Solving Leonard Cohen’s Now You See It, Now You Don’t Unified Heart Ring Trick


And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien


Don’t worry – there’s no danger of something like that happening here. This is, after all, an investigation of the Now You See It – Now You Don’t Leonard Cohen Unified Heart Ring phenomenon: Leonard Cohen beginning a concert wearing a ring only to have it disappear in the first part of the show.

Note: I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). These related entries were originally posted Oct 15 & 16, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.


Initial Reports From The Field

Last week [at time of original post], within a few hours, Heck Of A Guy received independent reports from two field agents, Mandy MacLeod and Henry Tengelse, about the Now You See It – Now You Don’t Leonard Cohen Unified Heart Ring phenomenon.

Mandy’s Message and Photos:

Very interesting to see Leonard Cohen come on stage in Lisbon clearly wearing one of the Unified Heart rings that are for sale on the merchandise stalls. Even more interesting (to me) to see he ditched it after a couple of songs.

Leonard Cohen Wearing Ring (Oct 7, 2012 Lisbon Concert)


Leonard Cohen Without Ring (Oct 7, 2012 Lisbon Concert)


Henry’s Message:

If you look at the pictures and videos from Paris Leonard is wearing a ring (the UHTC ring I believe) during the first and second song in the first set. But then the ring suddenly disappears. I haven’t caught the moment when the ring actually disappears. And I don’t know the reason WHY it disappears. I noticed it during both the second and third Paris concert, but it has probably happened before

Laboratory Analysis

The agents’ reports were forwarded to the Heck Of A Guy CSI (Cohen Surveillance & Innuendo) Labs for analysis. The findings follow:

Behavioral assessments showed that the first portion of the set lists for the 2012 Leonard Cohen concerts since the Sept 11, 2012 Dublin show have been stable, consisting of these songs:

  1. Dance Me To The End Of Love
  2. The Future
  3. Bird On A Wire
  4. Everybody Knows
  5. Who By Fire

A survey of the Lisbon concerts videos by demonstrated that indeed the signet ring could be spotted on Cohen’s left hand from the first of the concert through the end of Everybody Knows.

Screen capture at 4:39 of Everybody Knows – Lisbon Oct 7, 2012

The ring could not be found, however, in the video of the next song, Who By Fire, despite adequate views of the left hand.

Screen capture at 4:20 of Who By Fire – Lisbon Oct 7, 2012

Further investigations demonstrated this was a consistent finding. For example, this screen capture from an video of Everybody Knows at the Sept 30, 2012 Paris concert clearly shows Cohen wearing the ring …

… while this video of I’m Your Man from the same Sept 30, 2012 Paris concert just as clearly shows Cohen’s left hand free of a ring.

This video by of Who By Fire at the Sept 28, 2012 Paris concert also shows the ring absent from the left hand.

Further spot checks of videos of songs following Who By Fire, including available vidoes of the final songs of the pertinent concerts indicated the ring was not replaced once it was removed until the next show.

In the matter of the onset of the ring’s appearance during this sequence of concerts, this video of Bird On A Wire and Everybody Knows offers convincing evidence that the ring was not worn during the Sept 11, 2012 Dublin show.

Unfortunately, clear videos of any of the first four songs in the set list (the songs in which, by the Lab’s hypothesis, Cohen would be displaying the ring if he had begun wearing it) for the September 12, 14 & 15, 2012 Dublin concerts could not be found.

A video of Everybody Knows by from the September 22. 2012 Bucharest concert, however, does show the ring.

And, CSI personnel believe that same ring is seen on this video by of Everybody Knows from the September 19, 2012 Istanbul concert.


The observations of the field agents are confirmed. Mr Cohen began wearing a gold Unified Heart ring on the middle finger of his left hand no later than the September 19, 2012 Istanbul concert and no earlier than the September 12, 2012 Dublin concert. In concerts in which the ring was present, he established a pattern of wearing it from the outset of the show through the first four songs (i.e., from Dance Me To The End Of Love through the end of Everybody Knows). Then, sometime between the end of Everybody Knows and the completion of the solo by Javier Mas that begins Who By Fire, the ring disappears from his hand, only to reappear at the start of the next concert.




Leonard Cohen Pre-Tour Ring-Wearing

Further investigation shows that the 2012 Tour was not the first time Leonard Cohen wore the Unified Heart ring. A brief search turned up several photos documenting the ring adorning the middle finger (with a single exception) of his left hand, all but one of which have previously appeared on this site. The earliest of this set is a shot taken at Cohen’s June 17, 2010 Songwriters Hall Of Fame induction.

Cohen also wore the ring intermittently during the October 2011 Prince Of Asturias Awards ceremonies in Oviedo.


And, of course, he was wearing the ring in the photo by Kezban Özcan that became the basis of the Old Ideas album cover.

Blow-up of left hand from above image.

Maarten Massa On The Case – The Lisbon Stakeout

As is often true, the forensics laboratory can only go so far in solving mysteries of this ilk. Sometimes there is no substitute to having eyeballs on the scene.

After publishing yesterday’s post, I received this message from Maarten Massa:

Dear Heck,

First of all: great post (as usual).

Secondly, I noticed the same pattern the second night in Paris (a young eye with a 24x zoom lens in front of it sees everything!) and was – like so many others – curious to know when and why the ring disappeared… So on the third night in Paris, I gave clear instructions to my father (who came over for the final Paris show with my mum as well) to keep a close eye on Mr Cohen’s ring. Of course, parents aren’t to be trusted and – just like me – my father got distracted by Mr Mas’ beautiful solo introducing “Who By Fire.”1 But it became clear to me that the ring disappeared sometime after the 4th song… Luckily, I got a second chance in Lisbon and was absolutely determined to resolve the mystery.

And I did.

Mr Cohen’s ring disappears into his left jacket pocket just before guitar tech Mickey Sullivan hands him his guitar at the start of “Who By Fire.” The Moment is captured here around 5:30, although it’s not very visible. [The videos are cued to start just before the pertinent points.]



You can notice a small moment where Mr Sullivan is ready, waiting with the guitar in hand. Here at 5:20 – not clear either.



The fact that I can’t see the movements in these videos Maarten describes is not a concern. I am confident his eyewitness report is accurate; Maarten is, after all, the poster child for Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome, obsessive-compulsive subtype. That’s Maarten, aka The Perpetual Motion Leonard Cohen Fan, below.

The problem arises when the focus shifts from How to …


Maarten’s message continues:

The reason is simple: Mr Cohen starts playing guitar in “Who By Fire”. The ring would probably bother him while playing guitar. During the first 4 songs, Mr Cohen “only” sings and kneels and sings and kneels and…

To which, my response can only be Maarten, Maarten, Maarten…

Now, it is theoretically possible that the appearance and disappearance of Leonard Cohen’s ring is simply a function of his performance as Maarten describes – and no doubt that is what Mr. Cohen and his associates want us to believe.

But how likely is that compared to other, more intriguing (and fun) possibilities, such as an elaborate scheme for smuggling rings across international borders? Or is it perhaps a covert signal to Cohen’s cronies in other countries? Maybe Mr Cohen is practicing his legerdemain as part of his plan to extend his entertainment repertoire to include conjuring.

Regardless, this case isn’t closed yet, and Leonard Cohen can be sure we always have our eyes on him.

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 16, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

  1. One cannot help but wonder if Maarten might not now be in the process of importing an ice floe on which to domicile his folks. []

One thought on “Solving Leonard Cohen’s Now You See It, Now You Don’t Unified Heart Ring Trick

  1. Very Interesting 🤔 I Love Leonard I attended only 6 Concerts 😩I’m still in awe of deep soul. His music/words are healing to me. If it be your will is My Favorite my go to when I’m feeling down… I miss what else he could of said if he was still here. I’m also a great fan of Phil Ochs😭Sadly also gone But not forgotten . Music is my medicine 👏

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