Recommended Reading: Notes on the Late Leonard Cohen and Meeting Him in Montreal by Jim Algie

quoteup2
No singer or songwriter I’ve ever heard has sung with more honesty and wit about his own failings and shortcomings than Leonard Cohen.quotedown2

Jim Algie

Notes on the Late Leonard Cohen and Meeting Him in Montreal by Jim Algie (JimAlgie: July 26, 2017) is an insightful and entertaining personal essay about the significance of Leonard Cohen’s work and philosophy. It includes a brief account of the author’s sole meeting with Leonard, which is heartfelt as well as interesting. I especially like Jim Algie’s parting words to Leonard:

Thanks again for all the great music, books, and solace, that rapturous concert and for putting up with me for an hour. Now I get bragging rights that will certainly impress my band-mates and the cool Goth babes.

______________________

Jim Algie GoodReads Profile:

Jim Algie has been a punk rock musician, journalist, wildlife conservationist and security guard in a lunatic asylum. His journalism has been published The International Herald Tribune, and his short fiction included in anthologies, like the Bram Stoker-winning Extremes 2: Fantasy and Horror from the Ends of the Earth. His non-fiction collection Bizarre Thailand: Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic and his short fiction collection, The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand, illuminate the country’s dark and sexy side. In 2017, he published On the Night Joey Ramone Died, part memoir, part punk history and part literature.

“I sing his songs to come to terms with the loss I feel in my heart every day and to keep him alive and well here in his beautiful body of work.” Perla Batalla Performs Leonard Cohen’s So Long, Marianne & Famous Blue Raincoat

quoteup2
I sing his songs to come to terms with the loss I feel in my heart every day and to keep him alive and well here in his beautiful body of work. Thank you Leonard Cohen for leaving these songs behind and for encouraging me to sing them. Under the moon and the stars and the voices rising in song (Hallelujah), we all felt it…your presence and peace, for a moment.quotedown2

Perla Batalla

From Perla Batalla’s Instagram

Perla Batalla – So Long, Marianne (Leonard Cohen)
Levitt Pavilion, Pasadena: July 29, 2017

Perla Batalla – Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen)
Levitt Pavilion, Pasadena: July 29, 2017

Other videos from this concert: Hallelujah & Bird On The Wire

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Chema from Barcelona, who alerted med to these videos.

Orphan Leonard Cohen Concerts: 1988 Binéfar Show – Civic Pride, Regional Rivalries, & Empty Seats

herminia-sirvent

Binéfar & The 1988 Leonard Cohen Tour

How did a Spanish town half the size of Madison Square Garden land a Leonard Cohen show?

Binéfar is not the kind of place one would expect to find on a Leonard Cohen Tour. The entire Wikipedia entry for Binéfar, Spain follows:

Binéfar (Spanish: [biˈnefar]) is a municipality located in the province of Huesca, Aragon, Spain. According to the 2008 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 9,288 inhabitants.1 It is probably best known for the children’s theatre group “Los Titiriteros de Binéfar”.

Nonetheless, on June 11, 1988, Leonard Cohen did indeed perform in Binéfar (although some of the 4,000 seats in the venue were empty). How the show came to be scheduled, then became the center of a politico-social maelstrom, and finally transformed into an abiding element of the region’s musical and cultural heritage makes for an intriguing tale. It was, however a tale that couldn’t be told until a few months ago.

Except for its listing in Jim Devlin’s Is This What You Wanted and CohenLive.com as “1988/06/11 Huesca, Espana – (unknown venue)” and the occasional mention in a blog or forum by someone who attended the show,2 little was documented about this event until 2013. Then, on Jan 15, 2013, 25 años de Leonard Cohen en Binéfar was posted at Somos Litera (Update: No longer online):

This year marks twenty-five years one of the most important musical acontecimeintos history Binéfar. In 1988, Leonard Cohen included the town literana on tour in Spain. That June has been in the memory of many people who could enjoy one of the living legends of the music of our time. In Litera We are working on an extensive report on this unprecedented milestone. (Photo: Jaume Josa) [via Google Translate]

An Extensive Report On This Unprecedented Milestone

And, indeed, on the 25th anniversary of the concert, the “extensive report” promised in that original post manifested itself as two articles published in the June 2013 issue of Somos Litera (pp 78-80) that also offers the one other photo of this show I’ve discovered.

Thanks to the translation skills of Coco Éclair, I have composed a summary of the articles in English. Note: This is not a word per word translation but a summary of the approximated text stylized into English vernacular. We have tried to remain faithful to the original content – including points and interpretations with which we might disagree and which we have no way of confirming. As a convenience to readers, screen captures of the articles have been placed at the top of the respective summaries.

benefar1

An Unlikely Concert And A Milestone

Continue Reading →

  1. By way of comparison, Madison Square Garden in New York, a Leonard Cohen venue in 2012, has a capacity of 18,000. []
  2. For example, María Jesús Lamora (Blog antiguo) []

Alberto Manzano On Leonard Cohen’s Latin American Influences & Translating Popular Problems

Alberto Manzano & Leonard Cohen

Alberto Manzano has produced some of the most insightful, enlightening, and entertaining books and articles about Leonard Cohen as well as translating his lyrics and poetry and taking some of the most telling photos of the Canadian singer-songwriter.1  And, he is prolific, contributing over a dozen volumes to the Cohen bibliography.  Most of his work, however, is published in Spanish, severely limiting its accessibility. I’m posting Helen Ketcham’s English translation of this article about Monzano not only to communicate its content is significant but also to increase awareness in the Cohen fan community of this especially important journalist.

La conexión hispana de Leonard Cohen comenta el último regreso del músico

La conexión hispana de Leonard Cohen comenta el último regreso del músico
By Marcos Moraga
La Tercera: Oct 13, 2014

Translated by Helen Ketcham

Leonard Cohen’s Spanish Connection Comments On The Latest Return Of The Musician

Spaniard Alberto Manzano is the Canadian’s biographer and translator.

“It’s not because I’m old, it’s not the life I’ve led, / I always liked it slow, that’s how my mother taught me.” That’s the conclusion of the chorus of “Slow,” the first song on Popular Problems, the latest album by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, released on September 20. He has his reasons: when his latest work hit the street, the author of Hallelujah had just crossed the barrier of 80 years.

“His Zen Master, Roshi died just a couple of months ago, at age 106, and his sister, Esther, died a couple of weeks ago. Leonard has seen many of his best friends depart lately: the Canadian poet Irving Layton, his publisher, Jack McClelland. It is normal for him to feel the wolf at his heels. But Cohen has been concerned about this issue since the mid-70s, when he published his book and album Death of a Lady’s Man. I think he has always considered himself old.”

The speaker is Alberto Manzano, editor, biographer and translator of most of Cohen’s work into Spanish. A few days ago, the author received an email in which the American bard requested his services, this time to put the verses of Popular Problems into Spanish. Manzano agreed, and as with previous albums by the musician, his work may appear in an edition prepared for Latin America (“I think that he wants to put it up on his website,” says the Spaniard).

Barring a few exceptions — Joaquin Sabina was commissioned to do the translation of Old Ideas, the previous album — Manzano has been a consistent collaborator with Cohen, where the Canadian has placed his interest: his daughter was named Lorca in honor of the poet of that name; in 2012, Cohen won the Prince of Asturias Prize, and upon receiving it, took off his hat to the flamenco tradition, singling it out as responsible for his approach to the guitar.

Manzano has been close to Cohen for more than three decades. From there he observes the latest verbal darts from his Canadian friend: “He’s succeeded in distilling the essence of things, their substantiality, with very few words, accurate, simple. He’s creating gold. I’m Your Man and The Future are albums of the 90’s on which he had, in effect, exchanged his guitar for electronic keyboards. And that continues, except now its rhythms are much more placid and silky, like a kind of balm for the wounds of the soul. You can tell he is a man who has found peace. “

To Sabina And Back Again

For his previous album, Old Ideas (2012), Cohen put together an edition for Spain, with the lyrics translated by musician Joaquín Sabina. “Jorge Luis Borges has been widely criticized for his translations, for not being exactly true to the original text. It could be the same with Sabina. There are poets (because only a poet can translate another poet) who pour too much of themselves into foreign territory for which they feel some attraction or even identification,” comments Manzano.

Only Cohen knows whether the songs of Popular Problems will go out live on a world tour. Any interest in visiting South America, where the singer has never toured? “Honestly, it’s not likely,” Manzano responds, while reviewing the Latin American influences in his work: “I know he really likes the tango. He is a lover of Carlos Gardel. In the mid-80s, he asked me to write an adaptation in English of the song “Goodbye, Boys.” And I did one. He probably has it put away in some corner of his desk. He has also read Borges.”

Any option, then, depends on the mood of the North American, who appears to be stepping on the accelerator of productivity in the final stretch. He recalls the flirtatious remark Cohen whispers hoarsely from the stage whenever some young lady shouts out to him from the crowd: “If only I were two years younger.”

Credit Due Department: Photo by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Note: Originally posted Oct 15, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

__________________

  1. Monzano has also written about and translated for other artists, including Dylan, Jackson Browne, Tome Waits, Lou Reed, and Jim Morrison. []

Leonard Cohen Is In Lewes – & So Is 1HeckOfAGuy.com (2013)

cover

Bragging Rights

At first, I was a tad annoyed to find the first section of Leonard Cohen – Lewes Musical Express (Second Issue: Winter 2013) is devoted to the Lewes Musical Express congratulating itself for the photo of Leonard Cohen perusing the first issue of that paper.

I found, however, that this presentation became more understandable and even laudable when I came across a couple of references to the 1HeckOfAGuy.com blog (the predecessor, of course, to Cohencentric.com).

syovie-hoag

hoag2Now, referring to 1HeckOfAGuy.com as “incredibly detailed” seems an oversimplification, but perhaps Lewes was paying by the word and, in a cost-saving frenzy, edited out the other adjectives that were almost certainly present in the original draft e.g., “provocative,” “erudite,” “perceptive,” “witty,” …

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this article by a Facebook post by Gordana Stupar

Note: Originally posted Dec 1, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Read Online – Al Purdy’s “Highly Personal Look At The Writings Of Leonard Cohen” 1964

Compass Points By Al Purdy

In 1964, Al Purdy, who has been called Canada’s “unofficial poet laureate,” wrote a 14 page consideration of Leonard Cohen’s prose and poetry, which was published as Alfred Purdy, “Leonard Cohen: A Personal Look” in  Canadian Literature 23 (Winter 1965). It’s an interesting discussion – very much a poet’s perspective on another poet’s work.

intro

Spoiler Alert

As a sampling from the piece, I’ve excerpted below the final two paragraphs (click on image to enlarge):

awp-conclkusion

As far as I can determine, this paper is available for viewing only at the A.W. Purdy Digital Archive hosted by the University of Saskatchewan Special Collections. It’s an insightful, worthwhile read, accessible at

Compass points: A highly personal look
at the writings of Leonard Cohen

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post by Shaun Merritt – Al Purdy Memorial – by Edwin and Veronica Dam de Nogales, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted Feb 12, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric