What The Fuck Is This Song About? (or WTFITSA, if you’re into clunky acronyms, Miss Kate) is a new game where I post lyrics to a cryptic song and try to decipher what in the holy hell the artist is singing about. You at home can join in with your own guesses. So c’mon, let’s play!
Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on – Leonard Cohen
I love Leonard Cohen with a great passion. He’s probably the coolest guy ever to have Phil Spector point a gun at him. At the very least, the greatest Buddhist Jew of all time. He’s released several amazing albums (Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room, Songs of Love & Death, I’m Your Man) but today’s entry comes from one of his shittier ones, The Death of a Ladies Man, which was produced by the aforementioned Phil “Wall of Sound” Spector. Story is that Spector locked him out of the studio at gunpoint after recording the vocal tracks and finished it on his own from his own coked up vision. That means a lot of great lyrics and melodies drowning in thirty layers of strings, guitars, and that Mexican fish instrument that you scratch with a rod.
The one shining moment from the album is “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on” a funky and noisy track that’s scream-sung with the kind of blind animosity that stands in stark contrast to the normally dulcet baritone voice of Mr. Cohen (another example of a Cohen track like this would be “Diamonds in the Mine”). Let’s take a look at the lyrics.
The first verse implies that his father was either a barber or gay, and that his mom was either subservient or a prostitute. The second verse reveals a disconnect with his surroundings, and a fundamental distrust of women. Again, if his mother is a prostitute, he’s probably thinking that all these beautiful women have ulterior motives. The third verse suggests more distrust of women, but also possibly the fundamental way that women are subservient? The fourth verse has the narrator giving up and following his father’s footsteps, as fate would have him do.
Now to the chorus, which describes walking home with blue balls. Pretty sure these are metaphorical blue balls. Questions that you ask but never get a satisfactory answer? Never getting closure over his mother’s life choices? You can shake it or break it with, but the rain won’t break it down. Time won’t answer these questions?
Again, I don’t know what the fuck this song is about. Mr. Cohen’s a genius but I’ll be damned if I can find a way to make sense of this. What do you think?