If You Need Someone To Crack You Up, Leonard Cohen Is Your Man

Emily Bindiger’s Perspective On The Hilariously Funny Leonard Cohen

Some time ago, I came across Billy Mernit’s June 2006 concise, insightful assessment of Leonard Cohen’s career as a poet, novelist, and singer-songwriter, Clouds in My Coffee #9: Rebirth of a Ladies’ Man. This excerpt is indicative of the style and content of this highly recommended piece:

Even as a young man, Leonard Cohen was old. Listen to his voice on the very first album, which opens with the instantly unforgettable strains of Suzanne, and you hear a world-weariness, the eternal sigh of elder sages, that would seem unbecoming in a young singer-songwriter poet were it not for the level of insight evidenced in his lyrics.

It is, however, a comment on this post that most intrigued me. The author, I finally discovered, is Emily Bindiger, a backup singer who worked with Leonard Cohen as described in the note itself. She is the female vocalist on the studio version duet  of “Who By Fire.”1

Leonard Cohen – One of the funniest people I’ve ever met

The comment is self-explanatory and revelatory.

… I was a Leonard Cohen fan from the time I was twelve; I had an older, hipper sister who brought home all his records and books and I fell in love with the man and the music, learned all his guitar chords and all his songs, which served me well when I ended up, at age 18, in a show called “Sisters of Mercy”, based on Leonard’s music, first at the Shaw Festival in Canada then off-Broadway in New York. The following year I got a call to sing background vocals on his album, “New [Skin] For The Old Ceremony” (and one of the songs, “Who By Fire?” is a duet with the man – one of my top ten studio experiences), then toured with him in Europe and North America. To this day I remember every minute of that tour, it was the best gig I ever had, and there is something very interesting about Leonard that not too many people know, or would expect. He’s hilarious! One of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He did everything possible to crack up the band at any given opportunity. He stood on his head to get motorists’ attention when our tour bus broke down in Europe. He read comic books aloud to us (and in that deeply serious voice, we were dying from laughing so hard), and would raid the hotel kitchen at night and cook for us. He bought me an extremely silly cuckoo clock in Switzerland. When we played The Troubadour in LA, someone outside the club kept yelling up to his dressing room window, “Leonard, I need to talk to you about death!”. Leonard calmly went to the window and said, “Friend, can this wait until after my gig? Death is so final.”

Thanks for this gorgeous post, Billy.

Posted by: binnie |June 19, 2006 at 08:14 PM [Emphasis mine]

Yep, Leonard Cohen was witnessed standing on his head to capture motorists’ attention.  That sorta makes this scene from Run Leonard Run – How Leonard Cohen Does It less wacky, doesn’t it?


Bonus: Emily Bindiger Sings

Emily Bindiger, if Wikipedia can be believed,

… has recorded for soundtracks for movies such as The Stepford Wives, One Life to Live, Bullets Over Broadway, Everyone Says I Love You, Donnie Brasco, The Hudsucker Proxy, Michael Collins, and The Tune. Other work she has done includes songs in skits for Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Drew Carey Show. Artists she’s been credited as performing and/or recording with include Leonard Cohen, Buster Poindexter, Oscar Brand, Neil Sedaka, Ben Vereen, Black 47, Deb Lyons, Laurie Beechman, Christine Lavin, Yuri Kasahara and Patti Austin. Bindiger also played the role of “Francine” from the 1980s children’s show The Great Space Coaster, where she acted and played songs. Binidger also recorded the theme song to the kids television series The Baby-Sitters Club. She has recorded with Japanese composer Yoko Kanno for the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, performing Adieu and Flying Teapot. Bindiger has also recorded a number of songs with composer Yuki Kajiura for the anime series .hack//Sign (performing 10 songs) and contributed to Kajiura’s solo album Fiction, performing 6 songs: 3 from .hack//Sign and 3 new songs). More recently she performed a song for the flash anime of Xenosaga – A Missing Year and the anime series El Cazador de la Bruja (performing forest and I reach for the sun) and Kajiura’s latest Pandora Hearts (performing Every time you Kissed Me which is now featured on the second original soundtrack published by JVC Music in Japan.)

On YouTube, Emily Bindiger is most popularly known as the singer in the Japanese manga  series, Pandora Hearts. The version of “Every time you Kissed Me” embedded below has over 38,000 viewings since it was posted four months ago.

Pandora Hearts OST 2 – 02 – Every time you Kissed Me

Video from ShiroyHana

  1. By the bye, the declaration in Wikipedia’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony article that explains

    “Who by Fire” … [is] sung as a duet with Janis Ian (also Jewish; her birth name was Janis Eddy Fink).

    is, ahem,  inaccurate –  as Ms Ian herself kindly but unambiguously explained when I contacted her. []

Comments are closed.