1988 Prince’s Trust Rock Gala With Leonard Cohen: Double Video CD


Dominique BOILE writes to explain the nature of this item from Hong Kong

This is not a double DVD
This is not a double CD
This is a double VCD (Video CD)

For more about this unusual appearance of Leonard Cohen as one of many acts in a show, see And Video: Also Starring Leonard Cohen – The 1988 Prince’s Trust Concert Tower Of Song

Note: Originally posted January 9, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Halloween Austin City Limits Show – Scary Concept, Eh?

watermelonYesterday’s post, Video: 1988 Leonard Cohen Austin City Limits Concert Is Back Online, and the impending Halloween holiday prompted me to re-publish this October 28, 2014 DrHGuy.com entry.
In 2013, I pondered the sight displayed above and wrote

Would someone (maybe someone like Roscoe Beck or Mitch Watkins who understands how Austin operates) explain to me why the gentleman in the middle of this screenshot, taken when the camera pans the audience just prior to the start of Take This Waltz during the 1988 Leonard Cohen Austin City Limits Show, seems to be wearing a watermelon helmet on his head? I realize there are some odd images in Take This Waltz (you’ve got your “chair with a dead magazine” and that “bed where the moon has been sweating,” for example) but I don’t recall “I’ll applaud with a watermelon for a hat” in the lyrics.

And, sure enough, a reader wise in the ways of Austin, Leorstef, responded:

So, why is the guy wearing a Watermelon Hat? Why is one lady dressed as a Nun? I asked that question myself the first time I saw the concert 24 years ago.

That concert was actually filmed on Halloween night in 1988, then aired on PBS in April 1989. So simply, many of the folks were just in Halloween costumes. Since Austin has always been a good place to party, I assume they were just getting ready ahead of time for the rest of the night.

Here’s the sad part: I was at the Leonard Cohen concert in Austin on Oct 31, 2012, and I recall seeing only one person that might have been wearing a Halloween costume (and I suspect it could have been the sort of thing she wore every day). So, is Austin getting less weird?

Video: 1988 Leonard Cohen Austin City Limits Concert Is Back Online


Leonard Cohen On The Air In Austin

Leonard Cohen’s performance on the October 31, 1988 episode of Austin City Limits, which has become routinely designated as his “first major performance on American television,” is strong musically and a treat to watch. As ongoing readers know, this show has been intermittently available on various sites and then lost to copyright restrictions.

For the moment, it’s back – and in good form. A quality version of Leonard Cohen’s Halloween performance in Austin is now online at YouTube.

The Intros

The 1988 Austin City Limits show1  is notable for Leonard Cohen’s idiosyncratic preludes to certain songs, including a description of the crucifixion of Christ that invokes the application of shaving lotion as an introduction to “Ain’t No Cure For Love” and a lead-in to “If It Be Your Will” that consists of Cohen’s complaint that his “hands are all sweaty with Tequila juice. It’s an impermeable oil that seeps through the membrane,” a scientifically baffling declaration that nonetheless seems to work in context as suggestive language to set the mood.2

Set List

1. First We Take Manhattan
2. Tower Of Song
3. Everybody Knows
4. Ain’t No Cure For Love
5. The Partisan
6. Joan Of Arc
7. Jazz Police
8. If It Be Your Will
9. Take This Waltz


Backup singers Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen are especially prominent throughout the show, including participating in a farcical rendition of “Jazz Police.”

Leonard Cohen–lead vocals, keyboards
Bob Metzger–guitar, pedal steel guitar
Bob Furgo–keyboards, violin
Steve Meador–drums
Steve Zirkel–bass, trumpet, keyboards
John Bilezikjian–oud
Tom McMorran–keyboards
Julie Christensen–backup vocals
Perla Batalla–backup vocals

Video: Leonard Cohen – Austin City Limits 1988


  1. Cohen also performed on Austin City Limits in 1993 []
  2. For a poet-novelist-sing-songwriter-icon, one supposes, poetic license trumps scientific principle. Still, “an impermeable oil that seeps through the membrane” does dispel the Leonard Cohen is a Renaissance Man cliche. []

Leonard Cohen In 1988 – If He Had Been Two-Dimensional, 45 Inches Tall, & Cardboard


I’m Your Cardboard Man

This promotional cardboard cutout of Leonard Cohen eating a banana and holding a modified I’m Your Man album with the same image on the cover measures 1.16 m! (45.66 inches) in height. From the private collection of Dominique BOILE.

Note: Originally posted Sept 17, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric