Leonard Cohen Enters Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Judy Collins & KD Lang Form Leonard Cohen’s Honor Guard

Leonard Cohen, Earth, Wind and Fire members Maurice White, Philip Bailey and Verdine White were admitted last night into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Cohen’s acceptance speech was preceded by Judy Collins performance of Cohen’s “Suzanne” and K.D. Lang’s  version of  “Hallelujah,” both of which earned standing ovations.

The Collins performance echoed her introduction of Cohen’s music to U.S. audiences,1 beginning in 1966 with her renditions of “Suzanne” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” As Collins explained to the Hall Of Fame audience, Cohen had visited her saying. “I can’t sing and I can’t play the guitar, and I don’t know if this is a song” before playing “Suzanne” for her. Collins reply proved to be the starting point for Cohen’s career as a singer-songwriter:

Leonard, it’s a song and I’m recording it tomorrow.2

KD Lang’s cover of “Hallelujah,” perhaps most famously offered during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics,3 has itself become legendary. Last night performance earned this evaluation from Steven Van Zandt:

That was one of the best performances I’ve seen in my entire life.4

Cohen Quotes From “Hallelujah” In Songwriters Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speech

Employing a paradigm similar to that he used in his accepting admission to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame,5 the sartorially resplendent Cohen briefly expressed his gratitude and quoted from one of his own songs, in this case “Hallelujah.” And, as before, he received a standing ovation.

During the same ceremony the Towering Song Award was given to Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and the Johnny Mercer Award to was bestowed on Phil Collins, who was already a member of the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Producer Phil Ramone received the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award, and music publisher Keith Mardak received the Abe Olman Publisher Award.

Leonard Cohen Performs “White Man Dancing”6 At Songwriters Hall Of Fame

According to Rolling Stone’s report of the evening,

Earth, Wind and Fire closed out the night with a heartfelt speech and had the crowd, including Leonard Cohen, dancing to their funky classic “September.”

Of course, Leonard Cohen dancing is hardly a surprise to anyone who has attended one of his concerts. Check out this demonstration beginning at 0:35 in an albertnoonan video of the June 14, 2008 Dublin concert.

Best Leonard Cohen Reference Of The Night

Paul Shaffer tells Rolling Stone he was eagerly anticipating Leonard Cohen’s acceptance speech because …

He [Leonard Cohen] was the only guy who ever rehearsed for the Letterman show with a glass of red wine.

Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Induction Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Songwriters Hall of Fame 2010 Induction

Video from AssociatedPress

  1. See Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen []
  2. Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel Highlight Songwriters Gala, by Patrick Doyle. Rolling Stone, June 18, 2010 []
  3. See KD Lang Sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” At Opening Of 2010 Vancouver Olympics []
  4. Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel Highlight Songwriters Gala, by Patrick Doyle. Rolling Stone, June 18, 2010 []
  5. See Notes On The 2008 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction []
  6. See According To Leonard Cohen, The Future Has White Folks Dancing []

One Response to Leonard Cohen Enters Songwriters Hall Of Fame

  1. I had the pleasure of attending a cncert of Judy Collins at The Ohio Theatre in Columbus. We certainly owe her a great debt of gratitude as well. Thanks Judy!