Leonard Cohen Is A (Paper) Doll

I love your body and your spirit and your clothes

  – From “First We Take Manhattan” by Leonard Cohen

Dressing – And Undressing – Leonard Cohen

Eva M, a member of the Leonard Cohen Forum, offers both an apposite commentary on Leonard Cohen’s style and an entertaining activity for fans  in the form of a well-executed, affecting, unique   paper doll set she created.

The Leonard Cohen paper doll set was originally submitted as an entry in the contest sponsored by the German edition of Rolling Stone to send a “passionate fan” to Paris for the Old Ideas preview. The image atop this post was, in fact, first published at the German Rolling Stone Facebook page (January 3, 2012) with this caption:

A self designed Doll by Leonard Cohen is just a post that we received in the course of the Leonard Cohen contest. Until tomorrow, you can take part – and then we are faced with the difficult task to pick a winner from all the photos, cover songs, stories and poems… [computer powered translation from German to English]

As part of this project Eva M taught herself enough technology to create a flash version of Dress Up Leonard Cohen. (The image of the flash game is shown below; to play the flash version itself, go to the link.)

For those who adhere to traditional forms, Eva M offers these instructions:

Print it  [the paper version] in A3 size, take your scissors and have fun.

Also see Eva M’s Leonard Cohen Specialty Saints Bracelet

Note: Originally posted Jan 8, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Cat In The Hat Is Back – Leonard Cohen Prepares For 2008 Tour


I’m Your (Sharp-dressed) Man

They come runnin’ just as fast as they can
‘Cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.

– From Sharp-dressed Man by ZZ Top

This shot of Leonard Cohen rehearsing for his upcoming World Tour in his Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes1 is intriguing and even a tad mysterious.

How, for example, does he look so good in that hat? Why does he look like an illustration for the dictionary definition of “dapper” wearing a double breasted jacket while 97% of the men that don them (including Dave Letterman, who wears one almost every night on his show) resemble nothing else as much as a corpse being fitted for a shroud? Why is he fingering a keyboard when he typically plays a guitar, if he plays any instrument, in his concerts? Why does he have only one hand on the keyboard? Is the one hand in the pocket stance essential as a component of the not quite insouciant slouch?

And what the heck is with that gong in the background?


Credit Due Department: Photo by Lorca Cohen. Used by permission of Leonard Cohen via Ed Sanders. Thanks to Dick Straub for alerting me to the photo.

Note: Originally posted Apr 27, 2008 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Or would these be Leonard Cohen’s “Sabbath-go-to-meeting Clothes?” Or his “Sabbath-go-to-synagogue Clothes?” Such are the perils of the culturally sensitive blogger. []

Leonard Cohen: Fashion Exemplar – The Hollywood YMCA T-shirt


The ever dapper Leonard Cohen had at least one t-shirt in his wardrobe that showed up on occasion in photos and videos. In the above screenshot from Harry Rasky’s Song of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer-songwriter is wearing a Hollywood YMCA shirt. In a video of “Take This Longing,” that same Hollywood YMCA shirt can be viewed peeking out from Leonard Cohen’s jacket.


On the cover art of the Birmingham bootleg, a Hollywood YMCA T-shirt is paired with shorts for that especially casual look.

LCbhamBkEsther Park points out that Leonard sports that shirt on the photo spread below.


Esther goes on to note,

If he [Leonard Cohen] were a gentleman and cared anything about his female fans, he would have given the shirt to her and gone topless himself.

And A Historical Note – The Roscoe Beck-Leonard Cohen Hollywood YMCA Connection

In related news, those perpetually popular and always astute reliable sources have it that Rosco Beck and Leonard Cohen wore Hollywood YMCA t-shirts “all the time” during the 1979 tour rehearsals and swam daily at the Hollywood YMCA.

Consequently, it seems likely that more photos of Leonard and perhaps some of Roscoe sporting these garments may be floating about. Viewers who happen onto such specimens are urged to contact me

Update: From The Hollywood YMCA Perspective

This pertinent comment was left by Hollywood YMCA Executive Director, Norris Lineweaver on

Needless to say, hundreds of Hollywood YMCA engraved towels, shorts and t-shirts, muscle shirts, lifeguard shirts, camp counselor shirts, Adventure Trails shirts, staff security shirts, and even maintenance staff uniforms are in circulation. I am embarrassed to say probably one of the most out of control inventory under my watch. Now that Leonard Cohen has come out in the open with contraband I am certain my successors couldn’t do better even with a chain and lock on every t-shirt. Thank you, Leonard! We love you!
Norris Lineweaver
Executive Director (1980-88)

Note: Originally posted Feb 2, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Saints Bracelet(s)

Leonard Cohen: Oakland March 2, 2013 (Photo by Art Siegel)

Leonard Cohen: Oakland March 2, 2013 (Photo by Art Siegel)

The recent interest in Leonard Cohen’s prompts this post about Saints Bracelet Mr Cohen was first observed wearing on his right wrist at the July 25, 2010 Zagreb concert (see screenshot below).


The accoutrement features pictures of Jesus and a selection of Catholic saints mounted on rectangular or round wooden, metal, or ceramic pieces. At the time, a LeonardCohenForum post by mnkyface notes the similarity of the bracelet worn by Cohen for the first time at the Zagreb concert to a bracelet of Catholic saints such as the one shown below.
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The Poetic Hair Stylings Of Leonard Cohen: “I comb my hair for possibilities”


The Hair Club For Singer-Songwriter-Poet-Novelist-Icons

“I comb my hair for possibilities” is a line from Leonard Cohen’s poem, “The Suit.”  Two years ago, I observed in Does This Fashion Suit Leonard Cohen?, a post about a fashionable line of suits purportedly inspired by those verses, that, despite its somewhat misleading title, the poem is less about couture than coiffure:

More to the point, if that poem is to inspire a product, shouldn’t it be a hair product or haircuts or toupees or something hirsute-related? After all, there are two lines about a suit and 23 referring to hair and feelings the narrator experiences about his hair. 

Indeed, “The Suit,” published in Flowers For Hitler by Leonard Cohen is a celebration of hair:

I am locked in a very expensive suit
old elegant and enduring
Only my hair has been able to get free
but someone has been leaving
their dandruff in it
Now I will tell you
all there is to know about optimism
Each day in hub cap mirror
in soup reflection
in other people’s spectacles
I check my hair
for an army of alpinists
for Indian rope trick masters
for tangled aviators
for dove and albatross
for insect suicides
for abominable snowmen
I check my hair
for aerialists of every kind
Dedicated as an automatic elevator
I comb my hair for possibilities
I stick my neck out
I lean illegally from locomotive windows
and only for the barber
do I wear a hat

The Human Body As A Convenient Source Of Literary Devices

It is hardly surprising that Cohen employs hair in the service of his literature.  Few writers have not experienced the sort of desperation that drives  scribblers of prose and poetry to consider body parts as literary devices first and a machine for living second. Whitman  thematically focused on the entire human body in work like “I Sing the Body Electric.” Raymond Chandler wrote about a character in The Long Goodbye who”was eager to help but his legs were rubber . . . ” A complete book (Inscrutable Houses by Anne Colwell) is devoted to, as described by its subtitle, “metaphors of the body in the poems of Elizabeth Bishop.” Tongues, toes, teeth, and thyroids have all been used – with varying levels of effectiveness – as figurative language in prose and poetry.

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