Leonard Cohen Recites "Too Old" From Armelle Brusq's Spring 1996 Documentary


“Too Old” from Armelle Brusq’s “Leonard Cohen. Spring 1996. A Portrait In Time”

I happened onto Leonard Cohen’s recitation of his poem, “Too Old,” from Book of Longing shortly after it was uploaded to YouTube today and felt compelled to post it.

The Armelle Brusq documentary shot in Spring 1996, about Leonard Cohen’s experience at Mt Baldy 1  from which the clip is taken is described in LeonardCohenFiles.  Excerpts follow:

Armelle Brusq is a young French artist living in Paris. She filmed this 52 min documentary in Spring 1996 on Mt. Baldy and in Los Angeles using a customized camera. The Norwegian television was the first to show it (on March 15, 1997), and later many other TV channels followed.

Leonard Cohen commented from the Mt Baldy Zen Center, his home at that time: The monks up here think it’s pretty good. Roshi said to her: “You great artist”

The film describes the daily routines of the Zen monks at the Zen Center of Mt. Baldy: waking up early (2:30 or 3:00 am), marching together to the ceremonies, meditating, making food and eating. We see Cohen working in the kitchen and helping his dear friend and teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi (90 years at the time of shooting); later he drives with Roshi to another Zen Center (Rinzai Ji) in Los Angeles.

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 He also recites three unpublished poems, two telling about Roshi (one titled Roshi at 89) .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 (see footnote)

The film ends with (I was) Never Any Good (at loving you), a new song written for his next album. He goes to his car and listens to a demo sung by Billy Valentine.

Leonard Cohen – Too Old

Video from youtenpatube

  1. This documentary is referenced under several names, the most complete of which seems to be “Leonard Cohen. Spring 1996. A portrait in time by Armelle Brusq” []

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