“Dominique Issermann was the best woman [Leonard Cohen] would ever encounter” From Matters Of Vital Interest By Eric Lerner

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Leonard Cohen with Dominique Issermann
in New York City, 2014

Quotation from Matters Of Vital Interest by Eric Lerner (October 16, 2018). Photo & caption by Eric Lerner. A review of Matters Of Vital Interest by Eric Lerner can be found at The Leonard Cohen Tell All Koan.

“Hineni, Hineni; I’m Ready, My Lord” Leonard Cohen On The “Willingness To Serve”

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In You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen sings “Hineni, hineni; I’m ready, my lord,” which was Abraham’s response when God called on him to sacrifice his son Isaac. It is also the name of a prayer of preparation and humility, addressed to God, sung by the cantor on behalf of the congregation on Rosh Hashanah. At the Oct 13, 2016 L.A., press event, Leonard talked about using “hineni” in the lyrics of his new album’s title song to reference a “willingness to serve” that is – in the right circumstances – universal to humanity.

“Everybody wants 22-year-old women. Sing to somebody else. You know who I sing to? 14-year-olds and 40-year olds.” Leonard Cohen Advises Poet Kenneth Koch On Singing

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Jordan Davis: How about the Leonard Cohen story?

Kenneth Koch: I met Leonard Cohen on the island of Hydra in Greece where Janice and Katherine age five and I had gone for a summer vacation. And we became very good friends. We traveled also to Turkey together, to Istanbul. I liked Leonard a lot and so did Janice. We saw each other then a few times after that, it was nice and intense, but never more than a day. After some years, we were already living on West 4th Street, Katherine must have been ten by then. I ran into him on a bus. “Leonard!” I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Don’t you know? I’m a singer.” He had been a poet and a novelist. I got him to tell me all about it. I invited him over to our place and he told me I should become a singer too. I should sing all my poems. It was wonderful because you met lots of women and made a lot of money and you got to travel around and it was very satisfying to sing your poems. I said, “That’s great, Leonard,” and of course I was interested. I said, “Leonard, I can’t sing.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I can’t carry a tune.” He said, “That’s good, that means no one else will be able to sing your stuff.” And I said, “Well okay, but also I don’t play an instrument.” He said, “You can probably learn — let’s try.” There wasn’t anything that made noise except a vacuum cleaner. I plugged in the vacuum cleaner and I thought I’d be more in the mood to sing if I stood up on a chair. He said, “Sing one of your poems.” I said, “There’s no music to any of my poems.” He said, “That’s okay.” I sang, with intermittent noise from the vacuum cleaner, “You were wearing your Edgar Allan Poe printed cotton blouse” in a hillbilly voice.

Leonard interrupted me after a few bars I think they’re called — “You’re not serious.” Well there I was standing up on a chair and playing a vacuum cleaner. I stopped playing the vacuum cleaner and tried to be serious. He said, “I don’t believe you. Who are you singing to.” “Leonard, I’m singing to you, there’s no one else here.” “No — who in the audience. Who do you want to go to bed with after the show? Who are you addressing? Who do you want to like you?” “Twenty-two year old women.” “No. Everybody wants 22-year-old women. Sing to somebody else. You know who I sing to? 14-year-olds and 40-year olds.” I’m not sure those are the exact numbers — something like 14 and 40. I said, “Okay, I’ll try to sing to 14 yr olds.” But trying to sing my poems? It didn’t work too well. I said I’d try. At my age how can I get started? I can’t carry a tune I don’t play an instrument and I’ve never sung before. I was already 40 at least by then. “There’s one way you can help me.” And he said, “Anything, what is it.” “Are you going to have tributes on your sleeve, put me on the record jacket. Say, ‘Even the legendary Kenny has come out of retirement to praise Leonard Cohen.’” I figured that people who respond to this kind of thing are not exactly scholarly. He promised he would put this on the record cover. Months went by. I never heard from Leonard. I did receive from him this big rectangle, his record. On the cover was this girl (I don’t know if she was 14 or 40) rising from flames, somewhere in between, and on the back was Leonard, his lyrics, and no tributes. And no Kenny, and that was the end of another career, another attempt to become rich. And you probably don’t know my translations of the songs of Guy Béart.

From issue one of Ladowich Magazine. An Unpublished Interview with Kenneth Koch (Ello Beta).

Note: Kenneth Koch was an exemplary poet and an avant-garde playwright, who also taught poetry at Columbia University. He died in 2002.

Originally posted October 3, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Reveals Story Behind The Mystery Of His 1978 I.D. Bracelet

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Introduction

In 2012, a fan’s observation that Leonard Cohen wore a particular bracelet in a 1978 photo led to an effort to identify that jewelry. Yesterday’s post, The Mystery Of Leonard Cohen’s 1978 Bracelet, laid out the mystery as it then appeared. Today’s post (originally posted April 21, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric) features Leonard Cohen’s response, which includes the real solution to the conundrum and the significance of the bracelet.

Leonard Cohen’s Bracelet

Yesterday”s post, The Mystery Of Leonard Cohen’s 1978 Bracelet, featured what appears to be a silver colored chain link ID bracelet that is seen on Leonard Cohen’s left wrist in some photos taken in 1978 and 1979 but not in earlier or subsequent photos.

The bracelet, visible in the photo atop this post1 and seen in close-up below, was first described in a LeonardCohenForum post :

This wonderful photo was included in a Google alert recently and the bracelet caught my eye immediately. Several members of my family … wear a Medic Alert bracelet that looks similar. Is this a Medic-Alert bracelet?


After a round of online research, I proposed a more exotic hypothesis, supported exclusively by my desire for it to be true: I suggested the item could be a privately purchased military identification bracelet belonging to Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan Cohen, who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I.

As noted in yesterday’s post,

While the Canadian armed forces did not officially issue metal ID bracelets when Nathan Cohen was an officer, many soldiers of the era obtained “private purchase” ID bands.2 An example of an ID bracelet that had belonged to a Canadian soldier during World War that I found at an auction site is shown below.

And The Answer Is …

This morning I found the following message from Leonard Cohen:

“The Military ID Bracelet Hypothesis: Now, what if that pistol wasn’t the only World War I souvenir Leonard Cohen found among his father’s belongings? While the Canadian armed forces did not officially issue metal ID bracelets when Nathan Cohen was an officer, many soldiers of the era obtained ‘private purchase’ ID bands.” [The preceding lines are quoted from the “The Mystery Of Leonard Cohen’s 1978 Bracelet” post.]

Yes, Doctor, that’s it.

It was given to him by his father Lyon Cohen whose name was engraved on the back.

I wore it until I lost it.

There was a damaged link which I failed to repair.

I still miss it.

Warmest to you and the Duchess,

Leonard

That is, I maintain, a touching story that might never have been brought to light if that LeonardCohenForum post hadn’t pointed out the bracelet in that photo and wondered what it was, if my ADHD pathology hadn’t propelled a search of almost-relevant topics, and if Leonard Cohen hadn’t taken the time he should be spending in preparation for his impending Tour to fill us in on hitherto unknown part of his life.

Way cool.

___________________

  1. Because of copyright issues, the photo referenced in the LeonardCohenForum note is not available. I have substituted another photo, taken at the same shoot by the same photographer in which Leonard Cohen wears the same bracelet. []
  2. Identifying the Dead: a Short Study of the Identification Tags of 1914-1918 is not only the reference for the footnoted issue at hand but also a surprisingly fascinating discussion of the philosophy, moral principles, and technology of identifying those killed in war. []

Rufus Wainwright credits Leonard Cohen with providing him “a kind yet brutally strong nudge toward where I really ought to be heading”

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700px-rufus_wainwright_live_at_rock_werchter

rufusquote

Tweeted by Rufus Wainwright Nov 11, 2016

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I had very few deeply personal experiences with Leonard, enough to count on one and a half hands… For me he dwelled in a higher strata inhabited by some living but mostly passed icons who seemed to have this direct line to the galaxy, whilst at the same time knowing exactly when to take out the trash. But fortunately, I now covet these few personal moments…And credit them with grabbing hold and shifting the direction of the restless path my life has always taken. It was never a fundamental shift, just a kind yet brutally strong nudge toward where I really ought to be heading…Farewell Leonard, we need you now up there as much as we do down here.quotedown2

Rufus Wainwright

And He Covers Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Performing in Mesa, AZ, Rufus Wainwright explained that his vow to abstain from singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah until Trump loses had been “trumped” by Leonard Cohen’s death.

 

Credit Due Department: Photo by Ben Coombs – Rufus Wainwright live At Rock Werchter, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons

“This particular predicament is filled with many fewer distractions than other times in my life and actually enables me to work with a little more concentration and continuity…” Leonard Cohen On Writing At Age 82

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quoteup2
In a certain sense, this particular predicament is filled with many fewer distractions than other times in my life and actually enables me to work with a little more concentration and continuity than when I had duties of making a living, being a husband, being a father. Those distractions are radically diminished at this point. The only thing that mitigates against full production is just the condition of my body.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016)

The Ten Most Seductive Leonard Cohen Songs: #1 to #5

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10songs

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Songs have a very specific purpose, They must be measured by their utility. Any jaunty little tune that can get you from one point to another as you drive, or get you through the dishes, or that can illuminate or dignify your courting, I always appreciate.1quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Q: What do you think is the best music to fuck to?

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In the old days people used to say that my stuff was very good for that. I prefer Chopin ‘Nocturnes’ myself.2quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Update: The 2015 Edition of Ten Most Seductive Leonard Cohen Songs

The Ten Most Seductive Leonard Cohen Songs listing, as presented in this sequence of posts, was originally published in Jan 2011  at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

Determining Factors For “Seductive Leonard Cohen Songs”

Yesterday’s post featured songs #6 – #10 of The Ten Most Seductive Leonard Cohen Songs.  Today’s post covers songs #1 – #5.

As set forth in the preceding post, for the purposes of this post, “seductive” carries the meaning of “tending to entice women into sexual behaviors.” Any specific song on this list may or may not have been originally intended to focus on love, lust, or libido, and any given song may or may not be characterized as romantic, overtly provocative, melancholy, raucous, dignified, downright sleazy, … . The only qualities shared by all the songs are (1) they are songs (not poems/spoken word) written and performed by Leonard Cohen and (2) they increase the likelihood that certain women3 will become desirous of sexual activity.4

5. Closing Time

cltimeThe roles played in the making of the official Closing Time video by backup singers, Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, and by Cohen’s paramour at that time, Rebecca De Mornay, are so delicious as to demand describing. This excerpt is from “Growing Old Disgracefully” by Ian Pearson (Saturday Night, March, 1993):

At the video shoot of “Closing Time,” the joy was starting to flow around 10 p.m., eight hours after the star’s arrival. Cohen and his band were on stage, lip-synching the song while the camera pored over their faces. The band was getting giddy. Cohen planted himself as solidly as a tree in centre stage, clenching his fists, mouthing the lyrics, and staring resolutely into the mid-distance. The back-up singers — Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen — were vamping outrageously beside Cohen, dancing provocatively and shooting delicious come-hither looks at him every time he glanced their way.

“Oh we’re drinking and we’re dancing / and there’s nothing really happening / the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night,” Cohen sang, and Rebecca De Mornay trapped his stare as she danced seductively behind the camera. He continued: “And my very close companion / gets me fumbling gets me laughing / she’s a hundred but she’s wearing something tight.” De Mornay, who was in her early thirties and wearing a tight green sweater and a snug linen skirt, suggestively started toying with her fingers at the edge of her lips. As his very close companion continued to swoon and gyrate, Cohen broke up on stage. “You guys were really beautiful,” Cohen said in a lounge-singer homily at the end of the take. Unlike a lounge singer, he really meant it.

The director, Curtis Wehrfritz, was pleased, but he wanted a close-up of Cohen putting a bit more emotion into the song. De Mornay had a plan. She asked for a pair of wooden crates to be placed in front of the stage beside the camera. The camera started rolling and the tape began playing. Cohen started a deadpan delivery of the song, more in his prophet than in his playboy mode. De Mornay and Perla Batalla kicked off their shoes, climbed onto the crates, and started gyrating like go-go dancers. A metre or so away from his face, De Mornay fixed her blue eyes on Cohen and pumped her hips. “The women tear their blouses off / the men they dance on the polka dots…/ it’s closing time,” sang Cohen, and De Mornay took the words as cue for a mock striptease. She pulled out the front of her sweater from under her skirt and then tantalizingly gestured with her hands in front of her chest.

The singer responded with an intensely erotic gaze. He sang every word to De Mornay, and came up with a true performance under the most artificial of circumstances. The song ended, and De Mornay turned to Wehrfritz and laughed, “We really put a sparkle in his eye.”

Cohen climbed off the stage. Ever the gentlemen with Old World manners, he bent down to put on De Mornay’s shoes for her. The gloomy-poet-turned-bard-of-the-bedsits looked up at his friends and the crew and pronounced, “That was fun.”

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time
Closing Time Official Video

Continue Reading →

  1. At Lunch With Leonard Cohen; Philosophical Songwriter On A Wire by Jon Pareles. New York Times: October 11, 1995. Emphasis mine. []
  2. Rebirth Of A Ladies’ Man by Steven Blush. Seconds No 22: June/July 1993. []
  3. Caveat #1: Cohencentric management makes no claim that every woman will find Leonard Cohen songs seductive. It is at least theoretically possible that some women are immune to his influence. DrHGuy, who has never personally observed this unnatural, perverse (and not in the fun way) phenomenon, maintains that the lack of a response on the part of a woman, while unsettling, would be useful as a sign of impending disaster. []
  4. Caveat #2: One should note that “increase the likelihood that desirable women will become desirous of sexual activity” does not specify the object of said desires. All too often, for example, the women in attendance at a Leonard Cohen audience attest to an enhanced sexual attraction – to Leonard Cohen. In terms of vectors, these songs reliably increase the velocity of amorous desires but do not predictably or dependably influence the direction of those desires. Still, as a male colleague who still routinely offers, with a notable success rate, mix CDs containing many of these tunes to his romantic interests sagely notes, “It can’t hurt.” []

“As far as I can see this is my last tour” Leonard Cohen 1972

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As far as I can see this is my last tour. But the will is frail and I may fall back and it might take 10 more tours to finally quit, or this might be it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Famous Last Words from Leonard Cohen by Paul Saltzman. Maclean’s: June 1972. Originally posted Jun 25, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I did not come home to fool you” Leonard Cohen Performs Hallelujah – Montreal 2012

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Montreal: Nov 28, 2012
Video by Dirk Schlimm

Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Note: The best available video of each of the 43 songs performed during the 2012 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour can be found at the Best Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist.

Originally posted Nov 29, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Allison Crowe Renews Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”

Allison Crowe Covers Annie Lennox

Performances of cover songs can be both rewarding and risky. Allison Crowe, Canadian singer-songwriter extraordinaire and Cohencentric’s favorite novice icon, appears to have developed the alchemy for harvesting the benefits of covers while avoiding the pitfalls.

Allison, whose covers include not only outstanding versions of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and “A Case of You,” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” The Beatles’ “In My Life” and “Let It Be,” Lennon’s “Imagine,” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” but also the most provocative and seductive (forgive me, Aretha) take I’ve heard on Ronnie Shannon’s “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You).” And, I stand by my conviction that

Allison Crowe is the best thing to happen to “Me And Bobby McGee” since Janis Joplin changed Kristofferson’s lyrics.1

Allison’s strategy for covering is simple enough in concept but its execution is maddeningly difficult – her covers remain true to the essence of the original songs while enhancing them with her own touch, a bit of musical magic Allison intuitively executes by attending to her own reactions and those of her audiences to these songs:

… when it comes right down to it, if I like playing it and if it feels good, I am going to play it. Positive audience reaction factors in a lot in concert settings! When people respond favourably, that also adds to a certain emotion when playing the song. You sort of feed off the energy, and, as a performer, that can be a LOT of what it’s about, too.

And such is the case in Allison’s version of the Eurythmics’ 1983 breakthrough hit, “Sweet Dreams.”

Eric Garneau of Cover Me explains:

“I learned this song, in its entirety, in the summer in about an hour to record as part of a movie soundtrack,” Allison tells Cover Me. “That didn’t pan out – but what did come of it was learning a song that I’ve always tinkered around with on the piano. I love Annie Lennox’s voice and songs. She’s a very cool lady – and extremely talented, so it’s a lot of fun to be able to cover more than one song of hers! There is something very healing about yelling ‘hold your head up – keep your head up’ at the top of your lungs.”

Those producers made a big mistake not calling Allison back, because this “Sweet Dreams” that demands to be heard. She delivers a reading on this ’80s mainstay at once beautifully melodious and ferociously in-your-face. The simple recording – guitar and vocals only – bestows on the tune an intimacy that makes it sound like she’s perched square in front of you, serenading you and running through a whole spectrum of emotions.

Allison Crowe – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Video from Allison Crowe

Originally posted Nov 9, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
____________________________

  1. See Allison Crowe And Bobby McGee []

Video: Leonard Cohen Arrives In Bratislava (2010)

A Proudly Captioned Leonard Cohen Exclusive

This video is local television coverage of Leonard Cohen and Unified Heart Touring Company arriving in Bratislava. Consequently, the only portion in English begins just after 1:10 and consists of Cohen (literally) saying “hello.”

Nonetheless, I find it a gratifying two minute delectation and another example of Leonard Cohen casually seducing an entire city into believing there is no place he would rather be.

I also like the “Leonard high-fives the camera”  look in the screenshot above.

For extra credit, World Tour aficionados can list how many troupe members they recognize in the background.

Leonard Cohen 2010 Bratislava

Video from SynertaTransportal

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this video by a Linda Sturgess. Originally posted Nov 6, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“My discussion of the song took place within the song and my discussion with the subject or the emotion resulted in the song. Anything I have to say about it is just superfluous.” Leonard Cohen

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I don’t mind that they [my songs] are discussed. It’s nice to know your songs are being discussed as long as I don’t have to discuss them. My discussion of the song took place within the song and my discussion with the subject or the emotion resulted in the song. Anything I have to say about it is just superfluous to me.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Strange, Sad and Beautiful World of Leonard Cohen by Andrew Furnival. Petticoat: December 30, 1972. Photo of Leonard Cohen performing at his 1972 Newcastle concert by Rik Watson.

“Any of the decisions that I made, if one could actually locate a shape or form, were all within a wall, the landscape of panic.” Leonard Cohen

Anjelica Huston: Have you always had a sense of interior panic?

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Always. I didn’t really know what to call it for a long time, but I have a friend in Greece who used that word panic a lot, and I found myself resisting it, until I totally accepted that as a precise description of my interior condition. It was mostly panic from one moment to the next. And nothing much else was going on. And any of the decisions that I made, if one could actually locate a shape or form, were all within a wall, the landscape of panic. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Interviewed by Anjelica Huston. Interview magazine: November, 1995. Accessed at Remembering Leonard Cohen by Anjelica Huston (Interview: Nov 11, 2016). Photography Dana Lixenberg. Content originally posted May 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric