YouTuber broccoliz has his wires scrambled but this might actually work, if Leonard Cohen decided to cover Edwyn Collins’ pop classic “A Girl Like You.” Just imagine it. Cohen and Collins do share a robust masculinity in their voice. No, yes?
I’m sure I’ll catch horrendous amounts of shit for this, because we all know that manufactured pop princesses like Lana Del Rey will be the absolute death of all that is pure, but I don’t think it’s that bad. Personally, I’m not particularly concerned with notions of “authenticity” when a manufactured persona is half of what I love about performance.
Authentic she ain’t, but let’s face it, it’s not like a Leonard Cohen song is sacrosanct anymore after the number of times “Hallelujah” has been badly mangled on American Idol...
What say you? Doesn’t it have a certain charm? Or am I simply a sucker for a smokey chanteuse? Or am I angling to write songs for her next album? (Call me, girl!)
In 1986, Leonard Cohen guest-starred on Miami Vice, playing Francois Zolan of the French Secret Service involved in a plot to blow up Greenpeace boats. The episode was called “French Twist.” His role was all too brief.
Leonard Cohen sings an indescribably beautiful version of “Suzanne” in Montreal in November of last year. This man is truly a living tower of song, jutting into our consciousness like huge loving fingers of light.
Thinking back on my musical epiphanies of 2012, Leonard Cohen’s performance in Austin was possessed of enormous soul that made me weep tears of gratitude.
This video is pretty extraordinary in its intimacy. Thanks to Mad Lenny Fan.
Night Music, hosted by Jools Holland and David Sanborn and produced by Hal Wilner, ran on late-night TV from 1988 to 1990. It was a particularly smart show, featuring many musicians who did not appear that often on television. This episode is a perfect example of its eclectic and sophisticated offerings.
From 1989: Was Not Was, word jazzist Ken Nordine (rare to see him perform live), Sonny Rollins and Leonard Cohen.
Hello Operator (Was Not Was)
Kim (Sonny Rollins)
Tower Of Song (Leonard Cohen)
Winter Sketch aka Don’t You Wish (Ken Nordine)
Who By Fire (L. Cohen/S. Rollins)
I Can’t Turn You Loose (Was Not Was)
I recently found myself wondering–as you do–what, exactly, “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” was all about. Precluding, that is, getting high (Dylan: “I never have and never will write a drug song”). My curiosity led me to the following observation by Dylan scholar Clinton Heylin, who observed that the title seems to allude to the following beauty from the Book of Proverbs (chapter 27, verse 15): “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” (Well if that ain’t the Old Testament’s lightest moment!?) Heylin suggests the title was meant to throw off the censors. Better yet, though: a continual dropping: stoning! “Everybody must get stoned”: Every man (the ones that shack up with women anyhow) must get nagged. The “They” being none other than (Rainy Day) “women.”
Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
and they’ll stone when you’re playing your guitar
It all comes into focus when you picture a henpecked hubby– even, I fancy, “sent down in your grave,” which suggests the dirt dropped on hubby’s coffin lid by the surviving widow.
While Heylin’s sourcing of the title in Proverbs arguably seals the deal, it turns out plenty of sharper-eared listeners have long held this interpretation of the song (fair enough: it’s hidden in plain sight), and I found it suggested online that the “#12 & 35” element coincides with a woman’s peak fertility. “A continual dropping in a rainy day…” The song’s about PMT!
Having finally sussed “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (it’ll do me!), I moved on to the similarly enigmatic Blonde on Blonde classic “Just Like Woman.” Immediately, of course, we find ourselves assailed by a further “continual dropping” (Bob’s standing “inside the rain,” no less), but – as I chewed again on the song’s famous words – light was shed in an unexpected and entirely different direction…
Does the following verse of “Just Like a Woman” remind you of another famous song at all?
That Baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls.
How about Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”?
Everybody knows that you love me baby Everybody knows that you really do Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet Without your clothes
And everybody knows
And if you’re still not convinced that Cohen is here (Dylan’s “new clothes” suggesting “no clothes,” after all) paying subtle tribute to the source of his song’s indelible refrain, remind yourself of the following verse also…
And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows
Which is a stunningly imaginative way to recycle Dylan’s rhyme. Those guys eh!
Finally, here’s Al “right place/time/riff” Kooper specifically reminiscing about recording Blonde on Blonde in Nashville, describing his role as a “human tape recorder” who would go learn Bob’s emerging songs and then go prepare the musicians (sketching the odd arrangement too, by the sound of it).
Tom Jones performs Leonard Cohen’s “Tower Of Song’ on the Jools Holland show - May 11, 2012.
Jones may not quite get the humor in the lyrics, but there’s no denying the man IS a tower of song. A monumental voice. And the guy is still built like a brick shithouse.
“Tower Of Song” appears on Jones’ new album Spirit In The Room which comes out on June 5 in the United Kingdom. This is the second new album release I’ve wanted to purchase that hasn’t been made available in the USA other than on expensive imports. The other is Richard Hawley’s Standing At The Edge Of The Sky. You can’t even buy em as MP3s. And Spotify won’t let you listen to Hawley’s album if you live in the USA. What’s with that? This is bad business for the artists and encourages illegal downloading. The music industry just doesn’t learn. The death wish continues. The only place to hear some of these new albums is on YouTube…and that may not last for much longer.
Leonard Cohen’s former manager and lover Kelley Lynch was sentenced on April 17 to 18 months in prison for breaching restraining orders by sending scores of nasty e-mails and making harassing phone calls to Cohen. Lynch had a history of predatory behavior in her dealings with Cohen. In 2005 she was found guilty of stealing millions of dollars from Cohen and was ordered by a judge to pay the singer $9.5 million.
At the sentencing, Cohen read a statement that only confirms his standing as a world-class poet, Buddhist and a man with an incredible sense of style:
It gives me no pleasure to see my onetime friend shackled to a chair in a court of law, her considerable gifts bent to the service of darkness, deceit and revenge, [But] I want to thank the defendant Ms. Kelley Lynch for insisting on a jury trial, thus exposing to the light of day her massive depletion of my retirement savings and yearly earnings, and allowing the court to observe her profoundly unwholesome, obscene and relentless strategies to escape the consequences of her wrongdoing… It is my prayer that Ms Lynch will take refuge in the wisdom of her religion. That a spirit of understanding will convert her heart from hatred to remorse, from anger to kindness, from the deadly intoxication of revenge to the lowly practices of self-reform.”
Yes, Cohen briefly turned a courtroom into a Tower Of Song.
So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like me at all
I’m standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah they don’t let a woman kill you not in the tower of song
This seems like a good time to enjoy this concert footage from Leonard’s 2008/09 world tour.
Age may weary and death may claim, but the ears will not condemn this fine selection of essential listening from Blondie, Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen taken from Later with Jools Holland.
01. Blondie - “Heart of Glass” from 1998
02. Joe Strummer - “London Calling” from 2000
03. Ian Dury - “Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 1998
04. Sonic Youth- “Sacred Trickster” from 2009
05. David Bowie - “Ashes to Ashes” from 1999
06. Johnny Cash - “Folsom Prison Blues” from 1994
07. Leonard Cohen - “Dance me to the End of Love” from 1993
Australian artist Ben Smith’s “The Influence. Leonard Cohen consoles Nick Cave” depicts, with both wit and affection, the two melancholic bards as guru and student, father and son, ventriloquist and dummy, sharing the blood of Jesus and the fruit of knowledge.
Visit Smith’s website for more tantalizingly cool paintings.
For five years starting in 1994 Leonard Cohen lived at the Mount Baldy Zen Center 40 miles east of Los Angeles. There he studied with and assisted Zen Master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi.
In the Spring of 1996, French artist Armelle Brusq filmed this documentary of Cohen going through his daily routine at Mt. Baldy.
Cohen’s cabin with his Technics KN 3000 synthesizer and computers are shown, and he sings his new song “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” He also recites three unpublished poems, two telling about Roshi (one titled Roshi at 89). The third was titled “Too Old.”
The camera also visits the office of Stranger Management: Cohen demonstrates his archives (lots of boxes full of notebooks, he shows a poster of his first book Let Us Compare Mythologies and a painting made by Suzanne, the mother of his children). Later a studio session is going on, he is working with Raffi Hakopian (violin) and Leanne Ungar (his sound engineer). Afterwards Cohen and Brusq dine at Canter’s.
In this documentary Cohen tells about his life, his memories, why he lives at the Zen Center. He suggests that some kind of a circle has been closed and now he can do something else.
Cohen will release his 12th studio album, Old Ideas, tomorrow. Its current rank on Amazon is #1. Clearly, Cohen’s second coming is just a continuation of a long and venerable path by one of music’s wisest elders.
Leonard Cohen’s new album Old Ideas is being released next Tuesday. The critical reception has been ecstatic. Which thrills me because I have loved Cohen from the moment I heard “Suzanne” when I was 15 years old. He’s been a massive influence on my own music. My debt to him is deep.
Here’s something to hold you Cohen fans over until Old Ideas release: a brilliant performance by Mr. Cohen on Austin City Limits from 1988.
I Am a Hotel is a rather odd (occasionally kitsch) musical written by Leonard Cohen which was broadcast on Canadian TV in 1983. The plot is composed of a series of five vignettes dealing with love, sex and longing. Each story is based on a Cohen song.
The action takes place in the King Edward Hotel in Toronto. Cohen portrays a character known simply as The Resident, a Greek chorus of one.
Co-written by Mark Shekter and directed by Allan F. Nicholls.
1. The Guests - the characters enter via the lobby and are taken to their rooms; the bellboy and chambermaid meet in the corridor; and the manager and his wife apparently have angry words in the lobby after which she strides off.
2. Memories - the bellboy pursues the chambermaid around the laundry and ballroom.
3. The Gypsy Wife - the manager’s wife, in fetching attire, dances on the boardroom table.
4. Chelsea Hotel # 2 - two lovers try, and fail, to make love, and the admiral and diva at last face each other across the hallway.
5. Suzanne - scenes of “Suzanne” with Cohen are interspersed with shots of the two couples reunited and dancing together, and the hotel manager distraught and then drinking at the bar.
A short epilogue repeats the opening material from ‘The Guests’.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.