Allison Crowe Renews Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”

Allison Crowe Covers Annie Lennox

Performances of cover songs can be both rewarding and risky. Allison Crowe, Canadian singer-songwriter extraordinaire and Cohencentric’s favorite novice icon, appears to have developed the alchemy for harvesting the benefits of covers while avoiding the pitfalls.

Allison, whose covers include not only outstanding versions of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and “A Case of You,” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” The Beatles’ “In My Life” and “Let It Be,” Lennon’s “Imagine,” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” but also the most provocative and seductive (forgive me, Aretha) take I’ve heard on Ronnie Shannon’s “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You).” And, I stand by my conviction that

Allison Crowe is the best thing to happen to “Me And Bobby McGee” since Janis Joplin changed Kristofferson’s lyrics.1

Allison’s strategy for covering is simple enough in concept but its execution is maddeningly difficult – her covers remain true to the essence of the original songs while enhancing them with her own touch, a bit of musical magic Allison intuitively executes by attending to her own reactions and those of her audiences to these songs:

… when it comes right down to it, if I like playing it and if it feels good, I am going to play it. Positive audience reaction factors in a lot in concert settings! When people respond favourably, that also adds to a certain emotion when playing the song. You sort of feed off the energy, and, as a performer, that can be a LOT of what it’s about, too.

And such is the case in Allison’s version of the Eurythmics’ 1983 breakthrough hit, “Sweet Dreams.”

Eric Garneau of Cover Me explains:

“I learned this song, in its entirety, in the summer in about an hour to record as part of a movie soundtrack,” Allison tells Cover Me. “That didn’t pan out – but what did come of it was learning a song that I’ve always tinkered around with on the piano. I love Annie Lennox’s voice and songs. She’s a very cool lady – and extremely talented, so it’s a lot of fun to be able to cover more than one song of hers! There is something very healing about yelling ‘hold your head up – keep your head up’ at the top of your lungs.”

Those producers made a big mistake not calling Allison back, because this “Sweet Dreams” that demands to be heard. She delivers a reading on this ’80s mainstay at once beautifully melodious and ferociously in-your-face. The simple recording – guitar and vocals only – bestows on the tune an intimacy that makes it sound like she’s perched square in front of you, serenading you and running through a whole spectrum of emotions.

Allison Crowe – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Video from Allison Crowe

Originally posted Nov 9, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. See Allison Crowe And Bobby McGee []

June 13, 2013: Adrian Du Plessis – Allison Crowe’s Personable Manager – Visits Leonard Cohen Plaque At New York’s Chelsea Hotel

The premiere of Superman: The Man of Steel in 2013 drew Allison Crowe, who performs in the movie, and Adrian Du Plessis, Allison Crowe’s Personable Manager, south of the 49th Parallel to New York. No one who has heard Allison’s gorgeous covers of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Bird On The Wire, and Tonight Will Be Fine will be surprised that a trip to the Chelsea Hotel was part of the itinerary.

Adrian first appeared on this  site in a snarky footnote to a 2008 post. Since then he has proved a delightful, knowledgeable, and intriguing correspondent – and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. These photos, however, are the first images of him I’ve seen, making their posting obligatory.

Note: Originally posted June 13, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Tonight Will Be Fine – Two Variations By Leonard Cohen + Versions By Teddy Thompson & Allison Crowe

Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen’s “Tonight Will Be Fine”

“Tonight Will Be Fine” was originally released on Leonard Cohen’s Songs From A Room (April 1969). Cohen’s 1970 Isle of Wight performance of “Tonight Will Be Fine” was later included on his 1973 compilation, Live Songs and then published again as part of the CD/DVD set, Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970.

While both renditions reflect Cohen’s embrace of country music, the Isle of Wight version is significantly further toward the Grand Ol’ Opry/Hootenanny pole of the spectrum. It features a distinctively slower yet almost bouncy tempo and prominent fiddle (Charlie Daniels), banjo (Elkin “Bubba” Fowler), and harmonica parts in contrast to the more modulated studio production found on Songs From A Room, on which Cohen is accompanied only by guitar and Jew’s harp. The Isle of Wight performance also includes two verses not found on the “Tonight Will Be Fine” track from Songs From A Room and a more aggressive singing style with Cohen shredding his voice and shouting sections of the song.

The lyrics are less adorned and complex than in many of Cohen’s songs but no less striking. Cohen’s metaphor for both his music and his personal strategy, for example, is evident in the following couplet:

I choose the rooms that I live in with care
The windows are small and the walls almost bare

The last line of the last verse (the last verse of the original studio version) is a poignant manifestation of the concept of bittersweet:

Oh sometimes I see her undressing for me,
she’s the soft naked lady love meant her to be
and she’s moving her body so brave and so free.
If I’ve got to remember that’s a fine memory. [emphasis mine]

I am also taken by the penultimate line, “and she’s moving her body so brave and so free,” the last phrase of which, an elementary but effective anaphora, is echoed in the second line of “Chelsea Hotel #1:”

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
You were talking so brave and so free.
[emphasis mine]

Leonard Cohen – Tonight Will Be Fine
Songs From A Room version

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Allison Crowe and Band Perform Hours From Welcome to Us Album

From the YouTube description:

With the release of “Welcome to Us” Acts 1 and 2 – here’s “Hours”, the first song of the concert including intro by Greg House, MC and drummer, too. Welcome to the collective creative genius and joy of Allison Crowe and Band! Musicians Allison Crowe (vocals, piano, guitar, fiddle, bodhran), Céline Sawchuk (cello, vocals), Sarah White (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Dave Baird (bass, vocals) & Keelan Purchase (accordion, 12-string guitar, bodhran, harmonica, vocals) banded together on the lovely isle of Newfoundland for sessions and shows. For a flock of creators who live, literally, all over the map it’s a rare chance to slow the world a bit. “We had time to experiment, and think more about the larger picture musically,” says bassist & birder Dave. “It’s only the beginning. It’s just the first we’ve had opportunity to work the music out without much time restraint. It was fun, relaxed, and productive.” Melding into one sound and performance experience the rawest of folk roots and the richest of arena rock – that barely begins to describe the originality and freshness of the quintet’s music and personality. Debuting at Corner Brook, NL’s Rotary Arts Centre, RAC Theatre Co-ordinator Brad Randell observes, “The performance was absolutely magical.” Rolling across the rock, captured fresh at the LSPU (Longshoremen’s Protective Union) Hall in St. John’s, NL, Canada – it’s music that’s food for the soul and fun for all. Fortune’s present audio-wise, and Allison’s SD (memory) card is filled with tracks to be mined and enjoyed. Sláinte!

“Welcome to Us 1”, the concert’s first act, presents the brilliant bi-coastal band’s more guitar-and-fiddle-centric tunes

“Welcome to Us 2”, the concert’s second act, features the group’s more guitar-and-fiddle-centric tunes

“Welcome to Us Banter Bits” includes any chat, laughter, applause not found on the “Welcome to Us” albums on iTunes et al. A free download to complement the concert music

How To Think About Music By David Goza – Featuring Allison Crowe’s Cover Of Hallelujah By Leonard Cohen

David Goza, Visiting Associate Professor of Music at University of Oklahoma, offers this video as Lesson 1 of How To Think About Music.

From the YouTube description:

I’m starting a new educational series to give my students some ways to think about music, and I’ll probably post them here from time to time. This one involves a heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” by Allison Crowe (…). I’m not sure this posting will pass copyright infringement muster. I certainly mean no harm in posting it, and have nothing but admiration for Ms. Crowe’s extraordinary artistry.

Thanks to Adrian du Plessis, the personable manager of Allison Crowe, who alerted me to this videoo,

Video: Allison Crowe Performs Leonard Cohen’s “Joan Of Arc”

On her debut album “secrets” Allison Crowe included this Leonard Cohen song cover. Her vocals are accompanied by Jo Lundstrom (Rosehip Jam, Black Velvet Band) on accordion and Allison herself on piano. Crowe engineered the recording, with production by Rainer Willeke (of Victoria, BC’s Raindog Studios).

The video image of Allison Crowe is by Canada’s Billie Woods.

MOJO magazine’s December ’08 issue paid tribute to “Rock’s Greatest Poet” Leonard Cohen with a celebration of his “deep and moving music”. Of Allison Crowe’s contribution of “Joan of Arc” to its ‘All Star Tribute”, (featuring Judy Collins, Nick Cave, Katie Melua, Martha Wainwright, Dion and others), a cover-mount CD titled “Cohen Covered”, MOJO says: “Once famously described by the Vancouver Courier as possessing a style akin to ‘Elton John meets Edith Piaf’, the Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe is renowned for her ability to blend control and melodrama. Certainly she does so on this spirited cover of Cohen’s ‘Songs of Love and Hate’ classic, a track which also powerfully showcases her considerable talent as a fine interpreter of song.”

“Any album that features a track from Leonard Cohen is certainly heading in the right direction. But when it is covered so beautifully, it makes you realise what an amazing lyricist Leonard Cohen is. Joan of Arc is the Cohen song covered on this album and it’s certainly in my top 10 of Cohen covers. It’s also my favorite track on (Secrets)” ~ Colin Meeks, (USA)

Joan of Arc performed by Allison Crowe
Words & Music by Leonard Cohen

Note: Originally posted at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Allison Crowe Covers Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat

From Heavy Graces Album

This choral rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic is the first of two versions recorded by Allison Crowe for her album “Heavy Graces,” to be released Oct 15, 2013.

From the YouTube description:

“Famous Blue Raincoat”, its composer, Leonard Cohen, says, reflects on the “tyranny” of possession — of the kind that enslaves us as women and men.

It’s territory covered here by musician Allison Crowe. (Crowe’s previously celebrated the Cohen songbook via renowned interpretations of “Hallelujah”, “Joan of Arc” and other tunes from the master songsmith.)

Impressionistic visual accompaniment comes via film scenes from “The Blue Angel” (“Der blaue Engel” first released in Europe in 1930 saw its full North American release the following year.)

Video: Adrian22

Note: Originally posted Oct 11, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Allison Crowe and Band – Now I’m 64

From YouTube Description:

Sing out! All aboard – sway along with Allison Crowe and Band jamming in the Corner Brook home of Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador. (Thanks TNL!) With a boundless repertoire that ranges o’er sea and land, air and fire, the majestic and mythic, the profoundly human, visceral as well as ethereal, from this session, (captured on Allison’s phone), here’s a sweet song of the hearth.

Allison Crowe and Band – Now I’m 64
September Session