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.”

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  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

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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

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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.

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“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.

Songs For Rebecca – The Lost Leonard Cohen Album: Collaborator John Lissauer On The Project, How It Began, & How It Ended

Songs For Rebecca – The Lost Leonard Cohen Album

This is the second post in the Songs For Rebecca – The Lost Leonard Cohen Album series.1 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? Update: The third and final post in this series is now online at .

There is considerable confusion about the Songs For Rebecca project. While these posts won’t answer every question, they do clear up certain ambiguities and, if nothing else, they consolidate all the uncertainty in one place. This post focuses on Leonard Cohen’s collaborator on Songs For Rebecca, John Lissauer, the origin of the Songs For Rebecca project, and how the project came to end.

Note: John Lissauer graciously answered my many queries about Songs For Rebecca. Without his help, this and the next post would have been incomplete and inaccurate. I am very grateful.

John Lissauer

John Lissauer was a very different sort of producer for Leonard Cohen than his predecessor, Bob Johnston. He was jazz-oriented, more laid back, and more classical in his approach to music. Working with Leonard, he produced New Skin For The Old Ceremony (1974) and Various Positions (1984 ) as well as working on Blue Alert. He was musical director, playing keyboards, saxophone, woodwinds for the 1974 and 1975 tours. Lissauer was also responsible for assembling a new group of musicians to join Cohen, including bass player John Miller, vocalist Erin Dickins (who was Lissauer’s first wife), and vocalist Anjani Thomas as well as sound engineer Leanne Ungar. In addition, John points out that “when we did Various Positions, I used a band called Slow Train… that was Richard Crooks, John Crowder and Ron Getman… along with veteran session guitarist Sid McGuinnes (Letterman Show)… they all toured with LC, as well as recorded.”

Lissauer talks about their relationship in this 2016 interview.

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  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. []

Dominique Issermann’s Exes Featured In Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man Lyrics

If you want a boxer
I will step into the ring for you
And if you want a doctor
I’ll examine every inch of you

From I’m Your Man
By Leonard Cohen

It turns out that not only is Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album dedicated to Dominique Issermann but the title song is also populated by men from Dominique’s life.

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Don’t tell me that saying ‘I’m Your Man’ is a complicated thing, but who said it before and like [Leonard Cohen]? I can tell an anecdote that will make him laugh if he reads it. In this song, all the men who are mentioned are friends of mine, maybe exes more or less… ‘If I wanna be a boxer:’ I had a boyfriend boxer; ‘If I wanna be a doctor:’ another was a doctor… We laughed a lot at that.quotedown2

Dominique Issermann

From Ma vie avec Leonard Cohen : “Je l’ai entendu travailler deux ans sur ‘Hallelujah'” par François Armanet et Bernard Loupias (L’Obs: Nov 11, 2016). Interview originally published in “Le Nouvel Observateur” of January 26, 2012. Thanks to Coco Éclair for the French to English translation.

Thanks go to Cohencentric viewer, Uli, who, accompanied by her Swiss sidekick, attended the 2009 Leonard Cohen Colmar Concert where she shot the stellar photo of Leonard Cohen wearing boxing gloves and a stethoscope that were flung onto the stage during his performance of I’m Your Man.

Leonard Cohen’s Words On Songwriting Influence Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner On Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino Album

Arctic Monkeys released their sixth album on Friday (May 11), which features a shift in sound and lyrical approach from the Sheffield band… Asked how he felt about people pulling one or two lines out of each song and them losing their context, Turner replied:

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I think I saw Leonard Cohen talking about writing and that idea if you pull out one thing from one his songs, you’re gonna be like, ‘What is he on about?’ But in the context of everything, I feel like you know exactly where he’s coming from, especially with a writer like him – you’re right there with him as you listen to a song of his in its entirety or a record. Hearing him talk about that idea of pulling one thing out and it not making much sense is definitely something that spurred me on to approaching this record in that way and not be so concerned with making the thing be about whatever it’s about.quotedown2

Alex Turner

 
Excerpted from Alex Turner says hearing Leonard Cohen talk about songwriting ‘spurred him on’ to write ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ by Rhian Daly (NME: