Meeting Leonard Cohen with Food Poisoning

In 1968 I spent two terms in Wright Robinson Hall of Residence while at Manchester University. These were the days of parties and we would try to go to as many as possible every night. We were good gate crashers. At one party I cooked and ate some bacon and eggs at about three in the morning. The next day I woke up in bed in the Hall of Residence very ill with food poisoning. It served me right.

It took me two weeks to recover properly. I was very ill for a few days but after that I had to spend each day in bed, because moving around was difficult. I had a small record player and some kind soul (I am ashamed to say that I cannot remember which kind soul it was) lent me an album entitled “Leonard Cohen”. And so I met Leonard Cohen with food poisoning.

When I first put the album on, playing in mono on a poor sound system I heard Chen sing the first line of “Suzanne” . If I could sing I wanted to sing like that. I played that song again and again. I experimented playing other songs but none were, at first, as good as Suzanne. After a week of playing nothing but that album for ten or twelve hours a day I knew and had interpreted and analysed every song on that album and ever since have appreciate the work of this Jewish Canadian poet, who sings in a rough voice his own poetry.

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