Leonard Cohen’s “Dominant Theme: The power of love to heal, destroy, sustain and inspire…” 2013 Louisville Concert Review

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Leonard Cohen wasted no time Saturday night at the Louisville Palace. He jogged on stage, light on his feet in an immaculate suit, and began singing about what is perhaps his work’s dominant theme: the power of love to heal, destroy, sustain and inspire…There were moments when Cohen got dark, in that matter of fact way perfected over a lifetime of writing, and moments defined by his dry sense of humor, but all of it was ultimately a kind of celebration. As Cohen has aged — he’s a graceful 78 — the not so simple act of survival, of living to try another day, has become something he champions.quotedown2

 

From Leonard Cohen delivers powerful show at Louisville Palace [Review of March 30, 2013 Leonard Cohen Louisville Concert] by Jeffrey Lee Puckett. Journal-Courier: Mar 31, 2013. (Update: No longer online). Photo by Penny Showalter aka Duchess Originally posted Mar 31, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Sean Rowe on Leonard Cohen: “He’s unmatched in songwriting.”

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Lots of fascinating things come together with Cohen. For one thing, his guitar playing. His style of flamenco guitar playing on his early stuff—you know it’s him when you hear it. Then there’s the quality of the songwriting and, on top of that, the melodies are phenomenal. He wasn’t a technically great singer, but the believability of his voice, its tone, along with the melodies—you take all this together and he’s unmatched in songwriting.quotedown2

Sean Rowe

 

From Sean Rowe Pushes His Voice to the Limit by Neil Shah (WSJ: April 5, 2017). Photo by Kmeron

Revisiting Billboard’s 1998 Tribute To Leonard Cohen

Billboard’s 30th Anniversary Tribute To Leonard Cohen – November 28, 1998

The November 28, 1998 issue of Billboard contains a 14 page celebration of Leonard Cohen:

The tribute is a 14 page appendix in the middle of the magazine. A recent interview with Leonard written by with Susan Nunziata was also posted on Billboard’s own website, but there is more in the magazine – we can read comments from his co-workers and friends, like Phil Spector, Jennifer Warnes, and Steve Lindsey. Dylan Siegler writes about Leonard’s career. There are numerous stylish advertisements showing great photos of Leonard and his family. For instance the staff at Stranger Management, his promoters, record companies, financial advisors, music publisher, and TV/radio channels greet him. A touching ad is on page LC-12: photos from Leonard’s family album are presented with the text “With love from your family; Suzanne, Lorca, Adam and Esther”.1

The Nunziata interview is studded with gems, including  Cohen’s acknowledgment of  his debt to Jennifer Warnes:

Jennifer Warnes practically revived me from the dead in America by putting out Famous Blue Raincoat.… She’s been an invaluable help in my life.

And there is also a discussion of Cohen’s project with Phil Spector:

Of note was Cohen’s collaboration with Phil Spector on the album “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. The almost unimaginable combination of Spector and Cohen has been well documented. Spector’s obsession with guns, his heavy drinking, his tendency to surround himself with menacing henchmen, and his penchant to threaten musicians. The now infamous stories of Spector holding a gun to Cohen’s neck as a sign of his unswerving affection and his obsessive possessiveness of the master tapes, to the extent that Cohen was prevented from hearing the mixes before the album was released, are now legendary. The sound and style of Ladies’ Man were in such contrast to Cohen’s previous work that it came as a great disappointment to him.

However, with the intervention of time, Cohen has mellowed and warmed toward the album and has now developed a great affection for it, even to the extent that he has entertained the possibility of working with Spector again. Spector, for his part, expressed great admiration for Cohen, and warmly cherished the honor of working with Cohen and of sharing in the writing and production of “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. [emphasis mine]

The Cohen Cover Photo

The intriguing qualities of the interview notwithstanding, I am more taken with the ads placed in the Cohen tribute section by his business associates and family (seen in the following sections) and the spectacularly cluttered cover (seen atop this post).

While I understand the significance of the Cohen-authored books and albums comprising the border of the cover and the fact that no periodical is likely to sacrifice its own logo to highlight a cover photo, I am convinced the simple image of Leonard Cohen, freed of the clunky icons surrounding the image’s perimeter, is far more striking.

The Leonard Cohen Family Ad

Clearly the highlight of the ads is the touching collection of family photos with the inscription

With love from your family;
Suzanne, Lorca, Adam and Esther

Ad From Moses Znaimer

Moses Znaimer was the head of several Canadian specialty channels, including  Much Music, MusiquePlus, MusiMAX, and MuchmoreMusic. His ad places Cohen on a background filled with images of music, Hebrew script, a rose, a statue emblematic of Eastern thought, and a list of Cohen’s roles: Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Rabbinical Student, Buddhist Adept, and Lover Of Women.

Ad From European Promoters

I first award this ad the prize for Funniest Tribute Ad because of its legend,

First we take Manhattan
Then we take a break

… and the accompanying pseudo-Polaroid of Cohen collapsed on the floor.

It also wins the award for Most Sincere Tribute Ad because of the openly self-serving signature lines:

Dear Leonard,
We can’t wait to see you back on the road.
Love, Fleming, Steen, & your European promoters.

Ad From Greenberg & Associates Financial Advisors

Things change. In 2005, Cohen and his legal team would accuse Greenberg of failing to warn Cohen about his dangerous financial situation. 2

Ad From Stranger Music

Some things really change. The text reads,

“Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free”

Dearest Leonard,
With great love and affection,
from Kelley [Lynch], Joan [Lynch], Jack [Lynch], and all your friends at Stranger Management, and from Steve Lindsey [arranger & producer]

The ad shows Leonard Cohen playing  at University Of Rome in 1974  (see Rare Photos: Leonard Cohen’s 1974 Appearance At The University Of Rome – Performance & Book Promo).

View The Original Tribute

The entire Tribute section can be found at Google Books
Note: Originally posted Mar 24, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Source: LeonardCohenFiles []
  2. Leonard Cohen’s Troubles May Be a Theme Come True By Marc Weingarten.  New York Times October 6, 2005. []

Hear Joni Mitchell Talk About “Deliciously Decadent” Leonard Cohen, A Fake Tim Buckley & Green Sunsets

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Joni Mitchell 1988 Radio Broadcast

On September 6, 1988,  Joni Mitchell appeared on “Hubert On The Air,” a one-hour show on Dutch radio hosted by Hubert van Hoof, to select and comment on her favorite songs, the ones that “thrilled her” or, alternatively, “knocked her socks off” from her childhood to the time of the broadcast.1 Mitchell, who can sometimes come off as defensive or even bitter about her musical influences, is generous, thoughtful, and charming in this instance.

Joni Mitchell Talks About Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” Green Sunsets & Tim Buckley Impostor

The excerpt below from the show features her comments about “Suzanne” and a related incident about accompanying a man who claimed to be Tim Buckley (although Mitchell knew this was only a pose) on a cruise near Miami where she sighted a green sunset. The 7.5 minute clip also includes a recording of Leonard Cohen singing “Suzanne.”

 

Bonus: Green Flash Sunsets

Continue Reading →

  1. Joni’s song choices, most of which (though not the classical pieces), were part of the the broadcast, follow:

    • Stravinsky: Rites of Spring – Dance of the Adolescents
    • Rachmaninoff: Theme from Paganini
    • Miles Davis: It Never Entered My Mind
    • Louis Jordan: Saturday Night Fish Fry
    • Bill Haley: Rock Around the Clock
    • Chuck Berry: Maybelline
    • Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
    • Edith Piaf with Les Companions de la Chanson: Trois Cloches (3 bells)
    • Billie Holiday: You’ve Changed
    • Leonard Cohen: Suzanne
    • Buffalo Springfield: Rock and Roll Woman, Broken Arrow
    • Jimi Hendrix: The Wind Cries Mary []

Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, & Leonard Cohen

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[Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan have] known each other for a long time, and I know there’s a lot of respect for each other. Jennifer Warnes told me a story once that there was a BMI [Broadcast Music, Inc] dinner once, they were honouring Bob Dylan. And Leonard was there and Jennifer was there. And at one point, Bob Dylan took Elizabeth Taylor by the hand and said, ‘Come, let me introduce you to a real poet…’quotedown2

Roscoe Beck

 

Leonard Cohen: Behind The Scenes, Part 6! by Michael Bonner (Uncut: November 19, 2008)

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

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