Leonard Cohen On The Evolution Of “First We Take Manhattan”

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If the lyric [of First We Take Manhattan] was set to something more solemn or ponderous it would have bored me to death. If it didn’t have that kind of techno-pop counter-point the song would collapse. But these things aren’t done from a point of view of strategies. They just evolve. Like that song grew out of one called ‘In Old Berlin’, half of which went off to become ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love.’ And to get to where it is I had to go through five notebooks of maybe 50 verses, just slowly scratching away. I don’t have any strategies, even in my private life. Any I had collapsed years ago. It’s my music as much as any other music is.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

Also see Leonard Cohen Credits Jeff Fisher For Rescue Of “First We Take Manhattan”

Thanks, Leonard Cohen, For Coming To The USA – The Video Celebration

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Video: Leonard Cohen USA Concert Highlights

I created the video, “Thanks, Leonard Cohen, For Coming To The USA,” in commemoration of the 2009 Leonard Cohen USA Tour – a triumph and a joy still worth celebrating today.

Heck Of A Guy proudly announces the release of
Thanks, Leonard Cohen, For Coming To The USA

A video offered in appreciation of
Leonard Cohen’s Fall 2009 US Tour
and in celebration of the
2008-2009 Leonard Cohen World Tour,
a labor born of catastrophe and betrayal
that became a triumph of music and spirit

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A Look At The Leonard Cohen Fall 2009 USA Tour

Thanks, Leonard Cohen, For Coming To The USA is a ten minute video with photo and YouTube highlights focusing on the Fall 2009 Leonard Cohen concert series that began in Fort Lauderdale and concluded in San Jose, California. Additional scenes track back to the beginning of the Tour and Cohen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and extends to the 2010 iteration of the Tour and beyond.

The soundtrack includes segments from “First We Take Manhattan” and “Closing Time” bracketing “Democracy,” the final song at the final concert of the USA Tour.

Thanks, Leonard Cohen, For Coming To The USA

Note: Originally posted Jan 7, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Then We Take Trouville: Making Of The Leonard Cohen-Dominique Issermann First We Take Manhattan Music Video

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Then We Take Trouville

This quirky, entertaining, little-seen video, featuring Joe Cocker’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan,” documents, as the YouTube description has it, “the making of the music video “First we take Manhattan then we take Berlin” of Leonard Cohen directed by Dominique Issermann in 1988.” It offers lots of shots of Leonard and Dominique Issermann producing a film in the rain.

Then We Take Trouville

The First We Take Manhattan Video

The final version of the video produced for First We Take Manhattan is embedded below.

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Esther Parks, who alerted me to this video.

Note: Originally posted Aug 29, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

2013 Leonard Cohen Winnipeg Show: Video, Photos, Review, George Jones Tribute

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Review & Photos From Winnipeg Free Press

First he takes a Juno. Then he takes the ’Peg.

Leonard Cohen may be at the top of the Canadian musical mountain, but he still knows his place in the universe.

The 78-year-old Montrealer kneeled on his prayer bones at the MTS Centre Friday night, pleading for redemption from a higher power and begging for forgiveness from an adoring crowd.

He was supposed to perform here on March 11, but the flu swept its way through his exceptional band, so the gig was rescheduled until Friday night.

The wait was worth it.

From Review: Cohen still a musical, lyrical force by Alan Small. Winnipeg Free Press: April 27, 2013. The full review, which ranked the Cohen concert “4 1/2 stars out of five” is available at the link as is a slide show of nine photos by Trevor Hagan.

Poster promoting 2013 Leonard Cohen Winnipeg concert

Poster promoting 2013 Leonard Cohen Winnipeg concert

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan
Winnipeg: April 26, 2013
Video by bigcanadiano

Tribute To Fallen Workers In Song

The review includes a description of Leonard Cohen’s tribute to recently deceased Canadian folk & country singers, Stompin’ Tom Connors and Rita MacNeil and to country legend George Jones, who died the same day as the Winnipeg show, April 26, 2013.

In a 2001 interview with Mark Binelli, Cohen talked about Jones:1

I listened to country as a kid. I could get WWVA from West Virginia, late at night. Have you heard George Jones’ last record, Cold Hard Truth? I love to hear an old guy laying out his situation.2 He has the best voice in America.

In honor of Jones, Cohen played “Choices,” a ballad Jones wrote in 1999 following a car wreck attributed to drinking, his final alcohol-related incident. “Choices”won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

“Choices” is one of three George Jones songs posted as selections at Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox, a series which features songs the Canadian singer-songwriter has specifically named and lauded in interviews.

Update: Video

There is no known video of Choices from the Winnipeg show. The performance below took place a couple of months later.

Leonard Cohen – Choices (George Jones Cover)
Mannheim: June 29, 2013

 

Note: Originally posted Apr 27, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Q&A: The New Leonard Cohen –  by Mark Binelli. Rolling Stone. Posted Oct 19, 2001. []
  2. I also love to hear an old guy laying out his situation. Incidentally, George Jones was born September 12, 1931, making him only 3 years older than Leonard Cohen, who was born September 21, 1934. It was because Jones began his professional career at 16 and was singing on Texas stations in the 1940s that his songs could possibly have been available on radio while Cohen was still an adolescent. I haven’t been able to track down when Jones began singing at WWVA, but, according to allmusic, the first George Jones recording (a single called “No Money in This Deal”) was released in early 1954, just after Jones returned from a stint in the Marines, on a local Texas label where it received no attention. At that time, Leonard Cohen would have been 19 years old []

“Then We Take Berlin” Vivid Leonard Cohen Video: First We Take Manhattan – Berlin 2013

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Leonard Cohen’s performances of First We Take Manhattan in New York and, especially, Berlin are typically powerful and invariably trigger a tremendous response from the audience. This July 17, 2013 rendition of First We Take Manhattan in the German capital is exemplary on both counts.

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan
Berlin: July 17, 2013
Video by kyoshi9

 

Best 2013 Leonard Cohen Videos: The best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour can be found at the Best Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist

Note: Originally posted July 19, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Five Funniest Leonard Cohen Music Videos: 1. First We Take Manhattan German TV 1988

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The Five Funniest Leonard Cohen Music Videos

The humor of these videos starring Leonard Cohen, aka Poet Laureate Of Pessimism, aka High Priest Of Pathos, aka Master Of Erotic Despair, aka Gloom Merchant, …1 is, one hopes, self-evident so only minimal annotations have been added. Today’s post features the #1 video; all posts in this series can be found at

The Criteria:

  1. The videos must feature Leonard Cohen in a professionally staged and directed performance intended to be viewed in the video medium.
  2. Videos of live performances, such as concerts, are ineligible.
  3. Home-brewed cut and paste videos, Leonard Cohen impersonations, and parodies are ineligible.
  4. “Funniest” includes funny-ha ha, funny-weird, and combinations of both.

1. First We Take Manhattan – German TV 1988

For laugh out loud funny, the German TV promo version of First We Take Manhattan is the prizewinning entry.

Leonard Cohen Video Or Saturday Night Live Skit Gone Bad?

Originally broadcast February 17, 1988 on German TV, this odd performance of First We Take Manhattan offers a number of noteworthy elements:

The set itself (shown below) is – well, it’s a tad oppressive …

german2especially when compared to the 1980s decorator’s dream composition in glass, mirrors, chrome, stainless steel, and all things bright and shiny that is the set on the French version of the same promo.

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The big question, however, is “Who are those two women with the big hair who assist Leonard Cohen in miming and pantomiming the song – and who lose the three-handed arm wrestling championship to him?”

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Yes, they dance, too.

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Très groovy.

Note: Originally posted Jun 24, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric