The 1985 Leonard Cohen Dublin Photo
While I rarely devote a Heck Of A Guy post to a single photo, this one is not only an outstanding image but it also comes with a story.
The photo itself (click on image to enlarge) captures Leonard Cohen at Jury’s Coffee Dock, a favored hangout of his whenever he has been in Dublin. This photo was taken in 1985 by Colm Henry and was found at Morrison Hotel Gallery
The 1985 Leonard Cohen Story
Colm Henry, described as “Ireland’s top rock photographer” in the 1980s, was the subject of Artist Rediscovers Photos Thought Lost To History by Ken Sweeney (Independent.ie, October 15 2010). This excerpt from that article includes Mr Henry’s flawed (I believe) but intriguing report on his session with Leonard Cohen that led to the above photo:
Visiting rock stars came under Henry’s lens too — he photographed songwriter Leonard Cohen here in Jury’s Coffee Dock Inn in the early 1980s.
“The great thing about when big acts came to Ireland in the 1980s is that they arrived with no handlers and no entourage, this meant they were very open to suggestion.
“I can remember, rather than being quiet, Leonard Cohen didn’t stop talking about his new girlfriend, an Italian fashion designer. He really was in love back then,” said Henry.
My assumption is that Colm Henry’s memory or his initial understanding of Cohen’s conversation is mistaken and that the “Italian fashion designer” is actually the French fashion photographer, Dominique Issermann. (I urge anyone with knowledge of a Leonard Cohen liaison with an Italian fashion designer in the 1980s to share that information via email or in the comments.)
Leonard Cohen On Love – Then And Now
Regardless of the identity of the woman with whom Cohen appeared to be infatuated, the element of the story I find striking is the depiction of a garrulous Leonard Cohen eager to talk about his love interest. In recent years, of course, Cohen has been more reticent about describing any relationship that smacked of romance.
Consider, for example, Leonard Cohen’s response in 2007 to a Norwegian talk show host’s remark, “This is a long love story,” which was an invitation for Cohen to provide the history between Anjani and him. Instead, Cohen first finds it necessary, with notable stuttering and stops and starts, to correct the improper application of “love story” to the relationship:1
It wasn’t always a love … It was an affectionate story for a long time, and it ripened into something deeper. But I found it’s best not to name a relationship.
While I lack both the data and desire necessary to indulge in formulating pop psychology theorems to explicate the behaviors of someone as complex as Leonard Cohen, I do find it difficult to refute the observation that at some point prior to 2007 Leonard Cohen became markedly more reluctant to identify or talk about his own romantic feelings._____________________