The Leonard Cohen 75th Birthday Gift Registry

Leonard Cohen’s 75th Birthday Impends

While Cohencentric’s predecessor sites happily celebrated Leonard Cohen’s 73rd and 74th birthdays, the prospect of his completion of 75 years on the planet in less than two weeks (September 21, 2009) has us and Cohen fans everywhere giddy with anticipation.

Big plans are, if not magic, afoot. Poems are being written, paintings are being painted, a “multimedia internet based celebration” is being envisioned, sentiments are being inscribed, and birthday bashes, the highlight of which looks to be two days of festivities and frolic in Barcelona, culminating in the Leonard Cohen World Tour Concert in that city on September 21, 2009, are being organized.

DrHGuy, alas, will be covering none of these revelries in person and, that being the case,  may well forgo attendance in spirit as well.1

His as yet uncommuted exile to the Northern Illinois Gulag notwithstanding, DrHGuy does sustain the hope of offering some small contribution to the upcoming natal day commemoration by the denizens of Cohen World.  Given the absence of talent of the sort necessary to  create a work of art such as a painting or a poem2 and a perspective so jaded by three years of blogging as to eliminate the possibility of constructing even a single serious, sincere, sentient sentiment, the potential avenues of participation are especially limited.

An epiphany, however, has now occurred. One cannot help but notice the hubbub about choosing the best birthday gift possible. Many fans are, for example, working together to create a special offering.3

DrHGuy, it turns out, is the sort of chap, that were he introduced at concerts by the appellation-slinging Mr. Cohen,  might be known not only as the Potentate of Posts but also as the Master of Mercantilism, making him the perfect candidate for administrator of …

The Leonard Cohen Birthday Gift Service

Cohencentric announces the opening of the Leonard Cohen Birthday Gift Service and Registry, offering advice and assistance in choosing that just right birthday present, whatever ones budget or Cohenist preferences (e.g., early Cohen, post-1979 Cohen, “everything except Death Of A Ladies’ Man,” etc.).

Recommendations from the Leonard Cohen 75th Birthday Gift Service and Registry are based not on whims or guesses but on hard evidence and research. The party kit described in this extract from the 2007 Heck Of A Guy birthday post, while admittedly rudimentary, provides a sense of the thought process behind the list of items featured in the 75th Birthday Registry:

… at least every Cohenthusiast knows that Leonard Cohen was born September 21, 1934.

The question, however, is – are you prepared?

Growing up in the Bible belted-and-suspendered Ozarks, I heard the following question repeatedly proposed from the church pulpit and the Sunday School lectern: “What would you do if Jesus came to your house today?”

Well, the truth is I would have been creeped out, especially if he didn’t call first, but I understood the message underlying this query: we should live our lives in such a Christian manner that we would be prepared if Jesus dropped in for a visit to the point that the only change we would need to make would be frying up an extra pork chop for dinner.

I now find it more pleasant and enlightening to ask myself “What would you do if Leonard Cohen came to your house today?”4

Given that today is his birthday, a host would surely want to acknowledge that with a celebratory ceremony of some sort, but a generic funny hats and gag gift sort of affair just doesn’t seem to fit and, as far as I know, Hallmark doesn’t yet sell a Leonard Cohen birthday pack with paper plates, napkins, cups, and decorations all coordinated in a “Tower of Song” theme.

Stepping into the breach, the Heck of a Guy blog is proud to offer the

Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit5


For the natal day entrée, the kit provides a uniquely Cohenesque dish. As Anjani Thomas noted in a Pitchfork interview, Leonard Cohen is “the only man I know who pairs Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a 1982 Chateau La Tour.”

And what could more effectively insure festiveness than a pitcher or two of Red Needles, the cocktail concocted by Leonard Cohen himself in Needles, California and the fuel that drove the process that created his album, The Future? The recipe, according to the authoritative LeonardCohenFiles, calls for Tequila, Cranberry juice, Lemon (and/or exotic fruits), and ice. As indicated in the lower right corner of the graphic, the hard core Cohenistas may well wish to pop for the deluxe edition of the kit, which includes the services of the drink’s creator as bartender.

This 2007 version of the kit also contains 73 of those thin green candles.

Finally, perhaps the trickiest question is what music does one play for Leonard Cohen’s party. An all-Cohen-all-the-time playlist smacks a tad too much of pandering, but blasting the kids’ hip-hop repertoire seems even riskier. Happily, Leonard has several times expressed his appreciation of one song appropriate to the occasion, noting, for example, in Martin Oestergaard’s interview, Leonard Cohen Gave Me 200 Franc, One of the greatest songs in history is Blueberry Hill. “The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill.” I would be happy to have written that line.

Update: Gift Recommendations

  1. Crack and Anal Sex
  2. A Thousand Kisses
  3. Manhattan and Berlin

Originally posted Sep 8, 2009 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. DrHGuy discovered some time ago that “being there in spirit” is a much attenuated and vastly overrated experience if the antecedent of “there” is something on the lines of “bacchanalia” – and if it’s something less raucous and bawdy, why bother at all? []
  2. DrHGuy does have in stock, along with other detritus from his romantic misadventures of years past, a number of homespun limericks falling in the risque to raunchy range which are, if ones assessment of ones own work can be trusted, quite accomplished and might, under a particularly liberal definition of the category, qualify as poetry. On inspection, however, none of these efforts seems appropriate as a birthday ode to someone hailing from Montreal rather than, say, Nantucket. []
  3. No, I am not telling what it is. While blood may occasionally  be spilled at Heck Of A Guy, beans and guts are not. []
  4. Of course, the even more difficult question would be, “What if Leonard Cohen and Jesus came to your house today?” []
  5. Note: The Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit is also certified for celebrating the songwriter’s birthday in his absence or, if one prefers, ones own birthday, or the birthday of Jesus. []

La Nazione Video: Leonard Cohen a Firenze – Florence 2010

Today’s post features a La Nazione video with a hodgepodge of interviews with audience members, sequences showing preparations of the venue, and fragments of performances. Oh, and it’s all in Italian. Yet, it clearly conveys the sense of excitement, respect, and sheer style that characterized the melding of the Leonard Cohen World Tour and Florence Italy.

Leonard Cohen a Firenze, “Hallelujah”
Video from quotidianonet

Bonus #1 – Who is the guy captured in this scene from the La Nazione video?

That is, of course. Joey Carenza, Tour Road Manager.

Bonus #2 – Artu’ Of Florence

At least one citizen of Florence, I am reliably informed, seconds my admiration of the photo juxtaposing ads for the COOP and Leonard Cohen. Sharing my taste in Cohen and COOP promotional art is Artu’, the companion of Heck Of A Guy/Cohencentric Florentine correspondent, baotzebao.

Note: Originally posted Sept 10, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Austere & The Audacious Versions Of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man”

… All things must change
To something new, to something strange.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Steadfast Changeability Of Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen has repeatedly changed the lyrics, arrangements, and stylings of his songs. In fact, certain fans – and you know who we are – become so stimulated upon detecting a change from the standard version of one of his classics that it is a measure of the immense respect felt for the Canadian singer-songwriter that (thus far) no audience member has mounted the stage on such an occasion to point out to the others in attendance that only twice before tonight’s performance, namely the 1972 Hamburg concert and the 1985 Helsinki show, has Leonard Cohen sung the “mysterious third verse”1 of “So Long, Marianne.”2

Cohen is hardly the only artist to vary his performances of the same song. Ike and Tina Turner’s routine performance of “Proud Mary,” in fact, specifically exploited two possible renditions of that song, explicitly pointing out the contrast between them. The number would begin with an almost laconic rendition of the chorus being played in the background as Tina Turner lays down these explanatory lyrics:

You know, every now and then
I think you might like to hear something from us
Nice and easy but there’s just one thing
You see, we never ever do nothing nice and easy
We always do it nice and rough

So we’re gonna take the beginning of this song and do it easy
Then we’re gonna do the finish rough
This is the way we do ‘Proud Mary’

Leonard’s multiple versions of a single song may be the consequence of its aesthetic evolution, the venue of a concert (e.g., “I didn’t come to Joplin to fool ya”), the responsiveness of the audience, shifts in Cohen’s mood, memory, or energy, a passing whim…

Compare And Contrast “I’m Your Man” Versions

The Intimate “I’m Your Man” From The Ghent Concert

The availability of both a constrained version of “I’m Your Man” from the August 8, 2010 Ghent concert last month and a steamier production of the same song from the May 2009 Radio City Music Hall show affords an opportunity to examine this phenomenon of variability – not with the goal of determining which version is superior but to observe Cohen using the same material to construct different presentations, each with its individual and distinct flavor.

Describing the more contained “I’m Your Man” performed in Ghent is problematic. While I wax prolix if not poetic in characterizing the sleazier “I’m Your Man” (see next section), I find myself unable to adequately explain the power of this controlled version.

It may be that by stripping away the excessive flourishes, ad-libs, and Rococo elements, Cohen intensifies the focus on the conceptual basis of the song:

But you’ve got to be able to say that [“And if you want to work the street alone / I’ll disappear for you” from I’m Your Man] to someone you love. A man has to let another man bring gifts to his wife. That goes for us all. And the notion that a thing is fixed and doesn’t admit of any need for change or modification, that’s the sure formula for suffering. People have to decide between themselves whether they’re going to be true to one another, and what ‘being true’ means, they have to define for themselves. You may decide to share that thing exclusively with each other. But there’s a whole range of friendships that are available to people, and perhaps you suffer a great deal if you refuse them. Maybe I have a more radical view of the thing, which is private and even inarticulate to myself. But I know in myself there are times when that line is true. At times you have to disappear for your lover, and you have to let them cook by themselves and in whatever way they want. Otherwise you can’t hold it.4

Or, it may be that “you had to be there:”

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man5 Gent: Aug 20, 2010
Video from opaglabijn

The Raunchy “I’m Your Man” From The New York Concert

In The Sexiest “I’m Your Man” Ever? Leonard Cohen At Radio City Music Hall, May 17, 2009, I described this performance in these terms:

The Luminously Libidinous Leonard Cohen Will “Examine Every, Every Precious Inch Of You”

While cruising artifacts of the 2008-2009 Leonard Cohen concerts for possible additions to my Best Of Leonard Cohen World Tour 2008-2009 page, I happened onto the video recording of the six minutes of lasciviousness that was Leonard Cohen’s May 17, 2009 performance of “I’m Your Man” at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Words cannot convey – at least not words I can safely use in a post my mother might someday read – the raunchy eroticism that radiates from Cohen’s lyrics, voice, intonation, footwork, facial expressions, and posture.

The consequences of the nuanced changes in the lyrics are especially difficult to explain. The shift from the already provocative standard “I’m Your Man” lyrics,

And if you want a doctor
I’ll examine every inch of you

to the words used in this rendition (words added by Cohen are in bold),

And if you want a doctor
I’ll examine every, every precious inch of you

certainly doesn’t appear on paper to signal an exponential increase in salaciousness, but listening to (and watching) Cohen sing that sequence (beginning at 1:05) reveals an extraordinarily seductive invitation to conjoined carnality. Also, only listeners who know the original words (the vast majority of those in attendance if crowds at other shows are any indication) would be aware of the change, further enhancing the impact of the revised lyrics, which become a special gift from the singer to those individuals.

Cohen’s animated performance (he doesn’t stop moving even when he withdraws to the shadows to listen to the solo by Dino Soldo) is well supported not only by his musicians but also by the appreciative, responsive audience.

There is much more, but most observations I could make are destined to be rendered superfluous once readers view the video. I will note, however, that, as I previously pointed out in The Two Rules For An Outrageously Wonderful Relationship With A Woman, the lyrics of “I’m Your Man” are not an expression of a man overwhelming a woman with the goal of coital rapture; instead, the words of the song are an expression of a man offering a woman an entirely different proposition, “Whatever you ask, I’ll never refuse” and meaning it – with the goal of coital rapture.

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
Radio City Music Hall, New York: May 17, 2009
Video from sasaradovanovic82’s channel

Originally posted Sep 12, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Alert readers may note the similarity of this “mysterious third verse” in “So Long, Marianne” to the “mysterious third verse” of the long version of “Friends In Low Places” by Garth Brooks. If so, for goodness sake, keep it to yourselves. []
  2. We also tend to debate, with profound erudition and intense passion, the relative merits of different versions of Cohen songs. No such matchup, of course, is laden with more cosmic consequences than contest between the 1976 and 1980 versions of Cohen’s “Do I Have To Dance All Night.” []
  3. Oh heck, Ike and Tina are too good to miss. Watch the “Proud Mary” video. []
  4. “As a New Generation Discovers Leonard Cohen’s Dark Humour – Kris Kirk Ruffles the Great Man’s Back Pages” By Kris Kirk in Poetry Commotion, June 18, 1988. []
  5. Cohen’s performance of “Hallelujah” fills the first half of the video. For the purposes of this post, I’ve set the video to automatically begin with the start of “I’m Your Man.” []

March 2012 MOJO: Great Leonard Cohen Interview By Sylvie Simmons + Some Pretty Darn Good Art Via DrHGuy


A couple of days ago, when I received a copy of the March 2012 edition of MOJO in return for some assistance I was able to render for that issue’s Leonard Cohen feature, (see Exclusive 1st Look – Leonard Cohen MOJO Cover) the first item to which I turned was – well, the very first item I checked was whether I was mentioned in the credits (more, inevitably, about that later) – but the very next page I sought and located was the beginning of  Sylvie Simmons’ interview with Leonard Cohen. The article is not available online so I have excerpted the opening paragraph below. (Click on excerpt to enlarge)

The ensuing eight pages of text1 cover a multitude of points such as Leonard Cohen’s current day to day life, the 2008-2010 World Tour, songs that made it on the recently released Old Ideas album, songs  that didn’t,  and songs that are planned for next new album, Cohen’s grandchildren, Cassius and Viva, his recording studio that is atop what once was his garage, Roshi, the music Cohen heard his parents sing during his childhood, the issues involved with growing old, and much more, including fudgesicles and the identity of the secret ingredient in Cohen’s homemade salad dressing.2

Anyone with even a passing interest in Leonard Cohen or, for that matter, in pop music journalism will be enriched by reading “Bringing It All Back Home” by Sylvie Simmons, whose biography of the Canadian singer-songwriter is due to be published this fall.

The Art

And the art in the Leonard Cohen ain’t bad.  The following is part of a page from the interview (click on image to enlarge) containing six images, each of which was suggested by me and each of which first appeared on the Heck Of A Guy or the DrHGuy sites. One of them, “End Of The Word Tour” graphic, is an original DrHGuy construction.3

And  those chaps at MOJO were as good as their word, crediting my efforts, albeit in an appropriately inconspicuous manner. The print encased in red below is shown enlarged in the following image.

Originally posted Feb 18, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. It’s actually “eight pages more or less”, depending upon one’s criteria for a page of text []
  2. Still, there are inexplicable lacunae in this Cohen salmagundi Ms Simmons presents to us. Somehow, for example, a report of the long discussion I am certain they had about me is absent. []
  3. Yes, I am pretty pleased with my own contribution – you gotta problem with that? []