A Brief Critique of Leonard Cohen

If you know me, you know that I love Leonard Cohen. Sadly, he died on my birthday back in 2016. And today I must take issue with one of his songs.

I am just getting out of the shower, and Leonard Cohen is playing on my laptop. I am one of the sort that must have music when in an aquatic environment, an environment I truly believe is more natural to all humans.


Leonard Cohen in his youth, as we should all be remembered

As I stepped out of the bathroom and began to select my outfit for the day, the song “Look At Me, Leonard” came on the playlist. These are the lyrics to this song:

Because of a few songs
Wherein I spoke of their mystery,
Women have been
Exceptionally kind
To my old age.
They make a secret place
In their busy lives
And they take me there.
They become naked
In their different ways
And they say,
“Look at me, Leonard
Look at me one last time.”

As I powdered my feet, I thought, ‘they BECOME naked?’ What sort of wacky witchery is this? They take off their clothes, don’t they, Leonard? They don’t just BECOME naked. Unless maybe you’re pulling a Cosby and don’t want to admit you’re stripping them. And I know that a classy gent such as yourself would never do such a thing. And these women do speak (they say the title of the song right after the nudity happens), so we know they aren’t unconscious, right? And “in their different ways”? How many different ways are there to take off a bra?

This is one of his shorter songs, however, so I am guessing even he said, “Yeah, this is crap” and just quit writing the song, but due to some contractual obligation — say, a certain quota of new songs for an album — this one was resurrected from the trash bin and slapped on as a B- or even a C-side.

Look at me, Leonard. You can do better. And you did. But don’t even get me started on the song “On That Day.” A song about the 9-11 attacks in New York… did you really think the comical “boing” of the jaw harp added the right emotional twinge? Here, listen to it.

Would it be terrible of me to splice together a video of this song, and time it so that the first “boing” comes right as the second plane hits Tower 2? Yes, yes that would be terrible. Thankfully, also one of his shorter ditties.

Here I must say that I cannot overstate my love and admiration for Mr. Cohen and the bulk of his work. “Anthem” should be sung by all the peoples of the world, when we all hold hands and declare an end to war, poverty, hunger, pollution, and all the other shitty things people do. High school students learning French as a second language should be required to learn to sing “The Partisan” in its entirety. America should broadcast “Democracy” on every radio station on Independence Day, and I personally want the songs, “The Future,” “In My Secret Life,” and “So Long, Marianne” played at my funeral.

If you are unfamiliar with Leonard Cohen, go find him. He will enrich your life.

Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

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