“I love to see you naked” Leonard Cohen On Nakedness

Leonard Cohen owns the phrase ‘naked body,’ for example; it appears in every one of his songs.1

Joni Mitchell


Somehow, Joni made this seem like a bad thing – go figure.

On the other hand, none of Leonard’s albums offer cover art that feature him unclad as Ms Mitchell is depicted on the inside cover of her 1972 album, For The Roses (shown atop this post). Again, go figure.

Tom Robbins, writing liner notes for the Tower of Song tribute album, addressed the Leonard Cohen’s employment of “naked” from a different perspective:

It is a voice raked by the claws of Cupid, a voice rubbed raw by the philosopher´s stone. A voice marinated in Kirschwasser, sulfur, deer musk and snow; bandaged with sackcloth from a ruined monastery; warmed by the embers left down near the river after the gypsies have gone. It is a penitent´s voice, a rabbinical voice, a crust of unleavened vocal toasts – spread with smoke and subversive wit. He has a voice like a carpet in an old hotel, like a bad itch on the hunchback of love. It is a voice meant for pronouncing the names of women – and cataloging their sometimes hazardous charms. Nobody can say the word “naked” as nakedly as Cohen. He makes us see the markings where the pantyhose have been. [underlining mine]

Back in 2011, these observations by Joni Mitchell and Tom Robbins sparked my investigation of Leonard Cohen’s thoughts on nakedness and his employment of “naked” and its equivalents in his songs, poems, art, and novels. For example, “I love to see you naked” is, of course, a phrase from Take This Longing by Leonard Cohen. But, there is much more to follow. These posts will be published forthwith (fifthwith at the latest). Stay tuned.

Thanks to Adrian Du Plessis, Allison Crowe’s Personable Manager and a 1960s & 1970s music aficionado, who alerted me to the Joni Mitchell cover art.

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted February 9, 2014 at DrHGuy.com.

  1. This statement is quoted in Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell – Just One Of Those Things;” the original source is Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period by Michelle Mercer. Free Press; 1st Edition, April 7, 2009 []

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