Celebrating Leonard Cohen’s First Live Performance Of The Guests In 27 Years – Madrid 2012: A Dossier On The Song

Note: This material was originally posted Oct 7, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric, just after Leonard’s Oct 5, 2012 live performance of “The Guests,” his first in 27 years.

Concert Performances Of “The Guests”

Leonard Cohen’s performance of “The Guests” at the Oct 5, 2012 Madrid concert was the first time he had sung that song in concert  since the February 2, 1985 Wiesbaden show. Previously, “The Guests” had been a setlist fixture throughout his 1979 and 1980 tours; it was also played at the Jan 31, 1985 Mannheim concert.1

“The Guests” On Albums

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  1. Source: Is This What You Wanted by Jim Devlin []

“[My work] may not be always easy to understand, but it is easy to embrace…” Leonard Cohen on the Comprehension of His Songs

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Interviewer: “His work, I put to him [Leonard Cohen], is not always easy to understand.”

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No. Well, it may not be always easy to understand, but it is easy to embrace. It’s simple. ‘All at once the torches flare / The inner door flies open / One by one they enter there / In every style of passion.’ Every style of passion is in my work… It’s best just to think of these as little songs, not terribly complicated, not any more complicated than anyone’s experience. How could they be? It is the work of my heart.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Love Me, Love My Gun Barrel by Graham Lock. New Musical Express: February 23, 1980. Photo of Leonard Cohen performing in Amsterdam, 1980 by Pete Purnell.

A discussion of related issues can be found at Three Characteristics That Make A Song A Leonard Cohen Song: #3. Artistic Design – Introduction

“It’s a religious song, just about our strangerhood on the Earth & how it’s resolved” Leonard Cohen On The Guests

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Its sensibility is sponsored by the poems of Rumi and Attar, who are Persian poets of the 12th and 13th centuries. I guess it’s a religious song, just about our strangerhood on the Earth and how it’s resolved. ‘One by one, the guests arrive/Guests are coming through/The openhearted many/The brokenhearted few.’ [The guests ask] ‘Where is God? Where is truth? Where is life?’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

More information about The Guests can be found at Celebrating Leonard Cohen’s First Live Performance Of The Guests In 27 Years – Madrid 2012: A Dossier On The Song.

A great video of a great rendition of The Guests can be viewed at Pristine Video: Leonard Cohen Performs The Guests On French TV – 1979.

The featured quotation is from Leonard Cohen: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Poet of Brokenness by Mikal Gilmore (Rolling Stone: 30 November 2016) Note:  The entire article – an excellent read – is available at the link.