Cars Of Leonard Cohen
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 Cars Of Leonard Cohen as they go online.
In My Secret Life Video
The official In My Secret Life video directed by Floria Sigismondi, features Leonard Cohen driving a Citroen DS (note that the car is color-coordinated with Leonard’s shirt). While a stage prop and not a vehicle Leonard owned, the uniqueness of the Citroen DS alone would qualify it as the Leonard Cohen of automobiles.
The French structuralist Roland Barthes wrote that it was “obvious” the DS had “fallen from the sky.” But you couldn’t call it avant-garde because nobody, not even Citroën, followed in the DS’s conceptual path. Even though Citroën built and sold about 1.5 million of the cars, the DS remains a kind of a one-and-done, design-wise.1
The video, nominated for the 2002 Juno Best Video Award, was filmed in Montreal at Habitat 67, architect Moshe Safdie’s experimental housing complex on the shore of the St. Lawrence river and part of the Expo 67 world’s fair (see Official Video For Leonard Cohen’s “In My Secret Life” Set In Montreal’s Habitat 67).
The following excerpts are from The Citroën DS 19: Why It’s the Ultimate Classic Car by Dan Neil (Wall Street Journal: May 1, 2015):
Sixty years after its introduction at the Paris Auto Show, the futuristic, perfectly Gallic Citroën DS 19 (D series from 1955-75) retains the ability to wow, an atom bomb of style from a time when atom bombs were kind of cool. The DS was the most technically gifted automobile of its time and the most quintessentially modern, in that it scorned all that was familiar in prewar design—big, exposed wheels, low roofs, strong shoulders and commanding chrome grilles—in favor of something utterly new, at least outside the realm of pulp science fiction.
The DS was a front-mid-engine, front-wheel-drive car with rear wheels closer together than at the front, allowing its sleek, tapering bobtail. The rears are enclosed in prim fender spats and, above, the remarkable panoramic greenhouse and fiberglass roof, canted like a beret. Did we mention it was French?
The DS (pronounced DAY-ess, a pun on the French word for “goddess”) was a blaze of unorthodoxy and prescient human-factors design.
In a 2009 poll of top automotive designers, Classic & Sports Car magazine declared the DS “The Most Beautiful Car of All Time.”
Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
Credit Due Department: Photo of red Citroen by Alexandre Prévot
- The Citroën DS 19: Why It’s the Ultimate Classic Car by Dan Neil (Wall Street Journal: May 1, 2015) [↩]