Leonard Cohen’s Tonight Will Be Fine – Two Variations By Leonard Cohen + Versions By Teddy Thompson & Allison Crowe

Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen’s “Tonight Will Be Fine”

“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

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Leonard Cohen & Roshi Compare Their Cricket Poems

quoteup2
We were sitting in a little cabin on Mount Baldy one night, listening to the crickets and drinking cognac. Then, Roshi said, ‘Cohen, you should write cricket poem.’ I said, ‘I already wrote one: Silence / and then a deeper silence / when the crickets hesitate.’ Roshi only grunted. So I said, ‘OK, Roshi, what’s your idea of a cricket poem?’ And he said, ‘Dark night / Cricket sound break out / Cricket girlfriend listening.’ I said, ‘That’s good.’ Then a long time went by and he said, ‘Cohen, you should sing more sad.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Mixes Movie-Making And Zen by Paul King. The Gazette, July 16, 1983.

DrHGuy Note: Leonard also told another version of how Roshi advised him to “sing more sad.” See Leonard Cohen Describes How Roshi Gave Him “The Best [Musical] Advice I Ever Got”

Jenny Sings Lenny – As Do KD, Sharon, Roberta, et al: 10 Great Leonard Cohen Covers By Female Artists

Lana Del Rey’s cover of Chelsea Hotel No. 2 prompted Tom Hawking at Flavorwire to list “some of our other favorite female-fronted Cohen covers” (with videos of each cover). Most are safe, obvious choices. How can you go wrong choosing kd lang covering Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire, Jennifer Wanes taking on Joan Of Arc, or Sharon Robinson soloing on Alexandra Leaving? But there is at least one surprise – Mama Cass Elliott holding forth on Cohen’s “You Know Who I Am.”

The most glaring omission has to be the absence of Allison Crowe’s superb covers of such Cohen songs as “Hallelujah,” “Bird On A Wire,” and “Tonight Will Be Fine.” Watch this and see if you agree.

The complete list, which is certainly worth checking out, can be found at 10 Great Leonard Cohen Covers by Female Artists (Flavorwire: April 2, 2013).

Information about the “Jenny Sings Lenny” graphic atop this post is available at Jennifer Warnes On Leonard Cohen’s “Jenny Sings Lenny” Cover Art.

Originally posted April 3, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Homenaje Flamenco a Leonard Cohen – Madrid April 22, 2018

This information is from Delegación del Gobierno de la Generalidad en Madrid:

Paula Domínguez & La Banda del Corazón Flamencohen

Because flamenco has been the great musical devotion of Leonard Cohen, this is a poetic-musical show that pays homage to the Canadian bard, enhancing the lyrical excellence of the ‘sacred poet of rock’ with the utmost expression, passion and depth that our the most ingrained musical genre, flamenco, amalgamating the purity of the cante of the gypsy taverns with the poetry of Cohen. [via Google Translate]

Domingo 22 de abril a las 13.00h en los Jardines del Edificio Zúrich (C/ Alcalá 44, entrada por la calle Marqués de Casa Riera)

[Sunday 22 April at 13.00 pm in the gardens of the Zurich Building (C / Alcalá 44, entrance by the marquis de casa riera)]

Thanks to Laurence of Paris, who alerted me to this event

The 1958 Canada Council Grants That Changed Leonard Cohen’s Life & How He Repaid The Debt

 

“The truth is without the help and encouragement of the Canada Council I would never have written The Favourite Game or The Spice Box of Earth. I am profoundly grateful.” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I was working in a factory in Montreal at the time and writing, having these wonderful evenings that would go late, and then I had to be at work at seven. It was a good hour drive, so [I was] sleeping very, very little and playing all night and working all day. Then I applied for and was awarded a grant by the Canada Council. A very generous grant at the time, it was about three grand, which was worth a lot in ’59,1 and also a ticket to visit the ancient capitals, because on the basis of Let Us Compare Mythologies, I said I wanted to visit Rome, Athens, Jerusalem. So, I had a round-trip ticket from Montreal to Tel Aviv. I went to England first, and I wrote the first draft of The Favorite Game, and I finished the book which later became Spice-Box Of Earth, and then I went to Greece with my guitar, and I finished another draft or two of The Favorite Game. Then I locked into this living style that would carry me through the next seven or eight years.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Stranger Music of Leonard Cohen by William Ruhlmann. Goldmine, February 19, 1993

DrHGuy Note: Some sources report Mr Cohen’s first grant from Canada Council for the Arts was in 1959, but the official Government of Canada News Release and The Roots of Culture, The Power of Art: The First Sixty Years of the Canada Council for the Arts by Monica Gattinger (McGill-Queen’s Press: Dec 15, 2017) give the date as 1958.

The Canada Council for the Arts

In 1960, still only 25, [Leonard Cohen] lived in London and made his way to Greece and Jerusalem, the first steps in a lifetime of travel. It was not the random wandering of a beatnik, it was a course of study he had proposed to the Canada Council for the Arts, an immersion in the old ways of ancient capitals, for which the Crown corporation had given him the first of two grants he would receive, totalling $3,000. Of course those trips changed his life and art forever. What struck me is that in 1959, when he received the first grant, the Canada Council was only two years old. It’s as though the thing just came along in time. The Council’s creation was recommended, to a skeptical Louis St. Laurent, in the 1951 report of the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, chaired by the patrician Methodist diplomat Vincent Massey. The Massey Commission report opens with an excerpt from St Augustine’s The City of God: “A nation is an association of reasonable beings united in a peaceful sharing of the things they cherish; therefore, to determine the quality of a nation, you must consider what those things are.

From Even Leonard Cohen’s lewd verse touched on vulnerability by Paul Wells. Toronto Star: Nov. 11, 2016.

DrHGuy Note: The 1951 report of the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences (aka the Massey Commission) is available online at The Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences 1848-1951.

Leonard Cohen Gives Back

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  1. According to the Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator, $3,000 in 1958 had the buying power of $26,340 in 2018. []

Hear Bruce Springsteen & The Castiles Cover Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne – 1967

While I was aware that Bruce Springsteen had sung Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, it was not until Adrian du Plessis, Allison Crowe’s Personable Manager, directed my attention to a recording of this effort that I actually heard the cover and realized that the performance took place in 1967.

Springsteen’s band, The Castiles, played Suzanne as the penultimate song at The Left Foot in Freehold, NJ on Sept 16, 1967. The following information are from The Castiles… When the Boss was young…, posted June 29, 2009 at The Clock That Went Backwards Again (highlighting mine):

This was grand opening night at The Left Foot, an “over 13 under 18” club located in the recreation centre of St Peter’s Episcopal Church at 37 Throckmorton St. … All 13 songs are covers of other artists’ material, including The Blues Magoos’ “One By One” and Moby Grape’s “Omaha”. The inspiration for often-covered “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band version. Similarly the inspiration for Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” was the 1966 Judy Collins recording. Although Springsteen may have started out in mid 1965 singing mostly background vocals, it is clear that by this point Bruce is the band’s focal point. Bruce handles the lead vocals on all songs except “Eleanor Rigby”, The Kinks “See My Friends” and The Blues Project’s haunting “Steve’s Song” (all handled by George Theiss).

1st Set
01 Fire
02 See My Friend
03 Catch The Wind
04 Omaha
05 Steve’s Song
06 Jeff’s Boogie

2nd Set
01 Purple Haze
02 Get Off My Live, Woman
03 Hold On, I’m Coming
04 You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At It’s Cover
05 Elenor Rigby
06 Suzanne
07 Jeff’s Boogie

Video: Bruce Springsteen (The Castiles) – Suzanne
Freehold NJ: Sept 16, 1967
Video from 2010dreamon

Credit Due Department: Photo by Bill Ebbesen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Note: Originally posted Mar 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Adam Cohen & Anjani Thomas Perform Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz In Spanish – Barcelona 2007

Acords Ambs Leonard Cohen Barcelona Concert: Jan 13, 2007

One of the highlights of Acords Ambs Leonard Cohen, a tribute concert to Leonard Cohen featuring Spanish and international artists, was Anjani and Adam Cohen joining voices to perform Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz in Spanish.1

Adam Cohen & Anjani – Take This Waltz (Spanish)
Barcelona: Jan 13, 2007

Note: Originally posted Dec 10, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz is, of course, based on his translation of Pequeño Vals Vienès (“Little Viennese Waltz”), a poem written in Spanish by Federico Garcia Lorca, []