Robin Grey Sings “I Love Leonard Cohen”
Robin Grey writes and sings songs in and around Hackney. Given that the first thing “Hackney” evokes in my mind is a particularly delicious hamburger accompanied by a brick of fried onions sold by a Chicago regional chain rather than the London Borough, which, one presumes, is the Hackney in which Mr Grey resides, it is not, I suppose, surprising that I had never heard of him before today [at time of original posting: Dec 4, 2008].
No one who has visited this blog, however, will be shocked to discover that I tracked down and listened to this song exclusively because its title is “I Love Leonard Cohen.”
It turns out that the serendipitous Leonard Cohen reference in Grey’s song title has introduced me to an impressive talent. (Thanks, Leonard.) More about that in a moment, after I respond to the inevitable questions (I do know my audience),
- No, I did not commission “I Love Leonard Cohen” as the Cohencentric theme song. And, if I had, I would have insisted on a salacious verse or two describing that long anticipated tryst with Anjani.
- No, this is not a dubbed version of “I Love Rock And Roll” with the words “Rock And Roll” replaced by “Leonard Cohen.” Joan Jett made me promise I wouldn’t do that again, and, well, I’m a little afraid of Joan Jett.
- No, this is not some kind of ironic send-up. The “I Love Leonard Cohen” line in the song means pretty much what you think, i.e., the singer has an affection for Leonard’s music. And, unlike Jeffrey Lewis, who sang about Leonard Cohen and has a generic respect for him but does not see him as someone to emulate, Robin Grey thinks of Cohen as a major influence.1
- No, this is not a promotion to motivate readers to buy this song. In fact, it’s available at no cost. That’s right – through an exclusive arrangement between Robin Grey and – well, whomever would like the song, “I Love Leonard Cohen” can be downloaded gratis at http://www.robingrey.com/mp3/iloveleonardcohen.mp3.
- Yes, it is possible the title may have influenced my judgment of the song. And, yes, it is possible that I would have listened to a track called “I Love Leonard Cohen” if it were performed by members of The Archies along with Simon and Theodore from the Chipmunks and an instrumental background of gorillas stampeding a rafter of turkeys2 by pounding on barrels with tire irons. So, what’s your point?
Grey is a thoughtful, articulate songwriter with a strong, full voice he modulates more like a coffeehouse poet than a concert singer. Happily, his songs resonate with lyrics and strains one associates with folk music that he subtly darkens with nuances from the blues. He is certainly not afraid to play the nostalgia card, as is evident in the chorus of “I Love Leonard Cohen:”
My Weezer cd’s well they hardly get played,
My obsession with Jeff Buckley has all but ended,
You might ask is anything certain these days,
And I’d probably tell you that I love Leonard Cohen.
In any case, you gotta give a guy who writes a blog entry like this about the launch of his CD a chance.
I am up in Northumberland at the moment visiting my Gran, who luckily for me is a silver surfer with a nice shiny new pc on broadband … /Which means I can tell you about my gig this Sunday and then go and mooch down by the picture-postcard harbour and perfect my windswept look….
I will be on around 7pm and will be joined by Iain and Geri, wielding banjo, dulcimer, bass, percussion toys, violin and other things with strings… we will be done by 8pm so it is not too late for a school night or a cross London trip!
You can download the mp3 of ‘I Love Leonard Cohen’ here – http://www.robingrey.com/mp3/iloveleonardcohen.mp3 – please practice the outro backing vocals so we can all have a nice big sing-a-long on sunday 🙂 [emphasis mine]
You heard the man – practice.
Update: I first became enamored of Robin Grey’s “I Love Leonard Cohen” in 2008. I created the first video iteration in 2011 in celebration of Leonard Cohen’s 77th birthday. A reworked version became the immensely popular 81st birthday video and now proves a moving memorial to the life of an icon.
We Love Leonard Cohen
Video by Allan Showalter
Credit Due Department: Robin Grey photo by Gabrielle Motola. (The photo has also been used for the cover art of Robin Grey’s Only The Missile CD). Joan Jett by Jessie Terwilliger from Beaumont, CA, USA (oh wow, joan jett smiled my way) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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 Dec 4, 2008 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- He also lists Dylan, Ani Difranco, and a batch of others as important influences. He may be planning love songs addressed to each, and it just turned out that I Love Leonard Cohen happens to the first in a series. I dunno; like I said, I don’t know much about Robin Grey. [↩]
- Yes, a group of turkeys is called a “rafter.” [↩]
- I also recommend his cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis” [↩]