Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 170
Wed. June 25, 2012
How many Leonard fans can name Death of a Ladies Man as their favorite Cohen album? Not many because Cohen has often dismissed Ladies Man as “either greatly flawed or great and flawed. Too much of the record sounds like the world’s most flamboyant extrovert producing and arranging the world’s most fatalistic introvert. I wish at times there little more space for the personality of the storyteller to emerge.”
“Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On” is a rarely heard, horny Leonard Cohen classic that’s dedicated to those lonely souls who know “the exquisite pain of going home alone.” That used to me, I was him. But, I realize now, I never was truly alone. I always had my music. My music was always there. So I found solace with artists like Cohen. Why you ask? No one knows the solitary invisible sensation of solitude better than Leonard Cohen.
“Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On” is the anthem for those longing after midnight in the darkness inside the half empty silhouettes of their uncomfortable shadows. Death of A Ladies Man was one of the darkest times for Leonard Cohen. He once famously claimed that Ladies Man was recorded at a time when—“Every single relationship broke down. There was nothing left standing.”
Yet like a boxer, instead of going down for the count, Cohen symbolically got back in the proverbial ring of the recording studio and started swinging with some new songs that needed a vintage Rock ‘n Roll vibe. Cohen contacted legendary record producer Phil Spector to helm the Death of a Ladies Man session. What was supposed to be a marriage of greatness turned into anything but as Cohen explained when he said of Spector—“It was clear that he was an eccentric but I didn’t know that he was mad. Phil was out of control.” That was no understatement from Leonard, the Ladies Man sessions culminated in a confrontation where Spector pulled a gun on Cohen.
Even so, those explosive Ladies Man recordings did wield some brilliantly yet bizarre results. Kim Cooper and David Smay, in their book Lost In The Grooves: Scram’s Capricious Guide To The Music You Missed, describes “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On” as “coupling an uncharacteristically light, through still barbed, lyrics about a hairdresser with woozily upbeat funk track and one of the best examples of Spectorian perversity on record (roping Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg in to sing background vocals and then rendering them inaudible.)” If your curious just spin this funky 1977 classic produced by Phil Spector, who added his trademark Wall of Sound yet he mixed Death of A Ladies Man and “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On” without Leonard Cohen’s permission.
I urge you to delve past the cacophony of over-production layers “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On” courtesy of Spector’s studio magic; the true star is Cohen’s personifying the voice of the horny souls craving seductions under the covers. “Hard On” reflected what if feels like to seem invisible, standing alone in the dark; looking back at my lengthy sentence as a single soul searching for amor, every time I went home I remembered keeping the faith by humming another band’s lyrics, The Smiths- “Rusholme Ruffians” timeless refrain –“And though I walk home alone/ But my faith in love is still devout…”
Music gave me faith that one day; my voice would find an equal. It took losing, breaking of my heart, the aching but, looking back now— it was all worth it. [Editor’s Note: I know you don’t want to read this but it’s true] I went home alone because I wasn’t ready? Do you really want to go home and wake up with a mistake that will haunt you for the rest of your life? Or as Cohen sang as a lyrical caution—“♫ Once you have her she’ll always be there. ♫”
Some desperate souls never consider the possibility the person you share a moment with—may cling on to your unhappiness forever. And who wants that? I see it every day. Never Settle. Expect the best and you’ll receive the golden euphoria you definitely deserve. You’ll find a home for your hard on, when you’re hard on is ready to find the perfect face to find a home. Till then, suffer with pride in solitude with these words from Leonard Cohen.
Cohen once famously said—“[Sometimes] a song operates on so many levels. It operates on the level you just spoke of where it addresses the heart in its ordeals and its defeats but it also is useful in getting the dishes done or cleaning the house. It’s also useful as a background to courting.”
If you’re ever in a suffering mood?— crank up this anthem for the lost and horny; suck up the sourness Death of a Ladies Man. Turn on with some Cohen, the soundtrack of solitude, sometimes a song is all the companionship you ever need.
If you’re still feeling lonesome, why not slip on some headphones and spend the night with “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On” instead? With Leonard Cohen as your spiritually soulful solitude guide—keep dreaming when you lay your pillow and embrace your longing because only in the becoming— will you truly finding your way alone.