Feist On The Risk Of Covering Leonard Cohen

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quoteup2You have to determine what’s in a song of his that’s mine enough to feel entitled to sing it. Otherwise, it’s touchy, dangerous territory to go into the world of Leonard Cohen.quotedown2

Feist

From With her Leonard Cohen tribute, Feist found a way to say goodbye by Brad Wheeler (The Globe and Mail: Apr. 09, 2017). Photo by Jason Persse – Flickr: Feist, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons

See Video: Complete Juno Tribute To Leonard Cohen By Justin & Sophie Trudeau & Feist Performance Of Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

Leonard Cohen At The Mount Baldy Zen Center – A Cluttered Austerity

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Cabin Scenes From Leonard Cohen, A Portrait

Viewing the Armelle Brusq 1996 documentary about Leonard Cohen’s experience at the Mount Baldy Zen Center (see Superb Video Of Leonard Cohen At Mt Baldy Zen Center), I was struck by the amount of detail the film displayed of the interior of Cohen’s cabin. I am posting these screen captures from the film and Pico Iyer’s description of this residence (see below)  to provide readers a sense of Cohen’s lodgings from 1994 to 1999.

Other than his computer and synthesizer and the cabin phone, Cohen’s implements of daily life, glasses, mirrors, pencils, tissues, and such, could be characterized as “simple but plentiful.”

Pico Iyer’s Description Of Leonard Cohen’s Mount Baldy Cabin

Published in Buzz in April 1998, the year before Cohen left Mount Baldy, Leonard Cohen Unplugged by Pico Iyer describes Cohen’s residence at the Zen Center:

His home is a markedly simple place, with a small black WELCOME mat outside its door. Inside, a narrow single bed, a tiny mirror, a dirty old carpet, and a picture of some puppies cavorting under the legend “Friends Are All Welcome.”

Farther inside, a pair of scissors, a few Kleenexes, a small shoulder bag with a Virgin airlines tag around it, and on a chest of drawers, a menorah. “This place is really quite a trip,” he says, smiling. “You enter a kind of science-fiction universe which has no beginning and no end.” His own ragged gown, I notice, is held together with safety pins. The small Technics synthesizer in the next room is unplugged.

As to the psychological implications  this particular collection of items holds regarding  the owner, I’ll leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions.

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Note: Originally posted Apr 9, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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 []