Happy (Belated) B’Day, Leonard Cohen

I didn’t know Leonard Cohen wrote this song in Edmonton, and I can identify with his feelings about smoking.

From Songfacts ( http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=14129):

Cohen penned this song as a tribute to two girls that he shared a hotel room with during a snowstorm in Edmonton, Canada. In the April, 1993 issue of Song Talk, he explained: “That’s the only song I wrote in one sitting. The melody I had worked on for some time. I didn’t really know what the song was. I remember that my mother had liked it.

Then I was in Edmonton, which is one of our largest northern cities, and there was a snowstorm and I found myself in a vestibule with two young hitch-hiking women who didn’t have a place to stay. I invited them back to my little hotel room and there was a big double bed and they went to sleep in it immediately. They were exhausted by the storm and cold. And I sat in this stuffed chair inside the window beside the Saskatchewan River. And while they were sleeping I wrote the lyrics. And that never happened to me before. And I think it must be wonderful to be that kind of writer. It must be wonderful. Because I just wrote the lines with a few revisions and when they awakened I sang it to them. And it has never happened to me like that before. Or since.”…

Julia Felsenthal, at Vogue (http://www.vogue.com/13350897/leonard-cohen-birthday/):

… Last year, the week of his 80th birthday, Cohen released his 13th studio album, Popular Problems. The coincidence of dates “was a happy accident,” he said to journalists at a listening event, as reported by the Associated Press. “In my family, we have a very charitable approach to birthdays—we ignore them.” His only plan to celebrate the beginning of his ninth decade, he said, was to start smoking. “But quite seriously, does anyone know where you can buy a Turkish or Greek cigarette?” he asked the crowd. “I’m looking forward to that first smoke. I’ve been thinking about that for 30 years.”

Today Leonard Cohen turns 81. Wherever he is, we hope he’s found some European cigarettes and a light. And—uncharitable as it may be—we’d like to wish him a very happy birthday.

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