Binéfar & The 1988 Leonard Cohen Tour
How did a Spanish town half the size of Madison Square Garden land a Leonard Cohen show?
Binéfar is not the kind of place one would expect to find on a Leonard Cohen Tour. The entire Wikipedia entry for Binéfar, Spain follows:
Binéfar (Spanish: [biˈnefar]) is a municipality located in the province of Huesca, Aragon, Spain. According to the 2008 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 9,288 inhabitants.1 It is probably best known for the children’s theatre group “Los Titiriteros de Binéfar”.
Nonetheless, on June 11, 1988, Leonard Cohen did indeed perform in Binéfar (although some of the 4,000 seats in the venue were empty). How the show came to be scheduled, then became the center of a politico-social maelstrom, and finally transformed into an abiding element of the region’s musical and cultural heritage makes for an intriguing tale. It was, however a tale that couldn’t be told until a few months ago.
Except for its listing in Jim Devlin’s Is This What You Wanted and CohenLive.com as “1988/06/11 Huesca, Espana – (unknown venue)” and the occasional mention in a blog or forum by someone who attended the show,2 little was documented about this event until 2013. Then, on Jan 15, 2013, 25 años de Leonard Cohen en Binéfar was posted at Somos Litera (Update: No longer online):
This year marks twenty-five years one of the most important musical acontecimeintos history Binéfar. In 1988, Leonard Cohen included the town literana on tour in Spain. That June has been in the memory of many people who could enjoy one of the living legends of the music of our time. In Litera We are working on an extensive report on this unprecedented milestone. (Photo: Jaume Josa) [via Google Translate]
An Extensive Report On This Unprecedented Milestone
And, indeed, on the 25th anniversary of the concert, the “extensive report” promised in that original post manifested itself as two articles published in the June 2013 issue of Somos Litera (pp 78-80) that also offers the one other photo of this show I’ve discovered.
Thanks to the translation skills of Coco Éclair, I have composed a summary of the articles in English. Note: This is not a word per word translation but a summary of the approximated text stylized into English vernacular. We have tried to remain faithful to the original content – including points and interpretations with which we might disagree and which we have no way of confirming. As a convenience to readers, screen captures of the articles have been placed at the top of the respective summaries.