Where's the beef?

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
User avatar
AlanM
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:42 am
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Where's the beef?

Postby AlanM » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:54 am

Yesterday in my local newspaper I came across a familiar phrase, in a totally unfamiliar setting.
In a political comment piece the phrase "where's the beef?" was used to imply a lack of substance coming from a politician's mouth.
The author then gave the explanation of the origin of the phrase, being from an advertisement for a Wendy's hamburger in 1984.
This is confirmed and with more background in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where%27s_the_beef%3F
I'm sure many in North America are aware of the origin of this phrase, but many, such as myself, may not have been.
So in the song, I presume "where's the beef?" means something along the lines of "how much of this is real?"

Irrespective of whether or not I have interpreted this phrase correctly in this setting, "Closing Time" is an incredible song - one of my favourites (of which there are many).

Alan
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
Sydney 2010; Adelaide 2010
Sydney 2013 X2; Melbourne 2013; Adelaide 2013
User avatar
B4real
Posts: 6571
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:49 am
Location: Q'ld, Australia

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby B4real » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:22 am

Hi Alan,

You should have gone first to the source of great knowledge - the Picture Game :razz:
It’s actually surprising what you can find out and learn about here.

search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keyw ... only&ch=-1

and here’s the image:
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=10371&hilit=where% ... 60#p143850

I've always thought that expression to mean as you say or the main essence is missing.
You could possibly use it in a protesting way like “Where’s the beef in what’s happened; it’s not a big deal.” Meaning the stuff that mattered wasn't there to make any difference to the outcome anyway.

....now, what did the Holy Spirit's cry really mean? Alan, I think what you've said is pretty much on the mark but I'll throw in some other thoughts as well.
Does he want his cider to be just the substance of cider ....... or is he saying it doesn't matter when everything is considered.
Maybe he's generalising about missing spirituality and he desperately wants the true significance of it reappear .....
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby holydove » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:25 pm

Alan, thank you for the info about the commercial; I've always had a general sense of the meaning of the expression, but was barely aware of the tv commercial when it appeared, & had totally forgotten about it.
B4real wrote:
Maybe he's generalising about missing spirituality and he desperately wants the true significance of it reappear .....
My sense of the lyric in the song is very similar to Alan's, & to Bev's quote above. It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is questioning the spiritual meaning of the whole mess of human activity described in the song. People are dancing, playing music, drinking, taking drugs, having sex, finding & losing each other, etc., etc., but - what does it all mean? Esp. if the "awful truth. . .isn't worth a dime. . ." The Holy Spirit could be either expressing the wish for humans to discover the meaning of it all, or he could be saying that there is ultimately no meaning to be discovered - for me, that is the beauty of the line - the double edged sword - a completely open-ended question.
Rodin
Posts: 418
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:10 pm

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby Rodin » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:18 pm

In the UK we say 'Where's the horse?'
Misunderstood
Tchocolatl
Posts: 3805
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 10:07 pm

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby Tchocolatl » Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:44 am

Before reading this, I was thinking that even the Holy Spirit was hungry for carnation at the "meat market" place.

I prefer your takes on this.
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby holydove » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:52 pm

I like YOUR take, Tchoc. Thank you for sharing it!
User avatar
hydriot
Posts: 881
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 3:07 am
Location: back in the UK

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby hydriot » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:14 am

"Where's the beef" I have always taken to be a variation of "What's your beef?" which has been around for more than a hundred years, and means confrontationally "what are you complaining about?" http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewto ... =7&t=18483.

I can remember hearing it in the early seventies very often. Some have suggested it is cockney rhyming slang (= grief), which I think is believable (so, sarcastically: "What's causing you grief?")
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
User avatar
LisaLCFan
Posts: 1740
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby LisaLCFan » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:36 pm

I saw an interview with Leonard in which he discusses this line and its origin (I am sorry, but I cannot recall precisely which interview it is, but it was in 92-93, and Leonard was sitting in a large armchair, and it was in Europe somewhere!).

His inspiration was, indeed, a TV commercial for Wendy's hamburgers, in which an old lady looks inside the bun to find a tiny beef patty, and exclaims, "Where's the beef?" Of course, Leonard explains in the interview that he thought that the phrase could easily be applied to other things in life, perhaps when we find things to be rather lacking in some respect.
User avatar
Mabeanie1
Posts: 2721
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:03 am
Location: UK

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby Mabeanie1 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:44 am

I grew up with the expression "where's the beef" or, more likely, "what's your beef" meaning what's the issue, what's the problem. This was decades before 1984.

I suspect the Wendy's hamburgers commercials were a play on this common saying which probably popped in to Leonard's head when he saw the TV ad.

Wendy (no connection - I'm vegetarian)
User avatar
sturgess66
Posts: 4110
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:50 pm
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Re: Where's the beef?

Postby sturgess66 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:39 am

LisaLCFan wrote:I saw an interview with Leonard in which he discusses this line and its origin (I am sorry, but I cannot recall precisely which interview it is, but it was in 92-93, and Leonard was sitting in a large armchair, and it was in Europe somewhere!).

His inspiration was, indeed, a TV commercial for Wendy's hamburgers, in which an old lady looks inside the bun to find a tiny beef patty, and exclaims, "Where's the beef?" Of course, Leonard explains in the interview that he thought that the phrase could easily be applied to other things in life, perhaps when we find things to be rather lacking in some respect.
You remember it well Lisa - about the video. :D
DrHGuy posted about the video -
http://1heckofaguy.com/2011/03/09/rarel ... -the-beef/

And here is a direct link to it - Cobra.de - Cohen over Cohen (1992)
http://www.cobra.be/cm/cobra/cobra-medi ... k/1.678539
And @7:21 Leonard is asked about "where's the beef" ... "bullshit" :lol:
I remember that little lady and the commercial well. :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5FZObBXp88

And the phrase also became part of a USA presidential political campaign - Walter Mondale / Gary Hart. 1984
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where%27s_the_beef%3F

Return to “Leonard Cohen's music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest