Friday, 12 November 2010

Strange Covers - Laughing Len

When I was in the 6th form at school we had an English teacher who swore that Leonard Cohen was a genius and that his lyrics should be on the a level english lit syllabus. At the time it all sounded a bit folk and a bit 70s - all of which seemed a million miles away from the music I was in to (the ignorance of youth)

It was only when I went on hols to Spain and everywhere I went the I'm Your Man lp seemed to be playing coupled by the fact that they very people he seemed a million miles away from started to go on about how good he was, that I started to listen more closely.

I bought I'm Your Man, along with the lp of his songs Jennifer Warnes recorded as well as a greatest hits all in close proximity and started to listen to his stuff more and more. There is a part of me though that still prefers covers of his songs than the originals.

Here are two great examples

The first was the lead off single from Ian McCulloch's second solo lp and the second is a version by Lloyd Cole of my favourite Laughing Len song which also is one of my favourite sets of lyrics and the one where I finally agree with my English teacher

It's four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You'd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane's awake --

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I'm glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

-- Sincerely, L. Cohen


  1. I originally knew Leonard Cohen from the song Sisters of Mercy, and even that has something to do with the band and my backtracking/trainspotting, but I started to get into his stuff right at about the same time that McCulloch released Lover Lover Lover. That cover is brilliant, and I agree probably even cooler - being a HUGE BUNNYMEN fan skews my opinion of course - than Cohen's original. If you ask most kids today of course Hallelujah is "the Shrek" song, or a Jeff Buckley song, but it is Cohen's masterpiece.

  2. Hi Echo

    re Hallelujah - I first got onto the John Cale version which was an lp of lc covers called I'm your fan and it is still my fav version


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