Leonard Cohen Performs Memories Featuring Paul Ostermayer On Sax + “Sweet Music Of America” Outro – Bonn 1980


The Intro: “I hope you dislike it intensely”

The introduction to Memories (“a… song I wrote a thousand years ago with Phil Spector…”) is similar to the openings Leonard used at other shows, although I don’t recall hearing the final “I hope you dislike it intensely” before.

The Performance

This is an outstanding performance with an especially impressive sax solo by Paul Ostermayer.

The Outro: “Ah, Sweet Music Of America”

The outro, however, is special. As noted in an earlier post, the Nov 4, 1980 Leonard Cohen show was held the same date as the US Reagan-Carter presidential election. Leonard dedicated Diamonds In The Mine to “the next president of the United States – if you can tell the difference.” I suspect the impending election also motivated the “Ah, Sweet Music Of America” exposition:

Ah, sweet music of America – may you rise forever on the great dismal cosmos of time. America – God bless you. May your destiny be full and may you conquer with the best part of your heart as you have conquered with this music so that the whole world will know that the heart is open and that the mind is free and everything can be …

Leonard Cohen – Memories
Bonn: Nov 4, 1980

The 1980 Leonard Cohen Bonn Concert Recording

As far as I can determine, no recording of the Nov 4, 1980 Leonard Cohen concert at the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Germany has been available online – until now. A tape of one hour of the show has emerged, thanks to the generosity of a friend from Bonn, who recorded this song and 11 others with the permission of Leonard Cohen and his sound engineer. (The other songs from this concert have been posted or will be posted soon; all recordings from this show are collected at .)

The supporting musicians for the 1980 Tour follow:

  • Sharon Robinson – vocals
  • Roscoe Beck – bass guitar
  • John Bilezikjian – oud, mandolin
  • Bill Ginn – keyboards
  • Raffi Hakopian – violin
  • Steve Meador – drums
  • Paul Ostermayer – wind
  • Mitch Watkins – electric guitar

Credit Due Department: Photo of Leonard Cohen by Pete Purnell.

Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Live Performances Of Memories Online

1985-Leonard-Cohen-Norway-VideosThis is the fifth post in the Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine series examining “Memories” by Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen Live Performances Of Memories Online: An Annotated Index

While not the equivalent of attending a live performance, viewing these videos of Leonard Cohen singing “Memories” should provide a reasonable  amount of entertainment and, if one is lucky, an entirely unreasonable spark of passion of the most unsophisticated, retrograde, and delightfully irredeemable sort.

Previous Posts Featuring Live Versions Of Memories

Recordings Of Live Performances

Leonard Cohen – Memories
Warsaw: March 22, 1985
Includes “Return to my dismal adolescence in Montreal” introduction. One of the most melodious versions available with none of the theatrics.
Video from messalina79

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Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Droll, Deadpan Version – ZDF-TV 1979

rockpopThis is the fourth post in the Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine series examining “Memories” by Leonard Cohen.

Now, this is fun …

ZDF-TV Rockpop Special Memories Video

Leonard Cohen – Memories
ZDF-TV Studio in München, Deutschland: October 31, 1979
Part of a set recorded for later broadcast1

OK, if you don’t recognize that this is a funny video after viewing it – and an amazing number of folks don’t – I probably can’t persuade you. Nonetheless, my humanitarian obligation to you as a fellow inhabitant of this planet is to at least attempt to rescue you from your tragic misperception. So, we’ll be taking a look at  Leonard’s humor, the backup singers (Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson) choreography, and the inspirational Frankie Laine. Buckle up.
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  1. According to the YouTube notes, the band at that taping included “Leonard Cohen – vocals, acoustic guitar, blues harp, Sharon Robinson – vocals, Jennifer Warnes – vocals, Mitch Watkins – guitars, Roscoe Beck – bass, Raffi Hakopian – violin, John Bilezikjian – oud, mandolin, Paul Ostermeyer – wind, Bill Ginn – keyboards, Steve Meador – drums.” Leonard Cohen Live lists the the complete set taped that day as follows: “1. Bird On The Wire, 2. The Guests, 3. So Long, Marianne, 4. The Window, 5. Famous Blue Raincoat, 6. Passin’ Through, 7. Memories, 8. The Guests (2), 9. Suzanne, -. The Partisan.” That same source notes that “tracks #1-2 were broadcasted on ZDF-TV ‘Rock-Pop,’ November 10, 1979” and “tracks #3-9 were broadcasted on ZDF-TV ‘Rock-Pop Special,’ December 2, 1979.” []

Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: The Prom Version From I Am A Hotel

ihogelThis is the third post in the Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine series examining “Memories” by Leonard Cohen.

I Am A Hotel: Memories

Within “I Am A Hotel,” the Memories video depicts a high school prom held at the hotel’s ballroom. Cohen not only appears as a resident of the hotel but also as the singer-bandleader providing live music for the dance from an elevated stage. A stylized dance performed by a bellhop and hotel maid is Interspersed with the prom scenes.

The sequence is too artsy, too fartsy for my taste, but hey, as the American Bandstand kids would point out, the song has a beat and – apparently – you can dance to it (at least after a few years of professional training). On the other hand, the brassy sax solo does grab me in an indecent way, and Leonard as the sunglasses-clad implacable singer coupled with Leonard as the leering hotel guest encouraging the bellhop and maid toward the (titter) climax is as creepy-nasty-exciting as ones first illicit sexual liaison with someone a lot more experienced and adventuresome in bed.

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Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Leonard Cohen On Memories

lcmemThis is the second post in the Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine series examining “Memories” by Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen Talks/Sings About His “Most Irrelevant And Banal Adolescent Recollections”

The end of the first Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine post, Memories & Death Of A Ladies’ Man, featured a sampling of the mostly negative criticism of the Leonard Cohen-Phil Spector collaboration, Death Of A Ladies’ Man, and both the studio and live versions of “Memories.”

It turns out that the  apparent leader of this chorus of discontent and disgust is one Mr. Leonard Cohen, who famously explained to the July 8, 1994 BBC Radio 1 audience,

My most bizarre experience with a producer was with Phil Spector, with whom I worked in 1977 or 78, and we produced that grotesque album called Death of a Ladies’ Man.1

To be fair, he did seem to mean “grotesque” in the best possible way, and, in an interview some years later, he has called the album “semi-virtuous.”2

Similarly, Cohen stops short of outright condemnation in his comments from Leonard Cohen Obscured… A Haunting by Spector by Stephen Holden in Rolling Stone, January 26, 1978:

When I heard the final mix, I thought he [Spector] had taken the guts out of the record, and I sent him a telegram to that effect,” Cohen recalls. “I asked him to go back in the studio. I could have delayed its release. But I couldn’t have forced Phil back in the studio, and it might have taken another year. I view it now as an experiment that failed. But even within the failure there are moments. I think the album has real energizing capacities.”

As for the “Memories” track itself, these excerpts from Cohen’s concert tour introductions of that song are self-explanatory:

  • This is a song I wrote a couple of years ago with the great genius of darkest Hollywood:Phil Spector. And it’s a song based on my extremely boring and pathetic life at Westmont High School in Montreal. It’s called Memories.(München 31/10/79)
  • It brings me from the exulted and sublime considerations of these musicians and technicians to an extremely banal experience which I have put into a song frozen like a fly in amber and somewhat less important. But this is a song into which I’ve placed my most banal adolescent recollections and I think this song will probably live forever. It’s called Memories. (London 06/12/79)
  • In this song we placed all our most irrelevant and banal adolescent recollections. (San Francisco 1985)
  • Unfortunately, for my last song, I must offend your deepest sensibilities with an entirely irrelevant and vulgar ditty that I wrote some time ago with another Jew in Hollywood, where there are many. This is a song in which I have placed my most irrelevant and banal adolescent recollections. (Tel Aviv 24/11/80)
  • Long time ago, in my distant middle age, I sat down with Phil Spector on a mahogany piano bench and collaborated with him, one of the most dismal periods of my entire creative life. I wrote a song into which I have placed my most banal adolescent recollections. A song of profound and abiding irrelevance, which will probably last forever. Oh, how I long for the day when upon these shabby balustrades of the Concertgebouw, you will erase one of the lesser names of Wagner, of Stravinsky and in its place, in bright and shiny gold letters, inscribe the name…(laughs). Forgive me great gods of music. I am but a tiny worm groveling in the bright illumination of your memories. That reminds me the name of the tune, it’s called “Memories.” (Amsterdam 30/10/80)
  • The next song is one of my least significant songs. In it I have placed as though it were data in a tiny time capsule which is fired at a distant star and actually dissolves in the colder reaches of space, far before its ultimate destination……In this tiny song I have placed all the irrelevant material concerning my extremely dismal adolescence. It is a song called “Memories,” (Bonn 03/12/79)

Happily, my training and experience in the fields of English literature and psychiatry enable me to proceed, unburdened by the errant beliefs artists may maintain about what they think they think. (If they want to know what they think, they can make an appointment with me like everybody else.)

When Leonard Cohen derides “Memories,” he isn’t, of course, apologizing for the song. If Leonard Cohen is apologizing for anything, it’s for his own enjoyment of a performance that is a spoof.

I suspect a significant factor in my fondness for “Memories” is that I harbor a special affection for instances of Leonard Cohen having fun.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Now, it’s showtime.

Leonard Cohen Performs Memories – 1979

This is a particularly tasty performance despite some lyrics being hoarsely shouted. Featured are Paul Ostermayer on sax and backup singers, Jennifer Warnes & Sharon Robinson, on vocals & synchronized dance moves. Also on display are glimpses of Leonard dancing.

Leonard Cohen – Memories
From The Song of Leonard Cohen: 1979 Tour3
Video from messalina79

Down Memories Laine Posts:

  1. Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Memories & Death Of A Ladies’ Man
  2. Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Leonard Cohen On Memories
  3. Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Memories & I Am A Hotel
  4. Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: The 1979 ZDF-TV Droll, Deadpan Version
  5. Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Live Performances Of Memories Online


  1. My favorite Leonard Cohen quote about his experience with Spector is from Leonard Cohen Obscured… A Haunting by Spector by Stephen Holden in Rolling Stone, January 26, 1978, “Phil couldn’t resist annihilating me. I don’t think he can tolerate any other shadows in his own darkness.” []
  2. Beautiful loser, beautiful comeback. by Judith Fitzgerald in The National Post, 24 March 2001. []
  3. Rasky filmed concerts in Antwerp, Paris and Frankfurt []

Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine: Memories & Death Of A Ladies’ Man


Frankie Laine, he was singing Jezebel
I pinned an Iron Cross to my lapel
I walked up to the tallest and the blondest girl
I said, Look, you don’t know me now but very soon you will
So won’t you let me see
I said “won’t you let me see”
I said “won’t you let me see
Your naked body?”

From “Memories” by Leonard Cohen

This is the first post in the Leonard Cohen Down Memories Laine series examining “Memories” by Leonard Cohen.

Remembering Memories

One of the world’s great unsolved mysteries, along with the sudden eradication of an entire civilization at Angkor Thom, the meaning of the giant drawings by the Nazca Indians on the plains of Southern Peru, and the technology by which the stone heads were constructed on Easter Island, is the disappearance of “Memories,” a favorite Cohen tune for many fans,1 from Leonard Cohen’s concert repertoire.

And, since it doesn’t look as though Leonard is going to feature “Memories” any time soon, it’s up to Cohencentric to do so. We’re going to take a look at this song over the course of a few posts, starting with its birth as a track on Death Of A Ladies’ Man.

Memories & Death Of A Ladies’ Man

“Memories” was released on the Phil Spector-produced Death Of A Ladies’ Man album in 1977. (A live version of “Memories” with many of Spector’s trademark Wall of Sound features eliminated, was included on the 2001 release of the “Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979″ album.) Notably, “Memories” is the only song on that album that Cohen regularly performed in concert (during the tours of 1979, 1980 and 1985).

It is also one of the songs, along with “Joan Of Arc,” “Take This Longing,” and One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” inspired by Nico, the German singer with the Velvet Underground and a fixture in Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd. Nico – the woman who repeatedly spurned Cohen’s advances,2 preferring younger men – was indeed “the tallest and blondest girl” in “Memories.”
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  1. Including DrHGuy []
  2. Cohen called her “The most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.”  Source: Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head?  by Tim de Lisle. The Guardian: Sept 16, 2004 []