In response to Share Your Home’s Leonard Cohen Display, David Small forwards photos of Leonard Cohen mementos on exhibit in his home, including his shot of his personal Leonard Cohen sighting – Leonard and Kezban Özcan, his personal assistant, buying movie tickets at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles – Sept. 7, 2014.
I sang him [John Hammond] six or seven songs. He didn’t say anything between them. At the end of those six or seven songs, he said, “You got it, Leonard.” I didn’t quite know whether he meant a contract, or the ‘gift,’ but it certainly made me feel very good.
Leonard Cohen 1967
From The John Hammond Years: Interview with John Hammond & Leonard Cohen broadcast on BBC, Sept 20, 1986. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles.Photo Credit: York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp: ASC01709.
DrHGuy Note: At the time, John Hammond was Columbia Records’ leading artist and repertory executive, having discovered and signed Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan. Hammond would later sign Bruce Springsteen to a recording contract. He also, of course, signed Leonard to Columbia Records, which would be his record label, except for Death Of A Ladies’ Man (Warner Brothers) and Various Positions, which Columbia initially rejected and was subsequently picked up by the independent label Passport Records (the album was finally included in the catalog in 1990 when Columbia released the Cohen discography on compact disc) for the rest of his life.
Note: Originally posted March 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The Cohen Credibility Crisis
Introduction: Back in Jan 2009, after Leonard Cohen had performed shows in Canada and Europe and it was announced that the tour would come to the USA, this site took on the investigation of the rumors that Leonard was, at 74, running, skipping, and otherwise performing in a way belying his age and presumed infirmities.
The news that the Leonard Cohen Tour is coming to the US has precipitated a moral crisis for the 1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric management.
While steadfast in my admiration of Mr Cohen, I cannot perpetuate the patently absurd premise that – now think about this – a 74 year old entertainer with a self-admitted history of significant tobacco, alcohol, and illicit pharmaceutical use allegedly maintained a tour schedule through 2008 that began with 22 concerts in 30 days and, then, after a 4 day break for travel, resumed on June 13th in Europe with 7 concerts in 8 days. Oh, and from September 21-November 30, Leonard Cohen supposedly performed 34 concerts in 28 cities across 15 countries.1
Sure he did
Nor are these purported concerts described as easy-going, ritualistic affairs, the purpose of which is no more than to allow fans to pay homage to a once-great entertainer. The newspaper reports portray an entirely different kind of event.
… Leonard Cohen surprised and delighted his audience at the BIC last night (Tuesday) by literally sprinting onto the stage and performing a three hour show. ((Cohen’s three-hour set masterpiece by Jeremy Miles. Daily Echo 12 November 2008))
Like a surreal gangster in double-breasted suit and trademark Fedora, Leonard Cohen skipped on to the stage to a deafening and reverential welcome at the Brighton Centre.2
After a seemingly endless string of encores (with Cohen skipping on and off stage between each) it’s obvious that Leonard Cohen has finally come to enjoy life and the songs that he has written that have touched so many.3
And it’s not just newspapers that are in on the scam. The animation below is from a Nett-TV News Clip, Oslo, Norway 2008.
Leonard Cohen – Closing Time
Venice: August 3, 2009
Video by AintNoCureForLove
Does that look to you like a 74 year old guy who just gave a 3+ hour show?
I don’t think so.
Miracle Or Potemkin Performance?
Come on, now. Rigorous schedule? Three hour shows? Running? Skipping?
Give me a break
Clearly, Cohen’s management is attempting to hoodwink fans, but in doing so has clumsily concocted a scenario that is so far beyond the believable that – well, it’s unbelievable is what it is.
It is now necessary to ask the awkward question – What really makes Leonard Cohen run? Stay tuned to find out what the 1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric investigative staff has uncovered.
Credit Due Department: Photo atop post by J..S. Carenza III.
Originally posted Jan 15, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric. The original video and photo, which have disappeared, have been replaced with similar versions.
- Counting the UK as one country. [↩]
- Leonard Cohen at the Brighton Centre By Charlotte Taylor. Crawley Observer 22 December 2008 [↩]
- Friday 14/11/08 Leonard Cohen @ The O2 Arena, London by Jon Bye. Gigwise. November 19, 2008 [↩]
Cohencentric has long offered a category of posts focused on the Homes Of Leonard Cohen in Montreal, Los Angeles, and Hydra. Today marks the addition of his caravan (what we Yanks would call a “house trailer”) in the south of France (what we Yanks would call “the south of France”).
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Leonard Cohen repeatedly traveled from his homes in Montreal, Los Angeles and Hydra to live in a trailer he installed at the bottom of a path leading to the home in the south of France near Avignon,1 where Suzanne Elrod had moved with their children following their breakup.2 (Note: The photo atop this post is representative of the genre but does not depict Leonard’s actual caravan. Photo by Kotivalo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link)
Adam Cohen described the scene in a 2018 NPR interview:3
I remember my mother moved my sister and I all the way to the south of France where we lived – and there was a long dirt road. And he bought one of these sort of caravan jet-stream type things. And he put it at the T where the road met the dirt road. And he just lived there (laughter). And my mother didn’t want him on the property. So, you know, every day after school, the bus would drop us off. And we’d see Dad in his caravan.
Adam elaborates in a 2012 article:4
One of the chief occupations of my father is to divine what somebody needs and give it to them before they ask. He remained in his children’s lives despite incredible obstacles. There was a moment, when we were living in the south of France, that my father wasn’t allowed on the property. So he bought a caravan and lived at the end of our road. Despite the distances my mother placed before him, he was always present with instruction and humour. To many, he was lugubrious because of his poetry, but to us, he was the most hysterical guy. We still get together every Friday when we’re in town for a family meal and he’s a constant source of counsel, advice, support and encouragement. I feel loved. I’ve always felt seen. I was between five and eight when he lived in that caravan. He was parked right at the T, where the public street met the private road. It’s hard on a kid, when you see your makers at pointed odds, especially when you understand that financially, your father’s floating the whole scene and living in a caravan at the end of a dirt road. In retrospect, every visit was an education. He was there to protect values. It would be lighting the Sabbath candles and learning Hebrew prayers, singing songs, reading the bible. In the Jewish tradition, “Cohen” is the high-priest. It’s no accident my father has a ministerial quality. As a father, he still continues to feel like a shepherd imparting an ancient understanding.”
The caravan was also where Leonard did much of his work on Book of Mercy:5
- The Face May Not Be Familiar, but the Name Should Be: It’s Composer and Cult Hero Leonard Cohen by Pamela Andriotakis & Richard Oulahan. People: January 14, 1980. [↩]
- I’m Your Man – The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012. P 327. [↩]
- New Collection Showcases Leonard Cohen’s ‘Obsession With Imperfection’. Terry Gross Interviews Adam Cohen (NPR: October 8, 2018 [↩]
- Leonard Cohen: Portrait of the artist as an older man Ben Kaplan. National Post: January 31, 2012 [↩]
- Vicki Gabereau Interview with Leonard Cohen (CBC: September 6, 1984 [↩]
Becoming what they call a bohemian was not encouraged by families like my own. It was most charitably considered a phase the child would grow out of. But in my case, I didn’t grow out of it. It got worse and worse. And so I find myself in the sorry predicament…
From “7 Reasons Leonard Cohen Is the Next-Best Thing to God” by David Browne. Entertainment Weekly, Jan 8, 1993.
Leonard Cohen – Democracy
Berlin: Sept 5, 2012
Video by anniesnake
Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on
Note: Originally posted Sep 6, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
I was a deep, deep admirer of [my father, Leonard Cohen’s] melodies of – at first, you know, as a child, just the melodies – the generosity of the melodies. And then as I grew older, there was the complexities and the beautiful marshaling of language. And then you grow older, and then you sort of see – I remember I myself, you know, was making a record at the time. And I’d scrapped it. And I asked my father for counsel.
I said, Dad, you know, meet me. I really got to talk to you. I got to pick your brain. And we were sitting on the corner of Wilshire and La Brea, and I confessed to him that I was going to scrap this entire record and was expecting him to put his hand on my shoulder and say, like, that’s my boy – you know, altruistic values. Don’t ever stop, continue refining. But instead, he turned to me and said, man, you’re going to scrap your record? That’s an amateur move. I said, amateur move? He says, yeah, it’s not about how you feel about the record. It’s how the songs make them feel.
And at that moment, I realized that the love I had always had for his material wasn’t just about their construction, but it was also about their intentionality. He was holding up this baton that he had been given by the love he had for the people who came before him. And he was holding it up, and something about the canon of his work that – has always maintained that baton off the ground.
Excerpt from New Collection Showcases Leonard Cohen’s ‘Obsession With Imperfection’. Terry Gross Interviews Adam Cohen (NPR: October 8, 2018)