The release of Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas album has motivated William Conrad “to relive an afternoon and evening I shared with him [Leonard Cohen] in Nashville, Tennessee” in the autumn of 1976.
Conrad met Cohen in the latter’s fourth floor room at Roger Miller’s King of the Road Inn to discuss Cohen’s negative assessment of his own novel, Cohen giving Willie York (his Franklin, Tennessee neighbor) LSD, Cohen’s enchantment with “one of those founders of the Dining Car Porters and Waiters Union—black guy, around sixty-five … [who] sounded like Moses,” and, as always, much more.
There is a review of Cohen’s concert, his four piece band, and his two backup singers, who are described as “a pair of sirens—slinky showgirls with angelic voices.”1
There are references to Cohen shows unknown to me (“The clean-shaven, hair trimmed close, Mr. Cohen was in Music City for a two-night stand at the cozy Exit-In, a club with less than 150 seats.”) and Cohen quotes I’ve never heard before, such as “I like a place that serves liquor. Uh, you know, there’s something happens to the audience when they’re drinking.”
Like I said, it’s a must-read posting. William Conrad’s 1976 conversation with Leonard Cohen can be found at
- In 1976, Cohen’s backup singers were Cheryl Barnes and Laura Branigan. [↩]