Leonard Cohen Says Nick Cave “Butchered” Avalanche – But In A Good Way

721px-Nick_Cave_1986Who do you feel has done the best job with your music, and who has butchered it?

There have probably been some who have butchered it, but I’ve generally liked the job that people have done with it. I guess you could say Nick Cave butchered my song, ‘Avalanche,’ and if that’s the case, let there be more butchers like that.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Rebirth Of A Ladies’ Man by Steven Blush. Seconds No 22: June/July 1993. Also see

Video: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Avalanche 
From Her To Eternity album: 1984.


Credit Due Department: Photo “Nick Cave 1986” by Yves Lorson – originally posted to Flickr as Nick Cave. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen Tour: Avalanche & Suzanne – Hannover 2010

Gripping Black And White Video Of “Avalanche” And “Suzanne” From 2010 Hannover Concert

Those two songs alone would make this video significant. “Suzanne” is arguably the most representative work in Leonard Cohen’s repertoire, dating back to the beginning of his career as a singer-songwriter, and “Avalanche” is a favorite of many fans, especially those who have admired Cohen over the years, but was rarely played during the World Tour until the 2010 leg of the Tour.

The stark clarity of the black and white recording fits seamlessly with the tone, lyrical content, lighting,1 and the staging which revolves around on Cohen alone, accompanying himself on guitar.

From my perspective, the black and white videography significantly enhances the focus of and emotional impact on the viewer.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne and Avalanche
Hannover; Sept 27, 2010
Video from anniesnake

Note: Originally posted July 27, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. The lighting for the Cohen Concerts is an often overlooked aspect of the presentation. In this context, it is particularly notable because the same dramatic effects that are most compelling for the live audience can prove insurmountable obstacles to still photographers and videographers. []

Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour: Avalanche – Katowice 2010

Leonard Cohen And The Rose Of Katowice

If there were a competition among concerts for Most Compellingly Romantic Photograph, the shot of Leonard Cohen, the then 76 year old Canadian singer-songwriter, atop this post holding a long stem rose while performing in Katowice Poland would surely be the prohibitive favorite. This iconic photo was taken by Gwen Langford.

Leonard Cohen with rose (Photo by Gwen Langford)

Leonard Cohen – Avalanche
Katowice – Oct 4, 2010

Leonard Cohen – Katowice (Photo by majmunka)

Well I stepped into an avalanche,
It covered up my soul;
When I am not this hunchback that you see,
I sleep beneath the golden hill.
You who wish to conquer pain,
You must learn, learn to serve me well.

Leonard Cohen – Avalanche
Katowice: Oct 4, 2010
Video from

Note: Originally posted July 4, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Rolling Stone Names Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche To List Of “25 Songs That Are Truly Terrifying”

avaIn anticipation of Halloween, Rolling Stone urges us to “feel free to ignore “Monster Mash” in favor of this handful of more austere chillers: Vintage murder ballads, dissonant classical spine-tinglers, psychedelic freak-outs, shock-rock creep-outs, Southern gothic alt-rock gloom, art-noise desolation and more.” And, one of the choices proffered is Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche (1971).

Songs of Love and Hate might be Leonard Cohen’s most depraved album, which is saying a lot. Accounts of suicide (“Dress Rehearsal Rag”) and infidelity (“Famous Blue Raincoat”) leave an undeniable sting, but the 1971 LP’s creepiest moments come on opener “Avalanche,” which finds Cohen playing his classic role of stygian bard to perfection. Over rolling flamenco guitar and swelling strings, he portrays a hunchback living at the bottom of a gold mine: “Your laws do not compel me/To kneel grotesque and bare,” he sneers. Even as the song edges into dark obsession and, eventually, pure horror (“It is your turn, beloved/It is your flesh that I wear”), Cohen’s voice maintains a trancelike composure. No wonder gloom-rock poet laureate Nick Cave has been covering the song for more than 30 years.

Note: This is also the most recent addition to the Cohencentric collection

Hear Nick Cave’s New Version Of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Avalanche’ for ‘Black Sails’


Nick Cave revisited Leonard Cohen’s ‘Avalanche,’ which he originally covered in 1984’s From Her to Eternity album, for the second season of Black Sails.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Tom Sakic, who alerted me to this cover

Note: Originally posted January 9, 2015 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Gorgeous Lost in Motion II Dance Film Features Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche


From Vimeo description:

Director Ben Shirinian and Choreographer/Dancer Guillaume Côté expose the emotion of performance in an entrancing sequel, produced in association with Bravo!FACT and The National Ballet of Canada.

After the success of his 2012 short film Lost in Motion (posted below), Director Ben Shirinian has reunited with Choreographer/Dancer Guillaume Côté for a powerful new follow-up film exploring the state of mind of an artist.

An article covering this film in Atwood Magazine (July 30, 2014), offers significant information about and insight into the performance. A representative excerpt follows:

The dancer uses a dynamic blend of adagio and port de bras (sustained movements with extensions of the limbs), interrupted by grande allégro (giant leaps and quicker steps). Jon Devries edits the monochromatic background of greys to create drama. To heighten this drama, the director chose to use Leonard Cohen’s version of “Avalanche” – revealing moods of darkness and mystery juxtaposed with expressions of purity and beauty. Though the dancer is painted as majestic and untouchable, vivid illustrations of her emotions make us feel a sense of familiarity and closeness to her.

The entire article can be accessed at “Lost in Motion II” – Reimagining Dance

The Video: Lost In Motion II
Video from Krystal Levy Pictures


Note: This video was originally posted December 3, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric. The Atwood Magazine article was featured in a July 31, 2014 DrHGuy.com post.