The Half-Sister Of Mercy, Leonard Cohen, & DrHGuy

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Introduction: This post is part of The 2009 Beacon Theatre Show Detour in the saga of How DrHGuy First Connected With Leonard Cohen.

On The Sidewalk In Front Of The Beacon Theatre Before The Leonard Cohen Concert, I met …

among others waiting for the theater doors to open on that cold February night,

  • A thirty-something entrepreneur so intent on seeing Leonard Cohen perform that he had flown from South Africa to New York that afternoon with the return flight scheduled to depart only hours after the end of the show
  • A mother and daughter, both of whom eagerly confessed to harboring lurid aspirations vis-a-vis Mr. Cohen
  • A native New Yorker who asked me if Leonard Cohen was indeed performing at the Beacon that night and, following my confirmation of the announcement on the marquee, promptly engaged a scalper in an animated and easily overheard conversation which concluded less than a minute later with her purchase of a balcony ticket for several hundred dollars over the original price
  • The Girl With The Leonard Cohen Tattoo

and, as the perceptive reader might deduce from  the title of this post, I met The Half-Sister Of Mercy (HSOM).

An Aside On Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters Of Mercy”

Leonard Cohen has told the back story of his song, “Sisters Of Mercy” man times1 This rendition is an excerpt from a December 4, 1974 interview quoted at Diamonds In The Lines: Leonard Cohen In His Own Live Words:

… like a lot of my material it’s [the song, “Sisters of Mercy” is] just completely documentary. It doesn’t concern high metaphysical questions but an accurate reportage as authentic and precise as I can make it, a description of exactly what happened on the interior landscape. And I was in Edmonton during a tour by myself of Canada, I guess this was around 67. I was walking along one of the main streets of Edmonton, it was bitter cold ; and I knew no-one and I passed these two girls on a doorway. They invited me to stand in the doorway with them. Of course I did. And some time later, we found ourselves in my little Hotel room in Edmonton and the three of us were gonna go to sleep together. Of course I had all kinds of erotic fantasies of what the evening might bring. … And we went to bed together and I think we all jammed into this one small couch in this little Hotel and it became clear that it wasn’t the purpose of the evening at all. And at one point, in the night, I found myself unable to sleep, I got up, and by the moonlight – It was very very bright, the moon was being reflected off the snow, and my windows were very bright – I wrote that poem by the ice-reflected moonlight while these women were sleeping and it was one of the few songs that I ever wrote from top to bottom without a line of revision . The words flowed and the melody flowed and by the time they woke up the next morning, it was dawn. I had this completed song to sing to them.

To those readers who know me and are now beginning to panic, be assured that, mercifully, in the story of the HSOM and me, I do not write nor do I sing a song.

DrHGuy Gets Lucky

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  1. Sisters Of Mercy Lyrics

    Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
    They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
    And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
    Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been traveling so long.

    Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
    It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
    Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see how you’re pinned:
    When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.

    Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
    They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
    If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
    they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

    When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
    Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
    And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
    We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
    We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right
    . []

Leonard Cohen’s “Gypsy-Soul Rock-Noir Cabaret”

bandmontageReading Review: Leonard Cohen at Vector Arena by Russell Baillie (New Zealand Herald. Jan 23, 2009), I was especially taken by the writer’s description of Cohen’s band and back-up singers:

Somehow, Cohen’s ensemble, a sort of gypsy-soul rock-noir cabaret outfit dressed, as was their fedora-ed double-breasted leader like particularly stylish members of the French Resistance, were able to shrink the vastness of the venue down to the intimate scale of the music.

I was, in fact, inspired to put together some supporting evidence for this conceptualization of the band. The result is the montage atop this post depicting Leonard Cohen’s musicians in concert. (Click on image to enlarge)

Leonard Cohen Introduces Musicians

This video from the 2008 Leonard Cohen Manchester Concert not only identifies the members of the band and the backup singers but also demonstrates Cohen’s respect for his musicians.

Note: Originally posted Jan 26, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: Ad For Five 2009 French Concerts

july-2009-tour-ad-frenchad-from-dom-scaled500This striking French ad from Dominique BOILE promotes five 2009 Leonard Cohen concerts:

  • July 7: Paris
  • July 6: Nantes
  • July 9: Toulouse
  • August 18: Vienne
  • August 20: Nimes

Note: Originally posted October 20, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: 2010 Leonard Cohen Florence Show – Famous Blue Raincoat Featuring Dino Soldo

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And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Sincerely, L Cohen

Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat
Piazza Santa Croce, Florence: Sept 1, 2010
Video by albertnoonan

 

“Well, what can you say except that [the Leonard Cohen Columbus show] was one of the greatest concerts I have ever experienced”

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Well, what can you say except that it was one of the greatest concerts I have ever experienced, let alone the best of the year: Leonard Cohen at the Palace Theatre this past October. First, the sound quality. Amazing. Every syllable, every lyrical nuance, everything was nearly as perfect as could be. Or maybe, just maybe, the show really was perfect. This Cohen fellow, he’s in real life some sort of registered, karma-toting, certified Zen monk, so perhaps we saw actual perfection—something that, say, the Eagles could never hope to achieve. As a cosmic Jew, Cohen has more soul and charisma than any 10 Tin Pan Alley-types and more than quadruple what that other cosmic Jew, Bob Dylanquotedown2

 

MAJOR MINOR: Did the year’s best concert attain perfection? By John Petric, The Other Paper, Columbus, Ohio. Update: Article no longer online. Credit Due Department: Photo by M—–l Note: Originally posted December 30, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric