This is probably my last tour and I wanted to go round and say goodbye to people quietly. I have ten to fifteen unfinished songs and when I finish the tour I’ll go back to Montreal and get round to finishing them off. I will also finish a book I have been writing for two years.
That’s what Leonard Cohen told the interviewer from Muther Grumble1 after his March 22, 1972 concert in Newcastle.
A review of the concert and the complete interview can be found at Muther Grumble, Issue 4 – April 1972. A few excerpts follow:
Newcastle City Hall was booked out well in advance for this Leonard Cohen concert and tickets were even sold for the platform behind the stage to enable more people to be crammed in to see the performance. …
… Throughout the performance he was given some excellent backing by his touring band. Trouble came in the fact that a mike Cohen was using packed up but after Cohen called the ‘electronic gods’ to his aid somehow the mike came to life again (clever roadies or was there something really in it folks?).
After about one and a half hours of really beautiful music, Cohen left the stage followed by tumultuous cries of ‘More’, to which he replied with ‘Tonight will be Fine’. Cohen attempted to leave again only to be arrested by the crowd’s pleas. Back he came and gave ‘Bird on the Wire’ and ‘Marianne’ once more. Still the crowd insisted on hearing more, but with a seemingly humble ‘thank you’ Leonard Cohen left and now a silence reigned as people asked themselves ‘can we let him go now?’, and then decided that Cohen had given his utmost and no more could be given.
Leonard Cohen off-stage is not the morose, introverted character that one might expect from listening to his songs and reading his poetry. A very self-assured, wary human being is what I met backstage at the City Hall. He is perhaps a good advertisement for unburdening one’s troubles by way of writing and singing.
The majority of his songs are heart-searching expositions of his life and times and I asked him his intentions in making these public: “When I perform I’m trying to present me – and us – in the hope that my audience can relate to me and perhaps sort out their own troubles. I suppose also it’s a case of music soothing the savage breast.”
Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is from the same Muther Grumble article. The image of the Muther Grumble cover is from the magazine’s archives site.
Note: Originally posted Mar 24, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric