Leonard Cohen Vs Bob Dylan At Forest Hills 1970

Leonard Cohen And Bob Dylan – Feuding Friends?

Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan have, by all accounts, sincerely admired and thoughtfully praised each other’s work since Cohen became, like Dylan, a full-fledged singer-songwriter.

But that doesn’t mean  the relationship has always been conflict-free, at least according to the following excerpt from Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes (Grove Press, April 12, 2002. pp 260-261):

The underlining and the release date of Dylan’s Self Portrait were added by me. Click on image to enlarge.

This report of a conflict that manifested in the meeting at Cohen’s 1970 Forest Hills concert resonates with and perhaps explicates backup singer Susan Musmanno’s recollection:

I had also forgotten that the concert in Forest Hills was really one of a series. That was the only bad performance we ever gave, and I think part of the reason was that Dylan was in the house that night, and we were all nervous.

And with the extraordinarily negative review of the concert by Nancy Erlich published in the August 8, 1970 issue of Billboard, a model of pristine certainty untainted by dubiety, ambivalence, or ambiguity. Cohen is, Ms Erlich informs us, a musical Svengali, ruthlessly using “his extraordinary command of language and other people’s emotions” to oppress, diminish, and emotionally deplete those who listen to his songs.1

  1. The entire review may be read at the aptly named post, Leonard Cohen, Forest Hills 1970 – “Nervous, Uncomfortable, Oppressive, Lifeless” []

One response to “Leonard Cohen Vs Bob Dylan At Forest Hills 1970

  1. The story how Dylan was not happy when Johnston left him for Leonard (and consequently ruined his career at Columbia and in Nashville) was told by Bob Johnston himself in Austin Chronicle in mid-2000s, entitled “First We Take Berlin”. It’s since removed from the website but it was copied to Forum: http://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=11798