Videos: Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins On His Singing Debut & Suzanne

judylenHow Judy Collins Helped Leonard Cohen Start His Singer-Songwriter Career

Judy Collins – Interviewed By Bill Moyers About Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”

Judy Collins praises Cohen’s lyricism and outlines the religious inflections of his work.  She also sings “Suzanne.”

Leonard Cohen Interviewed About Judy Collins and “Suzanne”

In this video Cohen reports on the reason for his “mad decision” to “rectify [his] economic situation” by  shifting from writing poems and novels to writing and singing songs, his first meeting with Judy Collins, and his anxiety about being a singer rather than focusing exclusively on songwriting:

I remember saying to my lawyer who was accompanying me there [NYC]. In a state of panic, I said ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here; I can’t sing,’ and he said, ‘None of you guys can sing. When I want to hear singers, I go the Metropolitan Opera.’

And I think that’s more or less the position I had anyway. I never thought we were singers. I certainly never had any musical standards to tyrannize me. I thought it was something to do with the truth, that if you told your story, that’s what the song was about.

The video also includes the account by Judy Collins on Cohen’s near-catastrophic public singing debut at New York’s Town Hall and Cohen singing “Suzanne.”

Leonard Cohen photo from York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp, Identifiers: ASC01707. Judy Collins photo by ABC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons

Note: Originally posted July 10, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

2 thoughts on “Videos: Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins On His Singing Debut & Suzanne

  1. MaryB

    Two great videos – thanks Allan!
    I thought the ‘can’t sing’ quote was attributed to a record company executive??????

    Reply
    1. DrHGuy Post author

      I thought it was from Marty Machat, his lawyer & manager, who was responsible for that story. The best record executive story I know is Columbia Records label head Walter Yetnikoff explaining that the label would not be releasing Various Positions by telling Leonard, “Look, Leonard; we know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good.”

      Reply

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