“Take These Chains from My Heart” By Ray Charles Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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.

“Take These Chains from My Heart” By Ray Charles

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Leonard Cohen On “Take These Chains from My Heart” By Ray Charles

I told Cohen that “my first conscious experience of song as therapy” occurred one night 13 years earlier while I was listening to his recording, “Sing Another Song, Boys.” I explained why. He said, “That’s the way I feel when I hear certain songs at certain times. I feel, ‘He’s said it for me,’ like when Ray Charles sings ‘Take These Chains from My Heart (And Set Me Free)’. ”1

“Take These Chains from My Heart” was written by Fred Rose and Hy Heath for Hank Williams, whose recording of the song went to #1 in 1953 (after Williams’ death Jan 1, 1953). Ray Charles covered on his 1962 album,  Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume Two.

Ray Charles – Take These Chains From My Heart

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  1. From Hallelujah – An Irishman’s Diary on meeting Leonard Cohen by Joe Jackson (Irish Times: Jan 1, 2017) []

“The Tennessee Waltz” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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.

The Tennessee Waltz

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Leonard Cohen’s early fondness for this song is documented in this excerpt from Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016) [bolding mine]:

[Leonard Cohen] put coins in the jukebox to listen to “The Great Pretender,” “Tennessee Waltz,” and anything by Ray Charles.

“Tennessee Waltz” was written by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King in 1946 and first released in January 1948. The song became a hit as a Patti Page recording in 1950.

Leonard Cohen not only evidenced his devotion to the song by shoving  his coins into a jukebox but also released a live version of “Tennessee Waltz,” featuring an additional verse written by Cohen himself, recorded in 1985 on his 2004 album Dear Heather.

Patti Page – Tennessee Waltz

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George Jones’ “Just One More” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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.

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“Just One More” By George Jones

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Released in 1956, “Just One More” was a track on the George Jones Sings 14 Top Country Favorites album.

I was alerted to That Leonard Cohen considered it a favorite by this insert from the other Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox.1

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Video:  George Jones – Just One More

Note: Originally posted Oct 2, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. The Heck Of A Guy Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series, which began April 4, 2009, and the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox CD released March 9, 2010 on the United States Of Dist./Ka label are not affiliated or associated in any way. []

“Save The Last Dance For Me” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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.

Save The Last Dance For Me by Doc Pomus

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“Save The Last Dance For Me,” first recorded and popularized in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters, became a fixture on the 2012-2013 Leonard Cohen Tours. Beginning with the 2012 Ghent shows, Cohen’s cover of the pop classic written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman was often the number that closed his concerts.

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“Save The Last Dance For Me” has an especially poignant origin and connections to Phil Spector and Lou Reed, all of which is described at “Save The Last Dance For Me,” Doc Pomus, & Leonard Cohen and 1977: Doc Pomus Hangs Out With Phil Spector & Leonard Cohen. In those posts, I speculated on why the Canadian singer-songwriter chose this song to routinely cover in multiple concerts over a period of two years; it turns out that I was on the mark when I summarized

It is probable that Leonard Cohen likes “Save The Last Dance For Me” for the same reason he thinks Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” is “one of the greatest songs in history”1 – it’s the sort of record that would be on a good jukebox.

I know this because after the Oct 31, 2012 Austin Concert, when I asked Leonard Cohen why he covered “Save The Last Dance For Me,” he responded “I always liked that song.”

Save The Last Dance For Me – The Drifters

 

Credit Due Department: Special thanks go to Jugurtha Harchaoui, who first made me aware of the back story of this song. Photo atop this post taken by Gottlieb, William P. – Library of Congress, Public Domain via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted Jun 4, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Leonard Cohen Gave Me 200 Franc by Martin Oestergaard. Euroman, Denmark, September 2001 []

“Choices” By George Jones Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Note: “Choices” By George Jones Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox was first posted March 10, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a previous incarnation of Cohencentric – well before the Canadian singer-songwriter began covering the song at the April 26, 2013 Winnipeg show. Some material about Cohen’s cover of “Choices” has been added to the original content. Videos of and information about Leonard Cohen’s performances of “Choices” can be found at Leonard Cohen – Choices.

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 On George Jones – “I love to hear an old guy laying out his situation”

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George Jones – Pryor, OK 2005

“Choices” is the third George Jones song to make Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox.  “Cold Hard Truth” and “The Grand Tour” have also been specifically lauded by Cohen.

I listened to country as a kid. I could get WWVA from West Virginia, late at night. Have you heard George Jones’ last record, Cold Hard Truth? I love to hear an old guy laying out his situation.1 He has the best voice in America.2

Q:  What music would you have played at your funeral?
A: The Grand Tour by George Jones. He’s showing somebody round this empty house and he’s saying here’s the nursery, she left me without mercy. 3

Choices

In his February 24, 2009 New York Times article, On the Road, For Reasons Practical and Spiritual, Larry Rohter, describes Leonard Cohen’s response to an interviewer’s inquiry into the music in his laptop’s iTunes:

He [Leonard Cohen] played a klezmer-style Hebrew hymn, then followed it by singing along with one of George Jones’s weepy country morality tales.

“I’ve had choices since the day that I was born,/There were voices that told me right from wrong,” Mr. Cohen crooned in his stern baritone. “If I had listened, no, I wouldn’t be here today,/Living and dying with the choices I’ve made.”

The “weepy country morality tale”on Cohen’s playlist is “Choices” by George Jones.  Jones won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for the song “Choices,” which was released on his Cold Hard Truth album, on June 22, 1999.

The personal background of the song is elaborated in this excerpt from  the CMT George Jones biography:

Famed for excessive drinking throughout most of his career, Jones set something of a record in 1979 when he missed more than 50 concerts and picked up the nickname “No Show Jones.” He battled his addiction with varying degrees of success throughout the 1980s and appeared to have conquered his drinking problem in the 1990s. Then, in 1999, he was seriously injured when he wrecked his car near his Nashville-area home. Police called to the scene found a partly empty bottle of vodka in the car. He was convicted of impaired driving, fined and sentenced to undergo treatment. There have been no such incidents since. In the wake of that final car crash, Jones released a powerful ballad called “Choices” …

George Jones – Choices

At the beginning of this video, Jones says “We’re gonna do this one all the way through.” This is a reference to the refusal of the CMA to allow Jones to sing the entire song, which received a CMA nomination for single of the year, on the broadcast of the awards show, citing time constraints. Rather than comply, Jones boycotted the event.  During  that show, Alan Jackson cut his performance of his own song short and broke into a full version of “Choices,” earning a standing ovation from the audience and gratitude from Jones.4

Credit Due Department:George Jones photo by BstarXO Chester L. Roberts – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

  1. I also love to hear an old guy laying out his situation. Incidentally, George Jones was born September 12, 1931, making him only 3 years older than Leonard Cohen, who was born September 21, 1934. It was because Jones began his professional career at 16 and was singing on Texas stations in the 1940s that his songs could possibly have been available on radio while Cohen was still an adolescent. I haven’t been able to track down when Jones began singing at WWVA, but, according to allmusic, the first George Jones recording (a single called “No Money in This Deal”) was released in early 1954, just after Jones returned from a stint in the Marines, on a local Texas label where it received no attention. At that time, Leonard Cohen would have been 19 years old. []
  2. Q&A: The New Leonard Cohen –  by Mark Binelli. Rolling Stone. Posted Oct 19, 2001. []
  3. “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen.” Q Magazine, September 1994. []
  4. CMT George Jones biography []

Suzanne Vega’s “If You Were (In My Movie)” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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.

Suzanne Vega “make[s] austerity extremely seductive”

In Suzanne’s interview with Leonard Cohen from 1992 (part 1 of 3), Suzanne Vega and Leonard Cohen discussed, along with many other topics (e.g., Howard Stern, Christmas gifts, politeness, the superior stylishness of wine and water compared to coke and orange juice), songs from Vega’s 99.9 album that had then just been released.

One of the songs with which Cohen is clearly taken is “If You Were (In My Movie):”

Cohen: If You Were In My Movie , in that song you seem to indicate that you would give wide allowance to anyown you fall in love with.

Vega: I don’t know if that’s true, maybe, probably. I don’t know.

Cohen: Is that what the song is about?

Vega: The song is about flirting. It’s a flirting kind of song. It’s a song looking at another person and saying these are qualities that you could be, that you could have within you. These are the things that I see.

Cohen: You could realize these things with me.

Vega: Yeah, if you wanted to. It’s putting a glamorous light on someone’s character. Saying these are the things that, when I look at you, these are the things I see. It’s like taking someone’s basic nature and making it more than it actually is.

Cohen: You have managed to make austerity extremely seductive. There is a very seductive quality about your record, although nothing is given away, nothing is thrown away, nothing is revealed.

Suzanne Vega – If You Were (In My Movie)
Video from haramist

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Credit Due Department: Davido at LeonardCohenForum alerted me to Leonard Cohen’s favorable comments about Suzanne Vega’s songs made in the referenced interview.

Note: Originally posted June 15, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric