Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen last week celebrated his 80th birthday by announcing he would commemorate the day by smoking a cigarette.
Cohen, who was famous back in the day for being the last of the chain-smoking lounge singers, actually quit smoking 30 years ago.
According to this CBC article:
Cohen, who vowed to start smoking when he turned 80, told the crowd when asked if he would start next week: “Yes, does anybody have a cigarette?
“But quite seriously, does anyone know where you can buy a Turkish or Greek cigarette?” he said to laughs. “I’m looking forward to that first smoke. I’ve been thinking about that for 30 years. It’s one of the few consistent strings of thoughts I’ve been able to locate.”
I found this kind of an interesting story and I discovered a blog dedicated to Leonard Cohen with an entry about how he went from the “Marlboro Man” to an “anti-smoking troubadour.” The post focuses on how Cohen’s song “Everybody Knows” was used in an Australian anti-smoking campaign. This line in “Everybody Knows” which is apparently about cocaine, could easily apply to cigarettes:
“And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two”
There are a bunch of articles and links on this blog about interviews done with Leonard Cohen in which he is chain-smoking through the interview. Here is my favourite entry on this post:
Cigarettes, once an obligatory accoutrement for Cohen, have apparently been vanquished. In a June 12, 2008 interview, Cohen discusses his drinking and smoking patterns on earlier tours and how he stopped smoking:
Q: You’ve been working in a room for years; now you’re on a stage. What are the pros and cons?
A: This way, without drinking and smoking, it’s a very, very different situation. Anyone who’s been a heavy drinker and heavy smoker and has the good future to survive that and give it up knows what a very different kind of daily existence one has. I was smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. And I was drinking heavily on these tours.
Q: How did you stop drinking? Did you go into a program?
A: I lost my taste for it. Just like cigarettes. I lost my taste.
The point of the blog post is that while Cohen quit smoking himself, he kind of epitomized the idea that cigarettes were cool in the 70s and 80s, and when asked why he quit, didn’t exactly come across as an advocate against cigarettes. He just said he simply quit. Here is the ad (Warning, Australian ads are really graphic):