“An object lesson in performance manners.” Franz Nicolay On Leonard Cohen At Coachella – 2009

Cohen’s Coachella Performance From Another Perspective

I don’t follow PunkNews.org as well as perhaps I should. Aubin introduces the April 30, 2009 entry, Dispatches: Franz Nicolay: Episode 1: “Today, we’ve got a brand new set of tour diaries coming from Franz Nicolay, multi-instrumentalist and member of The Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society. In the pertinent section of the post, Nicolay describes his experiences at Coachella, where The Hold Steady played earlier the same day (April 17, 2009) that Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, and Paul McCartney performed.

Nicolay On Morrissey And McCartney At Coachella

In the tour diary itself Nicolay proves himself no sycophant, opening his report of Morrissey’s performance, for example, with this unambiguous line:

So it pains me to report … that Morrissey, who played next on the main stage, was, and I wish I could come up with a more eloquent way to put this, a pissy little bitch.

And about the headliner, Paul McCartney, Nicolay’s full report is contained in two brief paragraphs:

On my way to the stage for Cohen’s set, I was stopped by a security guard, as a motorcade of black Escalades pulled up to a gate. While we waited on the sidewalk, out stepped Paul McCartney, in a baggy grey suit. And red sneakers.

Which I suppose is the kind of thing the richest entertainer in the world can get away with, though two and a half hours of McCartney was an adult dose. For a guy worth half a billion dollars it was an admirably simple stage show (especially the ukulele take on “Something”). Except for the flash-pots and fireworks deployed for “Live And Let Die”: a subtle display of the kind of fuck-you money that brings a full pyro setup for one song.

Franz Nicolay On Leonard Cohen At Coachella:
“A more gracious performance I’ve never seen”

On that topic – the ridiculous to the sublime, the snowy to the sun-baked, or something to that effect – we played the giant Coachella festival in a desert polo grounds in southern California … and I saw an object lesson in performance manners. Perhaps you’ve heard that Leonard Cohen recently suffered a severe financial setback. He spent six years studying in a Zen monastery, during which time he left his affairs in the hands of a personal manager – who took him for five million dollars, essentially his life savings. So, at 74, he’s back on the road, and a more gracious performance I’ve never seen. All ten or twenty thousand people waiting for him on a second stage, waited in a hushed silence, like a church service. And indeed, one of the notable details was that this was the quietest PA sound I’ve ever seen at a festival show, so the religious atmosphere held, up to a really chilling mass singalong to “Hallelujah”. One detail that really pleased me was that, every time a member of the band took a solo, he removed his fedora and held it over his heart for the duration, as a gesture of respect.

The first set of entertaining and instructional dispatches from Nicolay’s tour diary can be found at Dispatches: Franz Nicolay: Episode 1

Other Leonard Cohen At Coachella Posts:

Credit Due Department: Photo atop post by David Telford from London, UK – franz nicolayUploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link. Leonard Cohen photo by Fred von Lohmann

Originally posted May 2, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best” Leonard Cohen Talks About That Line From Chelsea Hotel #2


Leonard Cohen Explains “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best”

Because time also is a degree in the estimation of love

Leonard Cohen

The quotation is part of Leonard Cohen’s discussion of the nature of the his relationship with Janis Joplin portrayed in his song, “Chelsea Hotel #2.” The interview is found in “The Song Of Leonard Cohen” by Harry Rasky (1979).

That key line from the final version of Chelsea Hotel, “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,” and, indeed, the entire final verse on which the sense of the song turns, is absent from Chelsea Hotel #1.

I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.

In contradistinction to the confession, “I don’t even think of you that often,”  the final verse of Chelsea Hotel #1, as it was played by Cohen in Tel Aviv in 1972,1 is a reluctant leave-taking:

Making your sweet little sound, I can hear you now
So, into the jukebox [?], choose your records
Listen all night now
Making your sweet little sound, baby,

Making your sweet little sound on the jukebox.
Guess I got nothing more to say to you, baby
I mean – so long, gotta leave you,
Little sound

This is in keeping with my contention, previously presented at Video: Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1 (Tel Aviv 1972), that Chelsea Hotel #1 is thematically a much different song than Chelsea Hotel #2:

Chelsea Hotel #1  focuses on the death of the singer’s (i.e., Leonard Cohen’s) lover (i.e., Janis Joplin), with whom the singer identifies primarily  as an admired fellow artist and colleague and only secondarily as an object of affection or, at least, of reciprocated lust.  In Chelsea Hotel #2, the situation is reversed with the key issue becoming the  singer’s unambiguous  examination of his own feelings for and perception of the woman at the Chelsea Hotel – even if doing so results in an ignoble self-characterization.

Chelsea Hotel #2, in fact, aligns well with other Leonard Cohen songs that mark the end of  a romance, such as So Long, Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye, with unflinching observations on the psychological factors causing him to flee the relationship.

But in comparing Chelsea Hotel #1 and Chelsea Hotel #2, the kicker is that Cohen is kinder to and much more sentimental about the Janis Joplin of Chelsea Hotel #1, a singer “making a sweet little sound,” than he is to the Janis Joplin of Chelsea Hotel #2, a lover who affectionately jokes with Cohen (“You told me again you preferred handsome men/but for me you would make an exception”).  He is also – and, not incidentally – far less protective of himself in the second version.

Leonard Cohen On Chelsea Hotel #2 (1979)
Uploaded by

Chelsea Hotel #1

The video of Chelsea Hotel #1 and an earlier discussion of the differences between the two versions of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel song can be found at Video: Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1 (Tel Aviv 1972)

Also See “I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel / That’s all. I don’t think of you that often” Leonard Cohen Talks About The Final Lines Of Chelsea Hotel #2

Photo of Janis Joplin by Columbia Records (Billboard page 5) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174. Originally posted Aug 16, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. There is no standard version of Chelsea Hotel #1.  Leonard Cohen repeatedly changed the lyrics and rearranged the order of the verses in performances. []

Songs For Rebecca – The Lost Leonard Cohen Album: The Songs

Songs For Rebecca – The Lost Leonard Cohen Album

This is the third and final post in the Songs For Rebecca – The Lost Leonard Cohen Album series.1 Previous posts include a discussion of the name of the project, i.e., Songs For Rebecca, was previously published at Leonard Cohen’s Abandoned Album – Songs For Rebecca: Who’s Rebecca? and Collaborator John Lissauer On The Project, How It Began, & How It Ended. This post examines and offers live performances of the tracks recorded for this project.

The Songs Of Songs For Rebecca

Determining which songs were destined for Songs For Rebecca is not an easy task. Lists vary from one source to another, some songs were written specifically for the project, some were revisions of previously recorded songs, the names of some songs changed when they were re-worked later…

William Ruhlmann, writing in The Stranger Music of Leonard Cohen (Goldmine, February 19, 1993) describes the tracks recorded for Songs For Rebecca – and offers support for “The Lost Leonard Cohen Album” part of the title of this series:

After the album’s [the album was New Skin For The Old Ceremony] release, Cohen and Lissauer began work on a new album that has never been released. “We did, I’d say, a side and a half,” Cohen recalls, “I mean, six or seven songs together. I don’t know why I squelched that. It just didn’t have the… It had some great tunes on it, and I finally used one of them, “Came So Far From Beauty,’ on a record [1979’s Recent Songs]. But there were lots of tunes. There was ‘Guerrero,’ that nobody’s ever heard or seen, but we did it on the tour and recorded it. There was an early song called ‘Anthem,’ no relation to this ‘Anthem’ [on The Future]. I can’t find the thing, I can’t find the tapes of it.”

Continue Reading →

  1. A more precise title might be “Songs For Rebecca – The Abandoned Leonard Cohen Album” – but “Lost Album” is more dramatic and, as it turns out, accurate as well. But, more about that later in this post. []

“[Hydra in the early 1960s] was full of creative and eccentric people. There was a young poet from Canada there whose name was Leonard Cohen. He used to borrow my guitar and sing union songs because he wasn’t really writing songs back then. I would sing in bars for free drinks.” Julie Felix

Once more with Julie Felix: at 80, the folk star playing after all these years by Vanessa Thorpe (Th Guardian: May 19, 2018)

Julie Felix & Leonard Cohen ‘Hey,That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ 1968

Leonard Cohen’s Style – Likes Suits, Doesn’t Like Shopping



Interviewer: Did you always dress this well? Or is it something you’ve developed?”

Leonard Cohen: “No, I always wore a suit, pretty much. I grew up before blue jeans hit. I always felt better in a jacket.”

Interviewer: “So you put on a jacket even if you’re not going out?”

Leonard Cohen: “Especially if I’m not going out.”

Evidently, wearing a jacket and tie was a matter of discipline, a poet’s version of a uniform. The jacket, which was purchased at a thrift store on Fairfax, cost $7, and most of Cohen’s suits are years, sometimes decades old. “I don’t like shopping,” he explained, showing me a threadbare Armani in his closet. Next to it was another jacket with a small gold badge on the lapel. The badge said: Canadian Border Patrol.

From Angst & Aquavit by Brendan Bernhard. LA Weekly: September 26, 2001. Photo by Michael Donald.

“He was a very happy grandfather… He was always very sweet to me as Viva’s father. He’d introduce me to people by saying: ‘This is Rufus, he’s a member of my family.'” Rufus Wainwright Remembers Leonard Cohen

He was a very happy grandfather. I remember one day when we were all just sitting there quietly, watching Viva play. He was smiling so much. He was always very sweet to me as Viva’s father. He’d introduce me to people by saying: ‘This is Rufus, he’s a member of my family.’ … I think it’s a tragedy that we lost the man now. He was such a smart guy at a time when there aren’t many smart guys around. There’s also so much more that I wanted to ask him as a man in my 40s, as he had such an incredible transformation as a musician and a spiritual person at this time in his life. I’m sad I can’t ask him as a songwriter and as a human being, because he knew so much. It really feels like someone superhuman has gone.quotedown2

Rufus Wainwright


Excerpt from Leonard Cohen remembered by Rufus Wainwright (The Guardian: Dec 11, 2016). The obituary by Rufus Wainwright is graceful, personal, and enchanting. It can be read in its entirety at the link. Photo  atop post by Bruce Baker – ,Flickr. CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons. Thanks to Alex Bee, who alerted me to this piece.

Embed from Getty Images

“This is a boyfriend who is revered all over the world. Also, imagine the restaurants you could get into!” Leonard Cohen Receives Honorable Mention On 2014 “The 12 Most Eligible Bachelors In Canadian Music”

The 12 most eligible bachelors in Canadian music by Lana Gay (CBC: May 14, 2014 – No longer online) bestows only an “honorary mention” – #13 on a list of “the 12 most eligible bachelors in Canadian music” – on Leonard Cohen, not because he’s too old but because “it’s tough to get the goods on whether or not this 79-year-old is truly single.” The pertinent passage follows:

Leonard Cohen

This list wouldn’t be complete without an honorary mention of Canada’s legendary bachelor, Leonard Cohen. He is not yet 80, so don’t call him old. It’s tough to get the goods on whether or not this 79-year-old is truly single. So on the off chance he is — and you’re looking — why not consider a man with a life full of stories from around the world and across generations? Within Mr. Cohen is a firm sense of self, a sensuous writer and lover, and a torrent of passion that will stay with him until he’s gone. This is a boyfriend who is revered all over the world. Also, imagine the restaurants you could get into!

The other twelve bachelors named follow:

  • Matt Mays
  • Buck 65
  • Rich Aucoin
  • Drake
  • Trevor Anderson
  • Loel Campbell
  • K-os
  • Justin Bieber
  • Corb Lund
  • Rolf Klausener
  • Dave Hurlow

Originally posted May 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.