Sublime Submissions: The Webb Sisters Answer For Themselves

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Webb Sisters (Charlie on left; Hattie on right) at Royal Albert Hall

The Webb Sisters Have A History Here

The Webb Sisters made their first 1HeckOfAGuy.com (1HeckOfAGuy.com was the predecessor of Cohencentric) appearance at the closing of the Pre-Sublime Era in 2008 in Changes In Leonard Cohen Tour Backup Musicians Create Problem, earning the following comment:

It has been said, perhaps apocryphally, that Leonard Cohen vowed not to use young, good-looking backups on this tour because it would make him appear the old letch.

Well, if the idea was to avoid hiring good-looking backups, it looks to me as though, to revert to business jargon, someone has screwed up big time.

Since that auspicious debut, Charley and Hattie Webb have shown up in Heck Of A Guy posts for a variety of reasons:

Singing

Leonard Cohen & Webb Sisters – If It Be Your Will
Hamilton: May 19, 2009

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Hear 1985 Interview: Leonard Cohen Gives Occupation As “Sinner,”Talks About Songwriting, Cantor’s Singing, Aging, Wine … Performs Night Comes On & In The Eyes Of Men

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Leonard Cohen Interview: April 28, 1985
Mixed Bag with Pete Fornatale (WNEW-FM, NYC)

Part 1 – Selected Contents

  • Leonard Cohen’s persona as a stranger.
  • Leonard Cohen on Songwriting: “I never operated from a very deluxe position. I never thought of myself standing in front of a buffet table, choosing between the caviar or the herring. I feel more like a rat in the bottom of the barrel, trying to sink his teeth into something, and whatever yields, that I follow.”
  • The early influence of a Cantor in synagogue listing ways to sin and die
  • Leonard Cohen on wine: “The red wine has been good to us”
  • Asked to name his occupation, Leonard Cohen replies “sinner”

Part 2

  • In-studio acoustic performance of Night Comes On by Leonard Cohen and “three-fifths” of his band

Part 3 – Selected Contents

  • Discussion of Cohen’s “Marita Please find me I am almost 30″ and the graffiti he found in the CBC men’s room: “Marita Please find me I am almost 50″
  • Irving Layton’s take on aging: “The inescapable lousiness of growing old”
  • Book of Mercy written with author’s “back against the wall”
  • Leonard Cohen on artistic skills: “If the gift is there, it reveals itself very early”
  • Recitation: In The Eyes Of Men
    In the eyes of men he falls, and in his own eyes too. He falls from his high place, he trips on his achievement. He falls to you, he falls to know you. It is sad, they say. See his disgrace, say the ones at his heel. But he falls radiantly toward the light to which he falls. They cannot see who lifts him as he falls, or how his falling changes, and he himself bewildered till his heart cries out to bless the one who holds him in his falling. And in his fall he hears his heart cry out, his heart explains why he is falling, why he had to fall, and he gives over to the fall. Blessed are you, clasp of the falling. He falls into the sky, he falls into the light, none can hurt him as he falls. Blessed are you, shield of the falling. Wrapped in his fall, concealed within his fall, he finds the place, he is gathered in. While his hair streams back and his clothes tear in the wind, He is held up, comforted, he enters into the place of his fall. Blessed are you, embrace of the falling, foundation of the light, master of the human accident.

Video: Leonard Cohen Confesses To Having “Lifted” Lines From Ibsen In 1985 Interview

nrk1Gordana Stupar has again uncovered a gem of a Leonard Cohen interview. In this brief question and answer session, Leonard touches on the difference between a singer and a writer (“They seem to be part of the same racket”), pessimism and seriousness (“We live in a butcher shop”), and stealing lines lines from Ibsen. He reports that he “lifted” the notion of a self being an onion with layers covering its nonexistent core from Ibsen’s Peer Gynt to produce these lines for Wishing Window from Night Magic

Your famous heart is like an onion,
All layers and layers of wild distress
All gathered into rings round nothingness.

The interview, from the NRK Archive, also includes a performance of Suzanne from the February 6, 1985 Oslo concert. Tore Johannessen’s interview with Leonard Cohen, first broadcast February 9, 1985, can be accessed at NRK: Johannessen-Cohen Interview

“Politics in a very, very personal sense” 1992 Video Interview With Leonard Cohen

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Gordana Stupar’s latest discovery of Leonard Cohen arcana, a 1992 NRK interview with Agnes Moxnes, is especially timely given the impending US presidential election. The background is a performance of Democracy, and the notions invoked by this song are the primary topics of the interview.

Watch Leonard Cohen point out what he finds attractive about Ross Perot – and George Bush – and Bill Clinton (and Bill Clinton’s “lovely wife”). Hear the Canadian singer-songwriter explain that he sometimes feels that he is the leader of a “small constituency” of those who do not feel represented and are consequently, if not rebellious, at least “irritated” and “saddened.”  Marvel as he references G. K. Chesterton, noting that democracy is like a religion in that it’s never really been tried.1

Most enlightening, however, are Cohen’s comments on his characterization of politics as used in Democracy: “It’s politics in a very, very personal sense.”

Politics in a personal sense.It’s as if you’re asked to think of democracy the way you think of a lover or a friend or a child or a parent … It’s a very personal and useless view. The things of the heart are really useless and that’s their value. They can’t be put to work. You just live with them.

This video can be accessed at 1992 NRK Leonard Cohen Interview

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  1. The Chesterton quotation is actually “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” []

Hear, Download 1994 Interview With Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes, & Suzanne Vega

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Leonard talks about his platonic relationship with Suzanne Verdal, the then-girlfriend of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt and the inspiration for the song, Suzanne, his life with Marianne, his collaboration with Phil Spector, and more. Offering insights and observations are Jennifer Warnes , who sang in his live band and recorded an album of his songs, and Suzanne Vega, who was moved by his music while a teenager.

This Nov 26, 1994 BBC program can be heard at or downloaded from

BBC Kaleidoscope: Leonard Cohen 1994