I continue to be delighted by the images in Sharon Robinson’s On Tour With Leonard Cohen, which Vogue described as “a book of photographs, 92 percent of which were shot on an iPhone, which gives them a curious sense of intimacy, spontaneity, and complicity, echoing, in a way, the particular closeness of Ms. Robinson and Mr. Cohen’s relationship.” Now, most folks buy this book because of the photos featuring Leonard Cohen, but there are other treats: many, many shots of other members of the Unified Heart Touring Company (past and present), family, strangers, local scenes, and the occasional hangers-on who show up at soundcheck in Austin.
Source Video: Then We Take Trouville: Making Of The Leonard Cohen-Dominique Issermann First We Take Manhattan Music Video
View more animated gifs at Leonard Cohen Animations.
Interviewer: You have made clips for … “First We Take Manhattan” …
Dominique Issermann: [Leonard Cohen] had asked me. I first tried to understand what this last song was saying – “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin” – and I imagined this guy, a kind of charismatic leader who could lure the crowds, as the Pied Piper of Hamelin. This clip is a bit like that: he draws them after him, everyone drops their suitcases. In the end, he leaves them on the beach and these people go to nowhere, without anything.
Interviewer: There are also pictures of a train …
Dominique Issermann: Do you think of the trains that deported the Jews? I do not have a lot of Jewish culture, unlike Leonard who was raised in the Hebrew religion, but we did not talk about this train story at all. I was looking for ideas. But in Trouville there is a train. I like the station platforms, and I wanted the girl to be on a train at some point. All this is very spontaneous, they are layers of images that are superimposed. But that surely makes sense …
Interviewer: The train, the suitcases, the beach, these characters in cloaks with just a suitcase going to nothingness: you could not avoid thinking about the deportation …
Dominique Issermann: You’re absolutely right: that’s what I thought, but I did not know it … When, at the beginning of the shoot, Leonard asked me, “What are we going to do?”, I told him replied, laughing: “Don’t worry, it’s a Jewish program, we’ll take you from Berlin and you’ll go to Manhattan, and we’ll go the other way!” But strangely I never thought precisely: well, we’ll put trains and suitcases. The suitcase is very present in my universe. I did a lot of pictures with people who carry them. Okay, that’s my legacy. But when people tell me, “Oh yes, you’re half Jewish,” I say, “No, I’m half non-Jewish.” But here, I realize that it is not so simple …
Interviewer: These suitcases also referred to the nomadism of your couple …
Dominique Issermann: Leonard is very attached to suitcases, he has an impressive collection. These are always the ones I bought him a long time ago, and that he still carries around. All brand Globe-Trotter, navy blue or black, cardboard or fiber, old-fashioned suitcases, with straps. He was still on his last tour, completely fucked. He said, “Look, maybe we should buy some more …”
Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan
Promo video: 1988
From Ma vie avec Leonard Cohen : “Je l’ai entendu travailler deux ans sur ‘Hallelujah’” par François Armanet et Bernard Loupias (L’Obs: Nov 11, 2016). Interview originally published in “Le Nouvel Observateur” of January 26, 2012. Excerpt via computer translation with assistance from Coco Éclair. Images are screenshots from the First We Take Manhattan Video.
“All These Songs Are For You, D.I.”
My Long-Overdue Love Letter to Leonard Cohen by Elizabeth Boleman-Herring (Huffington Post: July 2, 2012). The quotation is from a June 18, 1988 interview. The Dancing Couple Dedication image was contributed by Dominique BOILE
Leonard Cohen Presents
Cohen’s responses to the queries at the press conference were, as one would expect, predominantly based on his classical forms.
He opened, for example, with a reflex genuflection to the country of the venue (for the record, Leonard Cohen has also presented his credentials for a special relationship with Canada, Ireland, Spain, and several other countries.). Asked if he had a special relationship with France, Cohen responded
I always believed that the tradition in which I speak, the song was particularly well understood here in France.1
Similarly, he again attributed the remission of his many years of depression to the notion that with old age, one loses a certain kind of brain cells responsible for causing anxiety, he once more explained the difference between clinical depression and ordinary disappointment, and revealed, for the 30th time, his passion for flamenco.
The album is called Old Ideas. These are just eternal themes that I have always been treated and that affect us all. Ordinary, everyday questions, nothing more.2
Probably the most significant new expression from the press conference has to do with the inclusion of blues songs on the album:
If you want a boxer
I will step into the ring for you
And if you want a doctor
I’ll examine every inch of you
From I’m Your Man
By Leonard Cohen
It turns out that not only is Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album dedicated to Dominique Issermann but the title song is also populated by men from Dominique’s life.
Don’t tell me that saying ‘I’m Your Man’ is a complicated thing, but who said it before and like [Leonard Cohen]? I can tell an anecdote that will make him laugh if he reads it. In this song, all the men who are mentioned are friends of mine, maybe exes more or less… ‘If I wanna be a boxer:’ I had a boyfriend boxer; ‘If I wanna be a doctor:’ another was a doctor… We laughed a lot at that.
From Ma vie avec Leonard Cohen : “Je l’ai entendu travailler deux ans sur ‘Hallelujah'” par François Armanet et Bernard Loupias (L’Obs: Nov 11, 2016). Interview originally published in “Le Nouvel Observateur” of January 26, 2012. Thanks to Coco Éclair for the French to English translation.
Thanks go to Cohencentric viewer, Uli, who, accompanied by her Swiss sidekick, attended the 2009 Leonard Cohen Colmar Concert where she shot the stellar photo of Leonard Cohen wearing boxing gloves and a stethoscope that were flung onto the stage during his performance of I’m Your Man.
When did you meet Leonard for the first time?
At Hydra, in 1982. Carole Laure and Lewis Furey introduced me to him. They knew each other well since their years of “Bohemian” Montreal.
When you lived together, what was your biggest common denominator?
Work. I did not stop working, nor did he… He wrote all the time. When I met him, he had just finished Various Positions, and then he wrote I’m Your Man. We lived at one or the other in Los Angeles, in Montreal, in New York at the hotel, in Paris, a little in Trouville or Hydra. “An overseas relationship,” that’s what I called our life then …
You had other men before him, he had other women before you, that he evokes in his songs, Suzanne, Janis Joplin for whom he wrote “Chelsea Hotel” or Joni Mitchell, the “Winter Lady” …
You forget Marianne. Suzanne, Marianne, Issermann, it rhymes …
Did you know them?
I met Marianne once, in Hydra, I think. A very beautiful woman, a bit more buxom than the photos. I think he had a beautiful relationship with her. I knew Suzanne, of course, since she was the mother of their children, whom she raised in Paris. Leonard took them on weekends, on vacation. When I met him, his daughter was 10 years old and his son 8 years old. It was a kind of gift to me, who did not have children. They were very charming; they still are: Adam is now a singer, and Lorca a wonderful young woman who lives half the time in Paris.
Leonard also spoke a lot about Marianne, whose son he raised. He lived on Hydra with her for years that were quite dazzling for him. He had just left Canada, the snow, McGill University. He had earned some money, and he went to the sun. He bought a house there. He went to the beach to soak up the sun and returned to the terrace. And then Marianne came with her blond hair, her sarong. It was an easy life, they were young, it was quiet, no cars, donkeys going up and down the hill, cats …
I have the impression that he was quite happy in Greece. He has never been unhappy anywhere. Of course, he goes through terrible ups and downs, but there is still in the depths of him a creativity so beautiful. Besides, among all the singers, who claims his happiness? Charles Trenet, maybe … and then again I’m not sure. But, for the most part, it’s “I can’t get no satisfaction,” as the Stones would say.
From Ma vie avec Leonard Cohen : “Je l’ai entendu travailler deux ans sur ‘Hallelujah’” par François Armanet et Bernard Loupias (L’Obs: Nov 11, 2016). Interview originally published in “Le Nouvel Observateur” of January 26, 2012. Excerpt via computer translation.
Photo by Dominique BOILE
- Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album
- Post-Modernist Disco
- Leonard as one of earliest Punk Rockers
- His young bull/old bull joke
- Book of Mercy
- “I don’t have time to think about politics”
- How Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat rehabilitated him
- Leonard’s attitude covers of his work
- Nick Cave rescuing his song “to let it fall apart again”
- His computer
- Living in a Portuguese section of Montreal\
- Gap between public and private life
- Critics being on trial
- Concerns about next tour
- Dominique Issermann’s direction of First We Take Manhattan video
View video on YouTube