Photos: Leonard Cohen & Friends On Picnic c. 1970 + Leonard Cohen’s Inscription-Poem “For Sharon”

Here’s how this went down. I came across an AbeBooks ad for The Favourite Game, which I’ve excerpted here (bolding mine):

Secker & Warburg. 1963. 8vo. Original cloth and dustwrapper; pp. 222; some spotting to top edge, bump to bottom edge, rubbed corners, wrapper is age-toned with some scuffing, ottherwise very good. Provenance: with original poem in Cohen’s handwriting to ffep, with ownership inscription of Sharon Brown. The three-verse is inscribed “For Sharon” and shares a tone of romantic regret with famous lyrics such as “Bird on a wire”: “leaving me a leaf of hair to plant in the corner of my sleep/and a car ride through the highways ruins taking an old fresh field with me, like a scrap of paper caught on the aerial/ and delivering me to where I began, waiting for the harvest with fish nets and spider webs and empty pockets white and proud as sails.” First edition of Cohen’s first novel. Originally twice the length and entitled Beauty at Close Quarters, the book was rejected by Cohen’s Canadian publishers and was first published in London in its present form four years after he wrote it. sold with The Spice-Box of Earth. Toronto/Montreal: McClelland and Stewart,1961. 8vo. Stiff paper wraps; pp. 88; some scuffing to extremities, a few creases to covers, ink spot to top edges, binding very tight, very good. Provenance: ffep.1 signed and inscribed by Cohen “To Sharon”, and with ownership signature of Sharon Brown. First edition. Cohen’s second book of poetry was greeted enthusiastically, with the critic Robert Weaver proclaiming him ‘probably the best young poet in English Canada right now’. also with Four different photographic images, plus an image of 10 negatives: some multiples, printed in different exposures and crops, for a total of 11 sheets. These show Cohen, playing guitar, singing, mid-conversation, and with friends. These photos are apparently unpublished and are very informal and relaxed. They appear to be from a slightly later period than the books, circa 1970. Nothing is known about Sharon Brown, but it is natural to conjecture that this collection is the memento mori of an affair with the notoriously philandering poet and songwriter. Perhaps one of the women in the photographs is Sharon herself. Cohen left a long string of broken hearts behind him, and the poem in The Favourite Game certainly has the air of a thinly veiled goodbye. He was also famously tight-lipped about the many women in his life. As he once said: “I never discuss my mistresses or my tailors.”.

The name “Sharon Brown” seemed somehow familiar. Checking my archives, I came across a post I published Aug 3, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com (and which I just today put online at Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen – Hero To Those Under 25 In 1968) that featured “Cohen Becomes Hero” by Sharon Brown, from the January 14, 1968 Chevron (the official newspaper published by the Federation of Students at the University of Waterloo)..

Now, I have not discovered hard evidence that the Sharon Brown who wrote that article about Leonard Cohen is the same Sharon Brown who owned this book and to whom “For Sharon” is addressed. I do, however, find it believable that an adoring University of Waterloo undergrad so enamored of Leonard Cohen that she describes him as “he’s beautiful, for one thing, and he projects himself in a very intimate way” somehow connected with her “hero’ and that he reciprocated with those notes found in her copy of The Favourite Game.

I sent my speculations about Sharon Brown to AbeBooks and soon received a response from Chris Saunders of Henry Sotheran Ltd., who sent me the photos described and permission to post them along with the “For Sharon” inscription by Leonard Cohen.

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  1. fftp is the abbreviation for Front Free EndPaper. Generally, it is the first page of a book and is part of a single sheet that also spans across the inside of the front board (called the front pastedown) via a fold along the gutter with the purpose of connecting the boards to the stitched textblock []

The Scorpion & The Camel: Leonard Cohen’s Story Of The Middle East

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Well, I’m gonna tell you a little story I just heard. There was this scorpion that was trying to get across the stream. He was too small to get across and he came to a camel and said ‘Will you carry me across the stream?’ The camel said, ‘Of course I’m not going to carry you across the stream. You’re a scorpion and you’re gonna sting me.’ Well, after many hours of persuasion, the camel was finally convinced to take the scorpion across the stream. Midway across the stream, the scorpion stung the camel. They’re both going down. They’re both being swept away and the camel says, ‘Why did you sting me?’ and the scorpion says, ‘Because this is the Middle East.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – from “Songs and Thoughts of Leonard Cohen” by Robert O’Brian (RockBill, September 1987). Map By TownDown – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted September 20, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen “There is a kind of sexual dance going on with woman and a kind of war-dance going on with men”

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So I find I can enjoy both men and women, because even when you meet men there is a kind of war-dance going on; there is a kind of sexual dance going on with woman and a kind of war-dance going on with men. And it’s very agreeable to have those dances confined to one or two steps rather than the acrobatics that usually attended them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen, from his 2001 interview with Stina Lundberg.  Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric February 23, 2011

“I’d love to write a hit but I don’t think I know how to do it” Leonard Cohen On The Popularity Of His Music (1984)

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I’d love to write a hit but I don’t think I know how to do it. Even Suzanne and Bird On A Wire were never really hits – they were horizontal hits. In concert I have to sing Suzanne, Bird On A Wire, So Long Marianne. People cry out for them. They come to a concert and have been living with your songs for a long time and they want to hear the songs they really like.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Cohen at 50: On His Songs, His Women And Children by Chris Cobb Ottawa Citizen: April 21, 1984. Photo by Pete Purnell .

“I find a broadening of desire, if anything, as you get older” Leonard Cohen


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Sexual thoughts are supposed to come regularly once every six seconds. Whatever the statistic was, I wasn’t exempt from it, and am still not. I find a broadening of desire, if anything, as you get older.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Cohen Heads Back to The Future by Spencer Bright. London Daily Mail: December 11, 1992. Originally posted Jan 15, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I think songs, to the young, are an education.” Leonard Cohen


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I think songs, to the young, are an education. And a lot of the songs are true. They’re accurate representations about states of minds everyone has.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

For Cohen, Grief Is Joy by Lynn Van Matre (Chicago Tribune: Nov 23, 1975). Thanks to Rike, who discovered and contributed the article