Warren Zevon Turning Canadian, Covering Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan

zevonListening to live recordings of Warren Zevon playing in Buffalo (December 1991) and Cleveland (January 1992), I was so taken by his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan” and his comments bracketing the song that I realized nothing would do but offer Zevon’s song and his thoughts on turning Canadian.

Update: See Download Warren Zevon Concert Recordings Legally & At No Cost

Becoming Leonard Cohen

Prior to both of these audio clips, Zevon has introduced the Odds, a Vancouver based band backing him in this round of concerts. He then segues into their Canadian origin, which is where the first clip begins.

Warren Zevon On Becoming Leonard Cohen
(Empire Club, Cleveland, Jan 5, 1992)

Born To Sing This Song

Before beginning “First We Take Manhattan,” Zevon says,

I think the only three singer-songwriters I can stand since Bob Dylan are all Canadian. What do you think about that? So, we’re going to do a Leonard Cohen song for you here. [indecipherable] I was born to sing this song.

At the end, he opines,

I bet Leonard Cohen doesn’t perspire like this. Neither does John Updike.

Warren Zevon – First We Take Manhattan
Impaxx, Buffalo, Dec 13, 1991

 

Credit Due Department: Photo by Klaus Hiltscher – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted May 20, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Dino Soldo Video Reveals Backstage Prep For Leonard Cohen Show

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Dino Soldo VBlog 10-20 “Tech for a Day”

Video from joshudog

Thanks to Sally Hunter, who alerted me to the latest addition to the Dino Soldo filmography.

 

Note: Originally posted Oct 21, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it…” Leonard Cohen on songwriting:

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Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it… I can’t discard a verse before it is written because it is the writing of the verse that produces whatever delights or interests or facets that are going to catch the light. The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From a 1992 interview with Leonard Cohen published in Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo. Da Capo Press: 1997. Photo by Paul Zollo. Originally posted Jul 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Chuck Berry Dies – “All of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry” Leonard Cohen

“If Beethoven hadn’t rolled over, there’d be no room for any of us.”Leonard Cohen

Chuck Berry, a founding member of rock & roll who enriched culture with such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” ”Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” died Saturday. He and Leonard Cohen were the first two recipients of PEN New England’s Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award in 2012. At that time, Leonard declared “If Beethoven hadn’t rolled over, there’d be no room for any of us.”

More about Chuck Berry at Chuck Berry 1926-2017: “The only true king of rock’n’roll” by Julia Rampen (NewStatesman: 18 March 2017)

Leonard Cohen, Bard Of Bedsits Boffo In Boston – 2009

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Cohen Wonderful At The Wang:
Photos & Review

Images
Once again, a striking shot of the marquee at a venue for a Cohen concert  anchors the Heck Of A Guy post about that performance.

cohen-kneel-wang9I’m unsure why there are only one or two other photos (at least, that I’ve found) taken from this perspective (otherwise known as the balcony) of Cohen kneeling, but I am grateful for these few instances of that classic image.

The final two photos capture the physicality of Dino Soldo’s style of playing the woodwinds.cohen-wind-wangcohen-wind2-wang9

The Words
While a number of reports of the Boston show competently describe the performance and some nicely evoke the experience of watching the concert, I am especially taken with the review at Neo-neocon: Leonard Cohen comes to Boston, which offers a perspective not only of Cohen’s work place within the context of the lives of those in the cohort Neo-neocon and I share but also of the significance of his music on our consciousness. Excerpts follow:

As I’ve written before, Leonard Cohen is not for everyone (although he’s certainly for me). Some find him boring, some find him droning, some find him hard to tell apart from Dustin Hoffman until he opens his mouth (although as they’ve both aged, they look a lot less alike than they used to). But I find him to be one of the most compelling and hypnotic singer-songwriters, poet-musicians—whatever sort of hyphenated descriptive term you prefer—in the world.

Cohen spent a lot of time last night with his hat on and his eyes closed and his legs bent or even in a full kneel (try doing that when you’re seventy-four), facing his backup singers or his musicians and singing to them. It sounds as though this would distance him from the audience, but it didn’t; it’s his way of reaching deep within himself to give the greatest emotional power to each song. The words are neither more nor less important than the music, and although he’s probably sung each composition hundreds or even thousands of times, he never seems to be just going through the motions.

For example, when Cohen sang “Suzanne,” one of his earliest songs, he brought thick layers of memory to those of us who had first heard it back in high school or college in the 60s, from a Leonard Cohen who seemed mature at the time but was only in his mid-thirties. How did he make it seem so fresh now, singing it as an old man? His voice is far deeper (deeper even than I’d heard it sound recently in You Tube videos from the current tour—how deep can a man’s voice get and still be heard by the human ear?) But that’s not the only thing that’s deeper; you can hear all the ache of the intervening years—the hard-won wisdom and the hard-fought pain—in his phrasing and tone, and as you listen you nod and think of all that you’ve been through in those same passing decades.

… it is a tribute to the extraordinary musicality of Cohen and everyone else on the stage that none of the new variations is ever a disappointment no matter how deeply entrenched in one’s head a beloved original might be. Each new phrasing, each new riff, is a revelation.

I have just used the word “revelation,” and it points to another characteristic of Cohen’s work: there is a religious undercurrent to it, even when he’s singing about sex (or maybe especially when he’s singing about sex). How he manages to combine the worldly and even the world-weary with the ecstatic and the numinous is a mystery, but his music is permeated with this sense.

The full review cam be read at Neo-neocon: Leonard Cohen comes to Boston.

Credit Due Department:

The great shot of the marquee at the Wang Theatre was taken by Avi Elkoni, The other  three photos were taken by xrayspx, who has generously licensed these pictures for uses such as this.

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

“I try to make my songs as exact as I can. Sometimes I have the feeling that I am painting with an eyelash.” Leonard Cohen

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I try to make my songs as exact as I can. Sometimes I have the feeling that I am painting with an eyelash. I think of myself as a journalist and my job is to report the news. I write the stories I see around me. I do not try to analyze society nor penetrate some geopolitical vision. But I react to things like everyone else and my songs are an expression of my reactions.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen: “We are instruments of a will that is not our own.” by Jordi Saládrigas. ABC, Sunday Supplement: July 22, 2001. Photo by Paul Zollo. Originally posted July 14, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric