Essential 2012 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam Concert Videos: Sisters of Mercy, Closing Time & Save The Last Dance

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How Good Are These Leonard Cohen Videos?

These Aug 22, 2012 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam performance videos by Albert Noonan are so good that you should

  • Wake the children, prop them in front of the computer, and compel them to watch these videos to embed within their minds and hearts a gold standard for great musical presentations.
  • Beg/pressure/trick your friends and family who think they don’t like Leonard Cohen’s music into viewing these videos. They could well begin appreciating his work, which would enhance their lives and bring world peace just that much closer to reality. And, if they still don’t care for Leonard Cohen’s music, at least you can give up the notion of ever winning them over, realizing that they are incapable of grasping Leonard’s work, most likely because of a profound psychological flaw or a severe neurological deficit, and thus deserve our compassion.
  • Watch them yourself a dozen times or so today – both for the sheer indulgent pleasure and to remind yourself precisely why you love Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – Sisters of Mercy
Amsterdam: Aug 22, 2012
Video by

 

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time & Save The Last Dance
Amsterdam: Aug 22, 2012
Video by


Note: Originally posted Aug 25, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: The Extraordinarily Poignant Final Minutes Of Final Leonard Cohen European Concert – Amsterdam 2013

Crew Joins Leonard Cohen & Musicians Onstage

The final 17 minutes of the Sept 20, 2013 Amsterdam Concert, the last European show given by Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You, I’ve Got A Little Secret, Save The Last Dance For Me
Amsterdam: Sept 20, 2013
Video by cohenadmirer1

Thanks to Vicki Woodyard, who recommended this video

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Last Stage Performance – Save The Last Dance For Me (Auckland 2013)

auk132This video captures the poignant scene as Leonard Cohen performs Save The Last Dance For Me, a song made famous by The Drifters in 1960 (see “Save The Last Dance For Me,” Doc Pomus, & Leonard Cohen), and summons the entire Unified Heart Touring Company crew to the stage to end the Dec 21, 2013 Auckland show, the final concert of the 2013 tour – and the last time Leonard Cohen performed in public.

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You can dance every dance with the guy
Who gives you the eye, let him hold you tight
You can smile every smile for the man
Who held your hand ‘neath the pale moon light
But don’t forget who’s takin’ you home
And in whose arms you’re gonna be
So darlin’ save the last dance for me

Leonard Cohen – Save The Last Dance For Me
Auckland: Dec 21, 2013
Video by Wirebirds aka Henry Tengelsen.

“Save The Last Dance For Me” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Save The Last Dance For Me by Doc Pomus

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“Save The Last Dance For Me,” first recorded and popularized in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters, became a fixture on the 2012-2013 Leonard Cohen Tours. Beginning with the 2012 Ghent shows, Cohen’s cover of the pop classic written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman was often the number that closed his concerts.

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“Save The Last Dance For Me” has an especially poignant origin and connections to Phil Spector and Lou Reed, all of which is described at “Save The Last Dance For Me,” Doc Pomus, & Leonard Cohen and 1977: Doc Pomus Hangs Out With Phil Spector & Leonard Cohen. In those posts, I speculated on why the Canadian singer-songwriter chose this song to routinely cover in multiple concerts over a period of two years; it turns out that I was on the mark when I summarized

It is probable that Leonard Cohen likes “Save The Last Dance For Me” for the same reason he thinks Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” is “one of the greatest songs in history”1 – it’s the sort of record that would be on a good jukebox.

I know this because after the Oct 31, 2012 Austin Concert, when I asked Leonard Cohen why he covered “Save The Last Dance For Me,” he responded “I always liked that song.”

Save The Last Dance For Me – The Drifters

 

Credit Due Department: Special thanks go to Jugurtha Harchaoui, who first made me aware of the back story of this song. Photo atop this post taken by Gottlieb, William P. – Library of Congress, Public Domain via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted Jun 4, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Leonard Cohen Gave Me 200 Franc by Martin Oestergaard. Euroman, Denmark, September 2001 []

1977: Doc Pomus Hangs Out With Phil Spector & Leonard Cohen

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Doc Pomus 1947

Today’s post is a followup to “Save The Last Dance For Me,” Doc Pomus, & Leonard Cohen, which focused on the origins of ”Save The Last Dance For Me, a song popularized in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters, and covered by Leonard Cohen in his 2012 and 2013 tours.

Doc Pomus and Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Reading “I’m Your Man,” the biography of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons, sometime after publishing that post, I came across two references to Doc Pomus.

One was a quote by Hal Wilner, who reported that he, then an intern at CBS, and Doc Pomus “loved that record [“Death Of A Ladies’ Man,” the Phil Spector – Leonard Cohen collaboration] …; we used to listen to it all the time.”

The other alluded to Doc Pomus, “Spector’s friend,” visiting Spector’s home while he and Cohen were working on “Death Of A Ladies’ Man.” A bit of research turned up this more extensive description from He’s a Rebel: Phil Spector, Rock and Roll’s Legendary Producer by Mark Ribowsky (Da Capo Press, January 9, 2007): click on scan to enlarge

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That Doc Pomus spent a month at Spector’s home in 1977 when Spector and Cohen were engaged in creating “Death Of A Ladies’ Man,” an album Doc Pomus loved and to which he and a young Hal Wilner often listened does not, of course, necessarily indicate that the interactions that then took place between the Canadian singer-songwriter and one of the writers of “Save The Last Dance For Me”1 somehow led to Leonard Cohen covering that song during the 2012 Tour.

But it would seem to improve the odds that a personal liaison between the two men influenced, at least indirectly, Leonard Cohen’s choice to add “Save The Last Dance For Me” to his standard concert set list.

Update: In a comment to the original post, Jugurtha Harchaoui wrote

At Goldstar Studios, Doc Pomus took Leonard Cohen aside & exhorted him not to work with Spector – Doc Pomus couldn’t have been more explicit — I haven’t seen this fact mentioned too often in the various accounts because it doesn’t fit into the we’re-all-a-big-family fiction that people like to hear — people always prefer unrealistic fiction ?

Bonus: A.K.A Doc Pomus – Official Movie Trailer 2012

Credit Due Department: Photo by Gottlieb, William P. – Library of Congress, Public Domain via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted Oct 22, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. It appears there was at least one other set of contacts between the two men. From The Untold Story of Pomus & Shuman: “We also hear about Doc’s philanthropic side; he regularly held writers’ workshops for budding musicians in his apartment, which attracted guests like Lou Reed, Robert Plant, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.” [emphasis mine] []

“Save The Last Dance For Me,” Doc Pomus, & Leonard Cohen

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Doc Pomus 1947

Poignant Origins Of “Save The Last Dance For Me”

“Save The Last Dance For Me,” a song Leonard Cohen has frequently covered in concerts since the 2012 Ghent shows, was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and was  first recorded and popularized in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters. In the lyrics, the narrator tells his lover she is free to dance and even flirt with another man throughout the evening.

You can dance
Ev’ry dance with the guy
Who gives you the eye
Let him hold you tight
You can smile
Ev’ry smile for the man who held your hand
‘Neath the pale moonlight

He goes on, however, to insist that she save him the final dance at the end of the night.

But don’t forget who’s taking you home
And in whose arms you’re gonna be
So darlin’, save the last dance for me

This excerpt from the New  York Times1 describes how Doc Pomus, who had contracted polio as a child and spent the rest of his life on crutches or confined to a wheelchair, came to pen the lyrics to  “Save The Last Dance For Me:”

The crowning achievement was the Drifters’ sublime “Save The Last Dance For Me.” In a story straight out of Hollywood, Pomus actually wrote the lyrics on the back of an invitation to his own wedding, remembering how it felt to watch his bride dance with his brother, knowing that he himself was unable to navigate a dance floor. “Under his pen,” Halberstadt writes, “the simple declaration of love he set out to write wavered, giving way to vulnerability and fear.”2

Willi Burke, the woman who married Doc Pomus, was a Broadway actress and dancer.

Possible Cohen Connections

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  1. This Magic Moment by Alan Light. New York Times, March 25, 2007 []
  2. Unsurprisingly, there are several versions of this story. During an interview on Elvis Costello’s show Spectacle, Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus’ wedding while the wheelchair-bound groom watched his bride dancing with their guests. In his biography of Pomus, Alex Halberstadt reports that some time after the wedding, Pomus found the wedding invitation in a hatbox, which brought back his most vivid memory from his wedding: watching his brother Raoul dance with his new wife while Doc, who had polio, sat in his wheelchair. Inspired, he stayed up all night writing the words to this song on the back of the invitation. []