France-Soir’s Assessment Of Leonard Cohen’s 1970 Paris Concert

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Two hours and a quarter of folk song is ordinarily a bit long. Last night it was much too short. Ironic, sometimes even scornful, Leonard Cohen draws us successfully into the sadness of ‘The Stranger,’ of ‘Suzanne,’ and of ‘The Partisan.’quotedown2


 

From the France-Soir review of Leonard Cohen’s 1970 Paris concert, quoted in Leonard Cohen Scores In Paris by Tim Creery. Montreal Gazette: May 14, 1970

France-Soir was a French daily newspaper that prospered during the 1950s and 1960s, reaching a circulation of 1.5 million in the 1950s.

Note: Originally posted Oct 12, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Responds To Negative Review (1970): “I’ve got a bunch of big guys in my band who would love nothing more than to take you into an alley.”

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Now, in 1970, I was faced with reviewing his [Leonard Cohen’s] Place des Arts debut. He had developed an intense cult following, fans hugging the front of the stage, hanging on every precious word. He droned on and on, backed by a country band’s somnolent slip-slidin’ twangs. He bored me stiff. I wrote that I had a vision of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans galloping down the aisles to liven things up. The next day, Cohen demanded a showdown at a Crescent St. bar. “That review was alley talk,” he fumed. “I’ve got a bunch of big guys in my band who would love nothing more than to take you into an alley.” (The band was dubbed the Army.) Three years later, at Théâtre St. Denis, he asked, “What do you have to do to get a good review in this town?” (He later confided that his mother worried he was doing something wrong.)quotedown2

 

 

From Juan Rodriguez’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Life – Week 4: A critic must die by Juan Rodriguez. Montreal Gazette: Feb 8, 2013

Recommended Reading

The first several paragraphs of this article deal with music critic, Juan Rodriguez’s experiences with Leonard Cohen, which ranged from the – uh, sharing of differing viewpoints described above to discussing Phil Spector over cognac and kosher pickles to Cohen supporting Rodriguez’s application for a Canada Council grant and lending personal support to his romantic quest. It’s an entertaining read that can be accessed at Juan Rodriguez’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Life – Week 4: A critic must die

Note: Originally posted Feb 9, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

France-Soir on 1970 Leonard Cohen Paris Concert

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Leonard Cohen has put all of himself into his songs, and succeeded in making us accept the marriage of Joan of Arc and the Sisters of Mercy, as well as deeper themes of freedom and nostalgic loves, with simple and touching words.quotedown2


 

Quoted in Leonard Cohen Scores In Paris by Tim Creery. Montreal Gazette: May 14, 1970.1

France-Soir was a French daily newspaper that prospered during the 1950s and 1960s, reaching a circulation of 1.5 million in the 1950s.

Note: Originally posted Sept 11, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Wikipedia []

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: 1973 A Cause Du Pop Movie Poster Featuring Leonard Cohen (Playing Left-handed)

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Poster for A Cause Du Pop (aka Guitare Au Poing), the 1973 French film about the 1970 Aix en Provence music festival, which features Leonard Cohen’s Aug 2 performance. It has long been unavailable (although rumors of that it will imminently be made accessible have cropped up sporadically for at least the last five years), making this documentary a much sought after property by fans of Cohen, Johnny Winter, Mungo Jerry, and other artists who performed at the festival.

From Leonard Cohen Video Database

“A Cause du Pop” Movie commercially released under the name “Guitare au poing” Year 1976, France. Movie relating the 1970 festival of Aix-En-Provence (France) consisting of stock-shots from news broadcastings. Leonard sung along with many artists like Johnny Winter, Mungo Jerry, Pete Brown, Colosseum, Titanic, Rare Bird, Triangle, Dynastic crisis, Trader Horn, Chico (now Chico Magnetic Band), Wallace collection, Majority One, Rada Krishna. Production: SEDIMO, Astra Paris Films. Dialogues: Jacques Higelin and Küelan Hercé.Directed by Daniel Szuster. Note also that the French Radio Network “France-Inter” broadcasted the songs on air (unavailable, otherwise illegal).

Note: This is the only reference I find placing the film’s release in 1976. All other sources list 1972or 1973. IMDb has the release date as June 22, 1973.

From the eBay sales description:

Original synopsis issued by the studio when the film was released and meant for theatrical display.

Note: Originally posted October 29, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Picaresque 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour – A Firsthand Account

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Note: Originally posted Feb 16, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

A Matter Of Perspective – The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour Through The Eyes Of Aileen and Elkin Fowler

Cohencentric posts about the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour have described Leonard Cohen & The Horse He Rode In On-Stage at and the Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem of  the Aix-en-Provence Festival,  the legendary concert at the Isle of Wight Festival, the Forest Hills appearance (“Nervous, Uncomfortable, Oppressive, Lifeless” & In A Tiff With Dylan), the 1970 Leonard Cohen Champagne & Crazy Guy Concert At UCLA, and the University Of Wisconsin anti-war rally disguised as homecoming show.

While  there will be further posts about the 1970 Tour, perhaps  the most insightful perspective on that year’s concerts is that of Susan Musmanno, one of the backup singers for Leonard Cohen that  year, and Elkin “Bubba” Fowler, guitarist in the Tour band.1

Note: The text printed in red below is taken directly from email correspondence with Susan aka Aileen Fowler and Elkin Fowler.

The Leonard Cohen Hayride

It turns out that the horseback ride to the Aix concert was not the only unconventional mode of transport utilized by by Leonard Cohen and his musicians in 1970.

Susan: So Hartford was my first Leonard Cohen concert. I don’t remember it as vividly as the next concert, which was in Austin. Since we didn’t have a road manager for the first couple of concerts, Bubba was asked by Bob to take on certain responsibilities, such as limos, transportation, etc. Bob, being a Texan, wanted to give Leonard a big, Texas-style welcome. So, through a friend at University of Texas in Austin, Bubba lined up a flatbed truck with hay, cornstalks, etc., and that’s how we all rode from the airport to the hotel, all of us sitting on bales of hay.

Leonard Cohen, Superstar

Susan: That night, I stood next to Leonard as he cast a spell, and eventually got used to watching him hypnotize and enthrall audience after audience. At the end of the evening in Austin, he invited the audience to join him ‘down at the river’ to continue the magic, and many did.

Those dates in Europe in May of 1970 were milestones. Leonard created a sensation everywhere we went. The response was overwhelming. I remember being whisked from the stage to waiting limousines after the shows. I had no idea when I signed on for the tour that I was accompanying a superstar to Europe, but he became one by the time we finished in London.

Those were turbulent times — the Kent State killings happened the first week in May, while we were in Germany. When we arrived in Munich, there were demonstrations all over the city. It became increasingly clear that Leonard was being recognized as a great poet, and his legend was beginning to grow. We went from triumph to triumph, and, when the tour culminated in Paris and London (both the Olympia and Albert Hall were sold out; they each requested that we add additional shows, but Leonard didn’t want to), the shows were sensational, memorable.

Continue Reading →

  1. The story of Susan and Elkin falling in love during the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour will be featured in a future post. []

Video: Leonard Cohen On The High Price Of His Concert Tickets – 1970

pricesNote: Originally posted Mar 13, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Tour 1970

Part of Leonard Cohen’s stage routine during the 2013 Tour was thanking those in the front rows, some of whom paid $150-200 for a ticket, for thus “endangering the family budget.” It wasn’t the first time the price of admission to his shows was broached. The reporter in this 1970 video questions the Canadian singer-songwriter about the high cost of his tickets.

Based on the August 1, 1970 date of this video,1 the French setting, the reference to a “festival” in the original blurb, and the focus on cost, it seems likely that the appearance referenced in the interview is Cohen’s Aug 2, 1970 show at the Aix-en-Provence Festival – an especially weird event that took place during the weirdness that was the 1970 Tour. For an overview of that concert, see Leonard Cohen At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival – Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem

The total three-day Aix Festival admission fee was  55 francs (about $12 US), not adjusted for inflation. According to a concert summary by Jacques Vassal published in the September 1970 edition (#44) of Rock & Folk, Leonard Cohen received 35,000 dollars (US) for his two hour concert on August 2, 1970 of the Festival.

“COHEN, Leonard: resta près de deux heures sur scène (35000 dollars valaient bien ça!)”.
“COHEN, Leonard: remained nearly two hours on stage (35000 dollards was well worth it!)”.

The Video

Since the video is in French and the majority of this blog’s readers are English-speaking, a spoiler revealing the punchline of the piece is, unfortunately, necessary. It’s still fun watching Cohen responding to the question in the short (under one minute) clip.

The original description of the film follows:

Léonard COHEN est vivement apostrophé à sa descente d’avion à propos du coût exorbitant de ses cachets et donc du prix des places dans un festival. “Vous êtes obligés d’avoir des cachets si chers ?”Léonard COHEN : “non, je ne suis pas obligé, c’est un plaisir”.

Coco Éclair provides an English translation:

Leonard Cohen is accosted when getting off his plane about the exorbitant cost of his tickets and hence the price of the seats for the concert. “Are you obligated to have such expensive fees?” Leonard Cohen: “No, I am not obligated, it is a pleasure.”

Leonard Cohen À Propos Des Gros Cachets
[Leonard Cohen About Big Fees]
Aug 1, 1970
Note: The Leonard Cohen interview begins a few seconds after the video begins.

If the embedded video player can’t be viewed, watch the video at the ina.fr site

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Dominique BOILE for the information re Cohen’s fee for the concert.

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  1. The dates given for videos have not proven reliable in all cases. Caveat emptor and all that. []