Leonard Cohen Enters Songwriters Hall Of Fame

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Judy Collins & KD Lang Form Leonard Cohen’s Honor Guard

Leonard Cohen, Earth, Wind and Fire members Maurice White, Philip Bailey and Verdine White were admitted last night into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Cohen’s acceptance speech was preceded by Judy Collins performance of Cohen’s “Suzanne” and K.D. Lang’s  version of  “Hallelujah,” both of which earned standing ovations.

The Collins performance echoed her introduction of Cohen’s music to U.S. audiences,1 beginning in 1966 with her renditions of “Suzanne” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” As Collins explained to the Hall Of Fame audience, Cohen had visited her saying. “I can’t sing and I can’t play the guitar, and I don’t know if this is a song” before playing “Suzanne” for her. Collins reply proved to be the starting point for Cohen’s career as a singer-songwriter:

Leonard, it’s a song and I’m recording it tomorrow.2

KD Lang’s cover of “Hallelujah,” perhaps most famously offered during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics,3 has itself become legendary. Last night performance earned this evaluation from Steven Van Zandt:

That was one of the best performances I’ve seen in my entire life.4

Cohen Quotes From “Hallelujah” In Songwriters Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speech

Employing a paradigm similar to that he used in his accepting admission to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame,5 the sartorially resplendent Cohen briefly expressed his gratitude and quoted from one of his own songs, in this case “Hallelujah.” And, as before, he received a standing ovation.

During the same ceremony the Towering Song Award was given to Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and the Johnny Mercer Award to was bestowed on Phil Collins, who was already a member of the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Producer Phil Ramone received the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award, and music publisher Keith Mardak received the Abe Olman Publisher Award.

Leonard Cohen Performs “White Man Dancing”  At Songwriters Hall Of Fame

According to Rolling Stone’s report of the evening,

Earth, Wind and Fire closed out the night with a heartfelt speech and had the crowd, including Leonard Cohen, dancing to their funky classic “September.”

Of course, Leonard Cohen dancing is hardly a surprise to anyone who has attended one of his concerts. Check out this demonstration beginning at 0:35 in an albertnoonan video of the June 14, 2008 Dublin concert.

Best Leonard Cohen Reference Of The Night

Paul Shaffer tells Rolling Stone he was eagerly anticipating Leonard Cohen’s acceptance speech because …

He [Leonard Cohen] was the only guy who ever rehearsed for the Letterman show with a glass of red wine.

Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Induction Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Songwriters Hall of Fame 2010 Induction

Video from AssociatedPress

  1. See Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen []
  2. Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel Highlight Songwriters Gala, by Patrick Doyle. Rolling Stone, June 18, 2010 []
  3. See KD Lang Sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” At Opening Of 2010 Vancouver Olympics []
  4. Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel Highlight Songwriters Gala, by Patrick Doyle. Rolling Stone, June 18, 2010 []
  5. See Notes On The 2008 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction []

Leonard Cohen Arrives At Grammys & Accepts Award – And You Are There

Reporting From The Scene

Leonard Cohen fans were disappointed this weekend about the slight coverage afforded the Canadian singer-songwriter’s acceptance of his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. While reviewing the event this morning,1 however, I discovered a gem that has already been published on LeonardCohenForum but may have escaped notice by less – well, less severely afflicted fans.

It turns out that the Leonard Cohen community had its own representative covering the arrival of the Spin Doctor For The Apocalypse.2

While ongoing Heck Of A Guy readers may well recognize Arlene Dick from her previous contributions, especially her extensive videotaping of the final swing of the Fall 2009 American leg of the Leonard Cohen World Tour, they may not be aware of her dedication to the cause and her determination to finish what she starts. This video should establish those traits firmly in the minds of viewers.

First, check out her own description of her  credentials and the arrival of Cohen and friends:

I showed up this afternoon at the Wilshire Ebell Theater wearing my fedora and Maarten’s lovely lanyard and badge.

Are you Press? No, but I am with the Leonard Cohen Forum and I am here to make a report. Must have sounded and looked sufficiently official because security let me park in the VIP parking lot.  …

After that, battling security was not as successful. In fact there seemed to be more security men than the dozen or so lurkers.

Robert Kory arrived first wearing his trademark fedora – easy to spot. He registered at the offical desk and then was on his cellphone for quite a while.

I did see LC arrive in a large black Lincoln van (no one arrived in Limos) … In a few minutes, Sharon Robinson arrived with a man, walking up the side street and joined Robert Kory. …  Then Kory waited for Elliott Lefko, AEG North America Promotion and they all went inside.

Robert Kory – screen capture

Now, watch the video, keeping an eye out  for

  • Leonard Cohen, of course.
  • Anjani, the woman accompanying Leonard Cohen.
  • The – uh, discussion between the completely outgunned security guard (his final capitulation consists of “Let me know when you’re ready”) and Arlene “Always Gets Her Man” Dick

Leonard Cohen arrives at Special Grammys Jan 30, 2010

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  1. I missed the entire event in real time because I was ensconced in the my mother’s cabin in the Ozarks []
  2. “Spin Doctor For The Apocalypse” is one of Cohen’s many nicknames listed at Leonard Cohen, AKA … – The Nicknames []

MusicNotes Names Hallelujah “Song of the Year;” Sony Names Leonard Cohen “Talented And Iconic”

Hallelujah - Leonard Cohenx

Note: Originally posted Feb 24, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

According to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” Wins Musicnotes.com 2008 Song of the Year Award (MusicNotes: February 24, 2009), Leonard Cohen and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have won the seventh annual Musicnotes Song of the Year Award  for “Hallelujah.”

The award is presented each year to the songwriter and publisher of the best-selling sheet music for a song made popular in the previous calendar year.

Further,

Commenting on the award, Martin Bandier, Chairman & CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing said, “Hallelujah” is one of those incredible songs that never ceases to catch the attention of everyone when it is played or performed. It is a truly emotional song that cuts across all genders, genres and religions — it feels very spiritual. All of us at Sony/ATV are grateful to Musicnotes for this wonderful recognition.

We are fortunate to publish this terrific song as well as to continue our long-lasting partnership with the talented and iconic Leonard Cohen. [Emphasis mine]

Well, many of us had long suspected that Leonard Cohen was talented or iconic and perhaps both, but we could hardly be certain. With Sony’s imprimatur, however, any doubt can be cast aside.

After all, would Sony, in the form of the Music Publishing Division CEO, say it if it weren’t true?

The Bad News

Having myself been endowed with nifty sounding titles by employers, I feel compelled to warn Mr. Cohen that all too often such honors are awarded in lieu of rather than as prelude to cash bonuses or raises.

The Good News

On the other hand, I find The Talented And Iconic Leonard Cohen an altogether resplendent title and urge Mr. Cohen to consider incorporating it into his stage introductions (e.g., “Here he is, Chicago, The Talented And Iconic Leonard Cohen“), his official signature for contracts and autographs, and everyday conversation (e.g., “Would The Talented And Iconic Leonard Cohen like to super-size those fries?”).

And using it as a third person reference to himself (e.g., “The Talented And Iconic Leonard Cohen appreciates your warm welcome.”) would certainly not be out of the question.

Leonard Cohen Inducted Into Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame – 2008

Highlights Of The 2008 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction

1024px-Rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-sunset

Highlight #1: Leonard Cohen, Still Classy After All These Years

Leonard Cohen, dapperly dressed in a black tux, thanked Lou Reed for his introduction and acknowledged that his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was “such an unlikely event” and “not a distinction that I coveted or even dared dream about.”

In a classic self-effacing moment, Cohen then solemnly observed,

quoteup2
I am reminded of the prophetic statement by Jon Landau in the early 1970s: ‘I have seen the future of rock’n’roll, and it is not Leonard Cohen’1quotedown2

 

Leonard Cohen, who may have been the only speaker, including Jan Werner, Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and MC for the ceremony, to speak without notes (Lou Reed carried loose papers, a notebook, and a copy of Cohen’s “Book of Longing” to the podium), then recited the lyrics of “Tower of Song” and promptly surrendered the stage to Damien Rice for his cover of Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Highlight #2: Tom Hanks, Best Introduction

Tom Hanks introduced the Dave Clark 52 with passion and enthusiasm that fell just short of inspirational as he reported on the meaning of pop music to a kid growing up – oh, at about the same time Tom Hanks grew up. His notes-abetted presentation may have been a tad over the top, but at least he was on task and able to demonstrate a genuine appreciation for the inductees.

Highlight #3: Let’s see. Highlights, highlights, high-dee-hoo-dee-lights

Well, uh, ummm, … ah, I have it – Although a number of the older honorees looked shaky, not one of them required CPR.3

The Other 80% Of The Ceremony

To convey the tone of the rest of the evening, I first ask the reader to imagine the annual corporate meeting of the sales department of a life insurance company. A dinner is being held to honor the six salesmen who have been with the company the longest. These old coots seem nice enough, everyone seems to like them, and they may well have supplied a useful service to the community so there is no objection raised when they go on longer than necessary, tell anecdotes that no one in attendance quite understands, and seem a little confused as they thank spouses, mentors, teachers, friends, pets, … . This profile matches about half the honorees.

For the remainder,  a few representative examples follow:

Twenty-four hours ago, for example, I liked John Mellencamp more than I do now. He’s clearly angry at someone who has done him wrong because he’s going to have his son “kick their ass.” He also notes that he knows what people say about him and how his anti-war stance makes him unpopular.

The Awards were, according to more than one speaker, sooooo much better before it became a TV show. As a viewer, these comments made me feel warm and tingly all over.

The host, VH1-C, was accused of – commercialism – wait, the punch line is coming – by Billy Joel.

The undeserved, much lamented death of the music business (or, more accurately, record/cassette/CD selling) was another recurrent motif.

Even Madonna, who seems to run everything in the Western Hemisphere that Oprah doesn’t own, got sentimental over her lack of self-esteem as a child and her need, 35 years later, for people to “encourage [her] to believe in [her] dreams.” On the other hand, while I can’t be certain, I think it’s possible Madge thanked me for something during her exhaustive and exhausting expressions of gratitude to her grade school dancing teacher, her agent’s assistant’s associate once removed, the critics whose negative reviews only fired her motivation, … .

Update: The video of Leonard Cohen’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame was not available when this post was originally published.

Bonus: Unsolicited Advice To VH1-C Production Crew & Waldorf Event Planners

Here’s a wacky idea – what if, when the honorees leave the waiting area (AKA the Waldorf Hotel kitchen) to mount the stage, the direction to their mark on the stage were made clear? Now, no one enjoys slapstick antics, not unlike that practiced by the Keystone Cops in their heyday, more than me. Watching the Ventures mill about before someone standing idly by pointed them toward the stage was a hoot. Even watching my man, Leonard, walk through the door into the bright lights only to realize that he was face to face with the live and TV audience with no means of determining the correct route to the stage gave me a tiny jolt of Schadenfreude-infused delight. And, when I saw John Mellencamp nearly sprint the wrong way, toward the backstage area, … well, let’s just say, a knee was slapped and mirth prevailed. Heck, I’ll even admit to being a little disappointed when someone literally took Madonna’s arm to guide her to the stage.

Still, those in charge  might want to consider adding a navigational aid to assure that the show runs smoothly. I don’t see a need to pop for a GPS, but maybe you could – and I’m just blue-skying here – plant a big sign outside that door with an arrow pointing to the stage or instruct a flunky to stand outside the door through which the inductees enter and imitate a sign pointing unambiguously toward the stage.

Bonus #2: A Final Word On Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
We’re so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen isquotedown2

Lou Reed

You got that right, Lou

Credit Due Department: Photo of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame taken by Derek Jensen. Used under Creative Commons license; found at Wikipedia Commons

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  1. Cohen was, of course, riffing on the famous proclamation Jon Landau wrote in 1974 as a Rolling Stone contributing editor, “I’ve seen the future of rock n’ roll, and it’s name is Bruce Springsteen.” Leonard Cohen is too much of a gentleman (thank goodness, I’m not) to point out that within a year or two of that statement, Mr. Landau was Springsteen’s producer and manager – and still on the Rolling Stone masthead. []
  2. I like Tom Hanks, and I recall liking the DC5, at least during the British Invasion; other than my fondness for the actor and the band, the reason Tom Hanks introduced the Dave Clark 5 eludes me []
  3. At least not on camera []