Farewell To The Poet Of The Songs
Transcription and translation by Helen Ketcham of an interview between Alberto Manzano (AM), translator and friend of Leonard Cohen, and Carles Francino (CF), host of the Spanish radio program “La Ventana” (“The Window”) on the Cadena Ser network, recorded November 11, 2016. The interview is hosted at: Alberto Manzano: “Leonard Cohen era un hombre muy sencillo”
[CLIP OF LEONARD COHEN SINGING DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE]
CF: We’ve invited someone very special to come over to “The Window,” someone with whom we remember having the occasion not long ago, a couple of years or maybe a little more, to share here, and enjoy the music of Leonard Cohen, because he knows it, and he knows it from very close up. Alberto Manzano is an author, poet and translator, and he was a long-time friend of Cohen . Since 1980, to be exact. He has been at his house on the Greek island of Hydra, and in Los Angeles. He has accompanied him on several European tours. He is the translator of most of his literary and discographic work. He has quite a number of books. Worth noting among them are the biography of Leonard Cohen, or the essay “Leonard Cohen, Lorca, Flamenco and the Wandering Jew.” I imagine it must be, well, a very special day for him, and I thank him for spending a little time at “The Window.” Alberto Manzano. Good afternoon, how are you, Alberto?
AM: Good afternoon.
CF: How are you, Alberto? When did you find out about Leonard’s death?
AM: At three in the morning. A friend had phoned me.
CF: Well, he already… at the release of his last record three weeks ago, the gestures and the messages he was sending, well, they had a very… twilight tone, but well, although one could more or less see this coming, one is… well, you look shattered.
AM: Yes, I’m really broken up. My heart is going wildly in every direction right now.
CF: When and how did you meet Leonard Cohen?
AM: You see, I met him in Barcelona on the occasion of the release of the Recent Songs record. He was staying at the Hotel Colon, there across from the Cathedral of Barcelona. And I go into the hotel and I put a load of books into his hands that I had done already, some illegal artisanal books that I had self-published and was selling on the street, on Las Ramblas, outside concerts, illegal books. I was leaving them on consignment at some bookstores, Sindorus, at Documenta, and with that whole load I had already had a couple of official books published, at Visor, the poetry collection, I translated The Spice-Box of Earth, and at Fundamentos, I started the collection, the series of songs with the first volume dedicated to songs of Leonard Cohen. So I put all that load I was carrying in his hands and, well, after that he invited me to eat, then we went to the sound check at the Palacio de los Deportes. The next day I got on the tour bus heading for Toulouse to the next concert, and the month after that I was already on Hydra, spending the Christmas vacations with his children.
CF: What was this man like, how was he close up, the one we know–?