Revisit Nick Cave’s perfect cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘I’m Your Man’
If there’s one artist who has never been quiet about his admiration for Leonard Cohen it is the Australian Agony Uncle, Bad Seeds singer, and all-round rock hero, Nick Cave.
The singer has never been quiet about his adoration for the Canadian singer and poet, Cohen. He was an artist who influenced Cave right from the very start and has infiltrated his work ever since. In 2005, as part of a feature film on the life of Cohen, the Aussie covered the dirty ditty ‘I’m Your Man’.
Though you might technically class the 1988 titular track from I’m Your Man as a pop song, with Cohen nothing is ever that simple. The singer’s grazing vocal is vulnerable and beaten down, allowing his story to unfold as Cohen, ever the poet, continues to paint lyrical pictures with every line.
It’s a style of songwriting that has always rung true with Cave. Speaking on French TV for in 1994, Cave said: “I discovered Leonard Cohen with ‘Songs of Love and Hate’. I listened to this record for hours in a friend’s house. I was very young and I believe this was the first record that really had an effect on me. In the past, I only listened to my brother’s records. I liked what he liked, followed him like a sheep.”
“Leonard Cohen was the first one I discovered by myself. He is the symbol of my musical independence. I remember these other guys that came to my friend’s house that thought Songs of Love and Hate was too depressing. I’ve realised that this ‘depression’ theory was ridiculous. “
Cave added: “The sadness of Cohen was inspiring, it gave me a lot of energy. I always remember all this when someone says that my records are morbid or depressing.”
Either with The Bad Seeds or out on his own, Nick Cave has never been one to shy away from a cover—no matter who the artist was. So, it makes sense that he jumped at the chance to cover one of his idol’s songs for a feature film about his life.
Released in 2005, filmmaker Lian Lunson took on the unenviable task of trying to cram the illustrious and intimidating life and career of Leonard Cohen into a feature film. Titled Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man it was backed with an impressive soundtrack as imposing figures of the music industry did their best to cover the legendary songwriter.
The task of the title track was left to one of his biggest fans, Nick Cave. The Aussie singer provides all of what made Leonard Cohen great in gurgling swathes or idiosyncratic vocal tone, deliberate cadence, and, above all else, a connection with the song. It’s a truly sumptuous cover and one we’re hoping Cohen heard before his sad death in 2016.
At the time of his death, Cave led the tributes by saying: “For many of us Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all. Utterly unique and impossible to imitate no matter how hard we tried. He will be deeply missed by so many.”
Listen below to Nick Cave trying really hard on his cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘I’m Your Man’.