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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Note: Originally posted Mar 26, 2014 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 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

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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]

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“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