“I need some chocolate if I’m gonna do this.” Leonard Cohen, Working On Blue Alert With Anjani Thomas

Anjani tells of fueling the Leonard Cohen lyric-writing engine with candy during their work together on the Blue Alert album:

The song was No One After You, and we just needed one line to finish it so I could record it the next day:

I lived in many cities
from Paris to LA
I’ve known rags and riches

It was a bit tense as he paced back and forth. I sat at the piano and didn’t move, didn’t say a word. Then he finally said, “I need some chocolate if I’m gonna do this.”

That would have been milk chocolate, because he doesn’t like dark — and of course I always keep some around — so he ate a bar and about a minute later he came up with the line:

I’m a regular cliche

From personal communication with Anjani Thomas. (Anjani also used this anecdote with some minor differences in an interview with PureMusic.) Photo atop post by Dominique BOILE.

Back On Crescent Street: Montreal Leonard Cohen Mural – Oct 13, 2018

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Information about the pre-mural connections between Leonard Cohen and Crescent Street can be found at

“I was not unaware of the ironic impact of saying, ‘Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.,’ but the song is affirmative. I just can’t keep my tongue in my cheek that long.” Leonard Cohen

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I began to write it when the events in Eastern Europe began to indicate there was a democratic resurrection, and the Berlin Wall came down and people were saying, democracy is coming to the East. I was one of those people who weren’t entirely convinced that this was going to happen, and that it wasn’t going to come about without a tremendous amount of suffering. I was not unaware of the ironic impact of saying, ‘Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.,’ but the song is affirmative. I just can’t keep my tongue in my cheek that long. I’m Canadian, and we watch America very carefully. Everybody in the world watches America. And regardless of the skepticism and irony, [wiseguy] superiority that most intellectual circles have about America, it is acknowledged that this is where the experiment is taking place, where the races are confronting one another, where the rich and poor are confronting one another, where men and women, the classes…this is the great laboratory of democracy.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

The Loneliness of the Long-Suffering Folkie by Wayne Robins (Newsday: November 22, 1992)

“Everybody makes a continuing negotiation for a changing deal with love, because we need it so much. A deal with our children, mates, lovers, parents.” Leonard Cohen

 

Have women lost the need for love (romantic or otherwise) from men?

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The evidence is that it hasn’t worked out well between men and women, but nobody can penetrate the need. That’s why I write ‘There Ain’t No Cure For Love.’ Nobody can tolerate the ache of separation, nobody can tolerate the vertigo of surrender. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to abandon the whole deal. We’re not going to. Everybody makes a continuing negotiation for a changing deal with love, because we need it so much. A deal with our children, mates, lovers, parents. As men and women.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

“In the case of Eminem and some of the other rappers, the lyrics are impressive. I think it’s great. I studied and was formed in this tradition that honored the ancient idea of music being declaimed or chanted… to a rhythmic background.” Leonard Cohen

From Cohen on Wry by Michael Krugman (Flaunt: Oct 2001). Photo by DoD News Features141111-D-DB155-046, Public Domain, Link

“I went to a Dylan concert and the first song that was by the opening act was Hallelujah… I’d never heard it before so I went out looking for it. I wound up asking Leonard [Cohen] for the lyrics and he sent me… 15 verses. So I chose all the cheeky verses, the ones that weren’t quite right.” John Cale

 

Cale earned an unusual hit with his cover [of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah] when it appeared in the 2001 film Shrek, but he had recorded it a decade earlier for the compilation I’m Your Fan. He discovered it in an unusual place. “I went to a Dylan concert and the first song that was by the opening act was ‘Hallelujah’ with a choir,” he recalled. “I’d never heard it before so I went out looking for it. I wound up asking Leonard for the lyrics and he sent me the lyrics: 15 verses. So I chose all the cheeky verses, the ones that weren’t quite right. I couldn’t sing the religious ones. You could tell from the structure of that thing, it was going to be around for a long time.

From John Cale’s Velvet Underground Talk: 10 Things We Learned By Kory Grow (Rolling Stone: October 12, 2018). Photo by Yves Lorson – originally posted to Flickr as John Cale, CC BY 2.0, Link

Note: Cale told his story of first hearing Hallelujah in a 2013 interview but then reported the song was sung by Dylan rather than an opening act: “That’s really a catchy chorus” – John Cale Talks About His Cover Of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

Follow The Yellow Brick Road To The Inspiration Of Leonard Cohen’s Skipping

Investigations Of Leonard Cohen’s Early Influences

For decades, scholars, critics,  and fans  have searched for the definitive influences on Leonard Cohen’s artistry. The style and quality of Cohen’s novels, poetry, and music have been variously attributed to Yeats, country music, Judaism, Montreal’s geographic and social environs, ritualistic Catholicism, parental nurturing, illicit drugs, Irving Layton, local mores, women with whom he has coupled, women who have rejected him, the creative community on Hydra, and scores of other writers, sociological factors, and interpersonal forces. Despite the effort expended, however, the conclusions derived from these explorations have been, at best, generic in scope and, too often, unconvincing.

In retrospect, it is apparent that all examples of this sort of research have shared a common flaw: each of these explorations of Cohen’s fundamental influences has focused exclusively on one category of his work, what we have come to call “the important stuff.”

1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric investigations, however, have eluded this seemingly unavoidable, pervasive fault, remaining pristinely uncontaminated by matters smacking of or even approximating significance.

Skipping Study Leads To Breakthrough

Rather than taking the easy way out by examining, for example, metric and rhyme patterns, transformative  shifts in content and prose conventions, or the complex interactions resulting from Leonard Cohen’s friendships and romances, the 1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric Research Department approached Cohen’s primary influences by extending its seminal work on On-stage Skipping Behaviors Displayed By 75 Year Old Iconic Canadian Singer-Songwriters (see What Makes Leonard Cohen Run? and 1983 Precursor To Leonard Cohen’s 2008-2013 Concert Skipping Found).

The break came during  the systematic examination of parallel skipping performances by other performers.

To highlight the congruency between the rather elaborate skipping Leonard Cohen has routinely undertaken to leave the stage during the World Tour concerts and the similar choreography implemented by his show business ancestor, the first video shows three of Mr Cohen’s skipping exits set to the music used by his predecessor:

The Back To The Future Version Of The Wizard Of Oz

Even more convincing is a long lost video Heck Of A Guy operatives unearthed from the MGM archives1 which appears to be a projected sequel to The Wizard Of Oz featuring – well, you have to see it for yourselves. Happily, our agents were able to copy and smuggle out this fragment (keep an eye on the Scarecrow at the beginning of the video – the straw dude is really into it):

So, once more, Cohencentric has followed the yellow brick road to offer new insights into the wizard that is Leonard Cohen.

Credit Due Department: The photo of Mr Cohen skipping off the stage displayed atop this post was taken at the April 13, 2013 Halifax concert by J.S.Carenza III

Originally posted Nov 30, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. MGM, which produced Wizard of Oz was purchased by Sony. Guess which talented and iconic Canadian poet, singer-songwriter is under contract to Sony? Happenstance? I think not. []

“Kill Cool” Leonard Cohen

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I remember going to the Village because I’d heard that was where the action was. I went to a coffeehouse. There were people sitting around in black sweaters. After about 3 or 4 days of walking around looking for someone to fall in love with and finally looking for just someone to say hello to, I remember finally in desperation writing on my placemat ‘Kill Cool,’ and I held it up in the coffee shop. That’s the way I feel now.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From No Line Before Its Time It Takes Leonard Cohen A While To Find The Right Words – Five Years Of Writing And Revising For Some Of The Songs On His Latest Album by Tom Moon, Philadelphia Inquirer: Nov 26, 1992. Originally posted Sep 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Also see: “The notion of cool has been destroying the heart for years…” Leonard Cohen