An Independence Day Post: Leonard Cohen Performs Democracy – “A Revelation In The Heart”

“I wanted a revelation in the heart” Leonard Cohen On Democracy

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I didn’t want to compromise the anthemic, hymn-like quality [of Democracy]. I didn’t want it to get too punchy. I didn’t want to start a fight in the song. I wanted a revelation in the heart rather than a confrontation or a call-to-arms or a defense.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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The Verse Not Taken

First we killed the Lord and then we stole the blues
This gutter people always in the news
But who really gets to laugh behind the black man’s back
When he makes his little crack about the Jews?
Who really gets to profit and who really gets to pay?
Who really rides the slavery ship right into Charleston Bay?
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

This verse, completed for “Democracy” but omitted from the final version (the lines were performed as a spoken verse in two concerts: San Francisco – July 3, 1993 and Boston – July 16, 19931), is an artifact of the rigorous revising that was integral to Leonard Cohen’s songwriting process and offers insight into his insight and intent. Leonard’s response to the query “Why did you take that [verse] out?” The quotation shown above is Leonard’s response to the query “Why did you take that [verse] out?”1

Leonard Cohen – Democracy
London: July 17, 2008
Video by PBS

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  1. Tower Of Song – Interview (Feb 1992) by Paul Zollo. SongTalk: April 1993, []

Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen Tour: Born In Chains – Las Vegas 2010

I was born in chains but I was taken out of Egypt
I was bound to a burden, but the burden it was raised
Lord I can no longer keep this secret
Blessed is the name, the name be praised

Born In Chains – The 2010 Las Vegas Rendition

“Born In Chains” was first performed in concert by Leonard Cohen at the July 27, 2010 Salzburg, Austria show and immediately captured a wide following among Cohen fans. It underwent many changes in its lyrics and its arrangement through the final months of the Tour.

The version performed on Dec 11, 2010 in Las Vegas is notable for the prominent roles played by Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters.

Leonard Cohen – Born In Chains
Las Vegas – Dec 11, 2010

Video from albertnoonan

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Credit Due Department: The photo of Leonard Cohen waving his hat to the audience is from Notes From The Road.  The photo of Sharon Robinson and Leonard Cohen is a screen capture from the featured video. Originally posted Aug 2, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Hear Best of Leonard Cohen World Tour 2008-2010 (Unofficial Selection)

“A small bunch of songs, all of exceptional intensity, sound and emotion”

Note: Being included with the great Banalny in the dedication of this outstanding bootleg collection is, as we say in medicine, “a non-trivial event” for me.

From the original collection (and repeated in the YouTube description):

At the end of Leonard Cohen’s tour and the official album, “Songs From The Road” was released it was clear to us that we’d just gone through 3 years of absolutely historical concerts at a high level of dedication, virtuosity and feelings. It is difficult in three years not having one bad night. The exception was the sad event of September 2009 in Valencia. All the people who were there had his heart in a fist. That day,despite being ill, Leonard went out as usual to give everything.Like all times in three years as evidenced by this small example,with this record. Of course we could have filled three CDs of good songs, memorable performances (because in three years Cohen has not taken a bad gig), but we wanted to condense only a small bunch of songs, all of exceptional intensity, sound and emotion.Despite containing only twelve tracks, there are sound examples of virtuosity, value and art improvising that Leonard Cohen has expended between 2008 and 2011. Here is the only “Chelsea Hotel” acoustic tour, “The Stranger Song” published in a sound check, the new and unique “Born in chains”, or “So Long-Marianne” with unusual lines. We do not expect to compete with the official selection of Ed Sanders and the magnificent official record, of course. We only hope that Leonard will return in 2012, and meanwhile I humbly invite you to share this album. We want to dedicate it to the wonderful Allan Showalter, and the great Banalny for joining us and making us pass so great moments. ”

1. Born in chains Wiesbaden-3.9.2010
2. Who by fire Las Vegas-10.12.2010
3. That don´t make it junk Dublin-15.6.2008
4. So long Marianne Cap Roig-15.8.2009
5. Avalanche Montreal-26.6.2008
6. Chelsea hotel Rotterdam-3.11.2008
7. A singer must die Melbourne-12.11.2010
8. The Darkness Hannover-27.9.2010
9. The night comes on Auckland-29.10.2010
10. Feels so good Grenoble-17.9.2010
11. Lullaby Dublin-22.7.2009

Bonus track
12. The stranger song-Soundcheck Gante-21.8.2010

Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen Tour: Closing Time – San Jose 2009

Closing Time - San Jose with blouse in upper right being flung to stage

Closing Time – San Jose with blouse in upper right being flung to stage

Women’s Blouses In Flight At Closing Time Of Leonard Cohen San Jose Concert

Yeah the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots

From “Closing Time” by Leonard Cohen

Albert Noonan, better known in Cohen Country as albertnoonan, Vizier Of Videography, was good enough to alert us that minors should be removed from the room prior to the viewing of this recording in order to shield innocent children from exposure to this raucous rendition of the classic Cohen tune.

Yes, what you see is what happened – feminine clothing is repeatedly launched from the audience onto the stage, whoops are whooped, the unflappable Leonard Cohen loses his place in the song (1:18), and, in general, a good time is had by all.

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time
San Jose: Nov 13, 2009

Video by albertnoonan

Bonus: Democracy Is Coming To San Jose

“Democracy,” an especially popular feature of concerts earlier in the Leonard Cohen World Tour, had been absent for some time but was resurrected as the final song of the final 2009 US concert.

Leonard Cohen – Democracy
San Jose: Nov 13, 2009
Video by albertnoonan

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Credit Due Department: Photo of San Jose HP Pavilion by Kim Solez of Leonard Cohen Night. Photo atop this post is a video screen capture.

Note: Originally posted Nov 14, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Haunting Performance Of A Singer Must Die – Gothenburg 2010

singermAnd all the ladies go moist, and the judge has no choice
A singer must die for the lie in his voice
And I thank you, I thank you for doing your duty
You keepers of truth, you guardians of beauty
Your vision is right, my vision is wrong
I’m sorry for smudging the air with my song

Leonard Cohen – A Singer Must Die
Gothenburg: Aug 12, 2010

Note: Originally posted Aug 16, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen On Being Labeled A “Boring Old Drone Who Should Go The Fuck Back To Canada” – Oakland Dec 6, 2010

Leonard Cohen Defends Self, Canada Against 40 Year Old Slur, Name Checks Joni, Neil, & Gordy

In this brief video from the Oakland show, where the Dec 6, 2010 Leonard Cohen Concert ended only hours ago [at time of original Dec 7, 2010 posting], Leonard Cohen recalls a reviewer in the 1970s at the Isle Of Wight Festival who said

Leonard Cohen is a boring old drone who should go the fuck back to Canada where he belongs.1

As he did in the December 2, 2010 Vancouver show, Cohen goes on to explain he was “doubly hurt” by this characterization – i.e., not only was he personally insulted but the critic apparently meant to imply that “Canada was the place for boring old drones.” Cohen then asks rhetorically,” What about Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordy [Gordon] Lightfoot?”

Finally, Cohen closes this reflection with the philosophical observation that “a lot of wine has passed under the bridge since then.”

Note: This Tour was not the first time Leonard Cohen mentioned the “boring old drone” passage. He also brought it up in a taped 1978 interview available at Must-hear 1976 Leonard Cohen Glasgow Interview: Poems Vs Songs, His Withdrawn Novel, Janis Joplin In LA, Album Titles, & The Perfect Ass

Leonard Cohen – Intro To Anthem
Oakland: Dec 6, 2010
Video from arlenedick15

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  1. According to Nadel’s biography of Cohen, it was a review of Cohen’s 1970 Isle of Wight performance in Melody Maker that stated, “Leonard Cohen is an old bore who should just return to Canada which he never should have left to begin with!” and Ricki Farr, a concert official at the Isle Of Wight Festival who objected to Cohen’s fee, who said “Leonard Cohen lays on this trippy thing about love and peace and all that crap. I think Leonard Cohen’s a boring old crone and he’s overpaid. I think he should go back to Canada.” (Ira Bruce Nadel, Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen, p 178) []