Bob Seger On Leonard Cohen Inspiring His Song “Beautiful Loser”

I’ve been a huge fan of Leonard Cohen all my life and he had a book of poems called ‘Beautiful Losers’ and I gravitated toward that title and put my own spin on it.



Bob Seger


Bob Seger talks Tom Waits, Tom Cruise, Leonard Cohen, and Civil Wars by Melinda Newman. Hitfix: Nov 9, 2011. (Note: Beautiful Losers is, of course, Leonard Cohen’s second novel)

In another interview1 Seger commented further on the genesis of his song, “Beautiful Loser:”


The song was a long time coming. The original concept came from Leonard Cohen’s line, ‘He’s reaching for the sky just to surrender’ — you know, people who set their goals so low that they’ll never be disappointed.


Bob Seger


Note: “He’s reaching for the sky just to surrender” is from The Stranger Song by Leonard Cohen

In Bob Seger Changes His Tune About Detroit by Steve Inskeep (NPR: January 8, 2007), Seger elaborates:

That [Beautiful Loser] was really inspired by Leonard Cohen, whom I’ve always been a huge fan of. And he actually had a book of poems called Beautiful Losers… When I had read that he had written that — I’ve never read the poems — but I’ve heard every Leonard Cohen song ever written because I’m a big fan. And it struck me — boy, what a great title for a song, you know? There’s a song [“The Stranger Song”] in a great [Robert] Altman film, McCabe and Mrs. Miller… I think it was something about a dealer and “like every dealer he is reaching for the card that is so high and wild, he’ll never have to deal another.”… He’s reaching for the sky just to surrender. And those two things, the title Beautiful Losers from Cohen’s book and “reaching for the sky just to surrender,” I can relate to that. People who set their goals so high that they’re impossible, so they have comfort in failing. Does that make any sense? And that’s what “Beautiful Loser” is all about. You… I don’t know how to describe it but … I think I just did and that was the idea of the song. Whether or not I communicated it or not I’m not sure but… I just thought it was a clever title which I lifted blatantly from Leonard Cohen (laughs), and a different subject matter to write about. How some people are like that.


Bob Seger – Beautiful Loser
From the Beautiful Loser album

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 Apr 9, 2016.


  1. Mobbed in Michigan, the “Beautiful Loser” is second billed elsewhere by Patrick Goldstein. Rolling Stone: July 29, 1976 []

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