Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: I Feel You By Sam Roberts

“I dreamt Leonard Cohen handed me a bag of money”

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. Today’s offering is from Sam Roberts, a multiple Juno-winning rock ‘n’ roller from Montreal, acknowledges Cohen’s influence with that line from his hit single, I Feel You: “I dreamt Leonard Cohen handed me a bag of money.”

In an interview, Writing In The Shadow Of Leonard Cohen by Graham Rockingham (TheSpec.com, Nov 7, 2011), Roberts explains the genesis of the song:

It turns out that Roberts really did have a dream about Cohen, and, yes, the great poet was literally holding a bag of money. “I don’t know where the money came from,” explains Roberts, “and I don’t remember him saying anything. It was just him, wearing a peak cap. I woke up and scribbled it down. It was just sitting there in my notebook, one of those lines that was always glaring at me. I’d wonder, ‘How the hell is this ever going to be part of a song?’ Then I started writing a song (I Feel You) that was basically just other fragments of dreams and decided that this, in fact, was where it belongs.”

Video: Sam Roberts – I Feel You

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: No Remedy For Love By Liona Boyd

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. Today’s offering is No Remedy For Love By Liona Boyd

The song No Remedy For Love is dedicated to Leonard Cohen. That’s Thoreau — I saw the quote at the Church of the Redeemer. ‘There is no remedy for love, but to love more.’ I liked that. The song turned out a bit cynical, but that’s not my stance on love. I’m still optimistic. I’d love a soul mate. I’ll find love somehow.

Excerpted from Liona Boyd’s new outlook on life by Liz Braun (Toronto Sun: October 21, 2017).

Serendipitously, I had noted the same parallel declarations a few months ago; see Leonard Cohen & Henry David Thoreau On An Antidote For Love

The entire album is available on Spotify. The song, No Remedy For Love, is the fourth track.

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Valley Boy By Wolf Parade

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While most of the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen and others name-check the Canadian singer-songwriter, today’s selection is the first entry to be directly inspired by Leonard’s death. Valley Boy is the first single from Cry Cry Cry, the fourth album by Wolf Parade, the quintessential Montreal indie rock band. According to the press release:

“Valley Boy,” a Bowie-inflected anthem for which Spencer [Krug] wrote lyrics after Leonard Cohen died the day before the 2016 election (“The radio’s been playing all your songs, talking about the way you slipped away up the stairs, did you know that it was all gonna go wrong?”).

Lines from the song allude to Leonard (and Marianne) as well:

So you finally became that bird on that wire

Calling all the angels, we must have an intervention
The land and the air and Marianne are in contention
The land wants the tongue and the air wants the spirit
But it’s all inside the heart and Marianne won’t let them near it

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Dark Side of the Gym By The National

The National – Dark Side of the Gym

“Just dance me to the dark side of the gym”

From Memories by Leonard Cohen

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While most of the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen and others name-check the Canadian singer-songwriter, today’s selection is the second entry that is built around one of his songs (the first was The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song By Jeffrey Lewis). Dark Side of the Gym, the title of a track on The National’s Sleep Well Beast album, refers to “Just dance me to the dark side of the gym,” a line from Memories, released on Leonard Cohen’s 1977 Death Of A Ladies’ Man. The melody and song structure of Dark Side of the Gym is also reminiscent of Cohen’s song.

Matt Berninger, frontman of The National, talks about Leonard Cohen in this excerpt from The National’s Super-Political Love Songs by Spencer Kornhaber *Atlantic: Sep 8, 2017)

Kornhaber: Speaking of sex being at the the core of all our dark desires: Leonard Cohen. You have a reference to him with the song title “Dark Side of the Gym.” What do you take from him?

Berninger: He wrote about sex, he wrote about God, he wrote about politics, all within the same verse. And they all were these beautiful, personal little stories. Everything feels so humongous, but then they also have all these little details.

“Famous Blue Raincoat” is the one I go back to just because it’s like The Great Gatsby or Lolita. That song has so many little details—about a house in the desert, and a lock of hair, and all this kind of stuff—but it’s so big. That song is just a giant, complex story that I don’t quite understand.

He’s one of 20 songwriters that I steal from. Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave—people like that really go right to the most sensitive parts of the skin. Which are the wires that are frayed and sparking? Those are the ones they’ll put their wet hand on. Because they just have to. It’s the only wire in the room that matters, the one that might burn the place down.

Posts about Leonard Cohen’s Memories can be found at Cohencentric: Memories.

Photo by Thepeoplesuck at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: Illusions in G Major by ELO

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While most of the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen or, in one case, has been built around one of his songs, today’s entry name-checks the Canadian singer-songwriter in one line.

Illusions in G Major by Electric Light Orchestra

On the seven seas there was a phantom ship acoming,
Shinin’ in the dead of night,
I heard the crew a hummin’
Tunes that sounded like the Rolling Stones and Leonard Cohen.

Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen: The Gallery By Joni Mitchell

 is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. The Gallery is one of four songs held by some to be inspired by Joni Mitchell’s experiences with Leonard Cohen.

Mitchell directly confirmed that “Leonard is an influence on that song [The Gallery]” in Joni Mitchell In Her Own Words by Malka Marom (ECW Press: Sept 9, 2014). Joni Mitchell and Malka Marom discussed Leonard Cohen’s role in this song:

J: Some of them [Cohen’s lyrics] are very unflattering portraits. They scared me. He could be so harsh on women.

M: Harsh in what way?

J: In the songs. “Your thighs are a ruin, you want too much / let’s say you came back some time too soon” [from Master Song by Leonard Cohen]  That’s harsh. I countered it with thinking of the pleasure I’m gonna have watching your hairline recede, which is a similar line. I think both of those things are mean. But Leonard gets funny. When you take him seriously, eventually, you start to …

M: Yes, he’s got this ironic twist in him that I like.

The sentiment behind these words from The Gallery seems clear:

When I first saw your gallery
I liked the ones of ladies
Then you began to hang up me
You studied to portray me
In ice and greens
And old blue jeans
And naked in the roses
Then you got into funny scenes
That all your work disclose

Lady, please love me now, I am dead
I am a saint, turn down your bed
I have no heart, that’s what you said
You said, I can be cruel
But let me be gentle with you

Joni Mitchell – The Gallery