I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connection

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
John Etherington
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I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connection

Postby John Etherington » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:31 pm

It has to be said that there are remarkable similarities between Leonard's recent song "I've Got a Little Secret" and (Cohenesque) singer Felicity Buirski's 1999 (or earlier?) poem "A Secret". I heard Felicity recite this poem at a concert in Holmfirth on 7th July 2001 (my 50th birthday), where she also sang "Happy Birthday To You" for me, Marilyn Monroe style. I have these on an old tape.

Leonard's song starts this way:

I said, I’ve got a little secret
You got to promise not to tell
I made a date in heaven
But I’ve been keepin’ it in Hell

while Felicity's poem starts this way:

Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
If I tell you all about it
Say you won't laugh it back to hell!

Later in the poem she says:

But do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
If I come back to life
Say you won't shoo me back to hell!

In his song Leonard Sings:

It's kinda chilly in your kitchen
And I think it's gonna snow

Felicity says:

My mother's pain surrounds me
I'm snowed in where I stand

Leonard sings:

I've got this full length mirror
And it ain't a pretty sight

Felicity says:

You see I need a mirror
I'm not certain who I am

Leonard sings:

I'd like to hold you baby
But my arms are old and weak

Felicity says:

I can't muster up the energy
To do anything I planned

I think these comparisons illustrate that there are some extraordinary synchronicities occurring here. So the question is whether Leonard has ever heard Felicity's poem from 1999 or earlier (I know that he's familiar with her music), or is it a case of two great artists coming from the same place tapping into the source of inspiration from which their songs and poems originate?
Last edited by John Etherington on Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
HelenOE
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret - The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby HelenOE » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:34 am

He might have heard or seen the poem... but if so what he's done with it is echt Cohen... very convincingly the work of a man who grew up with 6 months of winter every year and who has now clocked over half a century of love troubles. :razz:

I would also observe that this is a blues song, which is a tradition pretty much built on borrowing.
John Etherington
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret - The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby John Etherington » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:20 am

Helen - You're right about the blues being a tradition built on borrowing, and also right when you say that Leonard grew up with six months of winter every year. However I believe that when artists such as Leonard and Felicity use images of snow, ice, and frozen love in association with relationships, they are most likely conveying "the schizoid position", where a person has blocked energies that can be traced back to their very early lives and relationships with their mothers.
Last edited by John Etherington on Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
HelenOE
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret - The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby HelenOE » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:58 am

Of course I'm aware of the many references Leonard Cohen makes to cold/freezing/frozen in erotic contexts that have nothing to do with the actual weather, but I'd be surprised if he was writing based on psychological theory, since he seems to have, ahem, skated away from trying psychotherapy even while he sampled nearly every other possible solution to his predicament. I think it's such a powerful and apt metaphor that both Cohen and the psychoanalysts came to it independently.
John Etherington
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret - The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby John Etherington » Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:07 am

Helen - I'm not suggesting that artists consciously apply such theories to their work, because that's not how creativity manifests. I'm just considering the images from a psychological perspective.
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby John Etherington » Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:02 pm

I've just realized that "the kitchen" makes another appearance in Leonard's "I've Got a Little Secret"

He sings "It's kinda chilly in your kitchen/I think it's gonna snow"

In earlier songs, we've had:

"The homicidal bitchin' that goes down in every kitchen" (Democracy)

"We were locked in this kitchen/I took to religion" (Night Comes On)

"She tied you to the kitchen chair/She broke your throne and she cut your hair" (Hallelujah)

In all of these songs the kitchen seems to be a setting for domestic strife; a place where Leonard feels trapped or disempowered and wishes to escape from.
Last edited by John Etherington on Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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majmunka
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby majmunka » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:23 pm

I think the first one is not Closing Time but Democracy.
And there was "I tidied up the kitchenette" in Boogie Street, if it counts :)
John Etherington
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby John Etherington » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:55 pm

majmunka - You're dead right! I wrote that when I was still waking up, and have corrected it.
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby B4real » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:14 pm

John Etherington wrote:while Felicity's poem starts this way:

Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
Here's something else to ponder on regarding the above two lines -

They are identical to the third and fourth line of the song "Do You Want To Know A Secret" by The Beatles in 1963

Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_You_Wan ... w_a_Secret

"Do You Want to Know a Secret" was primarily written by John Lennon but credited to McCartney–Lennon. The song was inspired by "I'm Wishing", a tune from Walt Disney’s 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which Lennon's mother, Julia Lennon, would sing to him as a child.
The first two lines of the song in Disney's movie "Want to know a secret? Promise not to tell?"


It would appear that those two lines have been around since 1937 :)
Be for real. Free yourself to find the real Self ~~ Me
Happiness is like learning the violin, the more you practice it the more it comes to you ~~ Me
Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind ~~ Gore Vidal
John Etherington
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby John Etherington » Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:42 pm

B4Real - Actually, I did think of that the other day, but thanks for pointing it out, here ( both Leonard and Felicity ultimately owe it to a song sung by the great George Harrison)! That said, I would say that the odds of rhyming "tell" with "hell" in a song are pretty remote. I also think the other similarities between Leonard's song and Felicity's poem give much food for thought.
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Hartmut
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby Hartmut » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:35 am

John Etherington wrote:I would say that the odds of rhyming "tell" with "hell" in a song are pretty remote..
Well, yes ... On the other hand, there aren't that many words that rhyme with 'tell'.
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Japhy Ryder
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby Japhy Ryder » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:19 am

I've Got a Little Secret, 12-09-2013

Published on Sep 12, 2013

Leonard premieres a new song , "i've got a little secret" during his second concert at the O2 Arena in Dublin on September 12th 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiYunX_mplg
Everybody Knows.
John Etherington
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby John Etherington » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:02 am

Hi Hartmut - Off the top of my head. here's a few words that rhyme with "tell": bell, belle, Brel, cell, Dell, dwell, fell, gel, Nell, quell, sell, shell, spell, smell, swell, well.
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby jarkko » Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:57 pm

John, thanks for starting this thread!

Leonard wrote Felicity and credited her with the subliminal inspiration for the tune, even though it had been many years since he had heard the lyric, and had no recollection of her song when he was writing his. Part of his letter reads:
Although secrets that no one should tell are standard conceits in popular music, and rhyming tell and hell goes back very far in English poetry, I still feel that somehow this song began with you, and I'm pleased that it was brought to my attention.
Should "Got a Little Secret" make it to Leonard's next record, Felicity Buirsky will have her name on the song and share in the royalties.

Leonard ends his letter to Felicity with:
Curious to be discussing business with you when all I mean to say is:
Love and Blessings,
Leonard
(Quotes posted here with Leonard's permission)
1988, 1993: Helsinki||2008: Manchester|Oslo|London O2|Berlin|Helsinki|London RAH|| 2009: New York Beacon|Berlin|Venice|Barcelona|Las Vegas|San José||2010: Salzburg|Helsinki|Gent|Bratislava|Las Vegas|| 2012: Gent|Helsinki|Verona|| 2013: New York|Pula|Oslo|||
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Hartmut
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Re: I've Got a Little Secret & The Felicity Buirski Connecti

Postby Hartmut » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:14 pm

John Etherington wrote:Hi Hartmut - Off the top of my head. here's a few words that rhyme with "tell": bell, belle, Brel, cell, Dell, dwell, fell, gel, Nell, quell, sell, shell, spell, smell, swell, well.
Hi John,

Yes, I know. And there are even some more if you consider two syllable words.

But still, if you're looking for a word that rhymes with 'tell', sooner or later you start thinking about 'hell'.

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