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Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen song)

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February 1988


"Everybody Knows" (3)
I'm Your Man (4)


Columbia Records

Leonard Cohen Sharon Robinson

"Everybody Knows" is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and collaborator Sharon Robinson. It has often been covered and used in soundtracks.



"Everybody Knows" was first released on Cohen's album I'm Your Man, February 1988.

Five minutes, 37 seconds in duration, "Everybody Knows" is known for its somber tone and repetition of the title at the beginning of most verses. Featuring phrases such as "Everybody knows that the dice are loaded" and "Everybody knows that the good guys lost", "Everybody Knows" has been variously described by critics as "bitterly pessimistic" yet funny, or, more strongly, a "bleak prophecy about the end of the world as we know it." The lyrics include references to AIDS, social problems, and relationship and religious issues.


"Everybody Knows" has been widely used in television and film. Allan Moyle's 1990 film Pump Up the Volume featured the song prominently. A favorite of protagonist Mark Hunter (Christian Slater, as the operator of an FM pirate radio station), Cohen's song is played from an on-screen phonograph several times during Mark's clandestine broadcasts. A cover by Concrete Blonde is used at the film's end, and it is this cover version that made it onto the film's soundtrack album rather than Cohen's version.

Cohen's original version was also featured prominently in Atom Egoyan's 1994 film Exotica, as the theme music of exotic dancer Christina (Mia Kirshner) when she performs at the club of the film's title. The soundtrack album for Exotica, featuring music composed by Mychael Danna, does not include Cohen's recording of this song, either.

The song is also used in the film the King of Kong and as theme music for episodes of SexTV. It was used in an episode of the Quebec mystery Fortier. Though the show is entirely in French, the song is played with its original English lyrics.

American rock band Guns N' Roses also used to use the song as their introduction music just before starting some of their concerts on their two-year-long Use Your Illusion world tour at the beginning of the 1990s.

Don Henley's version is heard in episode 219 of the television series Judging Amy, which aired in 2001. Later, the Concrete Blonde version was featured in the third episode of the first season of Dirty Sexy Money entitled the "Italian Banker".

"Everybody Knows" has also been used in a June 2008 anti-smoking advertisement commissioned by the New South Wales government in Australia with the theme "everybody knows smoking causes these diseases ... yet you still do it". Cohen's version serves as bumper music for The Alex Jones Show, an American radio talk show.

Holly Figueroa recorded the song for her 2007 album Gifts and Burdens. This version was featured in the closing credits of the season 3 finale of Damages which aired in April 2010.

The Toronto, Canada theater company Soulpepper used the song between scenes of its production of David Mamet's play Oleanna in March 2011.

"Everybody Knows" has also been used in as a soundtrack during the closing credits on "Crossfire" the ninth episode of the first season of the TV series Homeland. It originally aired on Showtime on November 27, 2011.

"Everybody Knows" was used in the closing credits of the movie,"The Program". The movie is about the rise and fall of the infamous, former seven-time winner of the Tour De France Lance Armstrong. The version used in the movie is Leonard Cohen's original composition performed by him.

Cohen's song is also featured in two films from 2016, The Infiltrator and War Dogs.

Cover versions

Like many of Cohen's songs, "Everybody Knows" has been covered by several artists

  • Concrete Blonde, in the film Pump Up the Volume (1990), the TV series Dirty Sexy Money at the end of the third episode of the first season, and on their compilation album Still in Hollywood (1994)
  • As "Alle vet jo det", by Kari Bremnes, on Cohen på norsk (Cohen in Norwegian, 1993)
  • Don Henley, on Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits (1995) and the tribute album Tower of Song (1995), and as a duet with Bryan Adams at Live at Honor 1996.
  • Washington Squares, on From Greenwich Village: The Complete Washington Squares (1997)
  • Dayna Kurtz, on her album Beautiful Yesterday (2004)
  • Rufus Wainwright, in Lian Lunson's documentary film Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2005)
  • The Duhks, on their self-titled debut album The Duhks (2005)
  • David Ford covered this song live on each date of his January tour (2008) and recorded it as the B-side to the single "I'm Alright Now"
  • Claus Hempler, on the Danish compilation På Danske Læber (on Danish lips), including 15 other Danish covers of Cohen's songs
  • Sharon Robinson herself, on her debut CD of the same title (2008)
  • Elizabeth & the Catapult on their album Taller Children
  • In Innu language as "Tshissenitenanu", by Florent Vollant, on Katak (2003)
  • Garou on his album Gentleman cambrioleur (2009)
  • Canadian singer Patricia O'Callaghan on her album Matador: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (2011)
  • Peter Mulvey on his album The Good Stuff (2012)
  • Argentine-American rock musician Kevin Johansen in the second disc on his album Bi (2012)
  • Performed by Bette Midler as part of her Divine Intervention Tour (2015)
  • Rufus Wainwright, in Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent's French documentary film Demain (2015)
  • References

    Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen song) Wikipedia

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