“It was incredible and captivating. That night, Leonard was on some sort of mission.” Filmmaker Murray Lerner On Leonard Cohen At The Isle Of Wight

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Documentarian Murray Lerner, who died Sept 2, 2017, captured Leonard Cohen’s legendary 1970 Isle of Wight performance on film. His recordings resulted in the 2007 DVD – Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight – 1970. In 2009, Harvey Kubernik, author of Leonard Cohen Everybody Knows, interviewed Lerner about the experience.

 

Murray Lerner On Leonard Cohen
From Leonard Cohen: Agency of Yes by Harvey Kubernik

I first heard Cohen as a literary character, a poet. And then in the late sixties a couple of his records on the radio. I heard his debut LP. He came out acoustic and walked out with guitar.

“I felt hypnotized. I felt his poetry was that way. I was really into poetry and that is what excited me about him. To put music to poetry was like hypnotic to me.

“There were also moments, banter, like when he told the audience before a number, how his father would take him to the circus as a child. He didn’t like circuses, but he liked when a man would stand up and asking everyone to light a match so they could see each other in the darkness. ‘Can I ask of you to light a match so I can see where you all are?’

“But when he sang the lyrics of the songs they took over and he had ‘em in the palm of his hand. Even removing myself from being the director how this guy could walk out and do this in front of 600,000 people? It was remarkable. It was mesmerizing.  And the banter was very much in tune with the spirit of the festival. And, more particularly what he said, you know. ‘We’re still a weak nation and we need land. It will be our land one day.’ It was almost biblical.

“When he did ‘Suzanne’ he said, ‘Maybe this is good music to make love to.’ He’s very smart. He’s very shrewd. The other thing he was able to do, the talking, I think the audience was able to listen to him. They heard him and felt he was echoing something they felt. The audience and I were mesmerized. It was incredible and captivating. That night, Leonard was on some sort of mission. His band was called the Army.

“My film shows the roles of the background singers. Sure, Ray Charles and Raylettes, and the Cohen singers had beautiful skin. They were a balance to him up there and the fact I was jealous of the guy that this guy was able to get all these women. (laughs).  And he’s up there very late at night, the morning, unshaven. The music is great.

“The Isle of Wight journey was worth it. That was the most exciting event I’ve ever been to. ‘Cause it was so all encompassing. And new. In terms of the possibility of the crowd killing us and always living on the edge of that precipice.

“And I was always thinking, in relationship to the performers, ‘What’s my role in what they are singing about? How do I fit into that?’ I change with each one as I am watching them.  Like with the Moody Blues, I liked their music. It was different and interesting, and like Leonard Cohen, it had an undercurrent of mysticism to it.

“I thought the Isle of Wight1970 and the Cohen footage had touched the deep chord of people.  I realized how deep it was and I was startled how prophetic it was. I was proud and excited at what I had done.”

Next: More of Harvey Kubernik’s interview with Murray Lerner will follow in a later post.

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Eugene McLaughlin’s Brilliant Photos Of The 2013 Leonard Cohen Birmingham Concert

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19 Compelling Images: Sept 8, 2013 Birmingham Show

The latest addition to Eugene McLaughlin’s remarkable portfolio of Leonard Cohen concert photos on display at this site are these shots from the 2013 Birmingham show. Making the accomplishment all the more impressive are the limitations on his photographic equipment:

I managed to persuade security to let me take my camera in with my most discrete lens (my cheapest $100, smallest 50mm and one of my favourites).  They confiscated the lens that I normally use, which meant that I couldn’t bag any close up face shots.  I also didn’t have a spare memory card, which meant I had to delete some shots on the fly.

Also see Photos: The Good Time Guys – Roscoe Beck & Mitch Watkins – At The 2013 Leonard Cohen Birmingham Concert

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Note: Originally posted Sept 15,2016 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I write the songs when I get to that place where I can’t be dishonest about what I’ve been doing” Leonard Cohen

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I always experience myself as falling apart, and I’m taking emergency measures. It’s coming apart at every moment. I try Prozac. I try love. I try drugs. I try Zen meditation. I try the monastery. I try forgetting about all those strategies and going straight. And the place where the evaluation happens is where I write the songs, when I get to that place where I can’t be dishonest about what I’ve been doing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From No Mercy – Leonard Cohen’s Tales from the Dark Side by Anthony DeCurtis. Rolling Stone: January 21, 1993. Originally posted Jan 12, 2015 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older” Leonard Cohen

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openheart-1From Leonard Cohen Interviewed by Anjelica Huston. Interview magazine: November, 1995. This interview is now online at Remembering Leonard Cohen by Anjelica Huston (Interview: Nov 11, 2016). Originally posted May 17, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Best Videos Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour: First We Take Manhattan – London

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firstAnd I thank you for those items that you sent me
The monkey and the plywood violin
I practiced every night, now I’m ready
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

Best 2013 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com is featuring selections from the current Best Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan
London: June 21, 2013
Video by carolinetillyann

Leonard Cohen On The Benefits Of Finding He “Had No Gift For The Spiritual Life”

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I found with a sense of relief that I had no gift for the spiritual life. I didn’t have to seek for anything. And with the search, the anxieties attendant on that search ended. I don’t know if ‘happiness’ is the word to describe the feeling; maybe ‘applied indifference.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

The Prince of Prurience and Loss by John Leland, GQ: Nov 2001.

Update: For two other interesting appearances of “indifference” in the Leonard Cohen canon, see The Nevermind TV Ad For Leonard Cohen’s Indifference Cologne

Note: Originally posted Aug 26, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen Goes Commercial – The French Brut de Fabergé Ad

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Selling Brut de Fabergé With Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man”

Many fans still hold that Leonard Cohen doesn’t allow his work to be used in commercials. Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner, however, has put together a collection of TV advertisements using Cohen’s music (and sometimes Cohen in person) that challenges this shibboleth.

Note: In March 2010, I first published the content of Indifference: Leonard Cohen’s Cologne Concept, a post featuring a fake ad for a fragrance based on a joke Leonard once made about his creating own cologne to be called “Indifference,” and its slogan was going to be “I don’t give a shit what happens,” Notwithstanding the notion of “based on a joke” and Leonard’s own assessment of the post as “hilarious,” some fans have denounced the post with claims along the line of “Leonard Cohen would never advertise for a cologne or perfume.”  Well, read on.

While most of the videos Roman has assembled promote Cohen’s own work (e.g., his album releases or his tours), I am most taken with ads for other products. Ongoing readers may recall the South Korean Ramen TV Ad featuring Cohen’s I’m Your Man. Today’s selection uses that same song in a more sophisticated, more seductive, equally commercial sales pitch, originally broadcast in 1999 in France, for a fragrance. The ad is entitled Brute de Fabergé : Duel.

I have included a few screen captures to provide a sense of the 30 second sales pitch, which features a man and woman thrusting and parrying through a series of violent, provocative, sexy scenes, all set against the soundtrack of Leonard Cohen singing “I’m Your Man.”

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“His Montreal duplex, which he bought for $7,000 in the early ’70s, has its wooden storm windows still in place” Leonard Cohen’s Home Decor

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Although [Leonard Cohen] had to mortgage his duplex in Los Angeles to cover his legal costs [dealing with the loss of his retirement savings] and although the suits and countersuits could grind through the courts for years, Cohen says he’s back in the black through royalties. And emotionally, “I haven’t suffered,” he says. Cohen feels he weathered his financial crisis because he has always lived modestly, even monastically. His Montreal duplex, which he bought for $7,000 in the early ’70s, has its wooden storm windows still in place. Painted white throughout, it is graciously but sparely furnished with old pieces, some from his parents’ home in Westmount. He especially likes his ancient kitchen stove because it includes a small built-in gas heater that keeps the whole room warm in winter. An upstairs bedroom with a laptop and small keyboard serves as his studio; his sound equipment amounts to an old CD player. In Montreal, he has no car; in L.A., he drives a ’95 Nissan. When he discovered his money was gone, “I didn’t have to sell the yacht,” he says with a grin.

From Cohen’s Age Of Reason by Christine Langlois (Zoomer: Sept 6, 2006). Photo of Leonard Cohen’s Montreal home by Lilian Graziani.

Also see Cat Stevens Visits Leonard Cohen’s Montreal Home; He Is Not Impressed

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t kind of break my heart that I never got to tell you how much you changed me,” Lana Del Rey On Leonard Cohen’s Death

The quote is from a post on Lana Del Rey’s Instagram account, which is no longer online.1

In 2013, Lana Del Rey covered Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #2.

  1. See Lana Del Rey Pays Tribute to Leonard Cohen by Sheldon Pearce (Pitchfork: Nov 12, 2016) []

“The chorus sounds like a kind of 30s musical about 10 degrees off” Leonard Cohen Talks About Jazz Police

I receive a surprisingly large number of questions about Leonard Cohen’s “Jazz Police,” released in 1988 on the  I’m Your Man album. Leonard’s most illuminating  comments (at least that I’ve discovered thus far) on the song are found in a two or three minute description he gave in this 1988 interview. The video automatically begins at the pertinent portion.

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Sublime Webb Sisters Add Female Vocals To Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream

Excerpt from Concert Review: Tom Petty Wraps Up Retrospective Tour With Galvanizing Hollywood Bowl Stand by Chris Willman (Variety: September 23, 2017)

The only significant change-up [i Tom Petty’s band] for the 2017 tour has been the addition of two female backup singers, England’s Webb Sisters, who get to do a few more choreographed moves than they did back when they were supporting Leonard Cohen. Though ever-present, their support was mostly more textural, if not almost subliminal. But they did manage to finally make “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (one of the few Petty songs ever to spotlight female vocals on record) adhere more to the original. They also got louder and clearer on “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” an only slightly startling addition to a perennial previously untouched by female larynxes.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Runnin’ Down A Dream
Wells Fargo Philadelphia: July 1, 2017

Also see

Leonard Cohen Montreal Crescent St Mural In Progress Sept 24, 2017