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Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man (1988)

November 9, 2018

[Album 617/1001]

Have you read/seen Michael Pollan’s, In Defense of Food?

He gives away his thesis on the book cover: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Though it didn’t feel like a spoiler, as it’s well worth reading &/or watching to see how he arrives at that conclusion.

And after reading/seeing all the evidence, it’s a pretty compelling argument.




Whereas Michael Pollan needed 7 words, Leonard’s thesis required but 3.

I’m Your Man.

As with Pollan’s book, you know how the Cohen verses/choruses/stanzas are going to end before they begin.

For example, the opening track, First We Take Manhattan.

As the listener, you know a given section’s closing line will have the words, “First We Take Manhattan.”

This pattern continues throughout the album, 100% of the tracks, 100% of the time.

And yet, that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment whatsoever.220px-I'm_Your_Man_-_Leonard_Cohen

On the contrary, that advanced knowledge of the ending actually enhanced my listening experience.

Much like with Pollan’s In Defense of Food, knowing the thesis ahead of time allowed me to focus on the journey, rather than the destination.

With Cohen, I really enjoyed hearing how he arrived at the closing statement each time, trying to anticipate what rhyming schemes he’d use along the way.

Quite frankly, over the course of the record, he puts together a pretty solid case to support his “I’m your man” thesis.

But is he my man?




Gord Downie, Stephen Malkmus, Leonard Cohen.

If we’re talking about the men whose lyrics inevitably receive my undivided attention, those would be my top 3.

So if I had to put his album title (I’m Your Man) through a rigorous fact-checking process, technically, he’s not my top man.

But he’s on the podium (in some spectacular company) and so I’d say there’s a lot of truth in his thesis statement.


Verbalize the Positive

This is a fabulous album to use as a soundtrack when running.

His low register vocals kept me from going out too fast & his well-written words kept me delightfully distracted!

From → 1980s

  1. Man I love this album. I’m Your Man was the first ‘sophisticated’ rock record I ever loved

  2. I think this is my favourite Leonard Cohen album. I’m fairly certain. If it was anyone else I’d maybe think the production wasn’t great, but it suits the material and Cohen’s voice perfectly.

    • I’d agree with that J – and the female singers add a nice high pitched contrast to his deep bass tones!

      • Totally! All the elements work wonderfully.

  3. That production though!

  4. jprobichaud permalink

    “Everybody knows” is such a great track, probably one of my faves and definitely fits in with your thesis there.

    • I was contemplating some sort of wordplay in the post with “everybody knows” the title will be in the last line – but I thought it was better to leave the words to Leonard, he did it so well!

  5. I would like to see you spin this kind of post on Gord Downie…
    Great stuff…

  6. I love me some Leonard! And as for the Michael Pollen book, my college has been adopting that book for years! I haven’t read it though.

    • It’s well worth a read &/or watch! And I haven’t always, but over the last few years I’ve started to love me some Leonard as well

  7. I’m Your Man is easily among my top 3 Leonard Cohen records. (Together with his 1967 & 1971 albums)
    The 80s was the decade of the big chorus so I’m not too surprised Cohen’s 1988 LP features many. To me, there are no weak tracks and one of the few times I gave an album a perfect score. Re. your top 3 lyricists, I haven’t started on the other two !

    • Those other Leonard albums are deservingly on the 1001 as well – and the other two lyricists, from The Hip & Pavement respectively, I can’t recommend highly enough!

  8. Then we take Berlin.

    • I quite liked that closing line – geographically, it seems inefficient to go to Germany next, but the rhyme works marvelously each time!

  9. Leonard. Yes, yes, yes and more yes. Yes please.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 380 albums in 3 years! | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1988 | 1001albumsin10years

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