The Poet says

Four o'clock in the afternoon
And I didn't feel like very much.

and, while I have a grasp of the meaning (I know about the idiom "I don't feel like ..." and the context makes clear that the subject has a bad feeling about himself), I wonder if "I don't feel like very much" is a well recognized idiom to express self-discomfort or it is an unicum out of the shiny brain of Leonard Cohen.

  • What exactly are you trying to ask?
    – user68365
    Mar 6, 2019 at 9:54
  • @Holyprogrammer Is it an idiom or not?
    – gboffi
    Mar 6, 2019 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


It means "I didn't feel like very much (of something)". The something is omitted for poetic reasons.

What might that be? At four o'clock you might be expected to be hungry, so you don't "feel like very much (to eat)". In this form it is used informally, e.g.:

"What do you want to eat?"
"I don't feel like very much" (to eat)

So he is copying that form, but changing it.

Other possibilities:

  • I didn't feel like (I was) very much (of a person)
  • I didn't feel like (doing) very much
  • I didn't feel like (eating) very much
  • I didn't feel (feelings) like very much (in particular)
    (i.e. not happy, sad, excited etc.)

This is Leonard Cohen. What exactly it is he doesn't feel like is omitted to keep the listener suspended. The suspense is resolved in the next sentence.

Four o'clock in the afternoon
And I didn't feel like very much.
I said to myself, "Where are you golden boy,
Where is your famous golden touch?"

In this case I think he means he doesn't feel like doing or creating very much, even shaving. He is depressed.


Well, you are very correct. The phrase "I don't feel like very much" is indeed used for expressing feelings of discomfort especially when it pertains to how you feel.

I have, however, heard it being used on several occasions especially by the British(of course, this is from my experience). So i guess, the use of this phrase depends on region.


A search on Google reveals that the expression (to) feel like very much is not usual.

Additionally, Leonard Cohen's songs are usually quite strange, sometimes difficult to understand anyway.

I am not even sure that the "feel like" in this context has the known meaning of "to feel like (doing something)".

The overall meaning is similar to: "I feel empty", "I am in the state of what-the-heck..."

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