Video: Leonard Cohen Performs His Funniest Lines “Is This What You Wanted” – Paris 1976

This video was originally a 2014 Leonard Cohen – Halloween offering at because Is This What You Wanted is, after all, the most Halloweenish Leonard Cohen song. Not only does it feature a ghost and the requisite haunted house (“And is this what you wanted / to live in a house that is haunted / by the ghost of you and me?”) but it also suggests a number of appropriate disguises: “very reverend Freud,” “dirty little boy,” “Steve McQueen,” “Mr. Clean,” “Rin Tin Tin” …

But, even without the Halloween angle, it’s a wonderful song. And, ya gotta love Leonard Cohen’s introduction to Is This What You Wanted at his Feb 9, 1975 Boston show:

This following song is a dialogue between you and your perfect lover. Unfortunately your perfect lover is not present for the conversation.

OK, I admit that Is This What You Wanted also gets my vote for the funniest lines of any Leonard Cohen song:

… you were Marlon Brando
I was Steve McQueen
You were KY Jelly
I was Vaseline
You were the father of modern medicine
Yeah I was Mr. Clean
You were the Whore & the Beast of Babylon
I was Rin Tin Tin …

Anyway, it turns out the only live version of Is This What You Wanted I could find on YouTube was from the 1975 Bryn Mawr show, which was accurately described on the site as “not the best sound quality, but good enough.”

To provide an alternative with better sound, I tracked down a high quality audio track from a radio broadcast of the June 5, 1976 Leonard Cohen concert at the Olympia Theatre in Paris. A number of the photos used in the video were taken at that concert, most of the shots are from 1976, and all date within two years of the show.

Leonard Cohen: Is This What You Wanted
Olympia Theatre, Paris: June 5, 1976
Video by Allan Showalter


Credit Due Department: While there is no practical way to acknowledge the origins of all the photos in this video, it would be remiss not to note that all the 1976 Olympia show photos were taken by Dominique BOILE, and many of the other shots were contributed by him. The rare photo of of the June 5, 1976 Leonard Cohen Concert at the Olympia in Paris displayed atop this post was taken by Dominique BOILE

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Oct 31, 2014 at

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