Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You” Is – Intriguingly – On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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The Original 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 Fsongs 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.

Joni Mitchell And A Case Of Who?

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The formal documentation of Leonard Cohen’s approbation of “A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell comes from “Leonard Cohen – In Eigenen Worten [In His Own Words]” by Jim Devlin,1 in which the song was ranked #2 in the list of Leonard Cohen’s favorite songs in 1988.

As one might infer from the title of this post, however, there is more to the story than a personal hit parade listing. After all, #1 on that 1988 compilation was a tune by George Jones and #3 was by Bob Dylan, but I haven’t found a photo of George or Bob happily hugging Leonard like the classic shot of Joni wrapped around Leonard.

As it turns out, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, both of whom are iconic Canadian singer-songwriters who came of age professionally in the late 1960s with roots in the folk movement of that era, also shared a short-lived romantic liaison which is summarized in this excerpt from  what has become one of the most-read Heck Of A Guy/Cohencentric posts, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell: Just One Of Those Things:

For a few weeks in 1967 and 1968, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling, the consequences of which continue to echo in their work.

Introduced to each other backstage at Judy Collins’s songwriter’s workshop2 at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival  by Judy Collins herself,3  who was, in large part,  responsible for jump-starting the musical careers of both singer-songwriters, Cohen and Mitchell were officially an item by the time the two of them co-hosted a workshop at the Mariposa Folk Festival.4 Their romance ignited, flared, and exhausted itself within weeks. Depending upon the source and the skew of ones perspective, preferences, and prejudices, Cohen either terminated the relationship himself for unspecified reasons or incited Mitchell to end it because of his interest in other women.

Also included in that post is a discussion of songs Mitchell wrote which have been identified by some as having been inspired by her relationship with Leonard Cohen: “Rainy Night House,” “That Song About The Midway,” “The Gallery,” and “A Case Of You.”5  It seems significant that, by my unofficial and unscientific count, the word most commonly used by politic writers to describe the mood of all these songs is “bittersweet.”

This commentary on the psychological provenance of “A Case Of You” is also from Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell: Just One Of Those Things:

In his 1996 biography, “Joni Mitchell,”  Brian Hinton offers his “own uninformed guess …  that ‘A Case Of You’  is also about Leonard Cohen.” Mitchell herself, according to Sheila Weller, told “a confidante in the mid-1990s that it was about Leonard Cohen” but told Estrella Berosini the song was about another lover, James Taylor.6 In any case, the chorus does have a Cohen sort of ring to it.7

Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
And you taste so bitter but you taste so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you
I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
And still be on my feet

Update: “I am as constant as the Northern Star” From Leonard Cohen (& Shakespeare) To Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You

Regardless of the origins, it is a wonderful song that evokes and resonates with the joys and vicissitudes of love once embraced and then lost. That Leonard Cohen lists it as one of his favorite songs 20 years after the romance that appears to have spawned it is – well, like most Leonard Cohen behaviors, it’s intriguing.

Joni Mitchell Performs “A Case Of You”

Joni Mitchell – A Case Of You
Video from

Credit Due Department: Photo  of Joni Mitchell by Matt Gibbonshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/ultomatt/3126812062/, CC BY 2.0, – Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted May 4, 2010  at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. This invaluable reference was offered by Florian at LeonardCohenForum. []
  2. Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period by Michelle Mercer. Free Press; 1st Edition, April 7, 2009 []
  3. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation by  Sheila Weller. Atria: April 8, 2008 []
  4. Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period by Michelle Mercer. Free Press; 1st Edition, April 7, 2009 []
  5. On a tangential note, both Cohen and Mitchell wrote songs called “Winter Lady.” A comparison of the two works can be found at “Winter Lady” By Leonard Cohen Meets “Winter Lady” By Joni Mitchell. []
  6. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller. Atria: April 8, 2008. P 314 []
  7. The complete lyrics of “A Case Of You” can be found at http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/joni+mitchell/a+case+of+you_20075257.html []

A Special Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Selection: His Favorite Song Played While Writing The Favourite Game: “I Wonder” By Ray Charles

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The Original 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 Fsongs 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 Writes The Favourite Game, Plays Favorite Ray Charles Album In Hydra

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Leonard Cohen writing The Favourite Game – Hydra

Leonard Cohen told his interviewers and biographers about playing Ray Charles records continuously while he was writing The Favourite Game on the terrace of  his house in Hydra:

I had a little record player that ran on batteries. I would work outside on my terrace [of the house in Greece], and if I would forget how fast the sun was moving and forget to move, the record would melt, right over the turntable. I used to play Ray Charles all the time and I lost a couple of Ray Charles records, I still have them, they’re just like Dali watches,1 just dripped over the side of the turntable.2

Both Sylvie Simmons’ I’m Your Man and Ira Nadel’s Various Positions identify the Ray Charles album to which Cohen listened as The Genius Sings the Blues (released Oct 1961). genblues

Nadel immediately goes on to identify Cohen’s favorite song:

[Cohen] would work … aided by amphetamines and a Ray Charles record, The Genius Sings the Blues. His favorite song, played over and over, contains the line “Sometimes I sit here in this chair and I wonder.”

Well, it turns out that no song on The Genius Sings the Blues includes that line in its lyrics. Those words are actually from a Gant & Leveen song called “I Wonder,” which was performed by Ray Charles, among many others, and released on his 1962 Greatest Hits album.3

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I suspect the confusion about the album’s identity arose from a song with a similar name, “I Wonder Who,” but without that line in its lyrics, on the tracklist of The Genius Sings the Blues

Further, I suspect that there were, as Cohen reported, “a couple of Ray Charles records” that he played until they warped in the Greek sun: The Genius Sings the Blues, named the Cohen biographies by Simmons and Nadel, and Ray Charles Greatest Hits, named by – well, DrHGuy.

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Ray Charles – I Wonder
Video from samWilckersson

Originally posted Mar 26, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. The reference, of course, is to Dali’s “Soft Watch.”


    []

  2. Leonard Cohen: The Romantic in a Ragpicker’s Trade by Paul William. Crawdaddy, March 1975. []
  3. “I Wonder” was also included on a four song French EP issued in the 1960s, but it seems likely Cohen would have owned  the more available Greatest Hits. []

Chopin’s “Nocturnes” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Note: Originally posted Aug 19, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Original 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.

Chopin’s Nocturnes

6e1a6428a6c45009bba7dda8f511239398fd5cd5The Leonard Cohen Endorsement

Q: What do you think is the best music to fuck to?

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In the old days people used to say that my stuff was very good for that. I prefer Chopin ‘Nocturnes’ myself.1quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Brigitte Engerer – Complete Nocturnes By Chopin

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  1. Rebirth Of A Ladies’ Man by Steven Blush. Seconds No 22: June/July 1993. []

"Je ne regrette rien" By Edith Piaf 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.

Leonard Cohen Channels Edith Piaf

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One of the responses to my request to the members of LeonardCohenForum for help in finding documented instances of Leonard Cohen favoring a specific song performed by another artist came from Eskimo, who pointed out,

He [Leonard Cohen] sang some of Je ne regrette rien,1 a song made famous by Piaf, in the Ghomeshi interview.

Indeed, Jian Ghomeshi writes

At one point we discuss Cohen’s long-established tendency to write poetry and songs inspired by his awe and reverence for the beauty of women. I ask whether he believes women have been a source of empowerment or weakness in his life. He answers both (of course): “We’re invited into this arena, which is a very dangerous arena, where the possibilities of humiliation and failure are ample. So there’s no fixed lesson that one can learn about the thing because the heart is always opening and closing, it’s always softening and hardening. We’re always experiencing joy or sadness.” When I follow with a query about whether, despite his famous relationships with various women, he regrets not having one single lifelong partner, he responds by singing to me, “Je ne regrette rien …” [emphasis mine] 

Cohen has spoken of listening to and admiring Piaf several times, a fact noted in this Salon.com article,

Cohen wrote poetry while listening to Ray Charles, Edith Piaf and Nina Simone [emphasis mine]

… and includes her in his poem,  “You’d Sing Too,” excerpted here:

You’d sing too
if you found yourself
in a place like this
You wouldn’t worry about
whether you were as good
as Ray Charles or Edith Piaf

You’d sing
[emphasis mine]

Cohen, in fact, attempted to translate some of PIaf’s songs into English for Jennifer Warnes.2

Edith Piaf – Non, Je ne regrette rien

Credit Due Department: “Édith Piaf 914-6440” by Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 – negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang 2.24.01.05, bestanddeelnummer 914-6440 – Nationaal Archief. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Commons.

Note: Originally posted July 8, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Translation: “I regret nothing” []
  2. See Leonard Cohen On The Difficulty Of Translating Songs []

Roy Orbison’s “House Without Windows” (Or Hank Williams’ “House Without Love”) Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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The Original 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.

Roy Orbison In The Subjunctive

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Ongoing readers may recall that Florian endowed Cohencentric with a list of Leonard Cohen’s favorite songs found  in “Leonard Cohen – In Eigenen Worten” (In His Own Words) by Jim Devlin.  Leonard Cohen’s Top Ten Songs Of 1988 from that volume lists, at #6, “House Without Love” by  Roy Orbison.

Unfortunately, as far as I can determine, Mr Orbison did not release a song called “House Without Love.”

“A House Without Love” was written and first released by Hank Williams, who is known to be a favorite of Cohen’s. It was also covered by George Jones, who is likewise known to be admired by Cohen, Bonnie Owens and Merle Haggard (duet), and others.

Roy Orbison did, however, sing “A House Without Windows.”  Consequently, I am invoking Blogger Authority, which includes the power to unilaterally resolve conflicts, settle disputes, and, I’m almost certain, perform weddings, to hereby declare that Leonard Cohen’s intent was to list Roy Orbison’s “A House Without Windows” as his sixth favorite song in 1988 – unless he meant “A House Without Love” by Hank Williams or George Jones.

Readers should immediately seek shelter and move to the center of the room, away from any windows, in anticipation of the cataclysmic scholarly and theological schisms this revision to the Cohen biographical canon will inevitably trigger.

Roy Orbison – House Without Windows

Bonus: “A House Without Love”

Oh OK, here’s Hank Williams singing “A House Without Love.”

I am so easy.

Hank Williams – A House Without Love

Credit Due Department: Roy Orbison photo by Jac. de Nijs / Anefo from Nationaal Archief

Note: Originally posted Sep 16, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Red Rubber Ball By The Cyrkle Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Note: Originally posted Oct 20, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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 re Red Rubber Ball: “I loved it, still do.”

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Red Rubber Ripples:
Paul Simon, The Cyrkle, John Simon, Leonard Cohen

The following excerpt is from I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons (2012):

John Simon was twenty-six years old, “just another junior producer among many at Columbia Records – That is, until I made a lot of money for them with ‘Red Rubber Ball.‘” The song, cowritten by Paul Simon … and recorded by the Cyrkle, whom John Simon produced, was such a big hit that even Leonard was aware of it. (“I loved it,” said Leonard, “still do.”)  As a result John Simon earned “… some decent artists to produce,” first Simon & Garfunkel, then Leonard Cohen. [emphasis mine]

 Uploaded by

“My Father” By Judy Collins Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

jukebox700Note: Originally posted April 12, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Original 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 Judy Collins – Leonard Cohen Connection

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Judy Collins – 1963

As fans and ongoing readers know, Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen were profoundly influenced by one another.  Our interest today, however, is focused on one specific Judy Collins song that clearly had an impact on Cohen as he began his career as a singer-songwriter.

The following excerpt is from Leonard Cohen Is A Poet Who Is Trying To Be Free by Marci McDonald (Toronto Daily Star, April 26, 1969):

myfatherJudy Collins – My Father

“Y.M.C.A.” By The Village People Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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The Original 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 Disco, The Village People, and “Y.M.C.A.”

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Yep, Leonard Cohen is – or at least was in 1979 – pro-disco, pro-Village People, and pro-YMCA.1 The following excerpt is from “An Idol’s Opinions” by Peter P. Hopfinger. Kurier: September 9, 1979 [translated into English]:

Disco is all right. People always want music to dance to. I quite like some of it, for example, the Village People hit ‘YMCA.’

This factoid, of course, immediately led DrHGuy to the thought that the Village People entourage comprising a police officer, an American Indian chief, a cowboy, a biker, a construction worker, and a military man (for the song, “In the Navy,” the police officer appeared as an admiral) might well have been enhanced by the addition of a Canadian singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-Zen monk-icon. From that notion, things began to slide, slide in all directions, finally resulting in the reworked “Best Of Village People” album cover seen above.

Video: Original YMCA Music Video 1978

Credit Due Department: Newspaper article contributed and translated into English by Rike.

Note: Originally posted Oct 27, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Really, who else is going to tell you this stuff? []