View more animated gifs at Leonard Cohen Animations. Originally posted October 8, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Note: This content (except the above photo) was originally posted Apr 26, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric. This republication is prompted by the appearance on May 7, 2015 of a photo of “Leonard Cohen enjoying his first (and last) cigarette on the occasion of his 80th birthday” from the Can’t Forget album booklet. That photo is itself the punch line to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s “Start Smoking Again At 80″ stage shtick. (See Video: Leonard Cohen’s “Start Smoking Again At 80″ Stage Shtick That Led To This Photo ). Historical information about Leonard’s tobacco use is available at Leonard Cohen & Tobacco: From The Smokey Life To Anti-smoking Ad Soundtrack.
The Key Correlation: DrHGuy Postings & Leonard Cohen Earnings
As ongoing readers know, DrHGuy has undertaken numerous projects to revise and enhance Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, concerts, ad campaigns, and merchandise (e.g., the development of the Leonard Cohen Bobble Head Doll), all with the goal of increasing profit
The success of these efforts has been reflected in the exponential growth of Mr Cohen’s wealth since 2006, at which time he was in financial free fall, his savings having been wiped out by embezzlement. Serendipitously, 2006 was when DrHGuy began publishing posts about the Canadian singer-songwriter.
Over the years, DrHGuy has published thousands of Leonard Cohen postings. Over those same years, Mr Cohen’s net worth has grown to umpteen zillion gazillion bucks (Canadian).
Do the math. How much clearer could the connection be?
The fiscal consequences of today’s DrHGuy proposal, however, far surpass the bounty resulting from its predecessors.
From Stage Schtick To Cash
In an April 2, 2013 post, DrHGuy outlined the evolution of Leonard Cohen’s I’m going to start smoking again at 80 shtick from his claim to have smoked “millions of cigarettes” through his discontinuation of smoking in 2003, to his incorporation of his plan to start smoking again at age 80 as part of his stage routine.
The following rendition and rough transcript of the I’m going to start smoking again at 80 monologue is from the introduction to Anyhow at the March 30, 2013 Leonard Cohen Louisville concert. It differs in details but not in substance from the same story at other recent shows:
It is worth noting that the saga includes imagery (“the little Parthenon / of an unopened pack of cigarettes”) from Cohen’s poem, “The Cigarette Issue”1 and segues neatly into “Anyhow.”
Leonard Cohen – Anyhow
Louisville: March 30, 2013
Video by Wirebirds (Henry Tengelsen)
This is the moment when I take my first cigarette
I’ll have waited until I’ll be 80 and I’m really looking forward to this moment. It’ll be part of the show. A young nurse in a white uniform, white lisle stockings, and she’ll be carrying a pack of cigarettes on a silver tray. She’ll walk across the stage – I hope there won’t be any untoward catcalls. The pack will be opened. It will be gleaming, like those pillars of the Parthenon – a beautiful Parthenon of Tobacco. I’ll take one of the cigarettes out of the pack and tap it on my wrist like I learned to do in those movies. She’ll light me up, I’ll take my first [inhales deeply] yeah, it’s gonna be so good. Before she leaves, I’ll say “Nurse, before you go would you mind tapping out a few of those bubbles in my i.v.
I’ll step back into my old self. I’ll begin to hear the strains of the music of the most beautiful jazz orchestra in the world. My thoughts will settle, they’ll smooth out. I’ll be able to develop some kind of charitable take on my shabby life. I’ll be thinking of the past.
The 2014 Leonard Cohen Where There’s Smoke Tour
- “The Cigarette Issue” by Leonard Cohen from The Book of Longing, published in 2006:
But what is exactly the same
is the promise, the beauty
and the salvation
the little Parthenon
of an unopened pack of cigarettes
and Mumbai, like the Athens
of forty years ago
is a city to smoke in [↩]
“[My voice is the result of] about 500 tons of whiskey and millions of cigarettes.”1
From the materials on the chair beside Leonard, including a lighter, a well-used ash tray, and two packs of cigarettes (different brands: Vantage & Marlboro), it appears he was hard at work on those “millions of cigarettes” in this session.
More information about Leonard Cohen’s smoking is available at From The Smokey Life To Anti-smoking Ad Soundtrack.
You know why I really stopped smoking? I had a rival – not a rival for anyone’s hand or anyone’s love. It was just someone who saw me in a comparative way and forced me to look at him that way. And he didn’t smoke. And I said to myself, ‘If he can do it, then you can do it.’ But I think it’s [smoking is] wonderful… I love the smell of it – the associations of the stylistic possibilities. I intend to go back to it shortly.
Leonard Cohen & Smoking
Smoking was a long term issue with Leonard Cohen. The above excerpt from Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself by Danny Field (Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974) is only the latest addition to Cohencentric’s category. Current fans may be familiar with Leonard’s more recent version of the “go[ing] back to smoking” declaration: his “start smoking again at 80” stage shtick, which itself led to the below photo and its caption, “Leonard Cohen enjoying his first (and last) cigarette on the occasion of his 80th birthday,” from the booklet accompanying the Leonard Cohen Can’t Forget album.
And there’s more. For example, Everybody Knows, a Leonard Cohen song1 delivered in his famously deep, raspy voice, the final result, as Cohen himself puts it, of “about 500 tons of whiskey and millions of cigarettes,” was chosen as the music for a major anti-smoking ad. Cigarettes, once an obligatory accoutrement for Cohen, were apparently vanquished in 2003 when he quit smoking on doctor’s advice.2 And, of course, several records feature cover art with Leonard smoking.
Note: During the 2012 Tour, Leonard Cohen instituted the “start smoking again at 80” stage shtick, based on the premise that he was waiting for his 80th birthday to take up smoking again. This routine culminated in the above photo from the Can’t Forget album booklet, captioned “Leonard Cohen enjoying his first (and last) cigarette on the occasion of his 80th birthday.” The “start smoking again at 80” performances led not only to appreciative laughter from concert audiences but also to concerns from fans about the potential impact on Mr Cohen’s personal health and observations on the purported plan as a sociological phenomenon by various pundits, columnists, healthcare professionals … . The article below is a prime example of the sociological phenomenon species.
¿Es posible morir viejo y dejar un cadáver feliz? [Is it possible to die old and leave a happy corpse?] by Carmen Mañana (El Pais: Oct 6, 2014)
Translated by Helen Ketcham
Is It Possible To Die Old And Leave A Happy Corpse?
Leonard Cohen has taken up smoking again at 80. When is it time to stop sacrificing for the future and enjoy the present?
Someone starting to smoke again is a long way from what could be considered news. For Leonard Cohen to do so would be at best, a curiosity in a trivia game about his life. But the matter starts to gain depth if it is a scheduled relapse and if the subject, in this case the Canadian composer, decides to surrender to nicotine to celebrate his 80th birthday. The most cynical will say – we will say– that the gesture is perfectly summed up by the Spanish proverb that begins with the prophetic “As much time as I have left in the convent …’ * But when life expectancy continues to grow as it does in Western society– in Spain it now stands at almost 83 years– and medicine focuses increasingly on preventing future ills rather than curing disease, the question about when it’s time to stop sacrificing for the future and start enjoying the present moment seems at least worthy of being raised. After reaching a certain age, is it worth savoring the forbidden pleasures—smoking, drinking, eating fat—even if that might steal a few years from us?, Is it worth it to us to live happier rather than to live longer? Perhaps one is still too young at 80 to stop worrying about the behaviors that can be harmful to one’s health? Especially considering that improving the quality of life allows many, like the singer, to stay active and motivated.
Cohen stopped smoking at 74 and drinking at 75. In an interview in 2008 he said he had just lost the “taste” for both pastimes, which had formed a distinctive part of his personality. He himself used to explain that his unmistakable voice was the result “of about 500 tons of whiskey and millions of cigarettes.” However, last year, during a concert in Birmingham, he announced that he planned to return to tobacco when he reached 80. And he has followed through. “I hope to tour a little more, but you are not going to be so happy when you know why. You see, I want to start smoking next year when I’m 80. I think that’s the right age to restart,” he explained on the English stage.
Got a light? Previously unpublished photo by David Boswell. Vancouver, BC. 20 October 1978. pic.twitter.com/fM1beAj6Fw
— David Boswell (@dboswell1066) November 11, 2016
Note that this photo meets criteria for The Once Smokey Life of Leonard Cohen category, subgenus The Cigarette Holder Phase.
Other photos of Leonard Cohen by David Boswell: