I’m Your Man, by Alberto Manzano (Rockdelux (Spain): May 1988)
6. Leonard Cohen, Death of a Ladies Man
Of all the songs on all the one-offs, the most ostentatiously Spectorized track is the magnificent “Memories” on Leonard Cohen’s fifth album, 1977’s Death of a Ladies Man. The song pops out of the record as much as it does from the rest of Cohen’s discography. When Cohen lets out a wailing vamp at the end it’s as if he’s overcome with emotion, or exhaustion. Given the fraught circumstances of the recording sessions, it may well have been both. A few of the tracks don’t really work, like “Paper Thin Hotel,” in which Spector thins Cohen’s voice to a flat, reedy tone that obscures Cohen’s lyrics and makes you long for Bob Johnston’s spare, vocally-oriented production. But others are worth another try, especially the monstrously indulgent but beautiful title track that slowly devolves over nine minutes as if Spector’s mighty Wall is being methodically torn down.
From The 6 Best Phil Spector One-Off Records by Nate Logsdon (Paste: December 8, 2016)
For an alternative explanation of why Warner Bros handled this album, see “We Were Drunk And Stupid” – Leonard Cohen On Death of a Ladies’ Man
Note: Like many musical artists, Leonard Cohen had a complicated relationship with his record company that shifted over time. Posts about this issue are collected at Leonard Cohen & The Music Industry.
Originally posted Sept 8, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
What was your drug of choice at that time [when recording Death Of A Ladies’ Man]?
Well, I don’t like to speak about these things because I don’t want to corrupt the youth . . . but I always liked speed.
Leonard Cohen: Porridge? Lozenge? Syringe? by Adrian Deevoy. Q, 1991.
Leonard used speed during other creative endeavors, such as writing Beautiful Losers (see The Miracle Of The Storks: Leonard Cohen Talks About His Breakdown & Recovery After Writing Beautiful Losers). He also tried amphetamine and Ritalin to deal with his depression. A summary of Leonard Cohen’s depression, its treatment, and its disappearance is available at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution.
In his essay, True Love Leaves No Traces (Mas Context: Fall 2013), Daniel Luis Martinez examines the significance of the Wall Of Sound as an architectural metaphor and the dissolution of Spector’s musical construct, using instances from Death of a Ladies Man, the 1977 Leonard Cohen-Phil Spector collaboration. A representative excerpt follows:
There is evidence of the Wall of Sound’s dissipation at the very beginning of the album in the aptly titled, “True Love Leaves No Traces.” Based on one of Cohen’s poems, the song itself is a series of repetitions (intro/ verse/ chorus/ intro/ verse/ chorus, etc), dramatized by Spector’s decision to use a protracted fadeout. Hang in there long enough and the song’s cyclical structure is revealed as you hear the faint start of a third chorus. It’s as if you’ve been invited to hear four minutes and twenty-five seconds of an endless loop.
True Love Leaves No Traces (illustrated with images from Dominique BOILE’s private collection) is an insightful and enlightening essay that rewards careful reading. The complete article can be found at the link.
Originally posted October 4, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The genius of Phil is to completely exhaust everyone and call on some special reserve that no one expects to locate and to manifest it. That is how he get the incredible energy. He frustrates the musicians for hours, refusing to let them play more than one or two bars, and then he lets them play.
From Leonard Cohen: My album will be classic in 10 years by Mary Campbell. AP: Feb 1978.
From Leonard Cohen by John Walsh (MOJO: Sept 1994). Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
I knew his [Spector’s] songs, I liked his work a lot. But I didn’t know what it was to work with him in the studio! He had come to one of my concerts here in Los Angeles at the Troubadour. After the concert, Phil invited us to his house. The house was freezing because of the air conditioning; it was four degrees. He locked the door so we couldn’t leave. I said ‘Listen Phil, if you lock us in here, we are going to get bored… So as long as we are locked up we might as well write some songs together.’ So we started that very night. We wrote songs together for about a month, it was fun. Phil is really a charming guy when you are with him alone. I would write the words, then he would work on the melody, then I would revise the words to better fit the melody. We would exchange ideas. But in the studio when other people were around he was a totally different man. He is very nice but he pretends to be violent. He kept a lot of guns around and armed bodyguards; bullets and wine bottles littered the floor…A pretty dangerous situation. I wouldn’t say Phil is someone lovable, but he wasn’t mean – except once when he pointed a gun to my throat and then cocked it. He said ‘I love you Leonard.’ I responded ‘I hope you love me Phil.’ (laughs)… Once in the studio he pointed a revolver at the violinist who then packed up his violin and ran out (laughs)… But it was a bad time for Phil too. My mother was dying of leukemia, I was constantly going between Montreal and Los Angeles…
From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate. Originally posted Feb 22, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
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