Newly unearthed Leonard Cohen talk show appearance, 1985
08:35 am
Newly unearthed Leonard Cohen talk show appearance, 1985

Leonard Cohen
Last August I wrote a Dangerous Minds piece about Hot Properties, a little-remembered Richard Belzer talk show on the Lifetime network in the mid-1980s. The most notable thing that ever happened on Hot Properties was Hulk Hogan accidentally injuring Belzer on the air, which led to an out-of-court settlement; that incident was the peg for that post.

It turns out I’m not the only one who recalls Hot Properties. Last week a DM reader emailed me, telling of a Betamax recording he had of Belzer interviewing Leonard Cohen on Hot Properties. Since that initial email YouTube user ‘jay sarajevo’ has kindly uploaded the video clip (about 15 minutes).

It’s hard to argue that this interview is anything less than choice material for a Leonard Cohen enthusiast. The best guess on the date is May 1, 1985. Cohen played Carnegie Hall on Sunday, May 5, 1985, and Hot Properties taped on Wednesdays, so it seems that this was taped on May 1. Note that during the call-in section (!) the word “Prerecorded” appears on the screen, which answers a question I had posed in that original DM post—namely, whether the show was aired live. Apparently it was! It seems possible that Lifetime was in the habit of airing Hot Properties a second time overnight or during the next day, so this Betamax video must have been taped at someone’s home as a rerun. It could, of course, simply have run some weeks later as a rerun.
Richard Belzer and Leonard Cohen
Richard Belzer and Leonard Cohen hanging out 23 years later, in 2008

Belzer and Cohen have pretty decent chemistry, and even the callers’ questions are pretty strong. Unfortunately at no point did Cohen elect to place Belzer in a headlock, and history is the poorer for that decision. Cohen did, however, chat amiably about his difficulties getting his material released in the United States, ruefully told a mordant joke about Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca being killed in a homosexual brawl with Spanish fascists, told a good story about legendary CBS Records honcho Walter Yetnikoff, and admitted that a lot of his material is “sad, woeful, depressing.” It’s a darn good interview, introduced with the entirety of the video for “Dance Me to the End of Love,” a single off of Various Positions, the album he was promoting at the time.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Cohen muses that “Gums Bleed” by eclectic Australian musician J. G. Thirlwell, performing at that time under the name You’ve Got Foetus on Your Breath, is one of his favorite new songs. 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Leonard Cohen’s rarely seen musical ‘I Am A Hotel’
An hour of Leonard Cohen performing live in Austin in 1988

Posted by Martin Schneider
08:35 am



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