I’m Your Man – Leonard Cohen

Lenny was always a bit of a cad. A bounder. A lounge lizard ladies man. But his 60’s stuff had a Soho Bo-Ho hippy vibe to it too. Look at the come-ons dressed as laments on Songs Of/Songs From Era and he’s singing about the sort of deep and meaningful stuff Art Students make impassioned speeches about, so they can sleep with each other. Pixies spotted it and skewered the traits in the lyrics of their 1980’s classic I’ve Been Tired.

“If you want a lover, I’ll do anything you ask me to and if you want another kind of love, I’ll wear a mask for you”

Latterday Leonard (as in 80’s Leonard) eschewed such needy techniques as to try and ingratiate himself before trying to cop off with you. No! By the time he’d moved beyond the digs and dive bars and started stalking the world behind the velvet rope, Cohen had gone full on alpha sleaze machine. He just put it out there like he was sliding into the DM’s of the listener an unsolicited anatomical snap. New skin for the old ceremony, indeed. Only two albums of new material were released from the LC in the 1980’s. Both were dripping wish lusty old tortoise vibes.

“If you want a boxer I will step into the ring for you and if you want a doctor I’ll examine every inch of you”

I’m Your Man the track leads I’m Your Man the album in a swanky nightclub synth soaked cock-walk that was definitely new territory for the troubadour of the Age Of Aquarius. When he opened the album with First We Take Manhattan it was a different kind of Welcome To New York.

“If you want a driver, climb inside or if you want to take me for a ride you know you can, I’m your man”

The prowling Sex Panther Leonard Cohen didn’t make it into my Mum and Dad’s record collection. They gave up on him around Death Of A Ladies Man (stand out track Paper Thin Hotel. The album was released around the turn of my 3rd birthday). As a metaphor for leaving the 60’s behind to raise a family they don’t honk louder or clearer than that. I’m Your Man is over a decade later than that most 80’s sounding pre-80’s record but the direction was already pointed towards taking NYC. What wasn’t apparent was that his biggest commercial success to date was about to happen. Looking cool and nonchalant eating a banana in black and white on the sleeve Leonard Cohen was about to go mainstream.

“Ah, the moon’s too bright, the chain’s too tight, the beast won’t go to sleep, I’ve been running through these promises to you that I made and I could not keep, Ah, but a man never got a woman back, not by begging on his knees”

That moneyed old folk sound of 60’s success turned into 70’s experience and folded again into 80’s commercial success? It drips from I’m Your Man the same way it does from Robert Plant’s solo work of the same era. Or Phil Collins, Tina Turner or Stevie Wonder. Once mercurial artists in their youth are now undeniably pros with skill and merit. But it’s a brand you’re buying into when you listen to an artist 30 years into their shtick. Always bear that in mind.

Evan Dando wrote a song in the early 90’s for his band The Lemonheads which is another Listing ‘If’ song. His track Being Around nails the difference between the two decades. The 80’s were a bloated money flushed (for the old guard) final fling before the end of the century. The 90’s were looming. The last hurrah for rock and roll before the millennium bug would wipe us all out (are we sure we haven’t been living in a simulation ever since?). The tone changed. But it’s still a sexy singer trying to get off with you before the night is through.

“If you want a father for your child or only want to walk with me a while across the sand, I’m your man”

16 thoughts on “I’m Your Man – Leonard Cohen

      1. It’s funny. That album was my intro to Lenny and the first one of his that I bought. I always found the production very much of its time but listening to it these days, it doesn’t bother me as much. I love his songwriting.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Strangely, when I read this I started to hear Pulp’s I Want You, from 1987, which sounds not too dissimilar at all!

    Also, in the dark sleaze-like world of a prowling Jarvis, who we all know loves digging into the lives behind the twitching curtains…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Leonard. I am a bit of a fan. I started on his poetry, the music came later. We used to wander the streets of his neighbourhood in Montreal sometimes, watching for him. Of course, he was up a mountain in LA meditating at the time, but still.

    Liked by 1 person

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