Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen.
Irish duo The Lost Brothers have paid tribute to the late Leonard Cohen on their new single, Where The Shadow Goes, and have announced some special guests for their Dublin Show next month.”Ten years ago in 2008 we saw Leonard Cohen play in London. It was the exact day our very first record was released ten years ago,” say the duo, which is made up of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland. “It was a big day out for us. We took the boat to London and a black cab to The Royal Albert Hall to hear Mr. Cohen sing. The song is our small way of paying tribute to one of our very favourite songwriters. When he passed on we decided we would try to record our song and it ended up on the new album. This year marks ten years on the road for us and that Leonard Cohen gig was the starting gun for us. It’s nice to send this song out into the air and tip our hats to a brilliant songwriter.”
From Lost Brothers tribute Leonard Cohen in new video (RTE: May 15, 2018)
Credit Due Department: Photo by Sol365 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.
No lover gave her poetry like Leonard, and even after their affair ended, she continued to communicate with him in song; most memorably in “A Case of You.” She recalled that Cohen told her, “I am as constant as the Northern Star.” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar says this to Brutus, and it’s not far from there to “Et tu, Brute.” “I knew it was from Julius Caesar,” Cohen recalled, “but I didn’t say it with Shakespeare’s irony. I think I actually meant it in relation to her.”
“When I played ‘A Case of You’ for him, he said, ‘I’m glad I wrote that,’” Joni recalled. The song begins: Just before our love got lost you said, “I am as constant as a northern star.” And I said, “Constantly in the darkness Where’s that at? If you want me I’ll be in the bar.” It was a tension that spoke to a schism in their songwriting …
Leonard got mad at me actually, because I put a line of his, a line that he said, in one of my songs. To me, that’s not plagiarism. You either steal from life or you steal from books. Life is fair game, but books are not. That’s my personal opinion. Don’t steal from somebody else’s art, that’s cheating. Steal from life – it’s up for grabs, right?
From Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017).
DrHGuy Note: Included in Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell: Just One Of Those Things: is a discussion of songs Mitchell wrote which have been identified by some as having been inspired by her relationship with Leonard Cohen: “Rainy Night House,” “That Song About The Midway,” “The Gallery,” and “A Case Of You.”
Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. Jo Meul writes about today’s entry:
Yesterday I went to a concert by Asaf Avidan. In Europe he is a rising (Israeli) artist and his voice is often described as a blend of Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley and Robert Plant (Wikipedia). Avidan has just released a new album (‘The Study on Falling’), but yesterday he played a new song that isn’t even on that album. It’s called “Poet Of The Wind” and it has the line “the radio brings up Cohen with a ‘So long Marianne.”
The first verse of Poet Of The Wind follows:
Driving down from Milan to some place near Tuscany
You look up from the road sayin’ you never had more love for me
The radio brings up Cohen, with a So Long Marie Ann
That bastard’s got me cryin’ like nobody ever can
Note: Asaf Avidan’s acknowledgement and discussion of Leonard Cohen’s influence on his work will be featured in a future post.
Photo by User:Carstor, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
“I dreamt Leonard Cohen handed me a bag of money”
Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. Today’s offering is from Sam Roberts, a multiple Juno-winning rock ‘n’ roller from Montreal, acknowledges Cohen’s influence with that line from his hit single, I Feel You: “I dreamt Leonard Cohen handed me a bag of money.”
In an interview, Writing In The Shadow Of Leonard Cohen by Graham Rockingham (TheSpec.com, Nov 7, 2011), Roberts explains the genesis of the song:
It turns out that Roberts really did have a dream about Cohen, and, yes, the great poet was literally holding a bag of money. “I don’t know where the money came from,” explains Roberts, “and I don’t remember him saying anything. It was just him, wearing a peak cap. I woke up and scribbled it down. It was just sitting there in my notebook, one of those lines that was always glaring at me. I’d wonder, ‘How the hell is this ever going to be part of a song?’ Then I started writing a song (I Feel You) that was basically just other fragments of dreams and decided that this, in fact, was where it belongs.”
Video: Sam Roberts – I Feel You
Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. Today’s offering is No Remedy For Love By Liona Boyd
The song No Remedy For Love is dedicated to Leonard Cohen. That’s Thoreau — I saw the quote at the Church of the Redeemer. ‘There is no remedy for love, but to love more.’ I liked that. The song turned out a bit cynical, but that’s not my stance on love. I’m still optimistic. I’d love a soul mate. I’ll find love somehow.
Excerpted from Liona Boyd’s new outlook on life by Liz Braun (Toronto Sun: October 21, 2017).
Serendipitously, I had noted the same parallel declarations a few months ago; see Leonard Cohen & Henry David Thoreau On An Antidote For Love
The entire album is available on Spotify. The song, No Remedy For Love, is the fourth track.
Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While most of the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen and others name-check the Canadian singer-songwriter, today’s selection is the first entry to be directly inspired by Leonard’s death. Valley Boy is the first single from Cry Cry Cry, the fourth album by Wolf Parade, the quintessential Montreal indie rock band. According to the press release:
“Valley Boy,” a Bowie-inflected anthem for which Spencer [Krug] wrote lyrics after Leonard Cohen died the day before the 2016 election (“The radio’s been playing all your songs, talking about the way you slipped away up the stairs, did you know that it was all gonna go wrong?”).
Lines from the song allude to Leonard (and Marianne) as well:
So you finally became that bird on that wire
Calling all the angels, we must have an intervention
The land and the air and Marianne are in contention
The land wants the tongue and the air wants the spirit
But it’s all inside the heart and Marianne won’t let them near it
The National – Dark Side of the Gym
“Just dance me to the dark side of the gym”
From Memories by Leonard Cohen
Looking For The Best Song Referencing Leonard Cohen is a Cohencentric series featuring a few of the many tunes alluding to Leonard Cohen. While most of the songs already posted in this category have been about Leonard Cohen and others name-check the Canadian singer-songwriter, today’s selection is the second entry that is built around one of his songs (the first was The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song By Jeffrey Lewis). Dark Side of the Gym, the title of a track on The National’s Sleep Well Beast album, refers to “Just dance me to the dark side of the gym,” a line from Memories, released on Leonard Cohen’s 1977 Death Of A Ladies’ Man. The melody and song structure of Dark Side of the Gym is also reminiscent of Cohen’s song.
Matt Berninger, frontman of The National, talks about Leonard Cohen in this excerpt from The National’s Super-Political Love Songs by Spencer Kornhaber *Atlantic: Sep 8, 2017)
Kornhaber: Speaking of sex being at the the core of all our dark desires: Leonard Cohen. You have a reference to him with the song title “Dark Side of the Gym.” What do you take from him?
Berninger: He wrote about sex, he wrote about God, he wrote about politics, all within the same verse. And they all were these beautiful, personal little stories. Everything feels so humongous, but then they also have all these little details.
“Famous Blue Raincoat” is the one I go back to just because it’s like The Great Gatsby or Lolita. That song has so many little details—about a house in the desert, and a lock of hair, and all this kind of stuff—but it’s so big. That song is just a giant, complex story that I don’t quite understand.
He’s one of 20 songwriters that I steal from. Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave—people like that really go right to the most sensitive parts of the skin. Which are the wires that are frayed and sparking? Those are the ones they’ll put their wet hand on. Because they just have to. It’s the only wire in the room that matters, the one that might burn the place down.
Posts about Leonard Cohen’s Memories can be found at Cohencentric: Memories.
Photo by Thepeoplesuck at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons