Leonard’s Lessons, The Austin Edition
At the Oct 31, 2012 Leonard Cohen Austin show, Duchess and I were invited backstage for post-concert refreshments and conversation with Leonard, his musicians, and tour crew members. Amidst the casual banter and chatting, I picked up a couple of Cohenesque concepts.
1. It turns out that The Show Must Go On isn’t just a cliche
The following description of the Oct 31, 2012 Leonard Cohen Austin Concert is from the aptly titled Leonard Cohen Kicks Off His Last Tour With Uncommon Flair by Dan Solomon:
The set, which included a 20-minute intermission and ran for three and a half hours, was vital and full of energy. Cohen sprinted to the mic at the beginning of the evening, and skipped offstage at the end, and in between, delivered a reminder of everything that has made him the icon and legend that he is.
Backstage after that same high-energy show, [Warning Be alert for dropping names ahead] Roscoe Beck called out a farewell to his boss that included “Feel better soon.” Cleverly grasping the implications of this well-wishing, I drew upon my years of medical training and experience, to ask Leonard, “So, were you sick?”1 This brief dialog followed:
Leonard Cohen: I was under the weather
DrHGuy: But you went on anyway, of course and then went full speed for the entire show.
Leonard Cohen: [shrugging] Well, I can’t say ‘Tell the audience I’m not going on tonight – but maybe tomorrow if I’m better’ just because I’m not feeling great.
Then, Leonard Cohen, the 78 year old veteran performer, shook his head, silently chortling over the far-fetched notion that he could do any less than “give [concert-goers] everything we got” – regardless of his health, worries, obligations, …2
2. Clean Up After Yourself (My mom would have loved Leonard)
While it was precisely in character with everything I know about Leonard Cohen’s behavioral style, I was nonetheless taken aback – and simultaneously impressed and charmed – by the sight of the Canadian singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-icon and winner of multiple music and literature honors, who had just finished a 3 hour+ sold-out concert, after two months of similar concerts in Europe, placing his membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in jeopardy by tidying up the place, carefully picking up the trash from his own post-concert snack (he recommended the egg salad on which he chowed down) and depositing it into the waste and recycling bins.
Other Stuff I Learned Backstage From Leonard Cohen: What Leonard Cohen Told Me Backstage In Chicago
Credit Due Department: The photo of Mr Cohen, The Duchess aka Penny Showalter, and DrHGuy was taken at the Oct 31, 2012 Leonard Cohen Austin soundcheck by J.S. Carenza III, the Road Manager of the Leonard Cohen Tour. Originally posted Nov 3, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- There is no combination of words that convey the information “I was in face to face communication with Leonard Cohen” that doesn’t come off as boasting. I know; I’ve tried them all. (This may have something to do with the fact that I am boasting, but still …) [↩]
- In fairness, I should note that my father adhered to the same principle of working despite suffering significant illness, but somehow “The used car sales must go on” doesn’t scan as heroically. [↩]