Leonard Cohen, Rest in Peace.../Leonard Cohen Playlist For Beginners...
One of the greats, Leonard Cohen has passed away.
I saw him twice on his barnstorming 2008 - 2010 world tour - in Oakland and at Coachella.
I immediately started saying the Oakland show was my favorite concert of all time of any artist, but my fondness for the Coachella show has since increased so perhaps at this point, they are tied for my favorite concert of any artist of all time.
In the past couple of years, my friend Jason and I have been busking and we often performed Hallelujah, so much so that we joked we would have to start sending Leonard royalties. It was perennially popular with folks, many of them singing along, and a few even crying.
Kurt Cobain dreamed of a "Leonard Cohen afterworld" and we wondered what that would be like. "Music to slit your wrists by"? Some said that. But the underlying hope and love and humor were never far beneath the surface of pain, much like life itself.
He was a seeker. We trusted him and went with him on these spiritual explorations. Into Buddhism. Into the beyond. He was an artist. He did his job. He loved us and we loved him back.
I wish we had him still in these uncertain times. We don't. But we do have his timeless music. And we always will.
Leonard Cohen Playlist For Beginners
So Long Marianne
Sisters Of Mercy
Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong
Bird On The Wire
Diamonds In The Mine (Live at The Isle of Wight)
Famous Blue Raincoat
Chelsea Hotel #2
Lover Lover Lover
Dance Me To The End Of Love
I'm Your Man
Take This Waltz
In My Secret Life
You Want It Darker
ALTERNATE PLAYLIST: Shuffle the first three albums - Songs Of Leonard Cohen (1967), Songs From A Room (1969), and Songs Of Love And Hate (1971), add "Chelsea Hotel #2" from New Skin (1974), prepare a plate with olives, feta cheese, bread, and olive oil, select a paperback (e.g. poetry of Lorca or Buddhist literature), select something strong to smoke, select something to drink (preferred options include, but are not limited to, strong coffee, red wine, or something Greek - ouzo or retsina). If there is not a hammock or beach available, find a suitable location to shake but not stir for a few hours...
Deeper Listen Playlist: 1968 BBC Broadcasts (on YouTube, see bottom of this article), Live at The Isle Of Wight (1970), Death Of A Ladies' Man (1977), Ten New Songs (2001), "Tower Of Song", "If It Be Your Will", "Democracy", "Closing Time", "Who By Fire", "The Future", "The Guests", "Ain't No Cure For Love", "First We Take Manhattan".
"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering...
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in..."
Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
Suzanne was his breakthrough song, made famous by Judy Collins. Suzanne was an actual person he met, as was Marianne, who just passed away recently. At the time, Leonard released a letter implying he would soon be following her on her journey into the beyond and indeed, seemed quite frail in videos which came out of Leonard talking about his new album at the Canadian Consulate in L.A.
He had been away for a while when he released a new album in 2001. Ten New Songs, coming hot on the heels of the terrible wounds of 9/11, was a real triumph. And then there was the Hallelujah phenomenon. Even after Jeff Buckley and Shrek and American Idol and The Olympics and countless In Memorium programs, it's a song that refuses to become a cliche, refuses to get old or lose its power; much like its author.
Many of Leonard's best known and loved songs are from the 60s and 70s, but it was fascinating to see his music reinterpreted for a new era on more recent offerings. Songs like Everybody Knows and Nevermind (the theme of HBO's second season of True Detective), with some gentle remixing, instantly became dance club-ready hits. Shocking but it somehow worked. His last will and testament, You Want It Darker, is well worth a listen to. Sometimes the minimalist production of his 21st century output seemed a bit thin, but it was good to know that this was a way Leonard could work into his 80s, at home with a few choice collaborators and continue gifting us musical gifts.
Thank you, Leonard. We love you. Now and Always.
Still hard to wrap my mind around his early love for country music. To wit: his first group was called The Buckskin Boys. He strikes me as urbane and urban suave and sophisticated - the very opposite of country. Yet Hank Williams clearly echoes in his soul, not only at the Tower of Song.
I love that Leonard chose to honor the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca by taking a loose translation of Lorca's poem "Little Viennese Waltz," and turning it into the song "Take This Waltz". Leonard named his daughter Lorca in tribute to the poet, slain by fascists in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, and always took the opportunity to say that it was Lorca's poetry which originally inspired him to turn to poetry and the arts.
Leonard Cohen built his reputation - and will always be judged - by the three albums he issued between 1967 and 1971 - Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Songs From A Room, and Songs Of Love And Hate, but there are jewels to behold on all 14 studio albums, as well as a few live albums, novels, drawings, and poetry.
I have to defend what is perhaps his most maligned work, 1977's Death Of A Ladies' Man, his drunken collaboration with the currently jailed murderer, super-producer Phil Spector. There was the ubiquitous gun incident (as with John Lennon, The Ramones, Ronnie Spector, and countless women including the misfortunate Lana Clarkson, who Spector murdered in 2003) where Spector was said to have held a pistol to Cohen's head telling him he loved him and Cohen replying that he hoped he did.
Most fans dismiss Death as a mess. Although it's clear the songs emerged despite copious amounts of alcohol and madness, there's a lot to love in there - deep songs, loopy, overly-orchestrated productions, the backing vocals of Ronee Blakley... and a crazy little song called "Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On", which can only be described as punk rock, and which features backing vocals by Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan.
Dylan and Cohen were often taken together, both Jewish, literary, folky, guitar-playing, singer-songwriters in the same era on the same record label, playing to the same audiences.
Since they are similar, it was destined they would either totally love or totally hate each other. They chose love. Dylan was one of the first artists to recognize the power of "Hallelujah" and perhaps the first artist to cover the song. There's a famous anecdote where Dylan asks him how long it took to write "Hallelujah". Cohen tells him it took years (shaving a few years off actual the total), and asks Dylan how long it took him to write the then-current I And I. "About 15 minutes" was Dylan's sardonic reply. I think that story tells you much of what you need to know about these two artists.
BBC Broadcasts 1968
Live on BBC TV, excellent mono recording.
00:00 You Know Who I Am
03:48 Bird On The Wire
08:11 The Stranger Song
14:30 So Long Marianne
22:26 Master Song
30:29 There’s No Reason Why You Should Remember Me [improv]
32:11 Sisters Of Mercy
40:05 Dress Rehearsal Rag
50:23 Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
54:11 Story Of Isaac
58:23 One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong
1:02:16 Bird On The Wire
1:05:50 So Long Marianne
1:11:42 You Know Who I Am
1:14:48 Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Duet with Julie Felix)
Leonard Cohen - vocals
Dave Cousins and The Strawbs have been mentioned as the backing band at this BBC session.
Tracks 1-13 Recorded Spring 1968 at Paris Theatre, London
Tracks 1-5 Broadcast August 31, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
Tracks 6-13 Broadcast September 7, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
Tracks 14-16 Recorded August 11, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC Radio 1 (”Top Gear with John Peel”)
Track 17 Recorded January 27, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC2 TV (”Once More With Felix”)
While Dylan was the transition point for protest music to move towards singer-songwriter, there were others too championing to focus on songs not politics. Canadian Leonard Cohen, with his brooding monotonous voice, was a talented poet who would never have won American Idol. But where he lacked a sweet voice, he made up for it with the intensity of his songs.
Together with younger artists Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Paul Simon, singer-songwriters moved to make songwriting an art form. Their efforts were recognised when mainstream acts covered their songs. All this happened in the whirlpool that rock music was creating.
These well-preserved sessions at the BBC in 1968 offer a fly-on-the-wall experience to witness a young Cohen singing practically the entire first album. The voice is fresh and deep, pushing the songs outside the Tin Pan Alley perimeter, and delving into poetry with a richness of words and subject. Today, they still have that raw appeal of a young artist at the peak of his powers.
Suzanne, So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye are beautiful love songs without catchy hooks. They got your attention with words and the emotions in the song.
Tagged to this 1968 session are three songs from a Top Gear show hosted by John Peel. The final track is a duet with British folk singer Julie Felix on Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye. The
quality on these four tracks are still very good.
from Master Eddie