Leonard Cohen On Johnny Cash’s Cover Of Bird On A Wire & His Own Validation As A Singer

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Yesterday someone brought up Johnny Cash’s version of Bird On A Wire. Today I bought the record it’s on, ‘American Recordings,’ in a small import shop here in Amsterdam. I didn’t believe my ears. Only the man’s voice and guitar. I was blown away! Those are moments that I think: what am I actually doing here in this business! But if a concert hall full of people – let alone a sports stadium full of people – thinks I can sing then I can sing, isn’t that so? quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Nieuwe live cd gedeeltelijk in Stopera opgenomen [New live cd partly recorded in Stopera] by Jip Golsteijn (De Telegraaf: July 30, 1994)

Contributed and translated by Anja Deelen

Video: Leonard Cohen Program On Spanish TV – Monográfico De Leonard Cohen (1993)

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Monográfico De Leonard Cohen (1993)

This program includes performances of “Suzanne” and “Chelsea Hotel #2” and music videos of “Closing Time,” “Take This Waltz,” “First We Take Manhattan,”and “Dance Me To The End Of Love.”

RTVE Blub: Tomás Fernando Flores, Que Actualmente Presenta Siglo 21 En Radio 3, Realiza Un Programa Especial Dedicado Al Cantante Y Compositor Leonard Cohen En El Que Se Incluyen Varios Videoclips Y Fragmentos De Actuaciones

Google English TranslationTomás Fernando Flores, Who Now Presents Radio 3 Century 21, Performs A Special Program Dedicated To The Singer And Songwriter Leonard Cohen In Which Are Included Several Video Clips And Snippets Of Performances

The Video

The video may be viewed at RTVE: Monográfico De Leonard Cohen

Credit Due Department: Thanks are herewith extended to CHEMA, a member of the Spanish Cohen Brigade stationed in Barcelona, who recommended these videos.

Note: Originally posted Apr 14, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on the Genesis of Bird On The Wire


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I’ve told various stories about that, but I don’t even know what the truth is anymore. “Bird On The Wire”… let me see what I remember. I remember that I tried to revise “Bird On The Wire,” I remember driving down the west coast of America, down the coast in the rain, thinking, there is something wrong with the lyric, there is something wrong, it’s very close to being a good song, but there is something wrong with it. And I rewrote it many times, and there are different versions around that I sang, and I remember driving and I was trying to figure out what was wrong with it.

I don’t remember the stories I’ve told about it now, and I don’t even know if they were true, they may have had some germ of truth, but I don’t remember most of my stories anymore. I read them in interviews or in books, and they sound familiar, and I kind of appropriated them from my own, not really knowing if they ever happened that way, but it was at Hydra, and they had put these telephone wires up, or electric wires that hadn’t been there before. And one went right across the window that I used to sit at and work at, and you know, I had come there with some myth of having lost, abandoned, the modern world, I thought I was living a much more authentic life, and suddenly there was this symbol of modernity straight across my window. My window looked out at a beautiful lane where there was an almond three in full bloom, and suddenly there were these horizontal violations of my perfect window, and of course, you know, I was angry and disappointed, but I knew there was no point in entertaining these kinds of emotions because it was useful and we could have light and telephones And while I was staring and having these conflicted feelings about the destruction of the perfection of my view, a bird came, and probably the wire’s first bird, because I think it had just gone up over night. And the bird just perched on the wire, as if they had been strung there for that specific purpose. And I believe, if I’m going to believe the stories I have read, because I don’t know whether it’s true anymore, I believe that that was the genesis of the song “Bird on the Wire.” quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Looks Back On The Past (unedited interview for Norwegian Radio) by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles

Best Videos Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour: Bird On The Wire – Prague

prague-birdLike a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Best 2013 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com is featuring selections from the current Best Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Prague: July 21, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

3 Leonard Cohen Videos: Joan Of Arc, Passing Through & Bird On The Wire – Munich 1993

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The audience recording of the 1993 Leonard Cohen Munich Concert from which these videos were excerpted is not pristine. The camera is a bit shaky and not quite in focus. And the sound is imperfect. Nonetheless, the vitality of the performance and the enthusiasm of the audience is readily apparent. This is, in short, a Good Enough Video.1

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Circus Krone, Munich: May 28, 1993
Video from SighsNorth (aka Linda Sturgess)
YouTube Description: Leonard Cohen at Circus Krone, Munich, Germany – May 28, 1993. Bird On The Wire. “I have tried in my way to be free … ” Before singing, Leonard goes to the edge of the stage to receive a bouquet of flowers from an audience member. Lovely solos by band members Bob Metzer (guitar) and Paul Ostermayer (saxophone).

Leonard Cohen – Passing Through
Circus Krone, Munich: May 28, 1993
Video from SighsNorth (aka Linda Sturgess)
YouTube Description: Leonard Cohen at Circus Krone, Munich, Germany – May 28, 1993. Leonard and band come back on stage for a second encore – Passing Through. (A very enthusiastic audience – and there were 7 encores that night.) Solos by Paul Ostermayer – Saxophone; Bob Furgo – violin

Leonard Cohen – Joan of Arc
Circus Krone, Munich: May 28, 1993
Video from SighsNorth (aka Linda Sturgess)
YouTube Description: Leonard Cohen at Circus Krone, Munich, Germany – May 28, 1993. Leonard and Julie Christensen sing Joan Of Arc. Bob Furgo – violin

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  1. The Good Enough Video is a notion that I, of course, derived from Donald Winicott’s Good Enough Mother. Just as Winicott used Good Enough Mother to indicate “the ordinary and devoted mother who provides an adequate and good enough environment for the growth of the infant’s ego to be able to express its true self,” (Source: Psychological Dictionary) I employ Good Enough Video to describe videos that are less than immaculate but are of sufficient caliber to convey the quality of the performance to the viewer. []

Best Videos Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour: Bird On The Wire – Amsterdam

birdams

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Best 2012 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com features selections from the Best Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2012 Leonard Cohen World Tour.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Amsterdam: August 22, 2012
Video by

Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem: Leonard Cohen’s 1970 Aix-en-Provence Show

1970-08-02 Progressive Festival D'Aix En Provence - Handbill-900

Reports, Recordings From The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Show

This post is the continuation of  Leonard Cohen At Another Other 1970 Festival – Aix-en-Provence (Part 1). While Part 1 of this post focused on the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival itself, this entry centers on Leonard Cohen’s August 2, 1970 appearance there.

As noted in an earlier post, Leonard Cohen & The Horse He Rode In On-Stage At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival,

the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival in general, and Leonard Cohen’s role in it specifically, were uniquely weird.

In addition to Leonard Cohen making his onstage entrance astride a white stallion,1 for example, he also reported having been shot at:

I think I was shot at once at a big festival in Aix-en-Provence. That was when the Maoists were very powerful in France and they resented the fact that they actually had to buy a ticket. A lot of them broke down the fence and came into the concert and I did notice one of the lights on the stage go out after a kind of crack that sounded like a gunshot. I don’t know. But they’re tough critics, the Maoists.2

On the other hand, when asked in the same interview, “What about the French generally? You have said you are French. How do they respond to you?” Cohen responded

Continue Reading →

  1. For a photo of and the story behind that equestrian event, see Leonard Cohen & The Horse He Rode In On-Stage At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival []
  2. Leonard Cohen: Various Positions, Transcript of 1984 CBC interview by Robert Sward []