Leonard Cohen’s memories should all be held in oversized marbles sitting caviar-like in a
sacred container surrounded by a lifetime of artifacts, signed promotional photos and adoring
press clippings.

The centerpieces of a cluttered display case. Full of life, full of loss, full of love.

Unfortunately, his passing in 2016 did not allow him to see or partake in the invention of a
technology that could extract memories and deposit them into crystal balls for all of history to
share and enjoy. So unfortunately we’re left in a world where nobody besides Cohen himself
will ever truly experience the zen he reached at Mt. Baldy or the angst that twisted inside him
during his secondary school days in Montreal.

Fortunately, however, one of his songs comes close to encapsulating the latter. (And many of
the rest do well at the former.)

Memories by Leonard Cohen. Off the infamous trouble-in-Spector-land LP, Death of a Ladies
Man. The only cut that he didn’t completely disavow, and the only song that made it into his live
show after the album’s release.

Memories is a doo-wop masterpiece evoking a time, a place, and a bevy of contradictory
emotions, all sitting atop the smooth sax of a finely-tuned wedding band.

High school dances, as they’re called in the States, bubble with a stew of adolescent
expectations, thick with peer pressure, spiked with stolen liquor, salted by the sweat of gyrating
meat, and stirred by popular music’s sexual innuendo.

If ever the devil was born without a pair of horns
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
If ever an angel fell, Jezebel, it was you
Jezebel, it was you
If ever a pair of eyes promised paradise
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel, it was you
If ever the devil’s plan was made to torment man
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
– Jezebel by Frankie Laine (lyrics by Wayne Shanklin)

Hit #2 on the Billboard Charts in 1951.
A million seller.
Leonard was 17.
Innuendo be damned.

The going story is that Leonard wrote Memories after a failed attempt at bedding Nico in his
room at the Chelsea Hotel. She refused, or as we call it today put him in the friend-zone, and
went off to bang Jim Morrison, the lout of Los Angeles.

Doesn’t matter how true or not that story is (if only we had the marbles!), it’s clear that “the
tallest blondest girl” refers to the Germanic beauty, but the song even more clearly evokes a
deeper trauma already familiar to the famed singer/songwriter/lothario of Lower Manhattan.

All too familiar to many a young man I’m afraid.

Now, let me be honest here for a moment, I’ve never pinned an iron cross to my (((lapel))).
I’ve never moseyed, strolled, sauntered, strutted, walked or ran up to the tallest, blondest girl.
I’ve never even touched the hubris that would allow me to utter “You don’t know me now, but
very soon you will” to anyone, ever.
And for better or worse, I don’t recall ever seeing the dark side of the gym.

But I have asked to see a girl’s naked body. Maybe not explicitly, although that has for sure
happened as well, but I’ve probably thought about it over 200,000 times. Minimum. (8600ish
days since my 13th birthday multiplied by 19x per day + 40k perv bonus).

And out of all these times, my successes can be counted in the dozens. Let’s say 50. Hell let’s
say 75.

That’s a .375% success rate. And a 99.625% failure rate.

Thank god we don’t have memory marbles.

Beside a garden wall, when stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale
tells his fairy tale
Of paradise, where roses bloom
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust memory
The memory of love’s refrain.
– Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael (lyrics by Mitchell Parish)

To be fair, the girl in the song does let the song’s protagonist get pretty far, giving him an
invitation to and then a choice of where he can touch her.

But still.

The reverence both the woman and the man show for her naked body, him wanting to gaze
upon it, and her protecting it above all else, reaches an almost supernatural height, the blaring
sax weaving together a climax of ecstasy and agony.

In the song’s final refrain, he places his trust in the solemn moment of his own desperation, and
if it weren’t for Phil Spector I’d imagine we might have gotten a glimpse into the eye of that
emotional storm.

The sax cuts out, creased knees hit the hard gym floor, wet quivering eyes look up to the
sparkling spotlight of a disco ball, arms extended, hands open, ready for an embrace that
doesn’t come.

The wailing of a 17-year old boy whose hunger for the opposite sex reverberates into the heart
of the 43 year old man he will become.

All my faith.
All my faith.
To see her naked body.
Her naked body.
Her naked body.

The piety. The prostration. The pathos.

The impassioned pleading of a fragile ego over some stretched vocal chords. The long fade
out not to black, but back to the light. Back to the reality of a gym crowded with juvenile jollys,
well-intentioned chaperones, and a tight band just trying to make a buck.

The reality where a .375 success rate still means a lot of good times, and marbles are the things
you lose when you try to bed tall German women.

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