“The reality of my life is that I’m connected to a lot of serious communities in the world.”
Excerpt from Leonard Cohen of Montreal: Interview by Michael Benazon. Matrix: Fall, 1986.
Attributed to Leonard Cohen by singer-songwriter, Adam Green. Green tells the interviewer that Cohen made the comment to him while at a Bar-B-Que at Lou Reed’s house. From Adam Green – What Makes Him Act So Bad by Landry (Luxury Wafers: January 5, 2010). Photo by Rama. Originally posted February 22, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Tom Power introduces us to Leonard Cohen in concert at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on April 9, 2013, Also, Leonard Cohen performs parts of “Dance Me To The End of Love”
Note: Originally posted April 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.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.