2012 Leonard Cohen Ghent Concert
Video by Betty Vercauteren
2012 Leonard Cohen Ghent Concert
Ratnesh Mathur, whose account and photos of Leonard Cohen’s Indian Sojourn appear at Leonard Cohen, India, & Me By Ratnesh Mathur and Leonard Cohen’s Spiritual Sojourn In India By Ratnesh Mathur, offers these previously unpublished images of Leonard in India.
The woman beside Ratnesh in these photos is his wife, Sangeeta. Ratnesh recalls that the Israeli woman beside Leonard
met Leonard at Ramesh’s satsangs, and he invited her to join us on that day when we stepped out into Bombay’s Old Town to see some sites and have lunch at Bombay’s Khyber restaurant. Leonard spent quite some time with her that week / month in 1999. I wonder where she is now? She would have some insights.
I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
From “Democracy” by Leonard Cohen
This video, set to Leonard Cohen’s “Take This Waltz,” was constructed as a gift to the Duchess1 and features dance sequences taped during ballroom competitions in which she participated as well as other scenes from her life and mine.
The intent was that the video would be circulated only among family and friends, if at all. The response from these admittedly biased folks, however, was so positive and enthusiastic that we have decided to make the video public. The video embedded below is identical to the original version except for a wording change on a title card and the addition of the closing credits I’ve used on my videos.
Because of the evolution of this video, it is indeed more sentimental than most of the movies produced here and it is studded with the type of indulgences lovers not only allow but encourage in one another.
Nonetheless, I’m proud of the final result which is true to the tone of Cohen’s “Take This Waltz.” As for the specifics, well, I’m not even going to try to explain the role of the bearded dancing partner, the shots of a house a few years and hundreds of miles from where we live now, why I’m wearing orange-tinted glasses in one scene, how the Beacon Theatre in New York appears in a cameo as a concert hall in Vienna, the alligator’s allegorical allusion, …
You’ll Carry Me Down On Your Dancing
Take This Waltz by Leonard Cohen
Dancing by Penny Showalter (aka Duchess)
Video by Allan Showalter
Note: Originally posted April 13, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
“Tonight Will Be Fine” was originally released on Leonard Cohen’s Songs From A Room (April 1969). Cohen’s 1970 Isle of Wight performance of “Tonight Will Be Fine” was later included on his 1973 compilation, Live Songs and then published again as part of the CD/DVD set, Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970.
While both renditions reflect Cohen’s embrace of country music, the Isle of Wight version is significantly further toward the Grand Ol’ Opry/Hootenanny pole of the spectrum. It features a distinctively slower yet almost bouncy tempo and prominent fiddle (Charlie Daniels), banjo (Elkin “Bubba” Fowler), and harmonica parts in contrast to the more modulated studio production found on Songs From A Room, on which Cohen is accompanied only by guitar and Jew’s harp. The Isle of Wight performance also includes two verses not found on the “Tonight Will Be Fine” track from Songs From A Room and a more aggressive singing style with Cohen shredding his voice and shouting sections of the song.
The lyrics are less adorned and complex than in many of Cohen’s songs but no less striking. Cohen’s metaphor for both his music and his personal strategy, for example, is evident in the following couplet:
I choose the rooms that I live in with care
The windows are small and the walls almost bare
The last line of the last verse (the last verse of the original studio version) is a poignant manifestation of the concept of bittersweet:
Oh sometimes I see her undressing for me,
she’s the soft naked lady love meant her to be
and she’s moving her body so brave and so free.
If I’ve got to remember that’s a fine memory. [emphasis mine]
I am also taken by the penultimate line, “and she’s moving her body so brave and so free,” the last phrase of which, an elementary but effective anaphora, is echoed in the second line of “Chelsea Hotel #1:”
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
You were talking so brave and so free. [emphasis mine]
Leonard Cohen – Tonight Will Be Fine
Songs From A Room version
Master Poet. Master Painter. Most Subtle Technician of the Deep.
You are indeed Queen Undisputed of Mind Beauty.
Star-breasted, Disguised as a Ravishing Piece,
You Changed the Way Women Sing, and the Way Men Listen.
What an Astonishing Victory over the Unforgiving Years!
A Few Lines for Joni by Leonard Cohen
Written for the 2013 Luminato Festival, Toronto
Note: Back in 1967, when she and Leonard were still together, Joni changed the name of her publishing company from Gandalf (a nod to The Lord of the Rings) to Siquomb. “So,” Joni told me, “based on the Tolkien books, I invented this kingdom: Queen SIQUOMB (She Is Queen Undisputedly of Mind Beauty), HWIEFOB (He Who Is Especially Fond of Birds). They lived in Fanta on the border of Real (Ree-al).”
Both the lines by Leonard Cohen and the explanatory note are from Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017). Photo by David Leyes – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.
I suspect the list of music icons throughout history who favored Chateau La Tour 1982, Lagavulin single malt Scotch, and various cognacs and also enjoyed a well prepared hot dog resolves to one entry; Leonard Cohen. But, at least three Cohencentric posts attest to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s frankfurter fetish.
Today’s offering features an unrequited request for a chili dog. It’s also a pretty good story about an getting an interview with Leonard.
Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, I sat in the bar of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel asking Leonard Cohen questions about Art and Life, Truth and Beauty, the Sacred and the Profane. A week earlier, in a different establishment across town, I’d been asking him whether he wanted fries or salad with his chili dog. He’d just come down from the mountain — Mount Baldy near LA, that is, where he’d been rigorously observing an ascetic lifestyle in a Zen monastery — and there he was, in my section, ordering a hot dog and Coke. Fortunately, the restaurant happened to be empty apart from Mr. Cohen and his female companion (the distraction of serving my biggest idol might have doomed my other tables). Not so fortunately, as the chef tardily informed me, we’d run out of chili dogs. After working up the courage to break this news — which (must’ve been the Zen thing) he accepted with admirable composure — I worked up the courage to ask him for an interview. I was a 21-year-old waiter and would-be writer working in downtown Toronto (some things, apart from age, don’t seem to change). The woman I was living with, in a dying relationship, was perhaps an even bigger Cohen fan than myself. When she heard that I’d met Leonard and would be interviewing him at the King Eddie, where he was filming I Am a Hotel, and when it was quite clear that I would not be divulging his room number, she threatened to split up with me. It was one of those let-me-get-this-straight moments: if I refused to provide my girlfriend with the directions to another man’s bedroom, I would be history. But such was the allure of Canada’s “melancholy bard of popular music.” (By the way, Suzie, it was Room 327!)
From Encountering Cohen: A Reminiscence On The Eve Of A New World Tour by Steve Venright. Mondo Magazine: August 15, 2008 (original interview date May 1983).
Credit Due Department: Photo by bryan… from Taipei, Taiwan – 起士熱狗堡, 皇后美食館, Queens Cuisine, 台北, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.
Introduction To The Anjani Chronicles
Anjani is the exquisite, exotically featured singer and keyboardist best known for her Blue Alert CD, a collection of elegantly performed songs suffused with evocative lyrics, and her professional and romantic relationships with Leonard Cohen, an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right. My own connection to Anjani began in July 2006 when I posted Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me, a review of Blue Alert that reflected my captivation with the music. An online flirtation and email relationship between us ensued.1 The Anjani Chronicles is a sequence of posts based on the content of my interviews with Anjani.
Today’s post, the second of this series, begins at the point The Anjani Chronicles – Growing Up Anjani ended, Anjani’s return to Hawaii after performing for six months in Calgary and Edmonton as a member of Kino & The Sands and extends through her early professional career as a keyboardist and singer in the hotel lounges in Waikiki and a student of music in Boston.
I got a gig as second keyboardist along with my piano teacher, Clyde Pound. He’s an awesome jazz pianist in the vein of Bill Evans and he was a major influence in my musical education. We backed up a duo2 in their lounge act. They were great singers and it was one of the hippest shows in Waikiki at the time.
My mother was a refugee and witnessed the destruction of her own milieu in Russia. I think she was justifiably melancholy about something, in the sense of a Chekhovian character. It was both comic and self-aware. But I would not describe her as morbidly melancholy, as I was. . . . The death of my father was significant, and the death of my dog were the two, I would say, major events of my childhood and my adolescence.
From Leonard Cohen: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Poet of Brokenness by Mikal Gilmore (Rolling Stone: 30 November 2016) The entire article – an excellent read – is available at the link.
The first song we wrote together was called Show Me the Place from 2012’s Old Ideas. It was a Stephen Foster-type melody—that’s how the lyrics struck me. We recorded it, he put a vocal on it, and the next day, he said to me, ‘I wonder if anybody ever asked the guy who wrote Amazing Grace if he had anything else?’ Obviously, I hadn’t written Amazing Grace, but it was him saying, ‘This is good. I like this.’ When I sent him Slow [from 2014’s Popular Problems], he responded with one word: ‘Done!’ And when it wasn’t right—and many, many times it wasn’t—I wouldn’t hear anything. No response. At first I’d say, ‘Hey, did you get what I sent you?’ And then I’d realize the message was loud and clear. Working with Leonard was a collaboration that wasn’t based on a single project. It was ongoing: ‘We’ve got to crack this one”; ‘I’m almost there with this;’ ‘What do you think of this?’ He’d say, ‘Nothing’s wasted because we recycle.’ He left behind so much stuff. Sometimes working with people, you try to accomplish something that you think is going to please them, and you don’t please them, and it creates this shadow of doubt. With Leonard there was never any shadow. He was always like, ‘Try again.’ That’s generous in a way that I’ve never experienced.
Quote from Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016)