“They had cassettes of my songs and Xeroxes of my books. Tickets were scalped for a month’s wages.” Leonard Cohen On Poland’s Response To Him In 1985

I was totally unprepared for the response in Poland [in 1985]. They had cassettes of my songs and Xeroxes of my books. Tickets were scalped for a month’s wages. It was almost embarrassing. ‘The Partisan’ became a kind of anthem in the detention camps after Solidarity was outlawed and there was a large roundup of people. Lech Walesa sent me greetings when I entered. I had the Pope’s bodyguard.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen Work Finds A Place by Mary Campbell (AP – Kentucky New Era: June 29, 1985). Poster for the March 19, 1985 Leonard Cohen concert at Arena Poznan’ in Poznan, Poland (inscription: The Legendary Bard Of The Protest Song, The Great Poet And The Composer)  contributed by jeremek, who originally posted it at LeonardCohenForum. Originally posted Sep 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“My fish will be tamed in the bathtub at the Pentahotel.” Leonard Cohen’s “Rebellious Thoughts” Intro To Chelsea Hotel #2 – Wiesbaden 1985


The young woman in that elevator was Janis Joplin, and the young man was Leonard Cohen, an unlikely combination. However, out of that grotesque union, came this song.

Chelsea Hotel #2 Introduction: Wiesbaden – Feb 2, 1985

It was a long time ago, in an elevator, in the Chelsea Hotel, that I wrote this song. Oh that was a lovely elevator. God! If I could only ride up and down up and down in that elevator all my life. I think I am riding up and down all my life. They’re such pretty buttons. You could reach everyone of them. You didn’t have to be a giant. You just had to be ordinary human-sized. There they were, 1 2 3 4 5 6, these buttons. Where is the elevator and these buttons? They would take me to the delights that I so richly deserved. The Pentahotel. It’s not that bad you know. It’s a good hotel. It has a very deep bathtub. I brought my fish. At this very moment my fish is sporting itself in the bathtub at the Pentahotel. There’s a lot of space for my fish. My fish is sad. It deserves the ocean it believes. My fish is full of anxiety and ambition for the ocean. I will have to tame my fish. My fish will be tamed in the bathtub at the Pentahotel. It is not the only hotel. My fish does not ride in the elevator. My fish travels through windows. My fish is a liar. I have no fish. I lied to you about my fish. My fish is a dog. He lives with an old woman. Back to the Chelsea Hotel and the elevator in the Chelsea Hotel before I was so rudely interrupted by my rebellious thoughts. I believe I lived there once. I was a young singer trying to make it in New York. I was eating amphetamine and I was a hundred and nineteen pounds, of fury. It was late one night. I think it was a Tuesday, but I may be wrong about that. If there are any historians here, don’t hold me to the fact. I have a certain poetic license. Maybe it was Thursday. What the hell, we’re all friends. Let’s say it was a Thursday night. There were no buttons in the elevator, I lied about that too. It worked on a kind of ESP, you kind of willed yourself to the floor that you lived on. I’m sorry for going on about it now like this. I’m just an old man with an electric guitar. You know how that leads you into all kinds of disasters and predicaments. One night I met a very lovely young woman in that elevator. She was dressed in leather and feather and fringes. It was the style of the time. In those days they hadn’t heard about black. One thing led to another. I knew she was hungry. I could tell by her fringes. She was looking for Kris Kristofferson. A name we rarely hear these days. But my name is not that prominent either, so what have I got to complain about. And I was looking for Brigitte Bardot, but she was already establishing that intimate relationship with the seal that excluded all other human companionship. I didn’t know at that time. I pressed on and on. Forever the optimist. Anyhow the young woman in that elevator was Janis Joplin, and the young man was Leonard Cohen, an unlikely combination. However, out of that grotesque union, came this song.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen Prologues. Photo by Daniel Bastida.

Hear Complete Leonard Cohen 1985 Montreux Concert

High quality recording of Leonard Cohen’s July 9, 1985 appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival, including stage banter. Worthy of special note are Tennessee Waltz, which was used on the Dear Heather album; the excellent “Vietnam version” of Diamonds In The Mine; a lovely rendition of There Is A War; and Anjani joining Leonard on Joan Of Arc.

Setlist: Bird On The Wire – The Law – Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye – There Is A War – Who By Fire – Dance Me To The End Of Love – Diamonds In The Mine – Night Comes On – The Gypsy Wife – Hallelujah – Avalanche – A Singer Must Die – The Stranger Song – Chelsea Hotel #2 – Story Of Isaac – Famous Blue Raincoat – Lover Lover Lover – Tennessee Waltz – The Partisan – Sisters Of Mercy – Memories – Passing Through – If It Be Your Will – Heart With No Companion – I Tried To Leave You – Suzanne – Coming Back To You – Joan Of Arc – Dance Me To The End Of Love

Musicians:  Leonard Cohen – vocals, guitar; Richard Crooks – drums; John Crowder – bass, vocals; Ron Getman – guitar, pedal steel, vocals; Anjani Thomas – keyboards, vocals; Mitch Watkins – guitar, keyboards, vocals

Classic Images Of Leonard Cohen & Crew 1985: Distinctive Clothes, Soulful Singing, Familiar Faces

All of these images are screenshots from Video: Leonard Cohen’s Brilliant Performance Of “Coming Back To You” – Australian TV 1985.

Worthy of special note are views of

  • The sartorial splendor of Leonard Cohen in the 1980s: dark suit, plaid shirt, cowboy boots, slicked back hair (Do not try this at home unless you, like Leonard Cohen, are a professional dapper dresser.)
  • Mitch Watkins (also in plaid shirt), who also played in the 2012  – 2013 Leonard Cohen Tours
  • Anjani Thomas

Note: Originally posted February 22, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s “Byronic Bullfrog” Response & Other Delights From 1985 Boston Show


New Songs & Intriguing Stage Banter: Leonard Cohen At Berklee Performance Center 1985

The May 4, 1985 Leonard Cohen Concert at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston is an extraordinary enjoyable an interesting albeit little-known show. While the only available recording is far from pristine, it is sufficient unto our needs. I have chosen a few excerpts from the concert for your listening pleasure. (The transcriptions are from a bootleg site no longer online with several corrections by Alan Mawhinney.)

Dr Heck How About That Note: Anjani Thomas attended the Berklee College of Music. Leanne Ungar is an Associate Professor in the Music Production and Engineering department at Berklee.

Leonard Cohen – Byronic Bullfrog

Note: The review referenced by Leonard Cohen is Pop/Rock: Leonard Cohen At Walnut Street Theater by Ken Tucker The Philadelphia Inquirer: May 1, 1985; more about this review at the link.

Before A Singer Must Die


Thank you very much. It’s been a long time since I played in this country, and it is a real pleasure to be able to understand… understand the reviews that I get for the concerts. I read my first American review in ten years the other night after my very first concert in this country in Philadelphia. And then it’s genuine wit. I say this without any sense of irony. The first half of the column he reviewed my suit. I’m going to relate this news to my tailor. But I bear no grudge. He also called me a ‘Byronic bullfrog’. That man has his finger at the very heart of things.

Leonard Cohen Defies Curfew & Changes Tennessee Waltz

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Leonard Cohen Plays Madrid 1985 – Photo By Daniel Bastida + Take This Longing – Hannover 1979

Daniel Bastida, who took this photo of Leonard Cohen in concert in Madrid 1985, pairs it with the great version of Take This Longing performed in Hannover 1979.

Leonard Cohen – Take This Longing
Hannover: Nov 11,1979
Video uploaded by ALB123Videos
Note: The woman Leonard references in the introduction is Nico.