Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Leonard Cohen Songbook

I asked my sister for 'Songs of Leonard Cohen' for my 15th birthday. I know because this songbook tells me. 

I bought New Skin For The Old Ceremony nine days later, probably with my birthday money. Virgin Records at that time was a tiny shop off the Bearpit (we called it the Haymarket) in Bristol, by the entrance to Bus Station. It smelt strongly of joss sticks and was full of blokes flicking earnestly through boxes of LPs in alphabetical order. I found it quite intimidating going in there. Tried to look cool. Failed. 
Around this time I got a Saturday job in the office of a department store called Maggs & Co on Queens Road, Bristol - the old-fashioned sort with counters and uniformed lift operatives that don't exist any more. I also used to walk the three and a half miles to school and back every day to save my bus fare - 10p each way.

It took me till 11th December to save up for 'Songs of Love and Hate'. What a dark, scary album that is ... yet I must have preferred it over 'Songs from a Room', because I didn't buy that till February 22nd 1977. How many hundreds of miles must I have walked by then?  

And did I nearly wear my single of 'Do I Have To Dance All Night?' out, to transcribe the lyrics in my best handwriting without a single crossing out? 

I think it was love. And no callow, clammy-handed youth of my acquaintance ever came close. 


  1. So pleased that he entered your life. Love the pic of your handwritten lyrics. xx

    1. Thanks, Ronnie. I think that stumbling across his writing at a formative time was my great good fortune.