“I’ve studied all the theologies and all the philosophies, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.”
This recording includes the July 5, 1988 Leonard Cohen concert at the Ritz in New York and, beginning at 1:39:23, an interview by Pete Fornatale broadcast on Mixed Bag on July 31, 1988 (WNEW FM New York).
Mr. Cohen sang songs that ranged across the breadth of his career, from ”Suzanne” to ”Everybody Knows,” to two versions of his recent song, ”First We Take Manhattan,” in which the fashion world and drugs are held up as symbols of the terminal decay of New York. But the turning point of the evening was Mr. Cohen’s spare voice-and-guitar rendition of ”If It Be Your Will,” one of his two or three finest meditations. A prayer for mercy murmured to the void by a world wearing ”rags of light all dressed to kill,” it received a haunting interpretation in Mr. Cohen’s sepulchral bass-baritone growl.1
The interview includes Leonard Cohen discussing the influence of Bob Dylan and the assistance lent by Judy Collins and Jennifer Warnes, his “cheerfulness keeps breaking through” reference (erroneously attributed to Jonson), his multiple revisions that dramatically changed I Can’t Forget, his first public appearance as a singer, his “If I knew where good songs came from, I go there more often” comment, his religious symbolism and the notion of being punished for sin, the difference between a Ladies’ Man and a Romantic, and saying goodbye.
Update: This video has been removed
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- Review/Pop; Leonard Cohen Reflects Darkly On the World by Stephen Holden. New York Times: July 9, 1988 [↩]