Halloween In Austin
In 2013, I pondered the sight displayed above in the screen capture and posted this plea:
Would someone (maybe someone like Roscoe Beck or Mitch Watkins who understands how Austin operates) explain to me why the gentleman in the middle of this screenshot, taken when the camera pans the audience just prior to the start of Take This Waltz during the 1988 Leonard Cohen Austin City Limits Show, seems to be wearing a watermelon helmet on his head? I realize there are some odd images in Take This Waltz (you’ve got your “chair with a dead magazine” and that “bed where the moon has been sweating,” for example) but I don’t recall “I’ll applaud with a watermelon for a hat” in the lyrics.
And, sure enough, a reader wise in the ways of Austin, Leorstef, responded:
So, why is the guy wearing a Watermelon Hat? Why is one lady dressed as a Nun? I asked that question myself the first time I saw the concert 24 years ago.
That concert was actually filmed on Halloween night in 1988, then aired on PBS in April 1989. So simply, many of the folks were just in Halloween costumes. Since Austin has always been a good place to party, I assume they were just getting ready ahead of time for the rest of the night.
Here’s the sad part: I was at the Leonard Cohen concert in Austin on Oct 31, 2012, and I recall seeing only one person that might have been wearing a Halloween costume (and I suspect it could have been the sort of thing she wore every day). So, is Austin getting less weird?
Note: More Halloween-related Leonard Cohen posts can be found at Leonard Cohen – Halloween
Leonard Cohen On The Air In Austin
Leonard Cohen’s performance on the October 31, 1988 episode of Austin City Limits, which has become routinely designated as his “first major performance on American television,” is strong musically and a treat to watch. As ongoing readers know, this show has been intermittently available on various sites and then lost to copyright restrictions.
Now, however, it’s back – in an official version uploaded by AustinCityLimitsTV
The 1988 Austin City Limits show1 is notable for Leonard Cohen’s idiosyncratic preludes to certain songs, including a description of the crucifixion of Christ that invokes the application of shaving lotion as an introduction to “Ain’t No Cure For Love” and a lead-in to “If It Be Your Will” that consists of Cohen’s complaint that his “hands are all sweaty with Tequila juice. It’s an impermeable oil that seeps through the membrane,” a scientifically baffling declaration that nonetheless seems to work in context as suggestive language to set the mood.2
Video: Leonard Cohen – Austin City Limits 1988