just stumbled upon your video for our song “Elvis’ Rolls Royce”….i really love it! It’s exactly what I visualized when we wrote the song and seeing your video 20 plus years after we recorded the track gave me a renewed sense of how surreally awesome it was that leonard agreed to do the vocal for us…it was not only an act of supreme generosity on his part but a flawless reading of the song…thanks for putting so much work into the video….i hope everyone on earth gets to see it!

cheers,
dw

OK, let’s make that “Don Was, world class musician, Grammy-winning record producer, and one heck of a guy.”

Update: Read David Was on Leonard Cohen at Leonard Cohen Smiles Down on Us From the ‘Tower of Song’ by David Weiss (Newsweek: Nov 11, 2016)

elvis-lc-rr
Leonard Cohen, Was (Not Was), Elvis’ Rolls Royce, & The Video

Continue Reading →

  1. Don Was has produced every Rolling Stones album since 1993, co-led the 1980s group Was (Not Was), was appointed president of the jazz record label, Blue Note Records, in 2012, served as music director for a batch of movies (e.g., Thelma and Louise, The Rainmaker, Hope Floats), and has recorded with – well, just about everyone, including Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Ziggy Marley, Bob Seger, Al Green, Lucinda Williams, Garth Brooks, Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker, Hootie and The Blowfish, Amos Lee, Willie Nelson Elton John, Stevie Nicks, George Clinton, Randy Newman, The Black Crowes, Carly Simon, Travis Tritt, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, The Barenaked Ladies, Old Crow Medicine Show, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Richie Sambora, The Presidents of the United States of America, B.B. King, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Elling, Poison, Cheb Khaled, The B-52’s, Zucchero, Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, Jill Sobule and Solomon Burke. []

1988 Video Interview: Leonard Cohen On Romance, Poetry, Suicide, Janis Joplin, Sergio Leone, & Cigarettes

1988inter

The Leonard Cohen BBC Interview With John Archer

This 12 minute feature was broadcast on BBC in early 1988 during Leonard Cohen’s tour promoting the I’m Your Man album,1  (Warning: Viewers should be aware that the first 90 seconds and the last minute of the video are devoted primarily to the interviewer, John Archer.)

Highlights

  • Leonard Cohen opens the interview by singing lines from “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” the song originally recorded by Elvis Presley.
  • When asked about his voice deepening, Cohen replies that it’s “100,000 cigarettes deeper.”

cigs

  • He then adds that he read in the International Herald Tribune, which he names as “the ultimate source of all my information,” that “as you grow older, the brain cells associated with anxiety begin to die,” causing one to feel better, which leads to relaxation, which, in turn, leads to a deeper voice.
  • When asked what made him think he could sing, Cohen explains that he “never thought [he] could sing,” going on to note that “I didn’t think singing had anything to do with it.” He then delivers one of his favorite stories about telling his lawyer, in a state of panic, about his concern that “I can’t sing,” only to have his lawyer retort, “None of you guys can sing. When I want to hear singers, I go the Metropolitan Opera.”
  • Cohen then segues into “I certainly never had any musical standard to tyrannize me I thought it was something to do with the truth. that if you told your story, that’s what the song was about.”
  • The interviewer then notes that Leonard Cohen was first featured on an album of Canadian poetry in the mid-sixties.

mirror

The album he is holding, however, is actually the second album in which Leonard Cohen appears, a volume called “Canadian Poets 1” issued in 1966.

poets1Cohen’s first album inclusion was “Six Montreal Poets,” which was published in 1957 by Folkways Records and featured A.J.M. Smith, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, F.R. Scott, A.M. Klein, and Leonard Cohen reading their own poetry.

6poets

  • Archer also reads from the album’s liner notes that Cohen has been “writing songs for the rock group, the Stormy Clovers.”2
  • Cohen talks about being part of a self-important group of poets in Montreal.
  • Leonard Cohen tells of his first discovery of the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca when at 15 he read “”I want to pass through the arches of Elvira, to see your thighs and begin weeping,” an introduction to a world that, Cohen posits, “destroyed any possibility of [him] going into the clothing business.” Cohen mentions that the English translation he read was done by two men, one of whom was Stephen Spender.” That book is “Poems By García Lorca,” translated by Stephen Spender and J. L. Gili (Oxford University Press, 1939)

spender

“Selected Poems Of Federico Garcia Lorca” translated by the same team was published by The Hogarth Library in 1943.

spender2

  • Cohen explains his concept as a youth that “poetry seemed to be the natural language of women.”
  • Asked about “romance,” Cohen responds that he “never knew what people meant when they said romance. I always thought of romance as the ideal smeared with possibility.”
chls

Chelsea Hotel Room

  • In discussing Janis Joplin and the Chelsea Hotel, Cohen sums her up in this line:

She really had that classic pop star’s life where she would sing for 20,000 people and go home alone – and go home deeply lonely

  • Re the I’m Your Man album, Cohen says that he sought a “flatter language” for these songs to render them “simple,” “limpid,” and “lucid.”
  • He characterizes the music he wrote for “First We Take Manhattan” as a “kind of Sergio Leone Clint Eastwood soundtrack.”3

boo

  • When asked about his reputation as a “misery monger,” Cohen replies that there is an

assumption that the world is really very gay and jovial, and nothing terrible ever happens. I think [his] songs are true and they’re not for everybody. … Their effect on people whose nature can respond to them is far from depressing.

  • He accounts his religious training as protection from considering suicide.
  • He tells the story, familiar to those who have heard his Prince Of Asturias Awards speech, of learning guitar from a young Spanish man he met in the park behind mother’s house. In this instance, however, he reports “He must have been 16 or 17. I must have been 13 or 14.”4

Leonard Cohen – BBC Interview 1988

___________________________

  1. I’m Your Man was released February, 1988. []
  2. Serendipitously, a soon to be published Heck Of A Guy post will focus on the Stormy Clovers and Cohen’s association with them.. []
  3. As pointed out in a comment by Life’s Elsewhere in the original post, Sergio Leone was the director of the Clint Eastwood western epics to which Leonard Cohen refers. The scores themselves were the work of the legendary Ennio Morricone []
  4. In the Prince Of Asturias Awards speech, Cohen said the events took place in the “early sixties,” which would have made him no younger than in his late twenties. []