The Multiple (And Confusing) Recording Formats & Promotions Of Leonard Cohen’s 1988 I’m Your Man

Leonard Cohen Ad Reflects Competing Recording Formats & Diffuse Promotion Strategy

When I couldn’t determine the product that was being promoted by the advertisement from New Musical Express (January 30, 1988) shown below, I asked Dominique BOILE, who had contributed the ad. What I learned comprises today’s post.

My confusion arose from the mix of recordings listed on the ad: “First We Take Manhattan,” “Bird On The Wire,” “Sisters Of Mercy,” and “Suzanne.” The only commonality I could see was that all those were tracks on the Best of Leonard Cohen album, but that came out in 1975 so New Musical Express wouldn’t be carrying an ad for that in 1988. And I had no clue about the multiplicity of formats listed.

In his response, Dominique directed me to two reference numbers, one of either side of “CBS” at the bottom of the ad:651352 7 and 65132 6 (note: this second number is a misprint on the original ad; the correct reference number is 651352 6).

Then, he explained that the ad was promoting Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” album that would be released in February 1988 by pushing CBS 651352 7, aka the 7″ vinyl version of “First We Take Manhattan” taken from the forthcoming LP / Cassette / CD  “I’m Your Man.”

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Video: 1988 Leonard Cohen Interview With Matt Zimbel: I’m Your Man, Songwriting, European Popularity, Jennifer Warnes & More

From the YouTube description:

This is the raw footage of an interview I did with Leonard in 1988 in Toronto at the Four Seasons Hotel. for a BBC/ABC/CBC co-production documentary music show I co-hosted called “Wired”. The interview has never been seen in it’s full length before. At times it will require your patience as the tape was quite degraded and we have done our best to restore, but felt the content should rule and therefore there are some spotty moments. Since this is a television interview one must quickly note that while the subject looks timeless, the interviewer is clearly the victim of vintage 1980’s “hairdressing”, which was shortly thereafter considered a fashion crime.

Leonard is a master interview subject; present, measured, funny, philosophical. His vocabulary is striking, but not in a pretentious way; for example he might call a tour, “an enterprise” or an abandoned idea would “overthrown”, to get out of something, one might “extract “ themselves…He speaks slowly, allowing himself time… to… consider… what… to… say. next. It is a journalistic seduction – one starts to wait for the considered words of the poet with great anticipation. But unlike so many of the famous, his willingness to connect appears so genuine. During our interview I truly believed there was no place he would rather be than talking to me.

I bragged to my journalist friends, ‘oh man, wait until you hear the interview I did with Leonard, it was incredible, he was so charming, so engaged…no question this is the best interview I have ever heard him do”. “Really?” they would say, “he did a pretty great one on our show too”. “Yeah, right!” And then I would hear the interview on their show and it would be the same interview, just as warm, just as revealing, just as exclusive feeling… but not exclusive at all, God damn it.

Leonard Cohen On Writing The Future Album To Deal With “The Fascist” & “The Terrorist” Who Arise Within Him

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Excerpt from The Future by Alberto Manzano. El Europeo: Spring 1993 (click on image to enlarge):

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German Unauthorized Cassette: [Leonard] Cohen – I’m Your Man

coverDominique BOILE offers “this strange cassette” Cohen – I’m Your Man from Germany, which includes “Tover Of Songs” on its tracklist.

contentDiscogs identifies BIEM and ZAIKS as two copyright protection organizations.

BIEM was formed in 1929. Originally it exercised the licensing function on behalf of its European members but in 1968 those responsibilities reverted to the individual societies.

Wikipedia identifies ZAiKS

Polish Society of Authors and Composers (Związek Autorów i Kompozytorów Scenicznych, ZAiKS) is a Polish organization representing artists and composers with the mission of “defending their copyright rights”.

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1988 Video: Leonard Cohen Talks About Lorca, His Favorite Color, Robertson Davies, I’m Your Man Cover Art, Poetry, Favourite Game … & Teaches Thumb Wrestling

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This is a wonderful video that offers trivia, insights, entertainment (including a host flummoxed by Leonard Cohen’s unanticipated answers to her queries), and even a bit or two of wisdom. Specific items discussed include the following:

  • The origins and significance of the I’m Your Man album cover art
  • The meaning of “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within” in First We Take Manhattan
  • Leonard’s favorite color: Yellow
  • Leonard’s favorite writer: Robertson Davies1
  • The impact of Federico García Lorca on Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard’s favorite game: Thumb-wrestling (also see “Thumb Wrestling” section of The Favourite Games Of Leonard Cohen – Part 2)
  • The feelings embedded in The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard’s notion of the title “poet”
  • Leonard’s assertion that wisdom comes with laughter or a sense of entertainment (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount had to be expressed with drama)

Viewing The Video

The video cannot be embedded and, indeed, is difficult to locate. To find it, go to  VIDEO Leonard Cohen ”tommel-bryder” DR-vært under 1988-interview, a screenshot of which is shown below. The large video at the top comprises only the thumb-wrestling portion of the interview. To see the full interview, scroll down the page to the video marked by the red circle in the screenshot.

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  1. A personal favorite of DrHGuy; see Elegant Eulogies: Robertson Davies On “The Great Theatre of Life” []