So Long, Cohencentric – The Last Dance

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This is the final Cohencentric post. It’s been a privilege to have shared Leonard Cohen’s life and work with so many readers.

 

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Credit Due Department: One last thanks to Dominique BOILE, who contributed this pin, originally offered as memorabilia of the May 27, 1988 Leonard Cohen concert at the Grand Rex in Paris. The dancing couple was the logo of the 1988 Tour and the I’m Your Man album promoted by that Tour.

“Thanks for the many chuckles, Allan” Leonard Cohen

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Thanks for the many chuckles, Allan, and the sometimes embarrassing reminders of past follies. Deeply appreciate your efforts on my behalf. Brilliant work. Better than Drudge. Gratitude and warm regards to you and The Duchess.

emb200Leonard

 

 

 

 

 

Leonard’s words, originally posted on Cohencentric’s first anniversary (March 6, 2016), seem an especially apt entry on this site’s penultimate day of operation,

Cohencentric: Nov 2, 2018

Since March 7, 2015, over 7,700 posts chock-full of information, photos, videos, animations,audio recordings, and humor have been published on Cohencentric. That’s an average of 5.7 posts added to the site each day 365 days a year, including holidays, periods of illness, and moments of lassitude. Not so shabby. And in that time, Cohencentric has accumulated nearly five million (4,899,569, last I checked) hits (i.e., unique views). Definitely not shabby.

Leonard Cohen’s Last Message To Me: “I love your mother’s house”

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thewall9One of the rewards of posting about Leonard Cohen at Cohencentric (and its predecessor, 1HeckOfAGuy.com) was the receipt of unprompted email from Leonard. While I was certainly grateful that he took the time to respond to my questions about a concert date, his contacts with other musicians, the provenance of a photo, etc, the ultimate treat was a spontaneous email from Leonard.

As it turned out, the last words I received from Leonard Cohen were one of these spontaneous emails. It arrived a week or two before his death and consisted of only five words plus his signature initial:

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I love your mother’s housequotedown2

L

My Mother’s House

A word of explanation is necessary. While most of my blogging is accomplished in service of Cohencentric.com, I also maintain a personal blog, AllanShowalter.com, which features — well, everything other than Leonard Cohen. It offers posts, for example, about Julie Showalter and her writing, Neil Ellis photos, A.E. Housman, the Duchess (aka Penny Showalter), broomcorn, my former homes in Oklahoma, northwest Illinois, & the Ozarks, David Mamet quotations … .

Anyhow, I had published a number of posts on AllanShowalter.com under the umbrella title of “DrHGuy’s Family Home Curios & Oddities Photo Safari,” comprising views of the doodads, antiques, gadgets, widgets, junk, tchotchkes, collectibles, curios, odds, ends, and much, much more that lined the walls and in the geological layers of miscellanea that arose from nearly every horizontal surface in my mother’s home in the Ozarks. The photo atop this post displays several specimens.

raodersA representative selection can be found at Living Room Exhibits, and links to all the exhibits are located at Summary Page: DrHGuy’s Family Home Curios & Oddities Photo Safari

Leonard’s Message

Leonard had an extraordinary ability to embrace folks on their own terms. While many have written of engaging with Leonard Cohen over metaphysics, musicology, Judaism, sociological phenomena, Zen Buddhism, poetry. or other, similarly weighty topics. Our conversations, on the other hand, were much more likely to deal with our families, future plans, mutual acquaintances, preferences in exercise programs, tales of his band members and backup singers …  A modicum of gossip and a few jokes were also commonplace.

So, at a time when he was severely ill and still in the midst of the coming out of You Want It Darker, his final album, Leonard Cohen was cruising the web. And, he landed not my blog about him but my blog about everything else but him and then took the time to email me to let me know that he liked the posts about my mother’s collectibles.

For the record, my reply was “I’m glad you like it, especially given that ‘the voluptuous feeling of simplicity’ wasn’t  mom’s decorating touchstone.”

Now, I believe Leonard sincerely enjoyed those photos of mom’s cabin in the Ozarks. But, I am convinced the reason he sent that email was that he knew I would appreciate knowing that he enjoyed those photos of mom’s cabin in the Ozarks.

Leonard once inscribed a photo,

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to Allan

One of the greatest men alivequotedown2

Leonard

 

lcautophotoBut, the comment of his I treasure most is “I love your mother’s house.”

And, I still check my email every morning for messages from Leonard.

A Fairy Tale About Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”

I’m a fairy. This is my tale. It’s a tale about love and loss, and what comes after. Poetry plays a part. Not all the characters are beautiful. Just so you know… My job is to encourage hesitant lovers to take the risk. Get the phone number and call it (after a few days, so you don’t seem overeager). Go in for the kiss (if you’re sure it’s wanted, probably better to ask first).

Fairies don’t have sex, but we desire everyone, no matter gender or race or age. We see you, all of you, too entirely to stop at your surfaces, whatever they may be. That doesn’t mean we don’t have favorites. Go ahead, you try to unequivocally love every living person.

I’d been delegated, since I was a sprite, to Montreal. My last assignment there: Canadian poet, closer to 30 than 20, lonely and unknown even by poets’ standards, and a 20-ish woman, a dancer, so beautiful as to have learned that beauty is a gift and also a burden. She was tired of dating men who didn’t know her and didn’t really care to, who wanted to be the guy dating the beautiful young woman who’s an artist, yeah she does these interpretive dances in little clubs, which is not, you know, my kind of thing, but my God, look at her …

From The Imagined Story Behind Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’ by Michael Cunningham (New York Times Style Magazine: Nov 2, 2018)

“[Songwriting] often is a young man’s game… But there are some old guys who hang in there and come up with some very interesting work.” Leonard Cohen

There aren’t many songwriters of your generation who have been able to maintain the quality of their past work the way you have been able to.

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… There is a certain age that is appropriate to this tremendous expenditure of energy and the tremendous bravery and courage that you need to go into the fray. It often is a young man’s game, or as Browning said, ‘The first fine careless frenzy.’ That is what the lyric poem is based on, the song is based on. But there are some old guys who hang in there and come up with some very interesting work.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From a 1992 interview with Leonard Cohen published in Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo. Da Capo Press: 1997. Photo by Dominique Issermann.

The Browning line quoted as “First fine careless frenzy” is actually “The first fine careless rapture” from Home Thoughts From Abroad, by Robert Browning.

That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture!

Photos & Descriptions: Leonard Cohen Performs At Centennial Vineyards (Bowral) & Sydney Entertainment Center 2009

Following reports of the 2008-2009 Leonard Cohen World Tour has led me to consider the impact the venue has on the performer and, perhaps even more significantly, on the audience. I was  most recently made aware of this issue by reading Amanda’s posts at Flop Eared Mule (Update: no longer online. Fair Warning: Amanda does not write what one would define as “balanced reviews” of Leonard Cohen performances so much as – oh, let’s call them “appreciations.” Consider, for example, her description of the opening of the Sydney performance:

In fact, the first highlight came even before the song when Leonard (Leonard Freaking Cohen) bounded, literally bounded, on stage and was greeted by a standing ovation. Excited as I was, I may not have thought of that myself but there was a great release in going up with the masses and I evidently felt sufficiently unrestrained that I couldn’t help but tear up. And I squealed like I’d just seen a Bay City Roller.

 

Amanda compares the Leonard Cohen concerts she attended at the Sydney Entertainment Center, which is most frequently described as a “big box” although Amanda favors “barn,” with the show she attended at the Centennial Vineyards in Bowral.

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“The criticism that I am gloomy or dull or depressing tends to come from people who are hostile to my work.” Leonard Cohen. Photo: Anton Cermak

interview at the Sebel Townhouse, Sydney on May 20, 1985. Photo by Anton Cermak