A Fairy Tale About Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”

I’m a fairy. This is my tale. It’s a tale about love and loss, and what comes after. Poetry plays a part. Not all the characters are beautiful. Just so you know… My job is to encourage hesitant lovers to take the risk. Get the phone number and call it (after a few days, so you don’t seem overeager). Go in for the kiss (if you’re sure it’s wanted, probably better to ask first).

Fairies don’t have sex, but we desire everyone, no matter gender or race or age. We see you, all of you, too entirely to stop at your surfaces, whatever they may be. That doesn’t mean we don’t have favorites. Go ahead, you try to unequivocally love every living person.

I’d been delegated, since I was a sprite, to Montreal. My last assignment there: Canadian poet, closer to 30 than 20, lonely and unknown even by poets’ standards, and a 20-ish woman, a dancer, so beautiful as to have learned that beauty is a gift and also a burden. She was tired of dating men who didn’t know her and didn’t really care to, who wanted to be the guy dating the beautiful young woman who’s an artist, yeah she does these interpretive dances in little clubs, which is not, you know, my kind of thing, but my God, look at her …

From The Imagined Story Behind Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’ by Michael Cunningham (New York Times Style Magazine: Nov 2, 2018)

Photos & Descriptions: Leonard Cohen Performs At Centennial Vineyards (Bowral) & Sydney Entertainment Center 2009

Following reports of the 2008-2009 Leonard Cohen World Tour has led me to consider the impact the venue has on the performer and, perhaps even more significantly, on the audience. I was  most recently made aware of this issue by reading Amanda’s posts at Flop Eared Mule (Update: no longer online. Fair Warning: Amanda does not write what one would define as “balanced reviews” of Leonard Cohen performances so much as – oh, let’s call them “appreciations.” Consider, for example, her description of the opening of the Sydney performance:

In fact, the first highlight came even before the song when Leonard (Leonard Freaking Cohen) bounded, literally bounded, on stage and was greeted by a standing ovation. Excited as I was, I may not have thought of that myself but there was a great release in going up with the masses and I evidently felt sufficiently unrestrained that I couldn’t help but tear up. And I squealed like I’d just seen a Bay City Roller.

 

Amanda compares the Leonard Cohen concerts she attended at the Sydney Entertainment Center, which is most frequently described as a “big box” although Amanda favors “barn,” with the show she attended at the Centennial Vineyards in Bowral.

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“Was Leonard Cohen as attractive a man in person as we all think?” The Duchess Q&A

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Was Leonard Cohen as attractive a man in person as we all think and, if so, why?

Leonard radiated eroticism without trying. Of course, by the time I met him, decades after his young, handsome troubadour phase, he was old and wrinkled and a little stooped – but still incredibly sexy. What was most attractive about him, however, was his charisma and his heart. He was a gentleman always. My favorite moment of our visit to his home took place shortly after we finished lunch and chatted a while. Leonard took Allan and me into his kitchen to listen to his unreleased Popular Problems album. As Leonard seated us at the table in front of his computer, he asked me if I liked latte, and I admitted I definitely did. A few minutes later he served a cup he had made just for me. I’m convinced if he had gone on tour again, there would have been a “I’ll brew a latte for you” verse added to I’m Your Man.  That’s why he was attractive.

 

What is on your jukebox and what are favorite books?

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Coming Nov 30, 2018: Zen & Poesie 2 – The Leonard Cohen Lexicon By Christof Graf

Zen & Poesie – Das Leonard Cohen Lexikon Vol 2 will be released Nov 30, 2010

Also see Now Released: Zen & Poesie Vol 1 – The Leonard Cohen Lexicon By Christof Graf

“With Zen & Poesie – Das Leonard Cohen-Lexikon, Christof Graf managed to create a unique encyclopedia of Leonard Cohen’s artistic works” (SaarlÄndischer Rundfunk) and “an, up to date, incomparable Cohenpedia” (Die Rheinpfalz).

Volume 1 includes buzzwords, titles, names and definitions. Volume 2 compliments these with “numbers, data and facts about the Canadian rock poet and master of word and voice, which have never been compiled in this form before.” (Deutschland Radio)

 “Everything that you have always wanted to know about Leonard Cohen, but never dared to ask…” (Rolling Stone 07/2018)

Prof. Dr. Christof Graf, author of six books about Leonard Cohen, blogger (blog.leonardcohen.de) and host of the oldest and most extensive German website www.leonardcohen.de and www.cohenpedia.de, is a “Cohen expert, with over four decades of experience” (Mannheimer Morgen).

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Leonard Cohen (& Rebecca De Mornay) At The 1993 Rock Am Ring Festival By Christof Graf

Introduction: Christof Graf has a long history of producing respected books, articles, photos, and online sites dealing with Leonard Cohen see Celebrating The 20th Anniversary Of Christof Graf’s Online Leonard Cohen Resources). And Christof has been a generous and valued contributor to this site.1 Now, Christof offers the story behind his photo of Leonard Cohen and Rebecca De Mornay, taken at the 1993 Rock Am Ring Festival.

I Remember You Well At The Rock Am Ring Festival

Leonard Cohen live at Germany`s biggest Rock Festival – 1993

On May 29, 1993, Leonard Cohen performed at the Rock am Ring Festival, Germany`s biggest Rock Festival, held at the Nürburgring Formula One Race Course. Because of the festival schedule, the set comprised only ten songs, beginning with Dance Me To The End Of Love and ending with Democracy.2 I was on stage taking photos.

Leonard`s gig in front of 50.000 people was amazing, but it was not his best fit with an audience. He played after Brian May of Queen and before Melissa Etheridge. On same weekend program were Led Zeppelin`s Robert Plant, Def Leppard, The Black Crowes, Danzig, Ugly Kid Joe and other heavy rock musicians. Because of the Festival’s rockesque atmosphere, Leonard was forced to play and sing somewhat louder and faster than usual. He did a great job, but it was clear that the audience had come for and preferred the heavy rock performers.

After my live shots, I was invited by Festival promoter Marek Lieberberg to join Leonard Cohen backstage. That was when I took the shot him with Rebecca De Mornay, who accompanied Leonard on most of that European Tour. During his Rock Am Ring gig, she was on stage and I saw her at each concert of the 1993 Germany Tour, which I covered. I published the account, first as newspaper-articles and, in 1996, in the book “Leonard Cohen – Un Hommage – A Leonard Cohen Tour Documentation in Germany 1993.”

After Leonard left the stage about 6.30 p.m. he was relaxing backstage with Rebecca when: the late Michael Hutchence from Australian rock band INXS joined Leonard in conversation. I took also a shot of that moment. In the background was Melissa Etheridge, who told me in an interview years later that she “did not dare to disturb that holy moment.” After 15 minutes of talk, coffee, and cigarettes, Mr. Hutchence left to prepare for his show that evening.

The same time the next day, Led Zeppelin founder Robert Plant was backstage looking for Leonard Cohen. He was quite disappointed, when he discovered that “the great Leonard Cohen,: as he called him, one of his favorite singer-songwriters, had performed the day before. .

Photo Key For Image Atop This Post
From Top To Down & Left To Right:

  • Cozy Powell (Drummer for Brian May Band)
  • Christof Graf On Stage Photographing Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Melissa Etheridge
  • Leonard Cohen On Keyboards
  • Julie Christensen, Leonard Cohen, & Perla Batalla
  • Leonard Cohen (Fish Eye Lens)
  • Rock am Ring Promoter Marek Lieberberg (left) backstage with Rebecca De Mornay, Leonard Cohen and Michael Hutchence (INXS)

Source: Der Cohenpedia – Christof Graf`s Leonard Cohen Blog. All photos: Christof Graf.

Note: The story about the entire Festival, including Leonard`s show, is published in my 2015 book: Rock am Ring – 30 Jahre sind nicht genug: Alle Bands, alle Skandale, alle Fotos.

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  1. See, for example, Christof Graf’s Multi-Media Walk Through The Montreal MAC Leonard Cohen Exhibition With Curator John Zeppetelli and Montreal After – Celebrating Leonard Cohen On The Eve Of The First Anniversary Of His Passing By Christof Graf []
  2. The full setlist follows:
    Dance Me to the End of Love
    The Future
    Ain’t No Cure for Love
    Bird on the Wire
    Everybody Knows
    First We Take Manhattan
    Sisters of Mercy
    There Is a War
    Suzanne
    Democracy []

“I’d never been around playing concerts for crowds that were that quiet. You could hear, maybe not a pin, but a 10-penny nail roll across the balcony.” Charlie Daniels On Playing In The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour

Daniels, Cohen Formed Unique Bond by Jeffrey Ougler (Ifpress: Sept 9, 2010)

Charlie Daniels played fiddle on the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour and played bass on the Songs From A Room (1969) and Songs Of Love And Hate (1971) albums.

“A voice is a tool for communication. And as a singer, all you are, really, is a storyteller, and it just so happens that, obviously, with my voice I tell stories a particular way, but if you’re Leonard Cohen, you have a different voice and you still tell great stories.” Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson

quoteup2
I’m not a great believer that a voice is just about singing. A voice is a tool for communication. And as a singer, all you are, really, is a storyteller, and it just so happens that, obviously, with my voice I tell stories a particular way, but if you’re Leonard Cohen, you have a different voice and you still tell great stories.quotedown2

Bruce Dickinson

 

Sound familiar?  Compare that with “I can hardly carry a tune but I think it’s a true voice in the sense that it’s not a lie. It presents the singer and the story he’s telling.” Leonard Cohen.

From Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson: ‘I’m Not A Great Believer That A Voice Is Just About Singing’ (Blabbermouth: December 11, 2017). Photo by dr_zoidberg