“Cohen’s career now enters its fourth phase, After the End” + Photos Of Leonard Cohen At Home

Leonard Cohen At Home: Photos By Henry Diltz

These photos taken of Leonard Cohen at his Los Angles home by Henry Diltz are offered on the occasion of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s birthday by Harvey Kubernik, author of Leonard Cohen Everybody Knows (more information about this volume in the final section of this post).

After the End By Dr James Cushing

Included in Leonard Cohen: Agency of Yes by Harvey Kubernik © 2017, a “multi-voice narrative memoir tribute to Cohen,” are observations by Dr James Cushing of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo English and Literature department that I find especially insightful:

In 2016, those of us lucky enough to have seen Cohen in concert became even luckier, but sadder, as lucky people often are. It was a dark year, filled with farewells. Leonard Cohen’s exit was neither the most shocking nor the most painful. His body was old and full of days. His songs had long been varying the theme of Farewell, and in his last tours, every concert felt like a valediction. But in 2017, his absence (for me, anyway) has become an empty space as large as the ones Bowie or Prince left behind. You Want It Darker, which illuminates that empty space, is actually much in the same spirit of Bowie’s Blackstar: a sublime farewell, but from a different tradition. Only Cohen could fuse an authentic Jewish melancholy with the elaborate merriment of European art-song and the ghost-whisper cleanliness of digital synthesizers. Cohen’s career now enters its fourth phase, After the End — the phase that Cohen’s colleagues Allen Ginsberg, Irving Layton, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin have been in for decades. Is there “previously unreleased material,” written, recorded, and/or filmed? Let us hope so. Let us also hope that university literature departments will devote more attention to Cohen’s poems and novels especially 1966’s Beautiful Losers. For me, this lyrical dream-novel of friendship and loss outdoes Kerouac’s On the Road for its joy, compassion, and vivid sense of the sacred.

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“Nine Cohen songs no self-respecting iPod should be without” – Tim de Lisle’s Leonard Cohen Playlist (2014)

The Playlist: Leonard Cohen by Tim de Lisle1  (Intelligent Life,2 Summer 2008) offers “nine Cohen songs no self-respecting iPod3 should be without.” I’ve excerpted three selections as a teaser; the entire list is available at the link.

  • Susanne (Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1967) Cohen announces himself with an educated folk song. Suzanne serves tea and oranges, and Leonard touches her perfect body with his mind–a phrase which almost makes ogling respectable. Jesus puts in an appearance too, the first of many.
  • Chelsea Hotel No 2 (New Skin for the Old Ceremony, 1974) A stylish kiss-and-tell about a fling with Janis Joplin. “You told me again / You preferred handsome men / But for me you would make an exception.” The gentleman in him regretted it, but the showman went on performing it.
  • Alexandra Leaving (Ten New Songs, 2001)After a long spell as a Buddhist monk, Cohen returned with renewed elegance. This stately ballad, adapted from the poet Cavafy, was one of John Cale’s “Desert Island Discs”.

Note: Originally posted Aug 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Tim De Lisle is the Editor of Intelligent Life but probably best known by Cohen fans for his classic article, Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head? (The Guardian: Sept 16, 2004) []
  2. Intelligent Life is the lifestyle-oriented sibling publication of The Economist []
  3. OK, “self-respecting iPod” has become an oxymoron in 2017; the playlist notion is still valid []

The Significance Of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker As His Final Work

lcheadWhat Do Artists’ Final Works Say About Their Lives? by Christine Smallwood (New York Times: Sept 15, 2017) explores the notion that one’s awareness of his or her impending death endows that individual’s final deeds with special significance:

We expect that those facing death ought to live a little differently because of it. They have an opportunity, or so we think — to put things right, to make reparations and bequests and ‘‘arrangements.’’ To book a special experience, long desired but deferred. To prepare a statement. For artists, the knowledge that the end is beckoning may provoke a last surge of inspiration to begin or complete final works, works that invariably come to acquire an extra significance, no matter how flawed the works themselves.

Unsurprisingly, Leonard Cohen is one of the primary artists featured:

Leonard Cohen, discussing his 14th and final studio album, ‘‘You Want It Darker,’’ which came out less than three weeks before his death in 2016, spoke of the luxury of having ‘‘a chance to put your house in order.’’ He described hearing a divine voice that goaded him on in making his last work. He had heard this voice all his life, but now it spoke with more compassion: ‘‘At this stage of the game, I hear it saying, ‘Leonard, just get on with the things you have to do.’ ’’ If Cohen had lived, he would have continued to create. But he knew that he was dying of cancer when he made ‘‘You Want It Darker,’’ which bestows the work with both a dismal grandeur and a somber authority.

The entire article is available at the link: What Do Artists’ Final Works Say About Their Lives?

Leonard Cohen’s Hall Of Fame by Tim de Lisle: Intelligent Life – 2014

The Sept-Oct 2014 issue of Intelligent Life, the lifestyle sister publication to The Economist, includes a two page visual CV of Leonard Cohen written by Tim De Lisle. De Lisle is the Editor of Intelligent Life but is probably best known by Cohen fans for his classic article, Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head? (The Guardian: Sept 16, 2004).  An online, larger scale version of the Intelligent Life article is accessible at Leonard Cohen’s Hall Of Fame.  The following excerpt is representative:

1970s THE LOVER

Kingsley Amis wrote a book called “Stanley and the Women”. If there was a book called “Leonard and the Women”, it would be a lot longer, encompassing friends, lovers, co-writers, the manager who robbed him, Janis Joplin and two Suzannes: the friend who inspired the song, and the lover (right) who bore Cohen’s children.

Adam, 41, is a singer with a touching new album, “We Go Home”. Lorca, 40, became a chef and had a child with Rufus Wainwright. On Leonard’s last world tour, she designed the merchandise, including some rather cool cufflinks.

Note: Originally posted September 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Les Révolutions De Leonard Cohen Edited By Chantal Ringuet & Gerard Rabinovitch Wins 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award

lesrev1Canadian Jewish Literary Awards 2017 Winners To Be Celebrated October 15

From official press release:

Toronto — Nine outstanding books have been chosen to receive the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards for 2017. Now in its third year, the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards is a non-profit organization that annually recognizes and rewards the finest Canadian Jewish writing.

Over 60 works on Jewish themes by Canadian writers were submitted for consideration. Winners have been declared in the following categories: fiction, memoir/biography, poetry, history, scholarship, Jewish thought and culture, Holocaust literature, Yiddish, and children and youth fiction.

“The depth and breadth of the submissions shows the vibrancy of the culture and the appeal of Jewish themes for fiction and non-fiction writers, both Jewish and non-Jewish,” says Jury Co-chair, Edward Trapunski.

The awards ceremony will be held on October 15, 2017 at 2 pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, York University, 4700 Keele St. A dessert reception will follow. Award-winning books will be available for purchase. The winning authors will be present to speak and to autograph their books. All are invited and admission and parking are free. A free shuttle bus be will be available to/from downtown Toronto (tickets required).

Jewish Thought and Culture
Leonard Cohen, one of the greatest poets and songwriters of the contemporary era, has touched people throughout the world. But moreover, he was both a Montrealer and a Jew. Les Revolutions de Leonard Cohen (Presses de l’Université du Québec), a collection of essays in French edited by academics Chantal Ringuet and Gerard Rabinovitch, presents his work as the soul of the Jewish world deeply rooted in Quebec culture.

Read about all nine winners at official press release 

“A man that your parents would happily invite to chat over coffee” Leonard Cohen Didn’t Fit 1970s Rock Star Profile

Rike writes that Die Erotik des Zen-Mönches by Frido Hütter (Kleine Zeitung. Sept 21, 2014) offers up an anecdote about Leonard Cohen, previously unknown to her (and me), that points out one of the distinctions between Cohen and other rock stars. A summation (not a direct translation) of the story in English follows.

During a concert in the Wiener Stadthalle in the 1970s, Leonard Cohen (whose unusual appearance – for a rock star – the author describes as “a man that your parents would happily invite to chat over coffee” and who looked like a “benevolent philosophy professor”) went outside during a break in the concert to get some fresh air. When he tried to return to the hall, he was denied re-entry. When Cohen said he had to return to the stage pronto, by the official at the door told him he wasn’t falling for that. He wasn’t born yesterday – even he knew that rock stars look different… Cohen’s manager was finally able to get his star back on stage.

Credit Due Department: The illustrative photo atop this post was taken by Sam Gray at the Sept 10, 1974 Leonard Cohen Edinburgh show and is posted with his permission. All images provided by Sam Gray are copyrighted by Sam Gray with all rights reserved.

Note: Originally posted Sept 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric