“I’m very fond of Phil Spector…he’s one of the great, magnificent figures…It’s just that I don’t have much of an appetite for magnificence” Leonard Cohen

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I’m very fond of Phil Spector. I think he’s one of the great, magnificent figures on the landscape. It’s just that I don’t have much of an appetite for magnificencequotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Love Me, Love My Gun Barrel by Graham Lock. New Musical Express: February 23, 1980. Originally June 21, 2013 posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Fingerprints has hand clapping on it. The clappers are not merely people with hands.”Leonard Cohen On High Production Cost Of Death Of A Ladies’ Man

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Fingerprints has hand clapping on it. The clappers are not merely people with hands. They’re the highest-priced musicians in L.A., on double time and after midnight on quadruple time. Everything took place after midnight.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen: My Album Will Be Classic In 10 Years by Mary Campbell. AP: Feb 1978.

“I was always attracted to his [Phil Spector’s] earlier work: ‘Unchained Melody,’ ‘Lovin’ Feeling.’ In those songs you could hear the predicament of the central story-teller.” Leonard Cohen

From The Great Ones Never Leave. They Just Sit It Out Once In A While by Harvey Kubernik. Melody Maker: November 26, 1977. Originally posted Feb 9, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I think that in the final moment, Phil [Spector] couldn’t resist annihilating me. I don’t think he can tolerate any other shadows in his darkness.” Leonard Cohen

DrHGuy Note: I suspect that in that situation, I would have said something along the lines of “He was mean to me because he’s rotten.” This is why Leonard Cohen is a poet-songwriter-icon and I’m a blogger.

From Leonard Cohen Obscured…A Haunting by Spector by Stephen Holden. Rolling Stone: January 26, 1978.

Leonard Cohen on Phil Spector: “He was in his Wagnerian phase, when I had hoped to find him in his Debussy phase.”

Phil Spector was, of course, Leonard Cohen’s collaborator on Death Of A Ladies’ Man,

From No Mercy – Leonard Cohen’s Tales from the Dark Side by Anthony DeCurtis. Rolling Stone: January 21, 1993. Originally posted Dec 30, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I’ve never forgotten Phil [Spector] coming towards me with a bottle of Manischewitz in one hand, a .45 in the other” Leonard Cohen On Recording Death Of A Ladies’ Man


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[During the recording of Death Of A Ladies’ Man] I was holding on for dear life. My family was breaking up at the time – just to show up was rough. Then I’d have to go through this ninth-rate military film noir atmosphere. I’ve never forgotten Phil [Spector] coming towards me with a bottle of Manischewitz in one hand, a .45 in the other and putting his arm around my shoulder, shoving the gun into my neck, cocking it and saying, ‘Leonard, I love you.’ It wasn’t that much fun.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From No Mercy – Leonard Cohen’s Tales from the Dark Side by Anthony DeCurtis. Rolling Stone: January 21, 1993.

Leonard Cohen’s “Memories” Features Lines From The Shields’ Doo Wop Hit “You Cheated”

the-shields-you-cheated-dot-78

Leonard Cohen Sings “You Cheated, You Lied”

Careful listening to the outro of “Memories,” released as a track on the 1977 Leonard Cohen-Phil Spector collaboration, Death of a Ladies’ Man, reveals Cohen singing1

You cheated, you lied,
You said that you love me.

leonard-cohen-death-of-a-ladies-man

This YouTube recording of the album version of Memories starts just before those lyrics begin.

Those lines from “Memories” are significant because they are taken from the lyrics of the 1958 single, “You Cheated” by the Shields, a musical allusion2  the implications of which have been discussed. Three examples follow:

From Memories Leonard Cohen by Phil Kakulas3  (Words & Music November 2012):

The heightened atmosphere also inspired one of Cohen’s finest vocal performances, as he abandons all restraint to scream, moan and plead his case over the outro [of Memories], the song fading away to the strains of You Cheated, You Lied by The Shields – a nod to one of the song’s musical inspirations.

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  1. While most articles mention only Cohen singing these words, at least one listener reports Bob Dylan singing along: “Bob Dylan chimes in at the end of Leonard Cohen’s Memories, first harmonizing and then singing a few bars of ‘you cheated, you lied.’ he’s mixed down pretty low, too.” []
  2. The outro  also includes  a reference to singer Frankie Laine, but that’s another post. []
  3. Phil Kakulas was a member of The Blackeyed Susans, a group that produced an outstanding cover of “Memories.” See Blackeyed Susans And David McComb & The Red Ponies Cover Leonard Cohen’s “Memories” []

Patti Page’s “I Went To Your Wedding” Was Starting Point For Leonard Cohen – Phil Spector Collaboration

From I Went To Your Wedding
To Death Of A Ladies’ Man

As a teenager in L.A. in the early 1950s, Harvey Phillip Spector was glued to the sounds of the AM radio dial. He loved Patti Page singing “I Went To Your Wedding …”1

“I Went to Your Wedding,” written by Jessie Mae Robinson in 1952, became a hit for Patti Page, whose recording of it entered the Billboard chart on August 22, 1952, lasting 21 weeks and reaching #1 on the chart. A country music version by Hank Snow peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart the same year.

Twenty-four years after Patti Page’s rendition of  “I Went to Your Wedding” was the top pop song in America, it became the starting point for the  Leonard Cohen – Phil Spector collaboration that resulted in the “Death of a Ladies’ Man” album.  The following excerpt is from What Happened When Phil Spector Met Leonard Cohen? by Harvey Kubernik:2

Cohen and Spector first met late in 1974, when Cohen was in Los Angeles for a rare club appearance – a two-night gig at the Troubadour. After the last show on the second night, Spector hosted an informal reception for Cohen at his home – a Spanish-style mansion in the grand, excessive Southern California tradition.

Cohen was brought to Spector’s attention, and vice versa, by Martin Machat – who had independently become lawyer and business manager for both men. Machat took Spector to see Cohen perform. Throughout Cohen’s 90-minute show, Spector sat quietly, very still, immediately impressed (he later said) by Cohen’s mystery and his technique (or maybe the mystery of his technique…or the technique of his mystery…)

The two men got on well at the post-Troubadour reception, and kept in some sort of loose touch thereafter. Late in 1976, when Cohen visited Los Angeles again, Spector invited him to be his houseguest. The first night, the two worked out a new version of Patti Page’s “I Went to Your Wedding”; by breakfast, they’d co-written two new songs – Cohen the lyrics, Spector the music (picked out on the piano). The seed was sown for what ultimately became Death of a Ladies’ Man.  [emphasis mine]

Cohen’s own version of the story follows:3

After the [Troubadour] concert, Phil invited us to his house. The house was freezing due to the air conditioning, it was four degrees. He locked the door so we couldn’t leave. I said “Listen Phil, if you lock us in here, we are going to get bored… So as long as we are locked up we might as well write some songs together.” So we started that very night. We wrote songs together for about a month, it was fun. Phil is really a charming guy when you are with him alone. I would write the words, then he would work on the melody, then I would revise the words to better fit the melody. We would exchange ideas. But in the studio when other people were around he was a totally different man.

Phil Spector and Leonard Cohen spending a night together reworking a 1952 Patti Page hit song – scary thought, eh?

Of course, one has to wonder how the album would have turned out if Messrs. Cohen and Spector had chosen a different tune from among those favored by the teenaged Spector, say “Work With Me Annie” by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters,  the Chordettes’ “Born To Be With You,” or “Sixty Minute Man” by the Dominoes.4

Patti Page – I Went to Your Wedding (1952)

Note: Originally posted July 26, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. From Phil Spector, The Musical Legacy: Part One by Harvey Kubernik (Goldmine, February 20, 2011) []
  2. The Los Angeles Phonograph, January 1978. []
  3. Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992) []
  4. Phil Spector, The Musical Legacy: Part One by Harvey Kubernik (Goldmine, February 20, 2011) []