Published as an adjunct to the official criteria for the diagnosis of Leonard Cohen Fan Syndrome, which can be found at Cohenphilic Personality Disorder
You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If …
You have been disappointed and perplexed when attending any event – including but not limited to weddings, funerals, b’nei mitzvah, high school proms, jai ala matches, openings of strip malls, kindergarten graduations, meetings of the Daughters Of The American Revolution, presidential inaugurations (regardless of country), royal coronations (regardless of country), coups d’etat (regardless of country), space launches, summer solstices, and Metallica concerts – that did not feature at least one Leonard Cohen song.
You came across a possible Leonard Cohen sighting alleging that the Canadian singer-songwriter Cohen was seen buying a Filet-O-Fish at McDonald’s today in your hometown of Cedar Rapids and, although you know that he gave a concert in New Zealand last night, you head to Mickey D’s, … just in case.
You found The Watchmen to be miscast, overblown, and jejune – except for the use of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which transformed the three minute sex scene between superheroes, Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II, into a tragicomic masterpiece destined to become a cinematic classic.
In response to that friend’s explanation that by “wide variety of music” she meant a collection of songs representing many different moods, styles, and eras performed by different singers, you replace three of the original tracks on the mix CD with one selection each from Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, Sharon Robinson’s Everybody Knows, and Anjani’s Blue Alert albums.
You have constructed a six page spreadsheet of Cohen’s preferences in furnishings, codiments, household accessories, and foodstuffs from data garnered from studying photos and videos of Cohen being interviewed in his home.
You feel certain that, at least under the Canadian legal code, a spouse declaring “Cohen’s just another singer – and not an especially good one” is grounds for divorce – as is a spouse claiming that he or she “gets Leonard and you don’t.”
You maintain the high point of contemporary TV was Cohen’s 1986 cameo on Miami Vice
You are not typically an apostrophe aficionado but you are fascinated that the Leonard Cohen album is called “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” rather than “Death Of A Lady’s Man.”
Your mother is concerned that you own 182 blouses, all of which feature a polka-dot pattern.
You know that some people listen to Leonard Cohen’s music and don’t like it, but can’t help wondering if they reallllllly listened.
You think an Icon Hall Of Fame is a great idea because Leonard Cohen would be a shoo-in for the charter class.
You routinely read biographies and watch documentaries about other singers on the chance that Leonard Cohen might be mentioned.
You are convinced that there are no covers of Leonard Cohen songs that improve on the original; you also own every cover now available.
You mourn the absence of “crack and anal sex” in recent years.
You remain convinced, lack of supporting evidence notwithstanding, that your Cohencentric blog makes you desirable to women.
You and your spouse are planning to drive from Kentucky to Montreal (and have obtained your first passports) for no other reason than to see the Leonard Cohen artwork exhibition.1
At your wedding, poems and songs by Leonard Cohen were performed during the ceremony and his music was featured at the reception, but you are still disappointed and regretful that your first dance was not to Leonard Cohen’s music – and that you weren’t marrying Leonard Cohen.
When you realize that the cost of Cohen concert tickets plus the cost of transportation plus the cost of a hotel … exceeds your savings, you take the only reasonable course of action: you travel as cheaply as possible, you buy the best seats available, and after the show you spend the night riding mass transit around the city.
When you notice, walking home from work, the New York Beacon Theatre marquee inscription: “Leonard Cohen – Sold Out: Tonight,” you take the only reasonable course of action: you drop your plans for the evening, hustle tickets you can’t afford from a scalper, and spend the evening with Leonard – and a few hundred other folks.
You send cash to a guy you’ve never met who lives 4,000 miles away because he has tickets to the Chicago show where he might be able to pick up for you the Unified Heart signet ring (mid-size, silver) you want that wasn’t on sale at the Cohen concert you attended.2
Your mother-daughter bonding is anchored by a shared set of lurid aspirations vis-a-vis Mr. Cohen, details of which you eagerly describe to others in the ticket-holder’s line for the Cohen concert.
You’ve given up your effort to find a loophole making Canadian poets eligible to become the United States Poet Laureate in favor of your campaign to have Leonard Cohen named Poet Laureate of the World.
You are not only vexed that Cohen hasn’t made a guest appearance on The Simpsons but you are also disappointed that he never sang “Closing Time” with The Muppets, a tad miffed that he hasn’t been on the Daily Show, and genuinely perplexed why President Obama hasn’t appointed him to his Cabinet as Secretary Of Song.
You’ve painstakingly cultivated and maintained a relationship with someone living in Canada solely so he will tape those CBC specials about Leonard Cohen that are only broadcast in that country.
You have patiently explained to at least a dozen people, four of whom were 7 years old or younger, that it was John Cale who sang “Hallelujah” in the movie, “Shrek,” but it was Rufus Wainwright who sang it on the “Shrek” soundtrack CD, and, most importantly, it was Leonard Cohen – and certainly not Jeff Buckley, who does have a wonderful voice if one is into that sort of thing – who wrote “Hallelujah” and sings the definitive rendition of it.
Every candle in your house, including those purchased for use when the power goes out and those you picked up for your child’s eighth birthday cake, is thin and green.
When your garbage includes flowers, you feel compelled to search through it.
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
You have been uncertain about one or more of those Heck Of A Guy posts featuring Leonard Cohen performing a seemingly unlikely activity because – well, if he wanted, Leonard could enter and exit the stage on a unicycle while juggling
… and, he does know how to skate.3
You do not find it ironic or counterintuitive that your fundamental beliefs about love, romance, and relationships are based on songs and poems written by someone given the nickname, “Poet Laureate Of Commitophobes.”4
You vehemently dispute the claim that your entire music collection consists of songs sung by Leonard Cohen – because you also own two Leonard Cohen tribute albums.
You find yourself carrying on entire conversations using only lyrics from Leonard Cohen songs.
You are incapable of participating in any conversation lasting more than four minutes, regardless of the original purpose of the discussion, including being questioned by an officer of the Indiana State Police about your predilection for traveling at a velocity considerably in excess of the posted speed limit, without observing that
Leonard Cohen invited me to the soundcheck and backstage buffet before the October 29, 2009 Chicago Rosemont Theatre concert and to the Green Room get-together afterward.
You view it as a sign of your growing maturity that once you’ve interjected that phrase you no longer automatically flash this photo:
… unless, of course, it’s absolutely necessary.
En route from Kentucky to Montreal to view the Leonard Cohen art exhibit,5 you are detained at the Canadian border by a guard, who says, “I’m sorry ma’am, but I’m having trouble believing that you would drive all the way from Kentucky, just to see a Leonard Cohen exhibit. Would you mind pulling over,” after which your car is searched for Cohen contraband, yet on your return, you report
We had a perfect trip, just didn’t get to stay long enough, …
You finagle two tickets to see Leonard Cohen perform at Sligo, book hotel and ferry reservations, and arrange kennels for your dogs; then – and only then – do you ask your husband if he would “fancy going to Ireland for summer holiday.”
When your husband, who is not a Cohen fan, yet is, inexplicably, an uncommonly fine fellow, responds (after assuring “I haven’t got to go to concert have I?”) in the affirmative, you find yourself displaying a soppy grin of self-satisfaction for the next five days because, after all, you love the guy – and your husband is OK, too.6 You are, of course, also happy that those two tickets you purchased are for one seat at each of the two concerts.
After joking about buying Leonard Cohen’s childhood home now that it’s for sale, you find yourself investigating Canadian mortgages, calculating payment schedules, and organizing an investment coalition.
Upon discovering that Dino posted on Twitter that he was “sockless,” having left all his socks at the hotel in the last city that had hosted the Leonard Cohen World Tour, you take it upon yourself to call the hotel in hopes of retrieving them.
Alternatively, upon discovering that Dino posted on Twitter that he was “sockless,” having left all his socks at the hotel in the last city that had hosted the Leonard Cohen World Tour, you take it upon yourself to purchase a pair of red socks and send them to Dino.
You have written and posted a poem called “Songtitles – Eighty Reasons to be a Leonard Cohen Fan,” consisting primarily of titles of Leonard Cohen songs – but are concerned that doing so might indicate you are a poet with too much time on his hands rather than a pure case of Cohenphilic Personality Disorder.
You, having read that Leonard said (in 1970) that the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin was like “Brigadoon with a touch of Havana,” order the movie, which you’ve never watched since you don’t enjoy musicals, from Netflix to see exactly what he meant.
You choose gifts associated with your favorite Leonard Cohen songs for your lover and because you went shopping for a birthday present the day after attending a concert in which Cohen sang the version of “I’m Your Man” with the line, “And if you want another kind of love I’ll wear my leather mask for you” you came home with this. Your lover, also a fan, understood.
You must watch the entire Live in London concert each night before you can fall asleep.
Your only political activity in the past 10 years has been inviting all your friends to join the “Leonard Cohen for Governor General” page on Facebook.
You obsess about how to best to bring salvation to those culturally- and spiritually-impoverished individuals who respond to conversations that somehow turn to Leonard Cohen (i.e., any conversation in which you participate longer than four minutes) with “Who?”
You compile, for your own use, a song book, titled “49 Songs,” consisting of lyrics to those Leonard Cohen songs missing from the official “Leonard Cohen: The Little Black Songbook,” all arranged in perfect alphabetical order, index pages, varying styles and formatting with columns and numbered with footers, because you feel the least you can do as a Cohen fan is to always carry ALL his lyrics with you at ALL times.
After completing “49 Songs,” you realize that there are still other song books needed – for example, one with the song lyrics which are not official, such as those listed on Rare Live Songs. And what about the different verses sung in live concerts, not to mention songs on “The Other Songs of Leonard Cohen Vol 1 and 2, …
You nick a water glass from which Leonard Cohen has drunk despite the reprehension evident in the faces of several individuals observing your larceny of love.
Your five-year old daughter (the one whose demanded her most recent natal celebration take the form of “a Leonard Cohen birthday party”) responds to your explanation that the Leonard Cohen concert in Moscow are prohibitively expensive with “Mummy! We can use ALL the money in my piggy bank! Just the girls in Moscow to see Leonard! It will be so fun!”
You became an ardent viewer of Mad Men – but only after you read that Anjani mentioned that Leonard enjoyed the show.
Your children grew up hearing you and your spouse sing Leonard Cohen songs to them as lullabies.
You feel as though you short-changed your oldest child, who was 12 years old before attending a Leonard Cohen Concert; thankfully, the younger siblings were a more age-appropriate 4 and 5.
You have been a fan so long, hung around other fans so long, and spent so much time at LeonardCohenForum that you think the behaviors listed above are normal.
You play computer Solitaire with your home-brewed Leonard Cohen World Tour card deck…
You routinely employ, in everyday conversation, neologisms based on the word “Cohen,” such as Cohencentric, Cohendependent, Cohenites, Cohenthusiast, Cohenista, Cohenconspirator, Cohentastic, and, most recently, Cohenoscopy.
After months of research and interviews, you have found a lawyer wiling to advance the legal theory that singing the words, “I’m your man” constitutes a verbal contract in Ireland. [fictional]
On one hand, she is widely regarded as one of the most talented actors of the modern era, earning 16 Academy Award nominations (winning two) 25 Golden Globe nominations (winning seven), two Emmy Awards, the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, four New York Film Critics Circle Awards, five Grammy Award nominations, a BAFTA award, an Australian Film Institute Award and a Tony Award nomination, amongst others. She is a major supporter of worthwhile causes, including Partners in Health (one of the largest non-governmental health care providers in Haiti), Stand Up To Cancer, Healthy Child Healthy World, the AIDS Project Los Angeles, and many others. She promotes The Academy of American Poets and Americans For The Arts. She has spoken out forcefully and articulately against domestic violence and sexual assault.
On the other hand, when she alluded in her speech at the 2010 Barnard Commencement to these lyrics by Leonard Cohen,
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
she paraphrased Cohen’s words rather than directly quoting them.
You defend yourself from being stereotyped as solely a Leonard Cohen fan by pointing out that you also like Sharon Robinson.
After an unrequited year long search for a specific photo of Leonard and his daughter Lorca – which you saw somewhere once – you contact DrHGuy to ask his assistance, assuming (correctly) that he not only be able to help but also that he will find nothing odd about your quest.
You have been involved in a vehement argument comparing two Leonard Cohen biographies, one which has been out of print for two decades and one which won’t be published for another year.
You don’t see anything unusual about a blog devoting two long posts to lamenting the overuse of “Hallelujah” in headlines about Leonard Cohen, another entry devoted to cliches used to describe Cohen’s stage attire, still another which revels in the up-close photo of one of the slides Cohen uses with his bolo ties, and four posts (so far) under the heading “You Might Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … .”
You have taken to filling in “Leonard Cohen” as your emergency contact, figuring that if you’re lucky enough to have a major accident, he would be too gracious not to respond and, if you regain consciousness, you might get the chance to meet him. Besides, if you get hurt someone will tell your mother soon enough.
The last time your doctor asked about previous diagnoses, you automatically included “Cohenphilic Personality Disorder.”
Since scheduling for the 2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour began, you have been stuck in a continuous loop, singing “Please Don’t Pass Me By” (“please, baby, please, baby, please…”)
You have Photoshopped yourself into the left side of this photo:
Note: If you have Photoshopped yourself into the right side of this photo, you should contact your personal mental health professional as quickly as possible.
You feel that your 10 year old granddaughter properly understands which issues achieve cosmic significance when she sends you a letter from summer camp that contains the following:
… and my best friend ______ Cohen (no relation) is in my cabin.
Your idea of a tour of New York is visiting the Chelsea Hotel twice and, if time permits, buying a post card of the Statue of Liberty from the rack in the lobby.
You exude excitement about Leonard Cohen you cannot contain, as exemplified in this email received by DrHGuy:
I just had to write and tell you my long awaited car bumper sticker has arrived from Ukraine (good old eBay!). Bad news is [my husband] has banished me from sticking it on the car because he has to drive it occasionally. I have resorted to sticking it on my saxophone case, (I was compelled to take sax lessons after watching Dino Soldo on LC Live in London, as a tribute to the ‘Master of Breath’).
I can’t keep it in – was so excited to get my post today. My Leonard Cohen, Sligo tickets came from Ticketmaster, and my other stickers from the Ukraine. (I had to order another one to put on my motorbike). Best day of the year so far.
You take your Leonard Cohen “Live in London” DVD with you when babysitting your three granddaughters (and everywhere else you go – because you never know when you might need a fix), explaining to them that you are going to play it for “just a few minutes’ to determine how it looks on their extra large TV. (Unsurprisingly, they rather enjoyed it.)
You are convinced that nothing would enhance and enrich Western Culture quite so much as the formation of the Field Commander Cohen Boogie Street Marching Band, Color Guard, & Hallelujah Society.
Upon reading, in an email from a guy you’ve never met, the idea that nothing would enhance and enrich Western Culture quite so much as the formation of the Field Commander Cohen Boogie Street Marching Band, Color Guard, & Hallelujah Society, you immediately and intuitively see the value of this concept and set a plan in motion to accomplish this goal.
You have developed and validated a scale for grading the severity of earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, floods, tropical storms, and other natural catastrophes that is based exclusively on calibrations of the effect each such event has on the Leonard Cohen World Tour. [fictional]
Your musical discrimination is so acute and your expectations of musical professionals so lofty that you only offered polite applause at the last Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert because the wind entrances were uneven and the tone was lackluster, but you led a standing ovation in acknowledgment of the virtuosity of Leonard Cohen’s one hand keyboard solo on “Tower Of Song.”
Leonard Cohen 2008 Tour – Tower Of Song (Sofiero Sweden)
First, you bid for Leonard Cohen concert tickets during the pre-sale; then, you figure out where the hell Zagreb is.
The process by which you decide which Leonard Cohen T-shirt to purchase (or make) bears an uncomfortably close resemblance to an episode of Say Yes To The Dress – except you attribute more long-term significance to your choice of t-shirts – and you don’t bring your mother to help with the selection.
You know at least 7 individuals with whom you can perform, without preparation or warning, an impromptu call and response routine using these alternating lines:
You were Marlon Brando,
I was Steve McQueen.
You were K.Y. Jelly,
I was Vaseline.
You were the father of modern medicine,
I was Mr. Clean.
You were the whore and the beast of Babylon,
I was Rin Tin Tin.
You flunked middle school geography, but you know how far it is from your home to Leonard Cohen’s house and to his childhood home in Montreal, the distance from Manhattan to Berlin (3967 miles), the longitude and latitude of the Chelsea Hotel, and the location of every city on the Leonard Cohen World Tour. And, you can reproduce, from memory, a detailed topographical map of the island of Hydra.
You have devoted more time to planning, revising, and fine-tuning the hypothetical menu you would prepare if Leonard Cohen dropped in for dinner than you have spent on your family’s meals over the past decade.
You have petitioned your doctoral dissertation committee to approve the topic “The Hermeneutics Of Eroticism Implicit In Performance-Evoked Culture-Bound Paradigmatic Audience Fantasies Of Handling Leonard Cohen Like Meat,” and the associated research proposal which would require you to attend every 2010 Leonard Cohen concert.
You have been accused of intentionally injuring yourself to provide opportunities to remark to bystanders that “I ache in the places where I used to play.” [fictional]
As an independent, empowered woman, you believe guys who use pickup lines are losers, but you secretly suspect you might succumb to certain phrases, such as
And lie beside me, baby,
that’s an order!
Won’t you let me see your naked body
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
Your only concern about your elocution is the nagging fear you don’t call soft enough [fictional]
When you visit your local bookstore, you track down the shop’s one copy of “Book Of Longing” by Leonard Cohen and move it to a more prominent position so more customers will see the book.
You view this maneuver as less a commercial promotion than your contribution to the battle against Philistinism and a fulfillment of your responsibilities to humanity.
When a co-worker asks about the irritation to your eye caused by your makeup, you find yourself replying
got something in my eye
a light that doesn’t need to live
and doesn’t need to die
To describe the location of your new digs in Durham, NC you routinely include in your emails the observation, “If I had lived here last year, I could have walked from my apartment to the Leonard Cohen concert.”
When you happen onto the LeonardCohenForum post entitled “Flying 4,000 miles to catch Cohen – Am I nuts?” you are perplexed and wonder if it is a trick question.
You refer to your iPod as your Lpod.
You travel hundreds of miles to attend several Leonard Cohen concerts, always carrying a first edition of Cohen’s novel, ‘The Favourite Game,” so that, should you serendipitously meet the ex-novelist turned singer-songwriter, you can ask him to autograph it.8
Once you have garnered Leonard Cohen’s autograph on your first edition of his novel, “The Favourite Game,” you continue to attend Cohen’s concerts but, of course, no longer pack “The Favourite Game” in your luggage for the trip; you now pack your first edition of “Death of a Lady’s Man,” so that, should you serendipitously meet the once full time poet turned singer-songwriter, you can ask him to autograph it.
Your greatest regret, outranking even that weekend you spent in a trailer in Fresno with the 360 pound bisexual biker who was equally proud of his 12 piercings and 14 felony convictions, is that you were so late in coming to an appreciation of Leonard Cohen’s work that you fear there may not be enough time to catch up.
You lose track of the date when it’s a not a concert day on the Leonard Cohen World Tour schedule.
On reaching the conclusion that the Leonard Cohen concert you just attended in Europe was only excellent rather than life-changing and thus failed to provide the quality of experience you have come to expect from Cohen’s performances, you take the obvious course of action – you immediately book seats for the final Las Vegas show.
When watching The Daily Show, you find yourself thinking, “Yeah, Laura Linney (or George Clooney or Bill Gates or Bill Clinton or Willie Mays or Michael Caine or Jimmy Carter or H.M. Abdullah II, King of Jordan or …) is a nice enough guest, but wouldn’t Leonard Cohen be a great guest?
You are also certain, despite the lack of any evidence of which you are aware, that Jon Stewart is a big fan of Leonard Cohen.
To console those disappointed that the Hawaii concert they were planning to attend was canceled because of “prohibitive and insurmountable logistical issues,”9 you point out that this change does at least offer a once in a lifetime reason to visit Vancouver, where a substituted performance will be held.
You are concerned because your brother …
came over, sat down at my computer, & proceeded to make me watch YouTube videos of various singers that he finds interesting, none of whom was Leonard Cohen! I couldn’t help wondering if he was trying to somehow dissipate my very valid & understandable obsession with Leonard Cohen, or if he just doesn’t understand that Leonard Cohen is the only really interesting singer in the world. I sat & watched the videos as patiently as I could, as I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but it took some effort to refrain from yelling out, every couple of seconds, “NOW LET’S WATCH LEONARD COHEN.” I basically felt like I was being tortured, & can’t understand why my brother, who I know really loves me, would torture me like that.
When you tell your friends that Lech Walesa visited backstage before the Warsaw concert, adding that “He may have done more for the people of Poland than anyone else in the past century,” your colleagues realize you’re referring to Leonard Cohen. [fictional]
You are Jon Stewart & contrast Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with Handel’s to make a nuanced point about a budget proposal
On the Dec 11, 2013 Daily Show, host Jon Stewart pointed out that Leonard Cohen’s “melancholy version” of Hallelujah is more appropriate as a musical commemoration of the the budget compromise than the majestic Hallelujah of Handel’s Messiah. (Ongoing readers may recall Stewart was spotted at the April 7, 2013 Leonard Cohen Radio City Music Hall Show)
The Honeymoon Edition Of You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If …
When packing for your your honeymoon in Maui, you find yourself thinking
Is it enough to take two iPods filled with every song Leonard Cohen has performed plus all the songs recorded by his backup singers as well as a significant fraction of the 2000+ covers of Cohen’s music – or do we also pack the Complete Columbia Album Collection CD set, just in case?
How likely is it that there is a hula danced to “Sisters Of Mercy?”
If Leonard had been raised in Lahaina instead of Montreal, would his imagery and tone have been different? Instead of “You see I’m just another snowman / Standing in the rain and sleet.,” would it have been “You see I’m just another surfer / Catching a few rays and waves?” Instead of “Avalanche,” would he have written a song called “Brief Period Of Showers This Morning With Sunshine Returning By Noon?” Instead of “The Guests,” would it have been “The Tourists?” Would there have been a song about his “Famous Blue Swim Trunks?” Would those audiences in Dublin have sung along with “Aloha, Marianne?” How about “First We Take Koolaupoko?”
What sort of lei goes best with a black suit and fedora?
How would Anjani’s family feel about fans dropping in to say Thanks For The Dance?
Is there any bad karma left from the cancelled 2010 concert?
What are the chances that an Hawaiian slack key guitar band taking requests will know “Do I Have To Dance All Night?”
What size t-shirt does Leonard wear?
- Based on Rain from LeonardCohenForum [↩]
- See How To Win Friends And Impress Strangers With A Little Help From Lorca & Leonard Cohen [↩]
- See Leonard Cohen World Tour ON ICE – New Marketing Strategy For Florida Shows [↩]
- See Leonard Cohen, AKA … – The Nicknames [↩]
- See first entry of More Signs That You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan [↩]
- While this union of Cohen fan and non-fan is heartening proof that mixed marriages can work, youngsters should be warned that sustaining such a coupling is a dangerous and arduous undertaking. [↩]
- There’s more but it all seems somewhat superfluous after one has read “Flying 4,000 miles to catch Cohen – Am I nuts?” [↩]
- See Leonard Cohen Sept 25, 2010 Lille Concert Redux – New Photos, Videos Plus “When Leonard Met Ruth” [↩]
- Coincidentally, “prohibitive and insurmountable logistical issues” were also the grounds for DrHGuy’s divorce from his first wife. [↩]