Today’s Halloween post addresses the all-important issue of the appropriate Halloween treats for the discerning Cohenite to bestow upon the costumed ragamuffins.
Leonard Cohen’s Own Preferred Snack Foods
Cheetos are always a hit. (Photo by Bob Faggen, contributed by Leonard Cohen)
Leonard Cohen, who has been called the finest poet of his generation — albeit by a Canadian cultural magazine no one has heard of — is sitting there eating penny candy and drinking Welch’s grape juice in the upstairs furnished duplex he rents near the McGill campus in Montreal. The penny candy, which is in a glass on a coffee table, is mostly licorice cigars with those little red things on the fat ends.1 [emphasis mine]
- From Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966 [↩]
Halloween In Austin
In 2013, I pondered the sight displayed above in the screen capture and posted this plea:
Would someone (maybe someone like Roscoe Beck or Mitch Watkins who understands how Austin operates) explain to me why the gentleman in the middle of this screenshot, taken when the camera pans the audience just prior to the start of Take This Waltz during the 1988 Leonard Cohen Austin City Limits Show, seems to be wearing a watermelon helmet on his head? I realize there are some odd images in Take This Waltz (you’ve got your “chair with a dead magazine” and that “bed where the moon has been sweating,” for example) but I don’t recall “I’ll applaud with a watermelon for a hat” in the lyrics.
And, sure enough, a reader wise in the ways of Austin, Leorstef, responded:
So, why is the guy wearing a Watermelon Hat? Why is one lady dressed as a Nun? I asked that question myself the first time I saw the concert 24 years ago.
That concert was actually filmed on Halloween night in 1988, then aired on PBS in April 1989. So simply, many of the folks were just in Halloween costumes. Since Austin has always been a good place to party, I assume they were just getting ready ahead of time for the rest of the night.
Here’s the sad part: I was at the Leonard Cohen concert in Austin on Oct 31, 2012, and I recall seeing only one person that might have been wearing a Halloween costume (and I suspect it could have been the sort of thing she wore every day). So, is Austin getting less weird?
Note: More Halloween-related Leonard Cohen posts can be found at Leonard Cohen – Halloween
Leonard Cohen On The Air In Austin
Leonard Cohen’s performance on the October 31, 1988 episode of Austin City Limits, which has become routinely designated as his “first major performance on American television,” is strong musically and a treat to watch. As ongoing readers know, this show has been intermittently available on various sites and then lost to copyright restrictions.
Now, however, it’s back – in an official version uploaded by AustinCityLimitsTV
The 1988 Austin City Limits show1 is notable for Leonard Cohen’s idiosyncratic preludes to certain songs, including a description of the crucifixion of Christ that invokes the application of shaving lotion as an introduction to “Ain’t No Cure For Love” and a lead-in to “If It Be Your Will” that consists of Cohen’s complaint that his “hands are all sweaty with Tequila juice. It’s an impermeable oil that seeps through the membrane,” a scientifically baffling declaration that nonetheless seems to work in context as suggestive language to set the mood.2
Video: Leonard Cohen – Austin City Limits 1988
I perceived the outline of your breasts
through your Hallowe’en costume
I knew you were falling in love with me
because no other man could perceive
the advance of your bosom into his imagination
It was a rupture of your unusual modesty
for me and me alone
through which you impressed upon my shapeless hunger
the incomparable and final outline of your breasts
like two deep fossil shells
which remained all night long and probably forever
Poem 17 from The Energy of Slaves by Leonard Cohen. Scan atop this post contributed by Dominique BOILE. View other Leonard Cohen photos used as back cover art at Leonard Cohen On The Back Cover
Originally posted Oct 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
In 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 Leonard Cohen – Halloween collection