“These aren’t just performances for Cohen, they’re his way of reconnecting with his art and self. It’s a personal ritual, and that makes ‘Bird on a Wire’ an essential part of Cohen’s legacy.”

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“Bird on a Wire” is a time capsule of a specific period in Cohen’s career. But it also neatly illustrates the singer’s personality in an accessible and compelling way. It’s that rare concert doc that isn’t for established fans only. Viewers may feel like they’ve been thrown into the deep end with Cohen and/or may not be immediately won over by rousing live versions of Cohen’s (by-now) famous standards. But there’s a lot of shrewd observations about Cohen spread throughout a lightning-quick 105-minute runtime. When you see Cohen try (and fail) to sing to his Jerusalem audience, you’re seeing the artist struggling to stay on the ground. These aren’t just performances for Cohen, they’re his way of reconnecting with his art and self. It’s a personal ritual, and that makes “Bird on a Wire” an essential part of Cohen’s legacy.

From Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire Review by Simon Abrams (RogerEbert.com: January 18, 2017). This is one of the few articles about this film that considers its cinematology and reviews it as a movie rather than focus on the story of the loss and recovery of the documentary. Recommended reading.

Credit Due Department: Graphic atop this post contributed by Dominique BOILE.

“Framing the film with a pair of brilliant Cohen songs almost renders the remainder of Natural Born Killers irrelevant”

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Framing the film with a pair of brilliant Cohen songs almost renders the remainder of Natural Born Killers irrelevant. In about ten minutes’ worth of music, Cohen has already said everything that the film intends to say, and manages to do so with an eloquence that really can’t be matched by all the fancy editing and film tricks in the world.quotedown2

 

From Exit Music (For a Film): Leonard Cohen, “The Future” | Popdose: A consideration of Cohen’s “The Future” and “Waiting fo the Miracle” in the soundtrack of Natural Born Killer. Note: Originally posted October 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Is “Hallelujah” Pop Culture’s Most Overplayed Song?

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This video by Kevin B. Lee on Fandor Keyframe—aptly named “How Pop Culture Overplayed ‘Hallelujah’ ”—compiles some of the most notable times that pop culture used all of the song’s various covers. Lee’s video was inspired by Nick Murray’s article in the New York Times titled “How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ ” written as a reaction to Tori Kelly’s performance of the song during the In Memoriam sequence at the Emmy Awards in September.

Excerpted from Hallelujah Again By Madeline Raynor (Slate: 12 October 2016).

While the claim that “This Video Shows That ‘Hallelujah’ Is Pop Culture’s Most Overplayed Song” is hyperbole, the video does offer an entertaining group of versions of Hallelujah in TV and movie soundtracks.

Videos: Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows & Concrete Blonde Cover In Pump Up The Volume

volumeLeonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows is the pirate radio station’s theme song in Pump Up The Volume. The same film also featured the Concrete Blonde cover of Everybody Knows

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
Pump Up The Volume

 

Concrete Blonde – Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen
Pump Up The Volume

Highly Recommended Reading: Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller By Robert Christgau

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Over the years, at least a half-dozen posts on the topic of the music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller have appeared at Cohencentric and its predecessors.1 Even if you’ve read all the reviews referenced in those entries, there is still more to learn from Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller by Robert Christgau (Criterion: Oct 5, 2016). The excerpts below indicate Christgau’s grasp of detail and his nuanced, articulate observations.

Before Altman even tried to negotiate permissions, he laid Cohen’s songs over his footage, and the mesh amazed him. “I think the reason they worked was because those lyrics were etched in my subconscious, so when I shot the scenes I fitted them to the songs, as if they were written for them. I put in about ten of them at first—of course, we way overdid it—and then we ended up with the three songs that were finally used, and I thought they were just wonderful.”

The film version of “The Stranger Song” differs from the one Altman had played to death on successive copies of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s late-1967 debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen—produced, as it happens, by another John Simon (rather too schlockily, Cohen always thought). After starting off with the first three verses of the album version, the soundtrack interpolates a long, elegiac, Spanish-tinged guitar solo—amplified acoustic, I think—by David Lindley, for forty years now a go-to multi-instrumentalist but at the time merely a member of the California band Kaleidoscope, who were handpicked by Cohen to play behind him on the record only to be cut off at the pass by Simon the producer. Then the album version returns for two verses, after which it doubles back to the capper of the second verse, with the final three verses saved for a later scene. Thus the mood-setter ends: “That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder/It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.”

The entire piece can be read at

Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Also see

View Videos: Leonard Cohen’s Music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller can be found at 

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  1. DrHGuy.com & 1HeckOfAGuy.com []