Essential 2012 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam Concert Videos: Sisters of Mercy, Closing Time & Save The Last Dance


How Good Are These Leonard Cohen Videos?

These Aug 22, 2012 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam performance videos by Albert Noonan are so good that you should

  • Wake the children, prop them in front of the computer, and compel them to watch these videos to embed within their minds and hearts a gold standard for great musical presentations.
  • Beg/pressure/trick your friends and family who think they don’t like Leonard Cohen’s music into viewing these videos. They could well begin appreciating his work, which would enhance their lives and bring world peace just that much closer to reality. And, if they still don’t care for Leonard Cohen’s music, at least you can give up the notion of ever winning them over, realizing that they are incapable of grasping Leonard’s work, most likely because of a profound psychological flaw or a severe neurological deficit, and thus deserve our compassion.
  • Watch them yourself a dozen times or so today – both for the sheer indulgent pleasure and to remind yourself precisely why you love Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – Sisters of Mercy
Amsterdam: Aug 22, 2012
Video by


Leonard Cohen – Closing Time & Save The Last Dance
Amsterdam: Aug 22, 2012
Video by

Note: Originally posted Aug 25, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Talks About Barbara And Lorraine, The Original Sisters Of Mercy

I always remember to dedicate this song to the girls for whom I wrote it. And like a lot of my material it’s just completely documentary. It doesn’t concern high metaphysical questions but an accurate reportage as authentic and precise as I can make it, a description of exactly what happened on the interior landscape. And I was in Edmonton during a tour by myself of Canada, I guess this was around 67. I was walking along one of the main streets of Edmonton, it was bitter cold ; and I knew no-one and I passed these two girls [Barbara and Lorraine] on a doorway. They invited me to stand in the doorway with them. Of course I did. And some time later, we found ourselves in my little Hotel room in Edmonton and the three of us were gonna go to sleep together. Of course I had all kinds of erotic fantasies of what the evening might bring. Interviewer: How old were you ? Oh I was an adult. I guess I was around my early 30’s. And we went to bed together and I think we all jammed into this one small couch in this little Hotel and it became clear that it wasn’t the purpose of the evening at all. And at one point, in the night, I found myself unable to sleep, I got up, and by the moonlight – It was very very bright, the moon was being reflected off the snow, and my windows were very bright – I wrote that poem by the ice-reflected moonlight while these women were sleeping and it was one of the few songs that I ever wrote from top to bottom without a line of revision . The words flowed and the melody flowed and by the time they woke up the next morning, it was dawn. I had this completed song to sing to them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Transcript of Pacifica Interview with Kathleen Kendall. WBAI Radio, New York City: December 4, 1974.


Animated Video: Leonard Cohen Reads “Two Went to Sleep” & Talks About Origins Of “Sisters of Mercy”

animLeonard Cohen reads “Two Went to Sleep” and recounts the origins of his 1967  “Sisters of Mercy” in a 1974 interview newly animated for PBS’ “Blank on Blank” series. The chat, which originally aired on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City, is available via the Pacifica Radio archives.

Highly Recommended Reading: Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller By Robert Christgau


Over the years, at least a half-dozen posts on the topic of the music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller have appeared at Cohencentric and its predecessors.1 Even if you’ve read all the reviews referenced in those entries, there is still more to learn from Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller by Robert Christgau (Criterion: Oct 5, 2016). The excerpts below indicate Christgau’s grasp of detail and his nuanced, articulate observations.

Before Altman even tried to negotiate permissions, he laid Cohen’s songs over his footage, and the mesh amazed him. “I think the reason they worked was because those lyrics were etched in my subconscious, so when I shot the scenes I fitted them to the songs, as if they were written for them. I put in about ten of them at first—of course, we way overdid it—and then we ended up with the three songs that were finally used, and I thought they were just wonderful.”

The film version of “The Stranger Song” differs from the one Altman had played to death on successive copies of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s late-1967 debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen—produced, as it happens, by another John Simon (rather too schlockily, Cohen always thought). After starting off with the first three verses of the album version, the soundtrack interpolates a long, elegiac, Spanish-tinged guitar solo—amplified acoustic, I think—by David Lindley, for forty years now a go-to multi-instrumentalist but at the time merely a member of the California band Kaleidoscope, who were handpicked by Cohen to play behind him on the record only to be cut off at the pass by Simon the producer. Then the album version returns for two verses, after which it doubles back to the capper of the second verse, with the final three verses saved for a later scene. Thus the mood-setter ends: “That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder/It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.”

The entire piece can be read at

Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Also see

View Videos: Leonard Cohen’s Music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller can be found at 


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