It's four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
(Famous Blue Raincoat, 1971)
It's been 15 years since I've bought my first and actually the only Leonard Cohen's record. It was in the autumn/winter of 1995, just when I started my study in Ljubljana. One day I went to the music store and bought two records: Leonard Cohen's The Best Of (from 1975) and Depeche Mode's Songs of Faith and Devotion Live. Until that day I only knew some of Cohen’s most famous songs, e.g. So Long Marianne and Dance Me to the End of Love, but not much else. It was love at first sight/listen.
In my opinion Cohen is one of the greatest singer-songwriters and poets of all time. Coming to Slovenia and having a concert at the age of 76 was almost surreal, so I bought tickets at the first possible moment. My expectations before the concert were sky high, but the Man exceeded them. For me Cohen and Muse are the best live performers at the moment (in the pop/rock category).
I’ve mentioned Cohen’s song Chelsea Hotel No.2 in the post Hotels, bars and product placement, where I discussed the use of some famous hotels and bars in music lyrics. But after I saw photos from the concert I catched a brief product placement, captured by photographer Miro Majcen. When Cohen greeted the crowd with his hat, we could recognize the name of hat’s brand. It seems that Leonard Cohen wore Stetson hats.
Stetson hats are produced by John B. Stetson Company, which was established in 1865. Apparently Stetsons are the most well known hats in the world. So it would be quite natural and obvious if Cohen wears them. Well, I’ve found an interesting piece of information on Leonard Cohen’s official forum. It appears that he buys his hats at Hollywood Hatters, a rather famous L.A. hat store. They stated that “Leonard is a wonderful client of ours whom we have had the pleasure to serve for upwards of 5 years.” He also used the model “The Melodrama”, produced by Broner. I guess Cohen is not a very loyal hat wearer after all ;)
While searching for information about Cohen’s hats I remembered that he also sings about one famous blue raincoat. This beautiful song in the form of a letter is about a love triangle between Cohen, a girl named Jane and the unknown third man. I don’t want to spoil the joy of guessing what the song is about, so I suggest reading opinions on excellent website Song Meanings.
Famous Blue Raincoat appeared on Cohen’s third album, Songs of Love and Hate, which was released in 1971.
In the liner notes of the aforementioned The Best of Leonard Cohen, which includes the song, Cohen wrote that the famous blue raincoat actually belonged to him, and not someone else:
“I had a good raincoat then, a Burberry I got in London in 1959. Elizabeth thought I looked like a spider in it. That was probably why she wouldn't go to Greece with me. It hung more heroically when I took out the lining, and achieved glory when the frayed sleeves were repaired with a little leather. Things were clear. I knew how to dress in those days. It was stolen from Marianne's loft in New York sometime during the early seventies. I wasn't wearing it very much toward the end.”
In a 2006 interview with Canadian National Public Radio, Cohen said his image of the famous blue raincoat is rooted in reality. “I had a blue raincoat. It was a Burberry. It had lots of buckles and various fixtures on it. It was a very impressive raincoat. I’d never seen anything like it … It always resided in my memory as some glamorous possibility that I never quite realized.”
So, he wore a Burberry coat and now he wears Stetson or Broner hats. Why do I care? Because he is bloody brilliant. And because in Ljubljana he said:
“Thank you so much for your warm reception here this evening. We really appreciate it. I don’t know when we’re going to pass this way again, but tonight we’re gonna give you everything we got.”
Even though he said those words before (or maybe he says them at every concert), he kept his promise. We got everything. Thanks Leonard.
— Sincerely, E. Renko
P.S. I would like to thank Miro Majcen for allowing me to use his photo from the concert.