Kezban Özcan Talks About What It’s Like To Be Leonard Cohen’s Assistant

During recording of Sony-Bravia ad in Santa Monica

Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan during recording of Sony-Bravia ad in Santa Monica

 

The Artist Assistant

Behind every great artist there is an assistant.

So begins A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Assistant, an entertaining and instructive essay by Graham T. Beck published at The Brooklyn Rail.1 While the entire piece is worthwhile reading, this excerpt is especially pertinent to our purposes today:

Depending on who you ask, being an artist’s assistant is a lot like being a friend, or a secretary, or a 19th-century factory worker. Wages range from paltry to lawyerly; work spaces from stately to slovenly to simply unsafe. Some spend their days in business-casual and others in coveralls, but what they all share is unfettered access to the personalities and studio workings that others only glean from CVs or biographical blurbs. There are stories of ungainly tantrums, eye-popping extravagance, clichéd eccentricity or profound compassion; these accounts are traded by artist’s assistants like baseball cards or bragged about like battle scars. It would be a gross understatement to say that it’s engaging to talk with assistants about their workdays; it’s often like hearing from a star-struck therapist freed from the binds of doctor-patient confidentiality.

It turns out that Leonard Cohen has an assistant.2 In fact, many readers are aware that Kezban Özcan,  who handles – well, anything that needs to be handled, holds that position because a significant portion of her work is interacting with fans.

billboard-with-kx

It was, in fact, Kezban’s performance of a task benefiting this blogger3 that first triggered the thought, What would it be like to be Leonard Cohen’s artist assistant?  Given that I have identified myself as a blogger, it is, of course, a redundancy to note that my next immediate thought was Can I make a post out of that?

kezbam-lc1x

Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan during recording of Old Ideas album – May 2011

It has required some time to transform that nascent notion into the post before you now,4 but the final product proves worth the wait.

Background

Born and raised in Istanbul, Kezban came to the US eleven years ago.  She has a younger sister and brother, Elif and Yasin, respectively. Her parents ran a catering business, but, as she explains, “My dad has recently retired, and they are out and about having finally some fun now.” She is, in her words, “single and available.”

The Old Ideas Album Cover Photo

OldIdeasThe photo on which the cover of Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas album is based was taken by Kezban Özcan.

Q: When and where was photo on the album cover taken?
KO: In front of his house, in Los Angeles, around March 2011.

Q: How did photo get taken?
KO: I take pictures of him and his family on an almost daily basis and show them to him. He just liked this particular one and decided to use it for his album cover.

Being Leonard Cohen’s Assistant

Continue Reading →

  1. Beck’s essay deals with artists who work in the visual arts, such as painters and sculptors, but the content also seems apposite to those in the performing arts. []
  2. Kezban is officially Leonard Cohen’s artist assistant – aka administrative assistant, aka personal assistant, aka celebrity personal assistant,  personal assistant to recording artist, and many other titles (eHow offers advice for those interested in such a position at How to Find Celebrity Personal Assistant Jobs) []
  3. That task involved Kezban and the Duchess colluding to present me with items autographed by Leonard Cohen as wedding gifts.  See Thank You Leonard Cohen and Duchess Of Durham For The Wedding Gifts. []
  4. To put it bluntly, the responsibility for the delays lays at the feet of Mr Cohen, who inexplicably determined that his assistant’s priorities over the past month were those jobs associated with the release of his Old Ideas album rather than her working on this post for me []

Must-Read Leonard Cohen Posts And Resources

Leonard Cohen fans have benefited from the recent plethora of publications about the Canadian singer-songwriter triggered by the release of his Old Ideas album.  The following are a few of my favorites.

Note: Originally posted Feb 11, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Newswire

Created and maintained by long-time Cohen admirers and veteran webmasters Marie Mazur and Tom Sakic, both of whom are familiar to habitués of this site, the Leonard Cohen Newswire offers annotated links to current online pieces about Leonard Cohen.

The Leonard Cohen Newswire blurb follows:

The Newswire provides the latest in articles, interviews, reviews, press releases and announcements in all languages about Leonard Cohen and his works. Only serious news for a serious artist.1

Leonard Cohen Newswire

fedoradivider

Leonard Cohen In The Financial Times

Encountering an article in the astute Financial Times that directly addresses the psychoeconomics that have dominated the past few years of Leonard Cohen’s career may, understandably, trigger a degree of cognitive dissonance among those readers already aware of the fiscal catastrophe that led to the 2008-2010 World Tour – but it works.

The author, Gautam Malkani, who is not only a journalist for The Financial Times but also the author of the novel Londonstani – and a self-confessed Heck Of A Guy reader, opens his essay with

You would think he [Leonard Cohen] had just discovered a cure for the business cycle.

And, Malkani captures a key aspect of Cohen’s character and his appeal when he writes

As taken aback by his success as the rest of us, Cohen wasn’t trying to be the top dog. Mid-life-crisis proof, he wasn’t even trying to be cool. He was just trying to act his age.

In an explanatory email, Malkani points out

The FT has been reviewing albums and concerts on our Saturday arts pages for a while – and we’ve run a few Leonard Cohen reviews over the years, including a very positive one for Old Ideas. But they’re written by our rock critic and I work on the management page. I pitched the piece that ran on Saturday to our Op-Ed pages rather than our arts pages because I wanted to get across a sense that there’s something really special going on with LC’s resurgence – fueled by his sublime music and lyrics, but its impact going beyond that… I didn’t imagine they’d take it, but it ended up running right next to an Op-Ed by George Osborne, the UK chancellor.

This piece is an outstanding specimen of the rarely sighted species of articles that are analytic, reality-focused (although the word “mystic” is fearlessly brandished), and inspirational.

Bow Down Before The Sage From Mt Baldy
[free registration required at the site]

fedoradivider

 It’s The Same Old Song

 Neo-Neocon, whose posts are primarily political, has made one of her occasional forays into exotic province of Cohenlandia. 2 “Famous Blue Raincoat: the provenance of a familiar tune” opens with this observation:

My favorite YouTube activity these days seems to involve watching singer/songwriters morph from young to old almost instantaneously. There’s something both creepy and magical about getting into the YouTube time machine and seeing ten different live versions of a song spanning thirty years or more, something that simply could not have been done in the privacy of one’s home just a few short years ago.

In this case the singer-songwriter is Leonard Cohen performing Famous Blue Raincoat, which is, the author points out, set to a tune which turns up later in songs by Leo Sayer and Elton John.

Famous Blue Raincoat: the provenance of a familiar tune

fedoradivider

 Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Loser Timeline

Michael Barclay, writing for exclaim.ca, has produced a prose timeline of Leonard Cohen’s life that not only offers those interested in but unfamiliar with the Lord Byron Of Rock ‘n’ Roll the essential biographical information written in a succinct, interesting, and extraordinarily readable fashion but also includes the a number of  little known incidents and details likely to prove new to even the most grizzled Cohenite.

Leonard Cohen Beautiful Loser

fedoradivider

The Many Aspects Of Leonard Cohen

Ben Kaplan has collected a number of perspectives on Leonard Cohen  for the January 31, 2012 edition of the National Post:

Leonard Cohen … has always been more than just an everyday rock star. He’s a prophet, a poet, a sex symbol, an observant Jew who practices Zen, a businessman who lost his fortune, a muse and, perhaps most importantly, a father. The Post’s Ben Kaplan assembled a panel to dissect the various parts of the 77-year-old icon.

Contributors include Adam Cohen and Fred Wah, the Poet Laureate of Canada. The above illustration by Steve Murray is from the same article.

Leonard Cohen: Portrait Of The Artist As An Older Man

  1. That last sentence, “Only serious news for a serious artist,” provides a quick means of distinguishing between the Newswire and Heck Of A Guy, given that the latter is rife with silly stuff about that same serious artist. []
  2. Neo-Neocon is also a Heck Of A Guy reader (see a trend developing?) and  has been featured here before. See Don’t Give Up and Leonard Cohen, Bard Of Bedsits Boffo In Boston. []

Worldwide Alert Continues For Leonard Cohen Album Missing Since 2006

milk2

Note: Originally posted Apr 28, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Watch For Leonard Cohen Album Approaches 6th Year

Since 2006, the fan community has sustained a belief in Leonard Cohen’s impending, forthcoming, soon to be released, imminent, upcoming,  near at hand, in the offing, approaching, so close you can almost hear it  new album. (1

This hope has been based on incidents such as a June 24, 2006 interview broadcast on KCRW in which Cohen played recordings of two songs, “Puppets” and “Book Of Longing,” that were presented as demos for a “forthcoming” album being developed then (i.e., June 2006). In the interview, Cohen describes the album as “forthcoming,” but, no doubt hearkening to previous problems with record companies, wisely declines the host’s request that he predict when the album will come out, noting only “It’s hard to say.” As Cohen put it, “… I have dozens of lyrics I’m setting to music now.”

Since then, announcements about the always soon to be released album have been made by Cohen himself, Roscoe Beck, Sharon Robinson, biographers, journalists, and fans2.

Cohencentric has contributed to the search effort by bringing in Cohen forensic profiler, Tom Sakic, to present a model of what the album would look like five years after it was first expected. That tracklist sketch can be viewed at New Leonard Cohen Album – Updated Possibilities.

Hope For Album Persists

Despite the frustrations and heartbreaking disappointments, Cohen fans have kept the faith, convinced that the new album will yet appear, as demonstrated by the candlelight vigil pictured below.

Candles_1__________________________

  1. Update: The long awaited album, Old Ideas, was finally released in January 2012, more than seven years after Leonard Cohen’s previous studio album, Dear Heather. []
  2. For details, see The New Leonard Cohen Album – “Forthcoming” []

New Leonard Cohen Album – Updated Possibilities

forthcoxming

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

About Leonard Cohen’s New Album

A post published last month, The New Leonard Cohen Album – “Forthcoming,” reviewed references to a long-promised album of new songs from Leonard Cohen and listed unreleased songs from Leonard Cohen that might (or might not) be part of that new album.1

Two significant updates have now been made to that post.

1. Sharon Robinson Refers To New Song, “Different Sides”

[This information just became available and was not known when the original post was published.]

According to Leonard Cohen delays Europe tour after back injury by Dean Goodman (Reuters, 06 February 2010),

Cohen, who is known to take years to craft a new song, has just finished writing a tune called “Different Sides,” his musical collaborator, Sharon Robinson, told Reuters at the Grammy event. It was not known when the song would be released.

2. Works In Progress Revised

The section in the original post headed “The Leonard Cohen Works In Progress Report – Songs From A Room, A Radio Broadcast, A Couple Of Concerts, …”  was modified in collaboration with the author, Tom Sakic, webmaster at One Thousand Kisses Deep.  The revisions have been made to the appropriate portion of the original post, which can be found in its compete form at The New Leonard Cohen Album – “Forthcoming.” The pertinent section is also printed below:

The Leonard Cohen Works In Progress Report – Songs From A Room, A Radio Broadcast, A Couple Of Concerts, …2

Responding to that American Songwriter book review headline, tomsakic (AKA Tom Sakic, webmaster at One Thousand Kisses Deep) offered an analysis at LeonardCohenForum on Nov 04, 2009, which is the most thorough and accurate consideration of Cohen works in progress and the potential contents of the frequently foretold new Leonard Cohen album I’ve found. Happily, Tom has graciously allowed it to be reproduced here:3

… Now, the next album: according to recent rumours that Leonard and the band will not go to the studio after the tour, but to a vacation and to their families (well, it will be 18 months of touring), and the fact that SonyBMG sites removed “Leonard Cohen: TBA album” from all their forthcoming-titles lists (where it was listed since Remasters series in 2007), I guess the album will be another slow work. In April Leonard admitted he has only couple of songs, Amen and Lullaby.  Did he forget about Book of Longing and Puppets? Maybe yes: because those two tracks were computer-produced, while in all recent interviews he announced that he will record the album with the current tour band. On the other hand, Sharon said clearly that the album is coming up (slowly) and that she knows that as she was involved in some songs. I firmly believe those are the songs she mentioned in her 2004 interview for our sites, one of the titles being “A Thousand Kisses Deep No. 2” (but then, Leonard used those words for “Recitation w/ N.L.”). According to the early draft of Book of Longing, which was given around as PDF/print out, that song – printed in the final version of Book of Longing as “1” under “Thousand Kisses Deep” – was titled “Still Into That”. Finally, although I think Dino Soldo commented that they’re rehearsing and recording on the afternoon sound check, I read recently that the album has to be done in the studio.

My list of works-in-progress, 2004-2009:

1. “Still Into That (A Thousand Kisses Deep No. 2)”, with Sharon Robinson, in production after Dear Heather [plus another song or two produced and co-written by Sharon] [add.: that lyrics has been recited as Recitation with Neil Larsen on the current tour.]

2. “Taken Out Of Egypt”: the original version of “I Can’t Forget”, discarded in 1987-88. Also titled at one point as “Born in Chains”.

“[…] that song started off as a song about the exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt. As a metaphor for the journey of the soul from bondage into freedom. It started out, 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. It went on like that for a long, long time, and I went into the studio and tried to sing this song about how “I was born in chains and I was taken…” But I wasn’t born in chains and I wasn’t taken out of Egypt, and not only that, but I was on the edge of what was going to become a very serious nervous breakdown. So I hadn’t had the burden lifted and the whole thing was a lie! It was wishful thinking. And this song, “Taken Out of Egypt,” took months and months to write. Nobody believes me when I say these things but I have the notebooks and I don’t fill them in an evening. And there were many of them. So it wasn’t as if I had an endless supply of songs: I had to start over. And I was saying to myself, “What is my life?” and that’s when I started writing that lyric: I stumble out of bed / I got ready for the struggle / I smoked a cigarette / And I tightened up my gut / I said this can’t be me / Must be my double / And I can’t forget / I can’t forget / But I don’t remember what. That was really true.” (Leonard Cohen, interviewed by Mark Rowland, “Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough”, Musician, July 1988.
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero … ttakes.htm

I clearly heard Leonard mumbling these lines “I was born in chains” etc. to the unknown melody in Lian Lunson’s 2005 documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. At that point [in 2005] I firmly believed he’s gone back to that song.

3. “Book of Longing”, demo aired at KCRW in 2006

4. “Puppets”, demo aired at KCRW in 2006

5. “The Street”, recited live in 2006, according to Leonard in an interview: music co-written by Anjani Thomas

6. “Blue Alert”, Leonard’s own version, demo discarded after he heard Anjani’s version and then given to her for her album. This song is probably discarded forever, although I’d like to hear Leonard performing the version from Anjani’s album (her music) as it’s an excellent song for his voice.

Appendix about Leonard going back to decades old songs: Undertow, from 2004′ Dear Heather, was written down on “Closing Time” manuscripts dated around 1990-91, on the margins of the notebooks (check viewtopic.php?p=44013#p44013); Never Got To Love You, written in 2004-05 for Anjani’s Blue Alert, is in fact new version of the original, slow-ballad version of Leonard’s own 1992 song Closing Time.

[Closing Time] Recorded “in 3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel. Entirely different words.” (Paul Zollo, “Leonard Cohen: Inside the Tower of Song”, Song talk, April 1993). Takes have been destroyed by Cohen and he starts a new version (lyrics & music) in March 1992 (Ira B. Nadel, Leonard Cohen: le canadien errant (Various Positions), 1997: 327).
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero … ttakes.htm
“On the song “Closing Time”, from The Future, we had a gorgeous track that we worked on for quite a while. We brought in new musicians and did overdubs; a great arrangement that I was absolutely in love with. And Leonard said: “Darling it’s not working.” So he disappeared for a week, played into his synthesizer at a much brighter tempo with new lyrics – it was almost another song. The “new” version on the song was a great hit for him in Canada”. (Leanne Ungar, interviewed by Mel Lambert, INSIGHTS: Leanne Ungar, April 2001).
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero … ttakes.htm

For instance, a song like “Closing Time” began as a song in 3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel. Entirely different words. It began:

The parking lot is empty;
They switch off the Budweiser sign.
It’s dark from here to San Jobete,
It’s dark all down the line.
They ought to hand the night a ticket
For speeding, it’s a crime.
I had so much to tell you,
Yeah, but now it’s closing time.

And I recorded the song and I sang it. And I choked over it. Even though another singer could have done it perfectly well. It’s a perfectly reasonable song. And a good one, I might say. A respectable song. But I choked over it. There wasn’t anything that really addressed my attention. The finishing of it was agreeable because it’s always an agreeable feeling. But when I tried to sing it I realized it came from my boredom and not from my attention. It came from my desire to finish the song and not from the urgency to locate a construction that would engross me. So I went to work again. Then I filled another notebook from beginning to end with the lyric, or the attempts at the lyric, which eventually made it onto the album.

Source: http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html

7. “Lullaby”, performed live in 2009. Lullaby was also performed in Dublin in Summer 2009 because that show was shot for the Blu-Ray release and obviously LC wanted the song preserved. Dates, locations, and available videos can be found at “Lullaby”

8. “Amen”, mentioned in 2009 interviews as “finished”

9. “The Darkness,”  first heard  as a work-in-progress in Venice, August 2009, at the soundcheck.  “The Darkness”, in polished form, premiered in concert at the Fall 2009 US shows. Dates, locations, and available videos can be found at “ The Darkness ”

10. “The Other Blues Song” was first performed at the October 29, 2009 Rosemont (Chicago) Concert and was also performed at other cities in the Fall 2009 US Tour. Dates, locations, and available videos can be found at “ Feels So Good ”

  1. Update: The long awaited album, Old Ideas, was finally released in January 2012, more than seven years after Leonard Cohen’s previous studio album, Dear Heather. []
  2. The mock album cover atop this post and the title, “Songs From A Room, A Radio Broadcast, A Couple Of Concerts, …” are based on the Leonard Cohen album, Songs From A Room. []
  3. This iteration builds on an earlier LeonardCohenForum post by Tom Sakic on the same topic []

The New Leonard Cohen Album – "Forthcoming"

forthcoxming

Note: Originally posted Jan 21, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

New Leonard Cohen Album Coming In 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010?

Over the past five years, there has been much talk about a forthcoming album (1 of new Leonard Cohen songs.2

Some of that talk has come  forth  from Leonard Cohen.

In a June 24, 2006 interview broadcast on KCRW, for example, Cohen played recordings of two songs, “Puppets” and “Book Of Longing,” that were presented as demos for a “forthcoming”  album being developed then (i.e., June 2006), during the same time Cohen was writing Book Of Longing and producing Anjani’s Blue Alert. (In the interview, Cohen describes the album as “forthcoming,” but, no doubt hearkening to previous problems with record companies, wisely  declines the host’s request that he predict when the album will come out, noting only “It’s hard to say.”)  As Cohen put it, “… I have dozens of lyrics I’m setting to music now.”3

And in a June 2008 Macleans interview, Cohen revealed

I’ve written most of a new album. I’ve recorded three tracks. But this band is so good that I’ll probably re-record the tracks that I did.

The phantom album has also been mentioned by Sharon Robinson, who, when asked in an interview in Uncut4  “Are new songs coming in?” responded

Not yet. That was supposed to happen during August. But it didn’t! I’m not sure why.

In the same series of Uncut interviews, Roscoe Beck was asked, “And new songs forthcoming?”  His reply follows:

Well, he’s [Leonard Cohen is] writing. He’s already got some things written. He’s played me two of the songs. And there are more new songs. I saw him writing on the plane yesterday, in his notebooks. And he’s talked to me about wanting to do a new record. But it will probably be when the touring’s done. Just because we still have dates – we’re in Europe until December 1, we’ll break for Christmas, then I think we’re going to Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and the Far East, after that will be the US and Western Canada so there’s at least that much touring before we can start on a record. That will probably take us to at least October 2009 before we can even think about recording.5

A year later, this  November 4, 2009 post at LeonardCohenForum by brightnow reveals that a new album is – well – forthcoming.

Last night I asked Roscoe Beck about the band for the 2010 tour and he confirmed that there are no changes in the band between the 2008-2009 tour and the 2010 tour. Dino Soldo said the same, and added that they are all having a great time touring and that “Luckily, Leonard loves to tour”. I asked if the break between the tours might be used to record a new Leonard Cohen CD and Dino said that while there are no solid plans for a new CD they are constantly working on new materials while touring and there is a good chance that a new CD will come out at some point.

And, as mentioned previously in this blog, the possibility of a new Leonard Cohen album was raised in Tim Footman’s “Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah: A New Biography.”  Footman’s self-attested speculation was supersized by the American Songwriter book review into the headline, “New Book Offers Sneak Peek Into Leonard Cohen’s Next Album,” which, in turn, brings us to today’s main event, …

The Leonard Cohen Works In Progress Report – Songs From A Room, A Radio Broadcast, A Couple Of Concerts, …6

Responding to that American Songwriter book review headline, tomsakic (AKA Tom Sakic, webmaster at One Thousand Kisses Deep) offered an analysis at LeonardCohenForum on Nov 04, 2009, which is the most thorough and accurate consideration of Cohen works in progress and the potential contents of the frequently foretold new Leonard Cohen album I’ve found.  Happily, Tom has graciously allowed it to be reproduced here:7

[The following section was updated in collaboration with Tom Sakic 07 February 2010]

… Now, the next album: according to recent rumours that Leonard and the band will not go to the studio after the tour, but to a vacation and to their families (well, it will be 18 months of touring), and the fact that SonyBMG sites removed “Leonard Cohen: TBA album” from all their forthcoming-titles lists (where it was listed since Remasters series in 2007), I guess the album will be another slow work. In April Leonard admitted he has only couple of songs, Amen and Lullaby. Did he forget about Book of Longing and Puppets? Maybe yes: because those two tracks were computer-produced, while in all recent interviews he announced that he will record the album with the current tour band. On the other hand, Sharon said clearly that the album is coming up (slowly) and that she knows that as she was involved in some songs. I firmly believe those are the songs she mentioned in her 2004 interview for our sites, one of the titles being “A Thousand Kisses Deep No. 2” (but then, Leonard used those words for “Recitation w/ N.L.”). According to the early draft of Book of Longing, which was given around as PDF/print out, that song – printed in the final version of Book of Longing as “1” under “Thousand Kisses Deep” – was titled “Still Into That”. Finally, although I think Dino Soldo commented that they’re rehearsing and recording on the afternoon sound check, I read recently that the album has to be done in the studio.

My list of works-in-progress, 2004-2009:

1. “Still Into That (A Thousand Kisses Deep No. 2)”, with Sharon Robinson, in production after Dear Heather [plus another song or two produced and co-written by Sharon] [add.: that lyrics has been recited as Recitation with Neil Larsen on the current tour.]

2. “Taken Out Of Egypt”: the original version of “I Can’t Forget”, discarded in 1987-88. Also titled at one point as “Born in Chains”.

“[…] that song started off as a song about the exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt. As a metaphor for the journey of the soul from bondage into freedom. It started out, 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. It went on like that for a long, long time, and I went into the studio and tried to sing this song about how “I was born in chains and I was taken…” But I wasn’t born in chains and I wasn’t taken out of Egypt, and not only that, but I was on the edge of what was going to become a very serious nervous breakdown. So I hadn’t had the burden lifted and the whole thing was a lie! It was wishful thinking. And this song, “Taken Out of Egypt,” took months and months to write. Nobody believes me when I say these things but I have the notebooks and I don’t fill them in an evening. And there were many of them. So it wasn’t as if I had an endless supply of songs: I had to start over. And I was saying to myself, “What is my life?” and that’s when I started writing that lyric: I stumble out of bed / I got ready for the struggle / I smoked a cigarette / And I tightened up my gut / I said this can’t be me / Must be my double / And I can’t forget / I can’t forget / But I don’t remember what. That was really true.” (Leonard Cohen, interviewed by Mark Rowland, “Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough”, Musician, July 1988.
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero … ttakes.htm

I clearly heard Leonard mumbling these lines “I was born in chains” etc. to the unknown melody in Lian Lunson’s 2005 documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. At that point [in 2005] I firmly believed he’s gone back to that song.

3. “Book of Longing”, demo aired at KCRW in 2006

4. “Puppets”, demo aired at KCRW in 2006

5. “The Street”, recited live in 2006, according to Leonard in an interview: music co-written by Anjani Thomas (Also, in the KCRW interview, Leonard declined to sing the tune of The Street, to protect the melody)

6. “Blue Alert”, Leonard’s own version, demo discarded after he heard Anjani’s version and then given to her for her album. This song is probably discarded forever, although I’d like to hear Leonard performing the version from Anjani’s album (her music) as it’s an excellent song for his voice.

Appendix about Leonard going back to decades old songs: Undertow, from 2004′ Dear Heather, was written down on “Closing Time” manuscripts dated around 1990-91, on the margins of the notebooks (check viewtopic.php?p=44013#p44013); Never Got To Love You, written in 2004-05 for Anjani’s Blue Alert, is in fact new version of the original, slow-ballad version of Leonard’s own 1992 song Closing Time.

[Closing Time] Recorded “in 3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel. Entirely different words.” (Paul Zollo, “Leonard Cohen: Inside the Tower of Song”, Song talk, April 1993). Takes have been destroyed by Cohen and he starts a new version (lyrics & music) in March 1992 (Ira B. Nadel, Leonard Cohen: le canadien errant (Various Positions), 1997: 327).
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero … ttakes.htm
“On the song “Closing Time”, from The Future, we had a gorgeous track that we worked on for quite a while. We brought in new musicians and did overdubs; a great arrangement that I was absolutely in love with. And Leonard said: “Darling it’s not working.” So he disappeared for a week, played into his synthesizer at a much brighter tempo with new lyrics – it was almost another song. The “new” version on the song was great hit for him in Canada”. (Leanne Ungar, interviewed by Mel Lambert, INSIGHTS: Leanne Ungar, April 2001).
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero … ttakes.htm

For instance, a song like “Closing Time” began as a song in 3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel. Entirely different words. It began:

The parking lot is empty;
They switch off the Budweiser sign.
It’s dark from here to San Jobete,
It’s dark all down the line.
They ought to hand the night a ticket
For speeding, it’s a crime.
I had so much to tell you,
Yeah, but now it’s closing time.

And I recorded the song and I sang it. And I choked over it. Even though another singer could have done it perfectly well. It’s a perfectly reasonable song. And a good one, I might say. A respectable song. But I choked over it. There wasn’t anything that really addressed my attention. The finishing of it was agreeable because it’s always an agreeable feeling. But when I tried to sing it I realized it came from my boredom and not from my attention. It came from my desire to finish the song and not from the urgency to locate a construction that would engross me. So I went to work again. Then I filled another notebook from beginning to end with the lyric, or the attempts at the lyric, which eventually made it onto the album.

Source: http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html

7. “Lullaby”, performed live in 2009. Lullaby was also performed in Dublin in Summer 2009 because that show was shot for the Blu-Ray release and obviously LC wanted the song preserved. Dates, locations, and available videos can be found at “Lullaby”

8. “Amen”, mentioned in 2009 interviews as “finished”

9. “The Darkness,” first heard as a work-in-progress in Venice, August 2009, at the soundcheck. “The Darkness”, in polished form, premiered in concert at the Fall 2009 US shows. Dates, locations, and available videos can be found at “ The Darkness ”

10. “The Other Blues Song” was first performed at the October 29, 2009 Rosemont (Chicago) Concert and was also performed at other cities in the Fall 2009 US Tour. Dates, locations, and available videos can be found at “ Feels So Good ”

Sharon Robinson Refers To New Song, “Different Sides”

[This section added 07 February 2010]

According to Leonard Cohen delays Europe tour after back injury by Dean Goodman (Reuters, 06 February 2010),

Cohen, who is known to take years to craft a new song, has just finished writing a tune called “Different Sides,” his musical collaborator, Sharon Robinson, told Reuters at the Grammy event. It was not known when the song would be released.

  1. Update: The long awaited album, Old Ideas, was finally released in January 2012, more than seven years after Leonard Cohen’s previous studio album, Dear Heather. []
  2. It is worth noting that creating, producing, and releasing Leonard Cohen songs and albums are  not always straightforward, linear processes.  Consider, for example,  Songs For Rebecca. According to Wikipedia, shortly after New Skin for the Old Ceremony was released in 1974, co-producers Lissauer and Cohen proceeded to work on its follow-up, Songs For Rebecca, which was abandoned after one side was completed. Five songs are known from their live performances during the North American tour of November 1975; they were reworked and recorded few years later – two of them with Phil Spector for Death of a Ladies’ Man in 1977, and the other three on Recent Songs in 1979.” []
  3. See Two Very Raw, Unreleased Leonard Cohen Songs “Puppets” And “Book Of Longing” []
  4. Nick Hasted, Leonard Cohen: Behind The Scenes, Part 1, Uncut, October 2008, []
  5. Michael Bonner, Leonard Cohen: Behind The Scenes, Part 6, Uncut, November 2008, []
  6. The mock album cover atop this post and the title, “Songs From A Room, A Radio Broadcast, A Couple Of Concerts, …” are based on the Leonard Cohen album, Songs From A Room.     []
  7. This iteration builds on an earlier LeonardCohenForum post by Tom Sakic on the same topic []