You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If – You’re disappointed Leonard hasn’t sung Closing Time on The Muppet Show

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For more instances of “You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If …” aka Warning Signs Of Leonard Cohen Fan Syndrome, see the You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … page.

Note: Yep, this is the inevitable followup to yesterday’s post, Photos That Should Have Been: Leonard Cohen Visits Set Of Fraggle Rock 1983. And, it’s another of my own graphics that has lately been appearing, rarely with attribution, on multiple social media sites.

Photos That Should Have Been: Leonard Cohen Visits Set Of Fraggle Rock 1983

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Real Event – Fake Photo

Excerpt from Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons:

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Note: This is one of my own graphics that has lately been appearing, rarely with attribution, on multiple social media sites. If it’s that popular, I figure I should repost it as well.

Video: Leonard Cohen Interview – Finland 1993

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In this April 27, 1993 interview (scheduled in anticipation of the April 29, 1993 Helsinki concert), Cohen addresses such familiar topics as his slow, perfectionist style of songwriting, his lack of commercial success, the deterioration of the social structure following the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and the fragmentation of Los Angeles.

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this interview by a Facebook posting from Gordana Stupar

Dear Thief – Samantha Harvey’s Novelization Of Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat

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Samantha Harvey is an impressive and much lauded author whose first novel, The Wilderness (2009), deals with the deterioration of a mind by Alzheimer’s disease and whose second novel, All Is Song (2012), is about moral and filial duty.

Her third book, Dear Thief (2014), is written in the form of a long letter from a woman to her absent friend, detailing the emotional fallout of a love triangle. In an extraordinary feat of deduction, Guardian reviewer, Claire Kilroy, sussed out the basis of Dear Thief – Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat. The pertinent excerpt from that review1 follows:

Why is this voice so evocative, I found myself wondering. Why is it (literally, as it happens) striking a chord? The answer is Leonard Cohen.

Dear Thief is a novelisation of Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat”, a song about a love triangle, which is also presented as a letter to the third party who broke up a marriage. Both letters are started at four in the morning at the end of December. Harvey’s narrator sits at a desk in Goodge Street, London, not Clinton Street, New York. It’s cold and she is no longer in the family home, but she likes her apartment – there’s music all evening from the jazz bar down the road. Butterfly wears a shawl, which over the years becomes filthy and torn at the shoulder, like the blue raincoat of Cohen’s song. Both letter-writers wonder whether their old friend is better yet, for both the marriage-wreckers have demons. Both are now living in a house in the desert. And, of course, there is the lock of hair.

This is not to say that Dear Thief achieves its emotional power because of the song – I connected the two some time after I had finished the book. The novel had left an imprint in its own right. Dear Thief is written in the same key as the song – a minor and melancholic one, which captures a heady, elegiac combination of eroticism and loss, loathing and rapture, the messy complexity of a spurned woman’s emotional landscape. Harvey’s narrator watches her beloved friend seduce her husband – “somebody we love has loved someone else more, and we feel swiped aside like a skittle” – and although she is unable to forgive her friend for stealing her future, she is unable to stop caring about her either.

And, in a review just published yesterday,2 the novelist confirms Cohen’s classic song as her direct inspiration and elaborates on it:

Interviewer: I read a review in The Guardian that the book is based on Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat,” and I was wondering if that was the original inspiration for the book—or did you realize it as you were writing it?

Samantha Harvey: No, that was the original inspiration. In fact, the reviewer in The Guardian worked that out for herself. She was quite the canny reviewer. I had to tell my publicist that that’s what it was about. You know, it’s what it was based on. I don’t think she’d relayed that. So it was definitely worked out by the reviewer. But yeah, that’s what it was based on and I’ve kind of always been curious about the fact that we have cover songs, cover novels, so I thought I’m going to cover a song with a novel. I didn’t have the guts to actually call the book “Famous Blue Raincoat,” or the permission. Obviously I wanted to take it in my direction and it’s its own thing and it became much more robust as we moved along. But that was the initial starting point for it, yeah. Absolutely.

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  1. Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey review – a heady portrait of eroticism and loss by Claire Kilroy (The Guardian: October 11, 2014) []
  2. Samantha Harvey: “We don’t always have to write about women in the context of their relationships with men” by Michele Filgate. Salon: Jan 22, 2015 []

1HeckOfAGuy: The Other Leonard Cohen Site Is Now Mobile-Friendly

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Viewing 1HeckOfAGuy.com on a mobile phone has been a challenge, even for the stouthearted and visually acute. From the screenshot of the old view shown below, one can – with a bit of squinting – discern that the text is too small to read, the links are too close together, and, well, it’s just too darn tiny.

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The mobile perspective now in place, however, displays the text in a larger, easily readable size.

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It does a few other tricks as well.  By clicking on that “menu” button, for example, a drop down menu based on the familiar tab headings is released.

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 Forget Your Perfect Offering

The new mobile version is not without its drawbacks.  Viewing the material on the middle sidebar requires scrolling past the entire post and comments, and, as far as I can determine, the right sidebar is not directly accessible from the mobile view. A workaround may be available soon.

Nonetheless, this is a major improvement, and I urge you to check it out.

New Video: Leonard Cohen’s Gorgeous Performance Of Hallelujah – Reykjavik 1988

Amsterdam, April 1988

For a fleeting moment in 2009, YouTube blessed us with a live video of Leonard Cohen performing Hallelujah at the June 24, 1988 Laugardalshöll, Reykjavik, Iceland concert. It was a particularly lovely version that impressed many viewers, inducing me. As we have experienced many times, however, YouTube giveth, and YouTube taketh away. All traces of Leonard Cohen’s 1988 Icelandic concert, including the performance of Hallelujah, have disappeared from YouTube and similar sites.

In hopes of making this especially moving rendition of Cohen’s classic Hallelujah easily available, I have created a video featuring a high-quality audio recording of that performance and a montage of pertinent photos.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Reykjavik: June 24, 1988
Video by Allan Showalter

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post (and seen in the video) was taken by Frans Schelleken at the April 19, 1988 Leonard Cohen concert in Amsterdam. A large proportion of the photos used in the video were contributed by Dominique BOILE.