I’ve mentioned this before. Leonard Cohen plans to take up smoking again when he turns 80.
“I’m really looking forward to this moment,” the man in the black suit and rakish fedora says, slowly and conspiratorially, the same way that he sings. “A young nurse in a white uniform, white lisle stockings, carrying a pack of cigarettes on a silver tray, will walk across the stage … and the pack will be opened. It will be gleaming, like those pillars of the Parthenon”; of course it will. And the man will pull out a cigarette and tap it on his wrist, like he they did in the movies he saw as a kid, in Montreal. “And she’ll light me up. Yeah,” he says, taking a long, deep inhale. A pause. A slow smile crosses his face. “It’s going to be so good.”
Who else could this be but Leonard Cohen, at a recent concert in Kentucky, confiding with a large audience his plan to resume smoking on his 80th birthday. I first heard him talk about it – before it became honed and polished into one of his droll, Rat Pack-rabbi lines – a year and a half ago in the kitchen of his Los Angeles home – a remarkably modest duplex in an unremarkable neighbourhood that he shares with his daughter Lorca and her daughter (by the musician Rufus Wainwright) Viva. Cohen, dressed off stage as on in a dark suit and fedora, was rustling up a couple of lattes on an espresso machine, which he served, in the most elegant manner, in two of those cheap, promotional coffee mugs that companies give out – in this case promoting Cohen’s 1993 album The Future.
That’ll be on 21 September 2014. It ought to be a televised event, but it won’t be, of course. It’ll be a symbolic event.
But what if he doesn’t make it that far? If I was him, I head out and buy a pack right now, just in case.