Nancy Priddy: Backing Vocalist On Songs Of Leonard Cohen

Nancy Priddy – Singer, Actress, Mother, & Leonard Cohen Backing Vocalist

Nancy Priddy is now probably better known as Nancy Applegate aka mother of actress Christina Applegate. She was also an actress herself, appearing on several television series, including Bewitched, The Waltons, and Matlock.  She was a member of The Bitter End Singers in 1964, a short lived folksinging group along with Lefty Baker, Tina Bohlmann, Bob Hider, Norris O’Neill, and Vilma Vaccaro. In 1968, she released the album You’ve Come This Way Before, now regarded as a classic of psychedelic folk. Leonard Cohen fans, however, are likely to be most interested in her role as a vocalist on Leonard Cohen’s first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen.

Nancy Priddy explains how she came to be recruited to perform on that album in her response to an inquiry about the female backing singers on Cohen’s first three albums sent to MOJO’s “Ask Fred” column. Jim Williams, who wrote the inquiry to MOJO, provides the text of Priddy’s reply, which was published in the November 2005 issue of MOJO, in a LeonardCohenForum post:

A friend of mine saw an Ask Fred question concerning the voices behind Leonard Cohen on his first three albums. Well I don’t know about the second or third but I certainly do about the first, which contained Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye, Suzanne and So Long, Marianne.

At that time I was writing with John Simon, the album’s producer, who was a very good friend. When Columbia informed him that they would put no further money into the project, John told me we’d have to finish the album together. I was delighted to do that – so I provided the female voice on the record. I believe John song with me on So Long, Marianne, but I certainly did Suzanne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.

John and I loved Leonard’s songs, and when we played our additional vocals to him he seemed to love our work in return. I often think about the first time John played Leonard’s work for me in that darkish studio, late night in New York. Little did any of us know what would happen with those songs – especially the record label!

Video: Nancy Priddy – You’ve Come This Way Before 

Note: Originally posted Mar 9, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Songs Of Leonard Cohen #2 On Uncut’s 50 Best Singer-Songwriter Albums


2. Leonard Cohen
Songs Of Leonard Cohen
(Columbia, 1967)

A key album for any singer-songwriter intent on turning real life experiences into song, Cohen’s debut is scattered with names, places and events explicitly drawn from his first 33 years. “Suzanne” recalls his ritualistic – and platonic – meetings in Montreal with Suzanne Verdal, while the titular woman of “So Long, Marianne” is Marianne Jensen, his lover and muse for much of the ’60s. “Sisters Of Mercy”, which dramatises a night spent with two women in an Edmonton hotel room, is the first of countless Cohen songs seeking spiritual salvation from a sensual encounter. His songs turned inward to much darker effect on Songs Of Love And Hate, but his debut album set the standard.

Uncut’s 50 Best Singer-Songwriter Albums by Tom Pinnock (Uncut: June 12, 2015)

Songs of Leonard Cohen Wins Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize (Jury Vote)1960-1975

slaight-heritage-prizeThe Polaris Prize Facebook Page has announced that Leonard Cohen has won the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize jury vote for the period of 1960-1975 for the album Songs of Leonard Cohen


The Heritage Prize is an offshoot of the Polaris Prize. It is our version of a Hall of Fame for Canadian albums. It attempts to answer the question “what would have won or been nominated for Polaris before it started in 2006?” It is a music obsessive bar room conversation come to life.

How it works is a select group of Canadian music media and historians gather together each year to create a vote-curated list of 10 Short List-nominated albums per era. Two albums per era, one chosen by public vote and one chosen by juror vote, will be designated as Heritage Prize winners each year.

The other 1960-1975 nominees follow:

  • The Band: Music From Big Pink (1968)
  • The Band: The Band (1969)
  • Robert Charlebois & Louise Forestier: Lindberg (1968)
  • Gordon Lightfoot: Lightfoot! (1966)
  • Joni Mitchell: Court And Spark (1974)
  • The Oscar Peterson Trio: Night Train (1963)
  • Jackie Shane: Live! (1967)
  • Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
  • Neil Young: After The Gold Rush (1970)

For more information, see Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize

Leonard Cohen’s 1967 Album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” Inducted Into The Grammy Hall Of Fame

Songs_of_Leonard_CohenxLeonard Cohen’s 1967 Album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” is one of 27 recordings added into the Hall of Fame, which continues “the tradition of preserving and celebrating timeless recordings” and now totals 987 recordings.1

This excerpt from These Are The 27 Titles Being Inducted Into The Grammy Hall Of Fame by Hugh McIntyre (Forbes: Jan 18, 2015) explains the concept of inducting albums and songs into the Grammy Hall Of Fame:

Unknown to many people, the Grammys give out many different types of awards other than just the traditional golden gramophone we see celebrities accepting on TV. One such honor is the Hall of Fame, where the Recording Academy inducts albums and songs every year. This year, twenty seven new titles are being accepted into the institution’s growing list of famous names.

Like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, recordings must be at least 25 years old to be eligible, and they must have left a mark on the music industry—though that’s not to say they were all big hits. Titles are nominated and chosen by a special committee tasked specifically with the Hall of Fame. The songs and albums that have already been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame are on display at the Grammy Museum, which is located in Los Angeles.

Note: Originally posted December 16, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Source: Records by Sex Pistols, Chic, Neil Young, Lou Reed added to Grammy Hall of Fame by Leonie Cooper (NME: Dec 16, 2014) []

“[Songs Of Leonard Cohen] was, and is, a masterpiece of emotional association, and Cohen is always there just on the periphery, waiting to step in and show us the way out. But for his part, he’s content to let us wander on our own for a time.”


Leonard Cohen as our own personal Virgil

Cohen was channeling some deeper spirits of the human consciousness—these narratives weren’t simply songs; they were doorways into specific emotional catharses, with Cohen acting as our own personal Virgil as we are led through a series of revelatory experiences. Superficially, this album was fairly basic. The music wasn’t especially complicated, nor was Cohen’s technical skill far and away better than some of his peers (although the brilliance of his rhythmic simplicity cannot be understated). What set this album apart from so many others was the scope of its emotional connection with its audience.

The first half of the piece is a well-written but fairly standard brief biographical sketch of Leonard Cohen; the final three paragraphs, however, are an especially insightful take on the listener’s experience of Cohen’s first album.

The entire article is available at Record Bin: The austere beauty of Leonard Cohen’s debut, “Songs of Leonard Cohen” By Joshua Pickard (Nooga: October 4, 2014)

Note: Originally posted October 5, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric