Brian D. Johnson On The Bountiful Afterlife Of Leonard Cohen

From The bountiful afterlife of Leonard Cohen by Brian D. Johnson (Macleans: Sep 30, 2018) is a must-read. I’ve included a couple of excerpts to provide a sense of the offerings:

Twelve hours later, as Leonard lay dying after his fatal fall, he typed his last words in a string of emails to his close friend and Buddhist crony Eric Lerner, an American novelist and screenwriter (Bird on a Wire). Lerner recounts the exchange in a memoir published this month called Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen. The first email, arriving at 3 a.m., consisted of three lines from Dante’s Inferno in Italian, sent from the same Los Angeles duplex that the two friends had bought together in 1979. It was followed by a dire message. “In clear, grim prose,” Lerner writes, “he recounted how he’d gotten up to go the bathroom, and on the way back he fainted and took a hard fall, hitting his head on the floor.” At home in Boston, Lerner fired back a dark joke and waited. Finally, Leonard sent one last message, “describing how sweet it was to be back in his bed, telling me that the waves of sweetness felt overwhelming.”

“I had no idea there was such a vast amount of material,” says Robert Kory, who’s had a team cataloguing the archive for the past year. It’s quite the trove, with items ranging from correspondence with his ex-lover Joni Mitchell to outtakes that include all 84 verses of Hallelujah.

Leonard Cohen Converts 1976 Oslo Show Bomb Threat Into “Powerful And Electric Campfire Concert”

Leonard Cohen’s May 29, 1976 Oslo show Is Interrupted By Bomb Threat

Yet another bomb threat. From some reactionaries who had not even realized that the  last political meeting of the spring semester in the Great Hall had been the week before, now there was the only a concert. At the time, Norway was still so innocent that the threat did not create fear, just irritation. All of us knew that the bomb threat was just an empty bluff, but everyone also knew that as a precaution we were still going to have to clear the entire Great Hall. It was irritating, and extra annoying since it could have been avoided if only the “idiots” had checked the calendar in advance.

Out we went. Soon 8-900 spectators stood in the parking lot, waiting for the bomb search to be completed so that the concert could continue… But word spread suddenly that Leonard Cohen and his band had brought instruments and now stood at the back of the concert hall, ready for an open air concert. Of course, we moved around the corner of the hall, and there and then changed the boring evening into something wonderful that still lives in memory. They took played not just one or two songs, but playedon for fully there on the lawn. Tightly surrounded by the audience with all distance between musician and fans broken down and removed. You saw that Cohen & Co. enjoyed themselves in the unfamiliar setting… With a bunch of musicians and several hundred enthusiastic guest vocalists, this was the most powerful and electric campfire concert – albeit without electricity and fire – I’ve ever attended!

There was obviously no continuation of the concert indoors. Luckily. We could leave the place with the magic of the spontaneous outdoor concert unsullied.

From Leonard Cohen: Fine suvenirer fra den siste turnéen by Leif Gjerstad (LeffesLab: May 13, 2015) English translation via Google Translate and other online translation processes.

Video Teaser For Adam Cohen Documentary: “The Family Business”

The video, featuring footage from Adam Cohen’s European Tour in support of his “Like A Man” album and scenes with his father, Leonard Cohen, and his son, Cassius, is promoted as an early glimpse of a full length documentary that showcases Adam’s music as he first comes to terms with and finally embraces the family business.

Video by

Originally posted Oct 5, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Concert Comportment – With Help From Madonna, Prince, Carole King, Ray Charles, And Peter, Paul, & Mary


This entry was originally published May 8, 2008, just before Leonard began his 2008-2013 sequence of world tours. Although there will, sadly, be no more Leonard Cohen live performances, I am reposting it because (1) it offers a bit of insight into Leonard’s performances, (2) my experiences indicate that hints on concert etiquette in general are still needed in these troubled times, and (3) Leonard’s response to this post, “Finally, I know how to behave at my concerts,” still tickles me (my response was that I wasn’t confident I was up to the task of instructing him on behavior, but I would be happy to refer him to my mother’s tutelage)..

Cohen On Concerts

You definitely go into a concert with a prayer on your lips. There’s no question about that. I think that anything risky that you do, anything that sets you up for the possibility of humiliation like a concert does … you have to lean on something that is a little better than yourself I feel I’m always struggling with the material, whether it’s a concert or a poem or a prayer or a conversation. It’s very rarely that I find I’m in a condition of grace where there’s a kind of flow that is natural. I don’t inhabit that landscape too often. … Well, I mean this in a kind of lighthearted way. When you walk on the stage and 5,000 people have paid good money to hear you, there’s definitely a sense that you can blow it. The possibilities for disgrace are enormous.

Leonard Cohen1

The DrHGuy Corollary

While the possibilities for disgrace as an audience member may be less than enormous, neither are they trivial.


How To Be Leonard Cohen’s Friend2

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  1. From An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Robert Sward. A Side. Montreal, Quebec – 1986 []
  2. Leonard Cohen has routinely addressed members of his concert audiences as “friends.” At the end of his final song, for example, he often utters a benediction, bidding the crowd farewell with something along the lines of “Good Night, Friends.” []

“Leonard Cohen promptly selected the prettiest young woman on stage [at 1970 Frankfurt concert] and — faster than you could say ‘Suzanne’ or ‘So Long, Marianne’ — began making out with her.”

The first time I heard Cohen perform was on May 5, 1970. His sold-out concert was at the 2000-seat Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt, Germany, where I was a music-crazed eighth-grade student at the Frankfurt International School. His concert took place a day after four students protesting the Vietnam War were killed by National Guard troops at Kent State University in Ohio. The fatal shootings were a prime topic of conversation for many in the audience — and for Cohen, who lamented the tragedy at some length from the stage before performing a single number. Apparently taken aback by Cohen’s impromptu but carefully articulated words, a young American soldier seated in the front row called out: “We came to hear you sing, not talk.” “Well, then,” Cohen shot back, “you’ve got a real problem.” After doing a song or two with his band, Cohen invited as many audience members as would fit to come up on stage for the remainder of the concert. More than a hundred did, sitting cross-legged next to him and his musicians. Cohen promptly selected the prettiest young woman on stage and — faster than you could say “Suzanne” or “So Long, Marianne” — began making out with her. He engaged in a similar, spur-of-the-moment make-out session with another young woman on stage when he performed at the same Frankfurt venue a year later.  (In 1987, I did a Union-Tribune interview with Jennifer Warnes, who had just released her superb album of Cohen’s songs, “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Since she had been a singer in his band in the early 1970s, I asked her if she recalled Cohen’s make-out sessions with very willing female fans at his pair of Frankfurt concerts. Warnes let out a knowing sigh. “He did that at every concert,” she said.)


How make-out artist supreme Leonard Cohen nearly got me kicked out of my 11th grade English class by George Varga (San Diego Union Tribune: No 11, 2016). The photo us a screen capture from Leonard Cohen – Bird On A Wire, Tony Palmer’s documentary of the 1972 Leonard Cohen Tour.

“My father [Leonard Cohen] was very interested in preserving the magic of his process. And moreover, not demystifying it. Speaking of any of this, is a transgression.” Adam Cohen

From Romance, regrets and notebooks in the freezer: Leonard Cohen’s son on his father’s final poems by Scott Timberg (Guardian: 28 Sep 2018). The full article, which includes three poems from The Flame as well as an interview with Adam, is available at the link.

Thanks to Violeta Gheorghiu, who was the first to alert me to this article.

Bob Johnston – Leonard Cohen’s “Musical Bodyguard”

Johnston later referred to the album [Songs From A Room] as a painting, not a record, and described his role as  “a musical bodyguard,” protecting Cohen and his music from artificial intrusions and falsification of sound. There was a fragile, gentle feel to the album. Johnston attempted “to make his voice sound like a mountain” without sacrificing the purity of his sound.

From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira Nadel

Creator Of Sisters Of Mercy Superhero Webseries Explains “As Canadians we are legally obliged to hat tip Mr Cohen at least once a project or have our citizenship revoked”


See Trailer Of Sisters Of Mercy, Controllers Of Time & Space

Quote from Farmer Vision’s Cameron Maitland and following description found at The Sisters of Mercy – Webseries Trailer, posted April 3, 2014 at FanBros:

Farmer Vision Media, a collective of young Canadian filmmakers, recently released the trailer for their upcoming webseries, The Sisters of Mercy. The group made a conscious decision to have their projects reflect the ethnic diversity seen in Toronto, where the series is filmed. The Sisters of Mercy specifically addresses the lack of female superheroes and the two leads are women of colour.

Note: Originally posted April 4, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric