Judy Collins Talks About Bob Dylan And Leonard Cohen, Also Covers Joan Baez

Judy Collins on Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen

At the July 26, 2009 Folks on the Island concert on Governor’s Island, Judy Collins recalls some of her early experiences in the folk-singing community, including her first meetings with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

Judy Collins Sings Diamonds and Rust

While most of the folk songs Collins performed at this concert were those with special connections to her, “Diamonds and Rust” is a Joan Baez song released in 1975 which deals with the romantic relationship between Baez and Bob Dylan.

The frame of  “Diamonds and Rust” is an unexpected phone call from the singer’s lover of 10 years ago. The lyrics of the second verse include these lines:

My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

And the final verse reads,

Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It’s all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid

For her 1995 performance of the song as a duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Baez changed the end lines,

And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid


And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
Well, I’ll take the diamonds1

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  1. Wikipedia []

Ballad of Leonard Cohen by Robbie Fulks: “Leonard Cohen was the finest poet that ever sang the blues”

Robbie Fulks – Feb 6, 2012 (screen capture)

Lynyrd Cohen –  Leonard Vs Skynyrd

Robbie Fulks, the outstanding Chicago alt-country singer-songwriter1 perhaps best known for “Fuck This Town,” his nuanced musical assessment of the country music industry represented by Nashville, somehow decided to put together the “Leonard Cohen Vs Lynyrd Skynyrd”2 show, which he performed at The Hideout in Chicago on February 6, 2012. A video of one number, “The Ballad Of Leonard Cohen,” has just appeared in YouTube [at time of original posting].

Mr Fulks himself offers this description of the show:

Lynyrd Cohen, a/k/a Leonard vs Skynyrd, as two 1970s icons duke it out via my quintet’s sensitive musical channeling. The kind of clever club programming that bored, frozen Chicagoans thrive on.

Robbie Fulks & his band – Feb 6, 2012 (screen capture)

Now, the content  of any imaginable alt-country music program called “Leonard Cohen Vs Lynyrd Skynyrd” is, by definition, sufficiently outré, arcane, and downright inexplicable to limit its appeal to a tiny elite of fans. It turns out, however, that the group of folks who would be into something labeled “The Lynyrd Cohen Show” have a 0.93 demographic  correlation with Cohencentric readers. (If Robbie Fulks had gone ménage à trois on us and added Leonard Bernstein to the program, the correlation would have been 0.96. Adding Lenny Kravitz instead of Leonard Bernstein would have pushed it to 0.975, but no one, with the possible exception of his mother, calls Mr Kravitz “Leonard.”)

Consequently, Cohencentric is happy to have booked the off-YouTube internet video premiere of …

Robbie Fulks – Ballad of Leonard Cohen

The video will automatically start at the point the song itself commences. Aficionados of stage banter may wish to adjust their dials back to the beginning of  the video to hear Mr Fulks introduce the show.

Note: Originally posted Feb 12, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. According to Peter Applebome of the New York Times, “Mr. Fulks is more than a songwriter. He’s a gifted guitarist who has taught for years at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, he’s a soulful singer with an expressive honky-tonk tenor, and he’s a natural performer. It rings true when he says he’s only truly comfortable when he’s onstage or when he’s totally alone. But what really sets him apart is his songwriting, which is one part artful country, one part artful sendup of country and one part a little of everything else.” []
  2. Sometimes referenced as “Lynyrd Skynyrd vs. Leonard Cohen” []

Dave Van Ronk On How To Write A Song: Step #1. Get Drunk With Leonard Cohen & Joni Mitchell


Dave Van Ronk And The Folk Music Scene

Dave Van Ronk was an integral part of the1960s folk revival, not only because of his own work but also because the Mayor of  MacDougal Street, as he was known, presided over the coffeehouse folk culture, influencing, helping, and inspiring many folk performers such as Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Phil Ochs, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell, in fact, held that his rendition of her song “Both Sides Now” (which he called “Clouds:) was the finest ever.

Last Call By Dave Van Ronk – With Collaboration Of Leonard Cohen & Joni Mitchell

Dave Van Ronk originally released “Last Call,” on his album Songs For Ageing Children in 1973. In 1994, he released a different version of  the song on Going Back To Brooklyn and included  the story of how the song came to be in the liner notes.

He reported that he spent the night drinking with Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell at the Chelsea Hotel, and the next morning the lyrics to this song had been scribbled out although none of the three drinking buddies remembered writing it.

Van Ronk elaborated on the circumstances in his live introductions to the song, explaining that the lyrics were found  in his notebook in a handwriting none of them recognized. Since it was in his notebook, Leonard and Joni held that he obviously wrote it.1

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  1. Music Musings and Miscellany []

Leonard Cohen Musical Technology: Rafael Gayol’s Drum Set


How Does One Bang On That Drum All Day

While this musical technology post is linked to Leonard Cohen because the issue happened to come to my attention via LeonardCohenForum and, unsurprisingly given its origin, had to do with Cohen’s band, my major motivation for publishing the information is – well, I like to know how things work so I narcissistically assume Cohencentric  readers will be interested as well.

Distilled to the basics, the question is,

What is that small drum adjacent to Raphael Gayol’s1  bass drum?”2

It turns out that this is not, as I had hoped, a case of percussive mitosis.
mitosisThe correct answer, provided by LeonardCohenForum member, Florian, follows:

The item used by R. Gayol is called “Subkick,”3 manufactured by Yamaha. It has the same purpose as the Woofer by DW but works little differently: basically it’s a snare drum shell (10 x 5 inches) with a speaker(!) inside. that speaker is reverse-wired and works as a microphone as result of that. The DW woofer is a shorter bass drum in front of the real bass drum with a (real) mic inside.

“Woofer by DW” refers to an earlier forum entry about the same question:

… a ‘woofer’ … enhances the sympathetic frequencies, roundness, and low – end ‘punch’ [of the drum.] Non drummers might think ‘what’s the point?’ but drummers know it makes a difference – and if that is what they think will improve things all around – then great.

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post was taken by Jean @ Renovation Therapy. (I, however, am responsible for the value-added yellow circle.)

Note: Originally posted May 23, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Rafael Gayol is also known, per Leonard Cohen’s band introductions, as “Our Timekeeper” []
  2. The obvious follow-up question is, “And what is that mysterious yellow circle around it?” []
  3. Doesn’t “Subkick” sound suspiciously like a D&s term for something a Dom would do to a sub? []

Hear Joni Mitchell Talk About “Deliciously Decadent” Leonard Cohen, A Fake Tim Buckley & Green Sunsets


Joni Mitchell 1988 Radio Broadcast

On September 6, 1988,  Joni Mitchell appeared on “Hubert On The Air,” a one-hour show on Dutch radio hosted by Hubert van Hoof, to select and comment on her favorite songs, the ones that “thrilled her” or, alternatively, “knocked her socks off” from her childhood to the time of the broadcast.1 Mitchell, who can sometimes come off as defensive or even bitter about her musical influences, is generous, thoughtful, and charming in this instance.

Joni Mitchell Talks About Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” Green Sunsets & Tim Buckley Impostor

The excerpt below from the show features her comments about “Suzanne” and a related incident about accompanying a man who claimed to be Tim Buckley (although Mitchell knew this was only a pose) on a cruise near Miami where she sighted a green sunset. The 7.5 minute clip also includes a recording of Leonard Cohen singing “Suzanne.”


Bonus: Green Flash Sunsets

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  1. Joni’s song choices, most of which (though not the classical pieces), were part of the the broadcast, follow:

    • Stravinsky: Rites of Spring – Dance of the Adolescents
    • Rachmaninoff: Theme from Paganini
    • Miles Davis: It Never Entered My Mind
    • Louis Jordan: Saturday Night Fish Fry
    • Bill Haley: Rock Around the Clock
    • Chuck Berry: Maybelline
    • Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
    • Edith Piaf with Les Companions de la Chanson: Trois Cloches (3 bells)
    • Billie Holiday: You’ve Changed
    • Leonard Cohen: Suzanne
    • Buffalo Springfield: Rock and Roll Woman, Broken Arrow
    • Jimi Hendrix: The Wind Cries Mary []

The Half-Sister Of Mercy, Leonard Cohen, & DrHGuy


Introduction: This post is part of The 2009 Beacon Theatre Show Detour in the saga of How DrHGuy First Connected With Leonard Cohen.


On The Sidewalk In Front Of The Beacon Theatre Before The Leonard Cohen Concert, I met …

among others waiting for the theater doors to open on that cold February night,

  • A thirty-something entrepreneur so intent on seeing Leonard Cohen perform that he had flown from South Africa to New York that afternoon with the return flight scheduled to depart only hours after the end of the show
  • A mother and daughter, both of whom eagerly confessed to harboring lurid aspirations vis-a-vis Mr. Cohen
  • A native New Yorker who asked me if Leonard Cohen was indeed performing at the Beacon that night and, following my confirmation of the announcement on the marquee, promptly engaged a scalper in an animated and easily overheard conversation which concluded less than a minute later with her purchase of a balcony ticket for several hundred dollars over the original price
  • The Girl With The Leonard Cohen Tattoo

and, as the perceptive reader might deduce from  the title of this post, I met The Half-Sister Of Mercy (HSOM).

An Aside On Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters Of Mercy”

Leonard Cohen has told the back story of his song, “Sisters Of Mercy” man times1 This rendition is an excerpt from a December 4, 1974 interview quoted at Diamonds In The Lines: Leonard Cohen In His Own Live Words:

… like a lot of my material it’s [the song, “Sisters of Mercy” is] just completely documentary. It doesn’t concern high metaphysical questions but an accurate reportage as authentic and precise as I can make it, a description of exactly what happened on the interior landscape. And I was in Edmonton during a tour by myself of Canada, I guess this was around 67. I was walking along one of the main streets of Edmonton, it was bitter cold ; and I knew no-one and I passed these two girls on a doorway. They invited me to stand in the doorway with them. Of course I did. And some time later, we found ourselves in my little Hotel room in Edmonton and the three of us were gonna go to sleep together. Of course I had all kinds of erotic fantasies of what the evening might bring. … And we went to bed together and I think we all jammed into this one small couch in this little Hotel and it became clear that it wasn’t the purpose of the evening at all. And at one point, in the night, I found myself unable to sleep, I got up, and by the moonlight – It was very very bright, the moon was being reflected off the snow, and my windows were very bright – I wrote that poem by the ice-reflected moonlight while these women were sleeping and it was one of the few songs that I ever wrote from top to bottom without a line of revision . The words flowed and the melody flowed and by the time they woke up the next morning, it was dawn. I had this completed song to sing to them.

To those readers who know me and are now beginning to panic, be assured that, mercifully, in the story of the HSOM and me, I do not write nor do I sing a song.

DrHGuy Gets Lucky

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  1. Sisters Of Mercy Lyrics

    Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
    They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
    And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
    Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been traveling so long.

    Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
    It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
    Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see how you’re pinned:
    When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.

    Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
    They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
    If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
    they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

    When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
    Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
    And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
    We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
    We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right
    . []