“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.

Sharon Weisz Talks About Her Photo Of Leonard Cohen Eating A Banana That Became The I’m Your Man Cover Art

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Q: Why did he eat a banana?
Sharon Weisz: I guess he was hungry.

 

How did you meet Leonard Cohen?

Sharon Weisz: I met Leonard Cohen in 1986 when I was hired to market Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat album, which was an album of Leonard Cohen songs.

Do you remember your first meeting?

Sharon Weisz: I had planned a filmed interview with Entertainment Tonight for Jennifer Warnes, and the producer asked if Leonard could also participate, which he agreed to do. Jennifer decided that the interview should take place in a recording studio in the San Fernando Valley where she had taken Leonard. I met them at the studio and it was the first time I met Leonard in person. I had spoken to her several times over the phone and we had noticed that we lived very close to each other. Therefore, at the end of the interview, Jennifer asked me to bring Leonard home. My first meeting with Leonard was in my car on Highway 405 during rush hour for over an hour.

Where was the photograph taken from the album cover?

Sharon Weisz: Jennifer Warnes’ record company had decided to make a video clip for her version of First We Take Manhattan. The location was the former assembly plant of Ford Motor Company in Los Angeles. It is a gigantic building on the water that has been used for many film and television shootings. The upper floor where cars were once assembled has large floor-to-ceiling windows that provide natural light, and there is a lift at the bottom large enough to accommodate a car. I was at the other end of the room taking pictures of the video shoot when I saw the elevator door open. Leonard emerged and began to walk slowly to where the shoot was taking place. I noticed that he was peeling a banana while walking and when it appeared fully, I turned and took a picture with the banana and went back to what I was doing.

DrHGuy Note: The Jennifer Warnes video referenced by Sharon Weisz can be viewed below.

Why did he eat a banana?

Sharon Weisz: I guess he was hungry. The road had been long …

It was an easy “session”?

Sharon Weisz: People are shocked when they discover that it was not a “session” at all. In fact, it was only an image. The rest of the pictures I took that day were from Jennifer or Jennifer and Leonard during the shoot. When I had the contact board, I laughed when I saw Leonard’s picture with the banana. I ordered an 8×10 print and sent it with a note explaining that I thought he would like this particular photo. He phoned me about a week later to ask if it would bother me  to put it on the front of his album. He later named it my most famous photograph. I think he was right.

Also see Leonard Cohen answers “Why do you have a banana in your hand on [I’m Your Man]?”

From [1988 – 2018] Everybody knows Leonard Cohen (Soul Kitchen: Aug 21, 2018). Via Google Translate.

“Sometimes I’d return home to find [Leonard Cohen] had recited a new song into my answer machine and I’d marvel at how fortunate I was” Jennifer Warnes

jenn-lennI recently noted that, as Leonard Cohen memories go, it’s hard to beat David Weiss’s:

My most lasting memory of Leonard Cohen is of a night we spent together at a Tom Waits concert at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.

Well, Jennifer Warnes may have a winner:

Sometimes I’d return home to find [Leonard] had recited a new song into my answer machine.

From Leonard Cohen – as remembered by Jennifer Warnes by Marcus Webb (low Journalism: 7 November 2016). The photo atop this post was a gift from Jennifer Warnes.

Recommended Reading: Origins Of & Insights Into Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad Of The Absent Mare”

Lyric Of The Week: “Ballad Of The Absent Mare,” Leonard Cohen by Jim Beviglia (American Songwriter: September 2nd, 2014) is a thoughtful, insightful, clear explication of one of Leonard Cohen’s lesser known gems. I’ve included three excerpts as a sampling of the quality. The complete article can be accessed at the link.

… frequent collaborator Jennifer Warnes wrote about the song’s creation in an essay on her website: “Leonard had found some old pictures somewhere,” Warnes recalled. “They were called The Ten Bulls, old Japanese woodcuts symbolizing the stages of a monk’s life on the road to enlightenment. These carvings pictured a boy and a bull, the boy losing the bull, the bull hiding, the boy realizing that the boy was nearby all along. There is a struggle, and finally the boy rides the bull into his little village. ‘I thought this would make a great cowboy song,’ he joked.” [See Zen’s 10 Oxherding Pictures & Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad of the Absent Mare”]

It’s typical of Cohen that he muddies up the metaphor just enough to make us wonder about the object of the cowboy’s quest. After all, those who don’t know the allusion to the bulls might easily interpret the song as an endless cycle of recrimination and reunion that typifies a tumultuous romantic relationship. No one has ever mixed the spiritual and sexual as deftly as Cohen, and “Ballad Of The Absent Mare” is just another brilliant manifestation of this ability.

… Cohen then knocks down the fourth wall and reveals that this entire story has taken place within his head as he and his wife witness “That old silhouette/On the great western sky.” In that moment, he unites his old ideas of romance and transcendence and hints at the difficulty of lassoing either one. “Ballad Of The Absent Mare” is, as Leonard hoped it would be, a great cowboy song, one as vast and elusive as the horizon itself.

Originally posted September 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Jennifer Warnes practically revived me from the dead in America by putting out Famous Blue Raincoat.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen by Susan Nunziata. (Billboard Tribute to Leonard Cohen: November 28, 1998). Originally posted October 27, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Why would [Bob Dylan] go for Jesus at a late time like this? … I don’t get the Jesus part.” Leonard Cohen

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Excerpt from Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes Grove Press (April 12, 2002) p 336

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Originally posted Jan 15, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Identifies Himself As “One Of The First Punks,” Tells Bovine Sex Joke, Talks About Roshi, Nick Cave, Jennifer Warnes, Dominique Issermann, & More – 1988 Video Interview

Topics Covered In Interview With Christian Eckert (Munich 1988):

  • 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\
  • Roshi
  • 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