Seventy-eight year old Montreal troubadour Leonard Cohen also had a good weekend in the Saskatchewan capital, wresting his second Juno of the year — fifth of his career — for songwriter of the year after releasing his platinum-certified Old Ideas, a pitch-black rumination on mortality, aging and faith that topped the charts in Canada. The award was accepted by his son, singer Adam Cohen, who said his father considered Canada “the beating heart of his career.”
“I’d like to say I haven’t had much contact with my dad recently because he’s been on tour in Canada,” Cohen said of his father, who also won artist of the year. “He only called the other day to say, ‘What’s the user name and password at the house?’ But I know that he has deep, deep fondness for the love that Canada has always expressed to him.”
Happy Father’s Day!
Leonard sends Father’s Day greetings and this brilliant photo of himself reading to his children, Lorca & Adam (along with a kitten clutched by Adam) at their home in Hydra.
2018 Update: Leonard sent this Father’s Day photo and greeting my way at this time two years ago (2016). It immediately became one of my favorite shots of Leonard and his children. Now, the fact that he took the time and effort to search out and forward this photo when he was already in pain and all but incapacitated by the illness that led to his death renders this image all the more poignant and moving.
Also see Leonard Cohen As A Father
Massey Hall: May 14, 2012
Originally posted May 17, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Chris Douridas interviewed Leonard Cohen on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic – March 3, 1998. Highlights include
- “I’m a bad monk” – Life at Mt Baldy Zen Center, including cooking for Roshi
- “No existential leap” – Leonard’s recitation of A Thousand Kisses Deep, including a line written that day
- “The old are kind” – Leonard’s recitation of a quatrain
- Discussion of Leonard’s participation in the Montreal poets group
- The public’s belated discovery of Dance Me To The End Of Love
- Leonard’s painstaking writing style
- The influence of Mediterranean music
- The work of his children, Adam & Lorca
Tracking The Source Of Lullaby In Blue
Bette Midler recorded Lullaby In Blue on her 1998 Bathhouse Betty album, describing it as her favorite of the tracks:
I’ve never heard a pop song about a person who gives their child up and is missing the child… The first time I heard that song, I burst into tears. I had to pull over to the side of the road. 1
On the album, the song is listed as having been co-written by Adam Cohen and Brock Walsh.
A reader referencing I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons (Ecco: 2012), however, points out that Leonard Cohen originated the song:
Leonard [Cohen] gave his son [Adam Cohen] a song that he had been “working on for years” and knew he’d “never get around to doing,” “Lullaby In Blue.”
How similar the iteration Leonard Cohen gave Adam is to the final version Bette Midler song is unknown.2
DrHGuy Note: That’s where things stood when this entry was posted. About eight minutes after it went online, I heard from Leonard Cohen, who was then ensconced at the Regina Encampment, where a concert had been canceled because of wide-spread illness among the Unified Heart Touring Company. As Joey Carenza posted on March 10, 2013, Cohen & crew were “bunkered in Regina and on the mend.”
Well, it turns out that Leonard found time during this hiatus to check in on my online ramblings and respond to “How similar the iteration Leonard Cohen gave Adam is to the the final version Bette Midler song is unknown:”
The tune and the words are Adam’s
All I gave him were the words:
The child I never knew
My lullaby in blue
And thus is another seemingly unanswerable query concerning the life and times of Leonard Cohen answered. It’s just another day at the premier Leonard Cohen blog noir.
Note: Originally posted February 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- “Midler makes Warner Bros. debut with ‘Bathhouse Betty’” by Melinda Newman. Billboard: Sept 5, 1998 [↩]
- I checked with Sylvie, who concurred that she had no further information on this point. [↩]
Now that they’re teenagers, what do your kids think of your music?
Leonard Cohen: I just spoke to my son — he’s 15 — on the telephone and he said, “Dad, I’ve just been listening to Various Positions and I want you to know I really respect your writing.” It was pretty nice. I gave him a cassette of I’m Your Man before it came out and both my children recited all the lyrics to me.
So they’re fans.
Leonard Cohen: They are very judicious. They understand I’m not Depeche Mode, but I think they take the measure of it. My son has started to write lyrics, so he knows what some of the problems are.
Does he want to be a musician?
Leonard Cohen: I don’t think so, but he happens to be gifted in that realm, so there’ll always be that temptation. He’s a very good singer – a real singer. His pitch is good, he could do it.
He could sing your songs.
Leonard Cohen: He could, but I don’t think he’s interested in the business, in a career in showbiz. I never was. I never thought I was until I had the revelation that I was a songwriter living in L.A.
From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988
From September 18 2017 interview