Joe Jackson shares this bootleg tape he made of Leonard Cohen singing Kevin Barry on March 18, 1972 at National Stadium in Dublin.
Photo by Rik Watson
My first tour with Leonard was in 1972. Looking into his audience, I saw a sea of beautiful faces not unlike the ecstatic ones you see in old religious paintings, where the men and women were openly weeping—and even though I was only 22 years old, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore. This was the tour when famously the audience sang to him in Jerusalem [after Cohen walked offstage mid-performance, overwhelmed by the crowd’s applause]. I was onstage when it happened; we were crying, and it was this moment when I understood the depth of his commitment and their commitment to him. I think somebody had given him some windowpane acid, and it was coming on as they were singing to him. He thought a miracle was happening, and you could see it on his face. He just sat down on the stage and listened to them sing. It was a Jewish chant, and it was heart-rendingly beautiful. I’m just this sunshine girl from Orange County! And when I encountered such depth and richness and spiritual power—when I finally understood that kind of intimacy within music was possible—I came home changed. I refused to go out on tour with an opening act for Neil Diamond, not because I disliked Neil Diamond, but because I was still reverberating from that impact. Leonard shattered my relationship with pop music, and now I’ve had this career that kind of vacillated between pop and music with meaning.
From Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016).
In response to the previously published post featuring an ad (click on graphic on right to enlarge) for Leonard Cohen’s June 1976 concert dates, all but three of which were changed by the time the shows actually took place, Francis Mus1 offers another story of an ad for a Leonard Cohen concert that was never held – or, more accurately, that was held in a different city.
DrHGuy Note: The content and images that followed are from Francis Mus. I have reorganized and edited the text and cleaned up the graphics.
The advertisement atop this post promotes an April 16, 1972 Leonard Cohen concert in Tielt, Belgium. Leonard Cohen did play a concert on that date but it was finally held in Brussels.
The Tielt concert was announced in the media. This is a quote (translation by Francis Mus) from the April 7, 1972 edition of Zie-magazine, a Dutch language periodical:
He asks one million for an evening, but for mentally disturbed persons he sings for free.
A meeting with the legendary Leonard Cohen, who performs in Tielt on April 16th.
The juxtaposition of these sentences has led some readers to infer that Leonard Cohen planned to perform for psychiatric patients in Tielt.2
Communications with the organizer of the event and with representatives of local psychiatric institutions, however, have confirmed that the concert in Tielt was not intended to have been held in a mental health facility but was to have been a concert in a commercial venue with a routine population mix in the audience.
In summation, there was no Leonard Cohen concert of any kind in Tielt.
Well, discovering how any industry, whether it be concert tours or medical diagnostics, used car sales or art auctions, actually works is interesting, — at least to me.
And, this event and the 1976 ad offer a historical perspective for the same problems that persist today, such as the 2012 venue switch that moved Leonard Cohen concerts from Hop Farms To Wembley Arena, triggering much consternation, many complaints, and even a comment from Cohen himself during his Sept 8, 2012 Concert at Wembley Arena in London:
I want you to know I learned about it [the venue switch] the same time you did. There are unseen hands that manipulate the marketplace. Hands that I never get to see…or crush.3
Finally, I have respect for researchers like Francis Mus and others I’ve met because of a shared interest in Leonard Cohen who understand the importance of writing accurate histories, knowing what happened, when and where it happened, and, if possible, why it happened as it did. This was an opportunity to provide a sense of the effort involved in accumulating such information.
Originally posted Feb 15, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
One afternoon in 1970, John (not his real name), a resident, put a suggestion to the writers’ group at the Henderson, a therapeutic community in Sutton for people with personality disorder. The group had been on a visit to The Times and had been inspired to improve their newsletter, Chicken Quill. “Why not inject some energy into this place by inviting Leonard Cohen to do a concert?” asked John. It would give them a good front page for the next issue.
Leonard Cohen played in the very large room with church windows within the tower. There were half a dozen musicians and two female singers. They stayed for two to three hours. There were about 40-45 in the audience, made up of staff and patients. [↩]
Rik Watson, who co-authored and took photos for the review of Leonard Cohen’s March 22, 1972 Newcastle concert (published in Muther Grumble, Issue 4 – April 1972), came across the Cohencentric post on that show, Leonard Cohen’s Bagpipe Museum Reference At 1972 Newcastle Concert, and graciously proffered his shots of Leonard performing onstage at Newcastle’s City Hall. (Note: That same article was also featured in Leonard Cohen “This is probably my last tour” – 1972.)
It’s all coming down to the wire now. Home to roost. It’s Tuesday night and this is the first rehearsal with Jenny and Donna, the two new singers, who’ve just got in from LA. The excitement is so strong in here you can touch it. The tour begins in two days. The lights are low and the garbage can is stuffed with ice, wine and champagne. These girls have got to work.
Jenny is tall, with straight blond hair down to her shoulders. She stands holding her body straight but easy, a feeling of calm to her. She came from playing the lead in Hair in Los Angeles. Donna is a bit shorter, with a fuller more sexual body, long light blond hair falling in natural curls over her shoulders. She’s less calm than Jenny, more in need of reassurance.
The singing is going well. The first song. If it’s going to come together, it’s got to be now. Leonard is looking truly adolescent. Worn brown sneakers, favorite black slacks, old favorite grey sweater hanging loosely from his shoulders. He’s listening to the girls and smiling as he sings. Standing at the mike, shoulders in their slight hunch, feet together, tapping, swaying slowly from side to side. *Oh you are really such a pretty .little one / I see you’ve gone and changed your name again. Peter, on electric bass, is tapping away smiling, David looks happy, too. Just as I’ve climbed this whole mountainside / To wash my eyelids in the rain. The music takes off. Ron starts smiling, Bob too, *Oh so long Marianne / It’s time that we began / To laugh / and cry / and cry / and laugh /about it all again.
The new girls respond beautifully and they sing the last refrain again. The song finished, Leonard turns to the girls, he’s smiling, delighted. “Fabulous . . . fabulous . . . just fabulous,” he can’t get over how well the song went. He’s shaking the girls’ hands saying, “Congratulations.” He’s just like a kid, he’s so happy. People break to get some drink, but Leonard is too excited. Com’on, let’s keep going. Hey seriously that was fabulous. I’m so excited I’ve lost the capo from my guitar.” He is stumbling around through the mike booms and chairs looking on the floor and table and chairs for his capo. “Hey, anyone seen my capo . . .?” The girls are giggling they’re so happy it’s come together. Leonard is still stumbling around: “Those sounds were so beautiful I couldn’t sing, like music to my ears . . . I’m so happy there are voices out there, the voices came.” He’s standing still now, overcome.
They get back together, Leonard saying, “Let’s do Thin Green Candle . . . no, no, let’s do Joan Of Arc.” They begin and suddenly in mid-verse Leonard stops: “I’m sorry we might as well cool this right now, I can’t sing. It’s too beautiful.” They look at each other. “The reason I need girls to sing with me is that my voice depresses me.” Donna protests, “No . .. no,” but Leonard goes on, “No, seriously, that’s the truth. I need your voices to sweeten mine. No really, that’s the truth. So please try to sing something simple in harmony with my voice.” And they swing back into another song . . . and it works.
From Famous last words from Leonard Cohen by Paul Saltzman (Macleans: June 10, 1972). The photo of Jennifer Warnes & Donna Washburn taken by Sherry Suris at the April 19, 1972 Tel Aviv soundcheck was a generous gift from Jennifer Warnes..
Unless Adam and Eve face each other, God does not sit on his throne. Somehow, the male and female parts of me refuse to encounter one another tonight, and God does not sit on his throne. This is a terrible thing to happen in Jerusalem.
Note: Originally posted Apr 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric