Must-Read Leonard Cohen Posts And Resources

Leonard Cohen fans have benefited from the recent plethora of publications about the Canadian singer-songwriter triggered by the release of his Old Ideas album.  The following are a few of my favorites.

Note: An earlier iteration of this post was lost in a server glitch.

Leonard Cohen Newswire

Created and maintained by long-time Cohen admirers and veteran webmasters Marie Mazur and Tom Sakic, both of whom are familiar to habitués of this site, the Leonard Cohen Newswire offers annotated links to current online pieces about Leonard Cohen.

The Leonard Cohen Newswire blurb follows:

The Newswire provides the latest in articles, interviews, reviews, press releases and announcements in all languages about Leonard Cohen and his works. Only serious news for a serious artist.1

Leonard Cohen Newswire

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Leonard Cohen In The Financial Times

Encountering an article in the astute Financial Times that directly addresses the psychoeconomics that have dominated the past few years of Leonard Cohen’s career may, understandably, trigger a degree of cognitive dissonance among those readers already aware of the fiscal catastrophe that led to the 2008-2010 World Tour – but it works.

The author, Gautam Malkani, who is not only a journalist for The Financial Times but also the author of the novel Londonstani – and a self-confessed Heck Of A Guy reader, opens his essay with

You would think he [Leonard Cohen] had just discovered a cure for the business cycle.

And, Malkani captures a key aspect of Cohen’s character and his appeal when he writes

As taken aback by his success as the rest of us, Cohen wasn’t trying to be the top dog. Mid-life-crisis proof, he wasn’t even trying to be cool. He was just trying to act his age.

In an explanatory email, Malkani points out

The FT has been reviewing albums and concerts on our Saturday arts pages for a while – and we’ve run a few Leonard Cohen reviews over the years, including a very positive one for Old Ideas. But they’re written by our rock critic and I work on the management page. I pitched the piece that ran on Saturday to our Op-Ed pages rather than our arts pages because I wanted to get across a sense that there’s something really special going on with LC’s resurgence – fueled by his sublime music and lyrics, but its impact going beyond that… I didn’t imagine they’d take it, but it ended up running right next to an Op-Ed by George Osborne, the UK chancellor.

This piece is an outstanding specimen of the rarely sighted species of articles that are analytic, reality-focused (although the word “mystic” is fearlessly brandished), and inspirational.

Bow Down Before The Sage From Mt Baldy
[free registration required at the site]

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 It’s The Same Old Song

 Neo-Neocon, whose posts are primarily political, has made one of her occasional forays into exotic province of Cohenlandia. 2 “Famous Blue Raincoat: the provenance of a familiar tune” opens with this observation:

My favorite YouTube activity these days seems to involve watching singer/songwriters morph from young to old almost instantaneously. There’s something both creepy and magical about getting into the YouTube time machine and seeing ten different live versions of a song spanning thirty years or more, something that simply could not have been done in the privacy of one’s home just a few short years ago.

In this case the singer-songwriter is Leonard Cohen performing Famous Blue Raincoat, which is, the author points out, set to a tune which turns up later in songs by Leo Sayer and Elton John.

Famous Blue Raincoat: the provenance of a familiar tune

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 Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Loser Timeline

Michael Barclay, writing for exclaim.ca, has produced a prose timeline of Leonard Cohen’s life that not only offers those interested in but unfamiliar with the Lord Byron Of Rock ‘n’ Roll the essential biographical information written in a succinct, interesting, and extraordinarily readable fashion but also includes the a number of  little known incidents and details likely to prove new to even the most grizzled Cohenite.

Leonard Cohen Beautiful Loser

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The Many Aspects Of Leonard Cohen

Ben Kaplan has collected a number of perspectives on Leonard Cohen  for the January 31, 2012 edition of the National Post:

Leonard Cohen … has always been more than just an everyday rock star. He’s a prophet, a poet, a sex symbol, an observant Jew who practices Zen, a businessman who lost his fortune, a muse and, perhaps most importantly, a father. The Post’s Ben Kaplan assembled a panel to dissect the various parts of the 77-year-old icon.

Contributors include Adam Cohen and Fred Wah, the Poet Laureate of Canada. The above illustration by Steve Murray is from the same article.

Leonard Cohen: Portrait Of The Artist As An Older Man

  1. That last sentence, “Only serious news for a serious artist,” provides a quick means of distinguishing between the Newswire and Heck Of A Guy, given that the latter is rife with silly stuff about that same serious artist. []
  2. Neo-Neocon is also a Heck Of A Guy reader (see a trend developing?) and  has been featured here before. See Don’t Give Up and Leonard Cohen, Bard Of Bedsits Boffo In Boston. []

2 Responses to Must-Read Leonard Cohen Posts And Resources

  1. Old Ideas is such a great album. He was still playing back to back shows on his last tour and he’s 77 years old. I’ve been following his new series he calls “Old Ideas with New Friends”. It’s pretty cool, various artists have been covering their favorite Leonard Cohen songs. On Pitchfork I found a video of Bradford Cox covering “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy”. It’s a really great cover, enjoy! http://pitchfork.com/news/45313-watch-bradford-cox-cover-leonard-cohen/

  2. I really enjoyed the National Post article by Ben Kaplan. Thanks.