Hear, Download 1994 Interview With Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes, & Suzanne Vega


Leonard talks about his platonic relationship with Suzanne Verdal, the then-girlfriend of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt and the inspiration for the song, Suzanne, his life with Marianne, his collaboration with Phil Spector, and more. Offering insights and observations are Jennifer Warnes , who sang in his live band and recorded an album of his songs, and Suzanne Vega, who was moved by his music while a teenager.

This Nov 26, 1994 BBC program can be heard at or downloaded from

BBC Kaleidoscope: Leonard Cohen 1994

Leonard Cohen was “on the verge of becoming the American incarnation of Kurt Weill”


In the 1960s the relentlessly introspective, dark-toned songs of Leonard Cohen made him a cult figure. He seemed, in fact, on the verge of becoming the American incarnation of Kurt Weill … His cult has continued, albeit with limitations, but he never became the major focus of attention that this marvelous album of his songs will make him if there’s any justice in the pop music world. (That is, of course, a big “if.”) quotedown2


From Picks and Pans Review: Famous Blue Raincoat [a review of Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat] by Ralph Novak, Andrew Abrahams, & Mary Shaughnessy. People: Nov 24, 1986.

Note: Originally posted November 15, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Droll, Deadpan Version – ZDF-TV 1979

rockpopThis is the fourth post in the Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine series examining “Memories” by Leonard Cohen.

Now, this is fun …

ZDF-TV Rockpop Special Memories Video

Leonard Cohen – Memories
ZDF-TV Studio in München, Deutschland: October 31, 1979
Part of a set recorded for later broadcast1

OK, if you don’t recognize that this is a funny video after viewing it – and an amazing number of folks don’t – I probably can’t persuade you. Nonetheless, my humanitarian obligation to you as a fellow inhabitant of this planet is to at least attempt to rescue you from your tragic misperception. So, we’ll be taking a look at  Leonard’s humor, the backup singers (Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson) choreography, and the inspirational Frankie Laine. Buckle up.
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  1. According to the YouTube notes, the band at that taping included “Leonard Cohen – vocals, acoustic guitar, blues harp, Sharon Robinson – vocals, Jennifer Warnes – vocals, Mitch Watkins – guitars, Roscoe Beck – bass, Raffi Hakopian – violin, John Bilezikjian – oud, mandolin, Paul Ostermeyer – wind, Bill Ginn – keyboards, Steve Meador – drums.” Leonard Cohen Live lists the the complete set taped that day as follows: “1. Bird On The Wire, 2. The Guests, 3. So Long, Marianne, 4. The Window, 5. Famous Blue Raincoat, 6. Passin’ Through, 7. Memories, 8. The Guests (2), 9. Suzanne, -. The Partisan.” That same source notes that “tracks #1-2 were broadcasted on ZDF-TV ‘Rock-Pop,’ November 10, 1979” and “tracks #3-9 were broadcasted on ZDF-TV ‘Rock-Pop Special,’ December 2, 1979.” []

Jennifer Warnes On Leonard Cohen’s “Jenny Sings Lenny” Cover Art


“This is, in fact, the true cover and unofficial title”

During the recording of the album that would be released as Famous Blue Raincoat in Spring 1986, Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes had dinner at Mario’s Italian Restaurant in Hollywood. Leonard pulled a pen from his breast pocket, moved his plate aside, and drew the sketch shown above on his white paper placemat.

To me, this little drawing was sacred and private, and I secretly resisted it into an advertisement. Leonard, however, has never forgiven me for not using it on the cover. But among those of us who worked on this recording, of which I am deeply proud, this is, in fact, the true cover and unofficial title.quotedown2

Jennifer Warnes


From Jenny Sings Lenny by Jennifer Warnes in Take This Waltz: A Celebration of Leonard Cohen, Edited by Michael Fournier and Ken Norris (The Muses Company, Quebec, Canada: 1994)

Jennifer Warnes: “It wasn’t love at first sight between Leonard [Cohen] and me.”

jennifer warnes image De Telegraaf December 24 1992 pixels_low

No, it wasn’t love at first sight between Leonard and me. I already knew his work well when I first met him in a hotel elevator in Hartford, Connecticut, where I was singing at the local university auditorium and he was performing in the concert hall. I had always pictured that, whenever we met, I would start an intellectual discussion about life and work, from which he would deduce that I am a sophisticated person. But at the actual moment, of course, I behaved like any fan – not to say like a groupie – and I was treated accordingly. So, I was surprised when, two years later, I was asked to join his band as a background singer. Although I came to the audition with trepidation, I was hired – without Leonard recognizing me. During the tour we have shuddered over this many times: imagine if we had remained two ships that sailed past one another in the night! To make a long story short: we are friends for life. I’m convinced that Leonard has loved all his singers, but Laura Branigan and I are, if he is asked for favorites, always mentioned. quotedown2

Jennifer Warnes


Jennifer Warnes “Ik heb een ego als de Eiffeltoren” [Jennifer Warnes ‘I have an ego as big as the Eiffel Tower’] door Jip Golsteijn (De Telegraaf: December 24, 1992)

Contributed and translated by Anja Deelen

Hear Jennifer Warnes BBC Interview About Leonard Cohen, Roscoe Beck, New Album …

jwifJennifer Warnes is interviewed by Spencer Leigh at BBC Radio Merseyside – March 20, 2016. The broadcast will be available for 21 more days.

Jennifer’s fans assess this as one of her best interviews (and I agree).

Linda Sturgess, who alerted me to this interview, writes:

She talks of many things and, of course, about her long relationship with Leonard Cohen – with comments like “he brings the excitement of the written world to music” and he “speaks to the soul.” The interview is interspersed with a lot of good music. I loved this – her mention of how there used to be “road records” – listening to an album while on a road trip in a car – the love of “the hour spent with an artist that was unbroken.”  She mentions the upcoming the upcoming album that she is working with Roscoe Beck and others – a “collection of tunes that resonate with her life.”

The interview can be heard at BBC Radio Merseyside – Jennifer Warnes

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Linda Sturgess who alerted me to this interview

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs Sisters of Mercy With Donna Washburn & Jennifer Warnes – 1972


Backup singers Donna Washburn & Jennifer Warnes are positioned to share Leonard Cohen’s microphone after sound system problems caused theirs to malfunction.

Leonard Cohen – Sisters of Mercy
From Bird On A Wire Documentary: 1972 Tour