I’ve seen Leonard Cohen a bunch in recent years. He’s about to turn 80. Leonard Cohen’s concert was probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like a religious experience. It’s probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen at a concert. It was the quietest concert I’ve ever seen, and probably the most beautiful.1
Sir Elton Is A Leonard Cohen Fan
Elton performed “I’m Your Man” on Tower Of Song: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen tribute album.
And check out Elton John talking about collaborating with Leonard Cohen (and others) + Elton’s imitation of Leonard singing (“sounds like an ocean liner”).
In 2001, Elton John issued this mock lament:
Mr. Cohen may be a genius and, equally infuriatingly, a wonderful person. However, I implore anyone who has heard The Future album to desist from telling me how exceptionally brilliant it is. After all, we mere mortals have records to sell, too.2
Update: On the death of Leonard Cohen, Elton John tweeted
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) November 11, 2016
Elton John & Leonard Cohen: Born To Lose
In 1993, Elton John released Duets, an album comprising 15 songs, each performed by Elton John and a different duet partner, including such notables as Kiki Dee, whose 1976 duet with Elton John, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” marked the zenith of her career, Gladys Knight, with musical accompaniment by Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Tammy Wynette, Bonnie Raitt, Tammy Wynette, RuPaul, and – most pertinently for our purposes – the Canadian singer-songwriter (but not yet icon) Leonard Cohen.
Born To Lose By Ted Daffan
“Born To Lose” was written and first performed by Ted Daffan in 1942. Daffan’s songwriting skills surpassed Cohen’s in at least one category: velocity. While Cohen labored over songs like “Hallelujah” for a year or two, Daffan observed,
If I have to fool around with a song for a day or two, I might as well forget it because it won’t be any good anyway.3
“Born To Lose” has been incredibly popular with music fans and other artists, most notably Ray Charles. In 1982, “Born to Lose” went platinum and Daffan himself noted
“Born To Lose” [was] my main money support most of my life. I have 141 singles and albums with ‘Born to Lose’ and I don’t have them all.4
Elton John And Leonard Cohen Sing Born To Lose
While not a classic in either John’s or Cohen’s repertoire, “Born To Lose” does, to my ear, does fit especially well with Cohen’s voice and style and this joint performance qualifies as at least a guilty pleasure for this listener (How could a Cohen fan not appreciate his final camped up line, “Born to lose, and now Elton, I’m losin’ you?”) and a reminder of the debt both singers acknowledge owing to country music.
Elton John & Leonard Cohen – Born To Lose
Duets Album: 1993
Thanks go to Coco Éclair, who alerted me to the “religious experience” quotation and to Sally Hunter, who alerted me to the Duets video. Photo of Elton John atop this post by Ernst Vikne [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry is an amalgam of three Cohencentric posts, which first appeared between Mar 16, 2011 and Feb 5, 2016.