Directions To Leonard Cohen’s Home: …Turn right & drive until you see a house with the Lord Byron Of Rock ‘n’ Roll waiting for you in the front yard

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Introduction: The Journey Vs Destination Thing

Today’s post goes back in time to an era when Leonard Cohen was a whippersnapper of 79 and the term “Popular Problems” meant nothing to a Cohen fan other than a list of issues such as committing to a single tune as THE best Leonard Cohen song and maintaining a respectful attitude when explaining to a Dylanologist precisely why Leonard Cohen is superior in every aspect to Bob Dylan. Yes, gentle reader, we are setting the Wayback Machine to August 6, 2014.

On that date, as ongoing readers may recall, the Duchess and I spent a sunny afternoon with Leonard Cohen and his personal assistant, Kezban Özcan, at his home in Los Angeles.

It will surprise no one familiar with Leonard Cohen’s style to learn that visiting the Canadian singer-songwriter was a treat, that food and drink were involved, and that there was conversation and music, but all that’s for other posts. Today’s entry focuses not on the communion but the  pilgrimage – and a small act of graciousness.

See You Down The Road – Trailblazing From Mount Baldy To Mid-town Los Angeles

Upon arriving on the left coast from Durham, our first stop was the home of the Duchess’ family, serendipitously located at the base of Mt Baldy,1 which is itself the site of the Zen monastery where Leonard Cohen was a monk in residence for several years.

Consequently, our drive from there to Leonard Cohen’s home was one the Rock Yoda2 has himself made many times. One suspects, however, that his trips have lacked the drama of our initial amble down that particular yellow brick road.

Our journey, you see, was marked by a certain angst laced with fear and trepidation – a reasonable enough response to the realization that our marriage had united in wedded bliss the two worst navigators in the Western Hemisphere. The first time we met, I arrived two hours late, having begun the twenty minute trip by driving in a direction precisely 180 degrees off course. Neither of us was surprised. We are likely the only couple of any sexual orientation who considers a GPS the quintessential marital aid.

Since we have, on many occasions, overcome the challenge of clear and thorough directions to become hopelessly lost, our anxiety was only modestly attenuated  by the turn by turn route, including a description of his car that would be parked in the driveway, Leonard had provided to his address.

And thus it came to pass that we made the final turn and were proceeding down the proper street at a safe and sane six mph, simultaneously monitoring street numbers, written directions, cars parked in driveways, maps, and the electronic guide on our dashboard when – and words cannot adequately delineate  the vastness of our relief  occasioned  by this event – we caught sight not of Mr Cohen’s vehicle but of the singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-icon himself seated in his front yard, arranged in a tableau reminiscent of the Old Ideas cover.3

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Now, it is possible Leonard Cohen just felt like sitting in his front yard in his suit and tie on a hot August afternoon, but one wonders if he, perhaps aware that the Duchess & DrHGuy are the sort of folks who could be a tad apprehensive about locating  his digs, positioned himself as an unmistakable signal that the weary travelers had, indeed, reached their destination.

Or maybe he just wanted to be on hand to greet his visitors when they arrived.

Regardless, I offer this as one more example of the Leonard Cohen graciousness about which one hears so many good things.4

Note: Originally posted Oct 2, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Updates:

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post taken by The Duchess aka Penny Showalter
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  1. Before she ascended to Duchessness, Mrs DrHGuy grew up a Valley Girl []
  2. OK, this is an anachronism; Rock Yoda, the most recent entry, #270, to the Leonard Cohen Nicknames List, was not added until Sept 15, 2014. Still, it seems the right fit. []
  3. Note to those whom we may visit in the future, this sort of landmark is the kind of guidance system we need. []
  4. My working definition of  a “gracious host” is one who takes an active role to preclude a guest committing an embarrassing error or feeling uncomfortable. In my experience, a gracious host is an infrequent discovery. From my reading and the experiences of a few friends, I have reason to believe that such entities are even rarer among entertainment superstars. []

Video: Leonard Cohen Talks About His Neighborhood, Un Canadien Errant & More At His Montreal Home – 1979

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It’s A Beautiful Day In Leonard Cohen’s Neighborhood

This excerpt from Harry Rasky’s The Song of Leonard Cohen was filmed in 19791 at Cohen’s home in Montreal. Leonard Cohen, seated on his balcony,2 translates the demo tape of Un Canadien Errant3 from French to English and responds to Rasky’s leading questions.

Here’s one exchange:

Rasky: Do you feel like the person in that song [“Un Canadien errant”], wandering around, mariachi music?
Cohen: A little bit.

lctapeMy other favorite exchange in this scene takes place when Rasky, who never pretended to espouse a detached, neutral relationship with his subjects and appears eager to present Cohen in the best possible light, if not deify him outright, lobs this softball question (partially framed as a comment), “Some people might say why do you want to live out over all those shacks and old balconies,”only to have Cohen wryly respond “Not very many people.”

Continue Reading →

  1. Various references indicate the movie was first shown in 1980 and an approximately equal number list it first being broadcast in 1981. In  his insightful review, Dick Straub notes that The Song of Leonard Cohen “was first shown on CBC in 1980,” which is good enough for me. []
  2. While this structure (see screenshot) is ubiquitously called, within by the film dialog and in the commentary on the film, the “balcony,” were it transported to Chicago, it would become a “back porch.” (The “back porch” designation would be effective until it collapses, after which it would be known as a “deathtrap.”)

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  3. “Un Canadien Errant” aka “The Lost Canadian” is a song written in 1837 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie after the Lower Canada Rebellion of that year in which some convicted rebels were condemned to death or exiled for armed insurrection. The melody is from a Québécois folk tune. To a few, it remains a patriotic song in Canada. Leonard Cohen recorded “Un Canadien errant” on his 1979 Recent Songs album. His original song “The Faith” off his 2004 album Dear Heather is based on the same melody. (Source: Nationmaster Encyclopedia) []

Cat Stevens Visits Leonard Cohen’s Montreal Home; He Is Not Impressed

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Leonard Cohen’s Montreal home. Photo by Lilian Graziani

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I remember Cat Stevens coming into my house in Montreal, which is about twice the size of this [hotel] room, and looking at my record player, which is just a little record player. And I could see just for a moment, this look cross his face, ‘What is this?,’ you know? I’m not trying to make a virtue of my own kind of life, but people do get amused when they see my particular style of life. ‘Cause it hasn’t really changed much since I left home.
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Leonard Cohen

 

Excerpt from Romance at the Broncoburger by Rob Mackie (New Musical Express: April 5, 1975)

Renovation Of Chelsea Hotel, Once Home To Leonard Cohen & Other Artists, Has Become Financial Black Hole

chelseapHotel Chelsea, Storied Haunt of Dylan and Burroughs, Becomes Wall Street Money Pit by Craig Karmin (WSJ: June 23, 2015) is an update on the status of the Hotel Chelsea that touches on the Hotel’s cultural legacy:

Hotel Chelsea opened in 1884, and much of the Queen Anne-style architecture remains, including a grand staircase and cast-iron balconies. The hotel is one of the city’s first coop apartment buildings. By the early 20th century, it was attracting literary figures such as Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry. The hotel became synonymous with artists and the counterculture of the 1960s and inspired many who passed through its doors. Leonard Cohen wrote the song “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” in tribute, and Arthur C. Clarke penned “2001: A Space Odyssey” while staying there. Bob Dylan wrote one of his masterpiece songs, “Visions of Johanna,” while living there.

The article focuses, however, on the fiscal mess the current owners face:

The [investment] group already has spent about $185 million to acquire, renovate and begin converting the 19th-century building, which fell into disrepair decades ago, into a deluxe hotel with about 120 rooms and suites, these people said. But the conversion isn’t going as smoothly as planned. The hotel, closed since 2011, isn’t expected to open before 2017, while the owners spend millions of dollars a month on renovations, interest payments and other costs

The entire piece, including several photos of the Chelsea Hotel interiors and a few of its denizens, is available at the link.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Len Bierbrier for alerting me to this article. Photo by Historystuff2 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hydra Photos: Leonard Cohen’s Home & A Bird On The Wire

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Leonard Cohen’s Hydra Home

Photos of Hydra shot and shared by Marie-louise Guillard (2014)

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Leonard Cohen’s Hydra Home

Locating Leonard Cohen’s Home: In the photo directly below, the yellow arrow points to Leonard Cohen’s home.  The next photo is identical except the arrow is absent.

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Leonard Cohen’s Hydra Home marked by yellow arrow

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A Bird On The Wire On Hydra
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