The ultimate ladies’ man: Leonard Cohen’s most artfully filthy lyrics

The majestic Leonard Cohen, who died a year ago today, was many things; a poet, an author, a rockstar and a romantic, but he also was exquisitely filthy. Sex, death and decadence ran deeply throughout his work, huge swathes of which were typified by a graceful sleaze and almost stately eroticism. Leonard Cohen was sexual in the way an Egon Schiele painting is sexual, rather than the way a tatty issue of Penthouse is sexual. Leonard Cohen brought class to ass. He was dirty yet dignified. He was the ultimate ladies man. For further proof, watch this clip from the 1972 documentary Bird On A Wire which sees women almost literally falling at his feet backstage at one of his shows.

Now why not light a scented candle and run yourself a bubble bath as you read through Leonard’s raciest and rudest lyrics. Is it hot in here or what?


“Don’t go home with your hard-on/It will only drive you insane”
‘Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On’ (‘Death Of A Ladies Man’, 1977)
The outrageously jaunty Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On is maybe the best priapic carnival jam ever written.

“Give me crack and anal sex”
‘The Future’ (‘The Future’, 1992)
Which is coincidentally also our favourite Deliveroo order.

“I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel/You were talking so brave and so sweet/Giving me head on the unmade bed/While the limousines wait in the street”
‘Chelsea Hotel #2’ (‘New Skin For The Old Ceremony’, 1974)
Leonard once admitted that this song was about an intimate encounter with Janis Joplin, but in 1994 said he was sorry for exposing their relationship. “It’s an indiscretion for which I’m very sorry,” he told Radio 1. “And if there is some way of apologising to a ghost, I want to apologise now for having committed that indiscretion.”

“There was a time you let me know/What’s real and going on below/But now you never show it to me, do you?/And remember when I moved in you/The holy dove was moving too/And every breath we drew was Hallelujah”
Hallelujah (‘Various Positions’, 1984)
Shagging, obvs. I mean, the album was called ‘Various Positions’.

“She stands before you naked, you can see it, you can taste it/And she comes to you light as the breeze/Now you can drink it, or you can nurse it/It don’t matter how you worship as long as you’re down on your knees”
‘Light As The Breeze’ (‘The Future’, 1992)
More shagging, more obvs.

“If you want a lover/I’ll do anything you ask me to/And if you want another kind of love/I’ll wear a mask for you”
‘I’m Your Man’ (‘I’m Your Man’, 1988)
Leonard was evidently not afraid to experiment.


“You were the sensitive woman/I was the very reverend Freud/You were the manual orgasm/I was the dirty little boy”
“You were KY jelly/I was Vaseline/You were the father of modern medicine/I was Mr Clean”
‘Is This What You Wanted’ (‘New Skin For The Old Ceremony’, 1974)
‘Is This What You Wanted’ is basically a litany of rude things, done with typical Cohen-esque intelligence and wit. Kind of like a filthy episode of QI.

“I love to see you naked over there/Especially from the back”
‘Take This Longing’ (‘New Skin For The Old Ceremony’, 1974)
Leonard quite firmly staking his claim as an arse man.