Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

In the late eighties a colleague at work used to give me a lift into the office. I’d rock up outside his flat on Marmion Rd, Southsea and if he was ready he heard straight down and off we’d go. Sometimes though, Karl had been out on the ran-dan and would beckon me bleary-eyed to come on up and tarry while the coffee did its trick. It was during one such sojourn that I glanced upon Karl’s LP collection and there sitting on top, glaring at me in all its fruity idiosyncrasy was the cover to “I’m Your Man”.

It’s an experiment I might try with my boys once they’re old enough to start seeking out the good stuff: if you put “I’m Your Man” on the table with say, “Revolver” and “Back in Black” then — judging purely by the cover– what would the uninitiated choose? I’d say the banana wins every time.

But I digress — I’d heard of Cohen but hadn’t listened so I swiftly borrowed the record and back home dived straight in. In those days I recorded LPs onto cassette and listened using headphones on a Sony Walkman. That sort of listening is very much old hat in these days of playlists and MP3s but if you’re going to do it then this is the sort of record that will reward such close attention.

Lyrically Cohen is a master and fellow Canuck Mark Steyn has a great article on Cohen’s wordsmithery here. This particular track showcases Cohen’s desire to shame an unfaithful lost love. Now spite is not the most endearing trait in a lover let alone a songwriter (Axl Rose is an exception — and a very good one) but if you’re going to do it then Cohen’s exquisitely understated delivery — and delicious rhyming — is the way to go:

Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows






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