Photo: Charlie Daniels “On stage with Leonard Cohen Europe circa 1970”

The third person is Bob Johnston

Corlynn Hanney Talks About Singing Backup On The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour

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Leonard Cohen and backup singers at Leeds University – 1970

The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour

Researching Leonard Cohen’s  1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival  concert made me unavoidably aware of ongoing confusion about not only dates, venues, and even the existence of certain 1970 concerts but also who sang backup – and more research in secondary sources succeeded in further  muddying the waters – I finally succumbed to the obvious: I sought out someone who was there.

As it turned out, this was an especially fruitful strategy, disproving the notion that those unanticipated consequences about which one reads so much bad press are always catastrophic. Both of Leonard Cohen’s 1970 backup singers, in fact, provided not only factual data about that enterprise but also intriguing perspectives of the tour.

Today’s post features Corlynn Hanney.

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Corlynn Hanney

In addition to serving as backup singer on the 1970  tour, Corlynn Hanney (the blond woman wearing glasses in the1970 photos) is credited as a vocalist on Leonard Cohen’s Songs from a Room, Songs Of Love And Hate, and Live Songs albums.

She still sings and maintains a MySpace page which includes music from her 2007 album Shine and other songs in a genre characterized as Christian/Gospel /Healing & Easy Listening.

Corlynn Hanney has been good enough to personally provide information about the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour and her role in it. The following excerpts (in red) are taken from her emails (the questions that prompted her replies are in blue):1

How did you became a backup singer for Leonard Cohen?

I was a young singer living in LA, trying to make a living as a studio singer. I had been singing with The Jimmy Joyce singers. We had sung on the Smothers Brothers Show, things like that that were singer/dancer things sometimes. I was called to audition!

I had been a Cohen fan for awhile. Never went anywhere without a book of his poetry or his novel in my purse. It was a dream. Leonard’s then manager (name forgotten but he stayed manager through the making or the Songs of Love and Hate CD) heard me sing with my guitar. It was something original.

They offered me the job immediately……I asked to have the night to think about it After all, I was just beginning to get calls as a session singer. When I awoke in the morning I had my answer! A perfect job for me! Needless to say, I said YES. No looking back after that!

Susan and I had been singing together in a group called the GROOP. We auditioned a couple of other girls but Susan and I had always had a fabulous blend and musical rapport. She got the job, too. Next stop, Nashville.

This is an especially silly query: Leonard Cohen and the band famously rode horseback to the Aix-en-Provence Festival concert. Since hearing that story, I’ve wondered – did you and Susan Musmanno travel to the show the same way?

I still have no super-clear memories about horses . I am afraid of horses, so I could have blocked it out. I do have a clear memory of the landscape. It was surreal! And a bit scary. so many people in one place! So many tiny lights. I remember the Isle of Wight better. The horse memory is taking shape.

The place we stayed for this concert was amazing. It was very old, had two streets and had a very old Church on the hilltop. Every hour the church bell would ring the hour. The town was surrounded by fields of various crops. People drove their produce etc, in horse drawn carts.

We ate at the hotel…..amazing food! Everything was made right there. Great local wine. Fresh produce. I have gone back to try to find it again. The place was tiny and I can’t remember the name. So my search has been fruitless.

Backup singers for Leonard Cohen at Leeds University - 1970

Backup singers for Leonard Cohen at Leeds University – 1970

You mentioned that you had been a Cohen fan prior to your audition for the Tour. How did the real Leonard Cohen (the one you worked with on tour) differ from the Leonard Cohen you had envisioned from his poetry, prose, and music?

When I met Leonard, he was even more gentle, more wise and more gracious than I had expected. When it came to music, he was incredibly generous.

What makes working with Leonard Cohen so unique is his generosity of spirit. In rehearsals Leonard is very positive. He appreciates the creativity of the band and backup singers. He is so humble, you feel unafraid to try new ideas. He is always grateful for the suggestions. His willingness to try different musical ideas makes the other musicians feel valued.

Credit Due Department: Joe Way, who had been in contact with Corlynn Hanney for some time, provided my introduction to Corlynn and paved the way for our email exchange. The photo of Leonard Cohen and his backup singers are the Isle Of Wight was contributed by Dominique BOILE. Leeds University photos are copyright John Rettie – www.rocknrollphotographs.com

Note: Originally posted Nov 2, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. I have edited Corlynn’s answers to the extent of rearranging her comments to fit a chronological flow. None of the content has been changed. []

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: “Outlaw Poet At UCLA” – 1970

outlawpoetmarked-scaled1000The anticipated November 14, 1970  appearance of “Leonard Cohen: Outlaw Poet At UCLA”1 warranted a PR photo as well as a descriptive announcement in the November 13, 1970 Highlights Of Week End Entertainment In The Southland section of The Valley News (Van Nuys, California).

Leonard Cohen Adds Music To Poems

The brief blurb about the concert, marked in red  in the above image and enlarged below for easier reading, explains that “Leonard Cohen noted for darkly romantic poetry has added music to his poems.”

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Note: Originally posted Jul 25, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. For a personal report on the 1970 UCLA show, see The 1970 Leonard Cohen Champagne & Crazy Guy Concert At UCLA: A First-Hand Account []

Signs of Leonard Cohen: Leonard Cohen “Manchild” Concert Poster – Madison 1970

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The Leonard Cohen “Manchild” Concert Poster is my nominee for Most Arresting Leonard Cohen Concert Poster. It advertises the 1970  Bring The Troops Home Homecoming at the University Of Wisconsin (of course. Which other university would hold a Bring The Troops Home Homecoming?).  A personal account of that show can be found at The 1970 Leonard Cohen University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert, The Anti-War Movement, & Joe Way

The “manchild” line is a quote from Leonard Cohen By William Kloman, New York Times, January 28, 1968:

Leonard Cohen, at 33, is a man-child of our time. A poet-novelist-composer-singer (this is the age of the hyphenate, a sign, some say, that a renaissance is afoot), Cohen has a solid reputation among the young people of his native Canada, where his poems are used by lovers.

Note: Originally posted November 20, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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