“Passing Through” Favored To Show In 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Opener


Passing Through Odds: 3-5, Paying $3.20 On $2 Wager

Today’s rehearsal is pretty laid back, spent on polishing a few numbers and having fun with some well practiced songs, ad-libbing. They played Passing Through, a song I haven’t heard since I don’t know when. [emphasis mine]

From Feb 26: LA, Rehearsals by Leif Bodnarchuk: No Ideas.

Written by Dick Blakeslee,1  Passing Through (listed as “Passing Thru” on album playlist), was released by Leonard Cohen on his 1973 album, Live Songs.

Leonard Cohen described his introduction to the song in an interview with Harry Rasky, reported in Rasky’s 1979 book, The Song Of Leonard Cohen-Portrait Of A Poet, A Friendship And A Film:

The song “Passing Through” is a song I learned when I was fifteen, from a very devoted socialist that I knew. That particular version of the song comes out of “The People’s Songbook” which was a song book developed out of the interest that the socialists had at one time in Folk Music, still have. It came out of the “Almanac Singers” who later became “The Weavers”, that’s the group that Pete Seeger was in – the book was edited by John Lomax. The book itself was very influential in interesting me in song and songwriting. I came across it when I was about fifteen.

From 1972 to 1993, Cohen frequently played Passing Through in concerts.  The most recent such complete performance was at the Royal Theatre in Victoria BC on Oct 30, 1993.2 A video of Cohen playing the song at the 1985 Warsaw show is today’s Leonard Cohen Video Of The Day.

At the Dec 11, 2010 Las Vegas concert, the final show of the 2008-2010 Tour, Cohen did join in the final line of Passing Through, which was being sung in front of the stage by a group of fans, as seen in this video by albertnoonan:

Passing Through To Be Revived At Oakland Show?

Given the reliable report that Passing Through has been rehearsed and Leonard Cohen’s penchant during the 2012 Tour for resurrecting songs he had previously not performed for years (e.g., I Can’t Forget, The Guests) or had never performed in concert (e.g., Light As The Breeze), the odds favor Passing Through being performed by Leonard Cohen again after its 20 years absence.  Whether that event takes place tonight or not, …

  1. For more about the history of the song and its significance, see Leonard Cohen Sings Songs Linked To World War II – “Passing Through” & “The Partisan” []
  2. Source: Is This What You Wanted by Jim Devlin []

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