100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #64 Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel #2

Released : 1974

In an industry and time where if you wanted it to be sex was the cheapest drug available, Leonard Cohen still cut an unlikely figure as one indulging in that sort of sin. And yet, asked who his best male and female friends were long after the events recollected in Chelsea Hotel #2 had played out, the Canadian former novelist turned singer replied simply: “My 12-inch dick.”

Supposedly there was attestation to back up his claim. The appendage in question features being attended to in the song, the line “Giving me head on an unmade bed while the limousines wait in the street” not particularly ambiguous and as Cohen later revealed, very much taken from memory.

Supposedly written about a fling with Janis Joplin, the act of rescuing the song from both itself and the seediness of the Bohemia in which – and about which – it was contained in was an act of genius Cohen shouldered involuntarily. To little more than a handful of chords, by taking the act as just an act, the players became damaged by it’s desperation and randomness, not lovers, not friends, humans with barely a connection. When it was over he crowned a disaffection with the line “You fixed yourself, you said, Well never mind/We are ugly but we have the music.”, the pair just two consolation prizes who would soon go their separate ways, before immortalisation in music.