“Leonard Cohen was… a capacious and compassionate spirit, and rock and roll’s most literate and sensitive bard of the last half-century. The world has rarely seen a sweeter, humbler tenant in the glorious Tower of Song.” David Was

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My most lasting memory of Leonard Cohen is of a night we spent together at a Tom Waits concert at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. The headliner was in fine form that evening, croaking out his psychedelic sea shanties and forging ironies by the half-ton. But I must confess that my greatest joy was sitting next to the rumpled genius as he warmly greeted a steady parade of fans and admirers before and after the show. His humility was unforced—he’d learned to reduce his ego to a mere shadow after many years at the Mount Baldy Zen Center… Leonard Cohen was the hippest Jewish uncle I never had growing up, a capacious and compassionate spirit, and rock and roll’s most literate and sensitive bard of the last half-century. The world has rarely seen a sweeter, humbler tenant in the glorious Tower of Song. quotedown2

David Weiss

Note: David Weiss aka David Was founded, along with his stage-brother Don Was, the pop group Was (Not Was). See Video: Elvis’s Rolls Royce Featuring Leonard Cohen By Was (Not Was) – “I Really Love It!” Don Was.

Leonard Cohen Smiles Down on Us From the ‘Tower of Song’ by David Weiss (Newsweek: Nov 11, 2016). Photo by Mandy MacLeod.

Leonard Cohen – Another Brick In Phil Spector’s Crumbling Wall Of Sound?

In his essay, True Love Leaves No Traces (Mas Context: Fall 2013), Daniel Luis Martinez examines the significance of the Wall Of Sound as an architectural metaphor and the dissolution of Spector’s musical construct, using instances from Death of a Ladies Man, the 1977 Leonard Cohen-Phil Spector collaboration. A representative excerpt follows:

There is evidence of the Wall of Sound’s dissipation at the very beginning of the album in the aptly titled, “True Love Leaves No Traces.” Based on one of Cohen’s poems, the song itself is a series of repetitions (intro/ verse/ chorus/ intro/ verse/ chorus, etc), dramatized by Spector’s decision to use a protracted fadeout. Hang in there long enough and the song’s cyclical structure is revealed as you hear the faint start of a third chorus. It’s as if you’ve been invited to hear four minutes and twenty-five seconds of an endless loop.

True Love Leaves No Traces (illustrated with images from Dominique BOILE’s private collection) is an insightful and enlightening essay that rewards careful reading. The complete article can be found at the link.

Originally posted October 4, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Leonard Cohen’s Montreal flat wears the unclutter of a man who never quite puts away his suitcase.” Tom Chaffin (1983)

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The described grandiosity [of Night Magic] contrasts harshly with the setting of our conversation – the kitchen of Cohen’s small second-story flat. Tucked away on a side street in one of east Montreal’s working-class, ethnic enclaves, the apartment, two rooms and a kitchen, could have been lifted straight from the text of a Leonard Cohen song (“That’s what everybody says when they come here”). Fake oriental carpets cover grey floorboards. Ceilings are low, the walls white and bare except for a few prints. Furnishings are sparse – no bric-a-brac here, no book-lined shelves. There are worktables in the front room; a brass bed, a dresser, a chair in the bedroom; a wooden table with two chairs in the kitchen…

Cohen’s Montreal flat wears the unclutter of a man who never quite puts away his suitcase. This tidy perch, with its unopened boxes in the hallway, is, after all, just one shard of a life spent between countries and continents. Cohen considers his small stucco house on the Great island of [Hydra], which he purchased for $1,500 in 1960, his most permanent abode. Modest like his Montreal flat, and a similar one in Los Angeles, it has had running water and electricity only for the last few years.

From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by Lilian Graziani. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

This is an outstanding interview that makes for rewarding reading. It is saturated with significant Cohen quotations on performing concerts, Montreal, poetry, politics, songwriting, and housecleaning, all of which are available at the link.

Leonard Cohen’s Gestures Of Blessing & Sign Of The Cross In Performances Of Everybody Knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

From Everybody Knows
By Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson

In performances of the “Sacred Heart” verse of Everybody Knows, Leonard Cohen executed certain hand gestures that echo specific Roman Catholic rituals.

Note: In some live performances, the original line, “Take one last look at this Sacred Heart,” was sung “Take one last look at this Mighty Heart.” And, at least once (Brussels: June 30, 2013), it was rendered “Take one last look at this Broken Heart.” [emphasis mine])

The Blessing

The photo atop this post and the above animation display the first of these gestures, one frequently found in Christian art such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi shown below, in which Christ is giving a benediction with the first two fingers and thumb of his right hand extended. The three raised digits represent the Trinity (The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); the two closed digits represent the dual nature of Christ as both man and God.

The Sign Of The Cross

The sign of the cross is the most common Catholic gesture. Latin (Western) Catholics make the sign of the cross by touching their right hand to the forehead, then the middle of the breast, then the left shoulder, and finally the right shoulder. This gesture makes a cross — an intersection of a vertical line from forehead to breast and a horizontal line from left to right shoulder. Leonard’s gesture is an abbreviated version limited to the confines of his chest (and it appears he goes from right to left to form the horizontal line of the cross).

Ironically, the one reference I found to Leonard and the sign of the cross was in connection with Zen master Roshi:

For a time in the early seventies he became Roshi’s secretary and accompanied Roshi to various Trappist monasteries where Cohen would occasionally lead the sesshins for the monks. Roshi’s koan for the monks consisted of one question: “How do you realize Jesus Christ when you make the sign of the cross?”1

The video below automatically begins just before the blessing and sign of the cross gestures.

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post (Las Vegas – December 11, 2010) and the source video for both animations are by Maarten Massa.
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  1. Various Positions by Ira Nadel []

“More spontaneous & warm than just about any of his folk or rock contemporaries” Leonard Cohen Is On Rolling Stone 2013’s Hottest Tours

At 78, Cohen is more spontaneous and warm than just about any of his folk or rock contemporaries – wearing a snappy suit and fedora, reciting poems, giving short speeches and doling out classics as well as tunes from last year’s Old Ideas. Drink whenever the Webb sisters, Cohen’s pristine backup vocalists, do a backflip.

From 2013’s Hottest Tours by Steve Knopper (Rolling Stone: January 16, 2013). The awe-inspiring, vertigo-inducing photo of the Chicago Theatre marque promoting the  March 13, 2013 Leonard Cohen held at that venue was taken by Woolstrum.

DrHGuy Note: No, I’ve never seen the Webb Sisters do a backflip, either. Maybe Rolling Stone is covertly encouraging sobriety.

Originally posted January 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I had an epiphany… I went to see Leonard Cohen in Monte Carlo. At one point I found myself with tears running down my face. I realised that all my favourite songs he wrote in his 50s and 60s. To me, that was a throw down.” Bono

Bono’s response to attending a Leonard Cohen concert. From Bono – Bono Cried Over Cohen – Contactmusic News. Photo by World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland – Bono – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2008, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Originally posted January 8, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Everything changes as you get older” Leonard Cohen in Cohen’s Age Of Reason by Christine Langlois (CARP: June 2006)

Dominique BOILE offers this scan of the June 2006 CARP cover, which features Cohen’s Age Of Reason by Christine Langlois. The article itself can be accessed at Zoomer: Cohen’s Age Of Reason. Originally posted January 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric