Top 10 Poker Quotes of All Time by Phil Hellmuth (PokerTube: 01 October 2018)
“Ah you hate to see another tired man / Lay down his hand / Like he was giving up the holy game of poker” is, of course, from The Stranger Song.
That’s why I wouldn’t like to intrude on anybody’s life by trying to advise them. I mean the real truth about my visions is that I don’t have any special secret. I said it in a song. ‘Please understand I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this or any other matter’
From Famous Last Words from Leonard Cohen by Paul Saltzman. Maclean’s: June 1972.
DrHGuy Note: The lines Leonard Cohen quotes, “Please understand I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this or any other matter,” are from the penultimate verse of The Stranger Song:
Well, I’ve been waiting, I was sure
we’d meet between the trains we’re waiting for
I think it’s time to board another
Please understand, I never had a secret chart
to get me to the heart of this
or any other matter
When he talks like this
you don’t know what he’s after
When he speaks like this,
you don’t know what he’s after. [emphasis mine]
Note: Originally posted June 26, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Singers Of Mercy: How McCabe & Mrs Miller Changed The Western Soundtrack by Charlie Brigden (The Quietus: April 29th, 2018) is an insightful essay on Altman’s use of Leonard Cohen’s music in his landmark movie. An excerpt follows but the full article, available at the link, is recommended reading:
‘Sisters of Mercy’ introduces McCabe’s prostitutes and notably the male reactions, the gawping construction workers and McCabe’s own shyster approach to it all that comes to a head when Alma stabs one of the punters. Cohen’s music just lingers as it’s clear McCabe is in over his head, and it’s no coincidence that this immediately precedes the arrival of Mrs Miller. Mrs Miller’s theme is ‘Winter Lady’, and we first hear it echoed in her smoky yellow room, post-opium session, but it’s used beautifully when she stands outside in the falling snow, scared at the inevitable fate of her and McCabe, Cohen uttering “you chose your journey long before you came across this highway”.
Other posts about Leonard Cohen’s music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller and video clips of Cohen’s music in that film at McCabe & Mrs. Miller
The three Cohen songs, “The Stranger Song,” “Sisters of Mercy,” and Winter Lady,” work in perfect harmony with the film and allow Cohen to play the part of an invisible, informal narrator, filling in the blanks left by the naturalistic, show-don’t-tell, style of the film. As nothing much is offered by the film’s dialogue in the way of back-stories, motivations and desires, it is left to Cohen and his songs. And as McCabe and Mrs. Miller swoon across with the film’s patient, meditative narrative, a larger picture emerges, like pieces of a puzzle falling into place.
The above excerpt is from The Stranger Song: Leonard Cohen and McCabe & Mrs. Miller by C Depasquale. Aquarium Drunkard: Nov 5, 2013. Complete article available at link.
While the significance of Cohen’s music for Altman’s 1971 film, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, is an often-addressed cinematic topic, this exposition is especially well written and insightful. Highly recommended.
Note: Originally posted Dec 11, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
I wondered if he [Leonard Cohen] was feeling as healthy as he seemed.
I’m just reeling, man. I’m just reeling. Sometimes in the midst of the thing I don’t know how I do it, you know. Like I manage to get my daily life together, to get this tour together. But most of the time I’m staggering under the blows. It’s no doubt that I contrive these blows for myself. I think everyone is responsible for their own condition. But I don’t intend to stay here, you know; I’ve run through a lot of programs to get myself out of here and this is one that I’m ending because it didn’t work. And it’s not a question of putting myself down. It’s a question of being as accurate as possible. You know, that’s why I wouldn’t like to intrude on anybody’s life by trying to advise them. I mean the real truth about my visions is that I don’t have any special secret. I said it in a song. ‘Please understand I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this or any other matter.’
Note: The line referenced by Leonard Cohen is, of course, from The Stranger Song
From Famous last words from Leonard Cohen by Paul Saltzman (Macleans: June 10, 1972)
Dominique BOILE sends this enthusiastic recommendation for this Malagasy cover of Leonard Cohen’s The Stranger Song:
The video starts just before The Stranger Song begins.
Stranger in Paradise, which opens Dutch documentary festival IDFA, is, quite literally, a classroom exercise which assembles would-be migrants in a Lampedusa detention centre and gives them – and the viewer – a brutally direct lesson in the realities of European refugee politics.
Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this use of a Leonard Cohen song in a movie by a LeonardCohenForum post by Jarkko Arjatsalo.
Over the years, at least a half-dozen posts on the topic of the music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller have appeared at Cohencentric and its predecessors.1 Even if you’ve read all the reviews referenced in those entries, there is still more to learn from Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller by Robert Christgau (Criterion: Oct 5, 2016). The excerpts below indicate Christgau’s grasp of detail and his nuanced, articulate observations.
Before Altman even tried to negotiate permissions, he laid Cohen’s songs over his footage, and the mesh amazed him. “I think the reason they worked was because those lyrics were etched in my subconscious, so when I shot the scenes I fitted them to the songs, as if they were written for them. I put in about ten of them at first—of course, we way overdid it—and then we ended up with the three songs that were finally used, and I thought they were just wonderful.”
The film version of “The Stranger Song” differs from the one Altman had played to death on successive copies of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s late-1967 debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen—produced, as it happens, by another John Simon (rather too schlockily, Cohen always thought). After starting off with the first three verses of the album version, the soundtrack interpolates a long, elegiac, Spanish-tinged guitar solo—amplified acoustic, I think—by David Lindley, for forty years now a go-to multi-instrumentalist but at the time merely a member of the California band Kaleidoscope, who were handpicked by Cohen to play behind him on the record only to be cut off at the pass by Simon the producer. Then the album version returns for two verses, after which it doubles back to the capper of the second verse, with the final three verses saved for a later scene. Thus the mood-setter ends: “That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder/It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.”
The entire piece can be read at
View Videos: Leonard Cohen’s Music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller
All posts about Leonard Cohen’s music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller can be found at McCabe & Mrs. Miller