Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

“I Really Love It!” Don Was Endorses Heck OF A Guy Video Of Elvis’s Rolls Royce Performed By Was (Not Was) & Leonard Cohen

“It was not only an act of supreme generosity on
[Leonard Cohen's ] part but a flawless reading of the song

Those hearing reports of unprecedented beaming emanating from the vicinity of Durham, North Carolina needn’t be concerned that, say, a local nuclear power plant has gone Chernobyl. The phenomenon is instead the consequence of DrHGuy finding this message from Don Was, world class musician and Grammy-winning record producer,1 in his inbox:

hi allan -

just stumbled upon your video for our song “Elvis’ Rolls Royce”….i really love it! It’s exactly what I visualized when we wrote the song and seeing your video 20 plus years after we recorded the track gave me a renewed sense of how surreally awesome it was that leonard agreed to do the vocal for us…it was not only an act of supreme generosity on his part but a flawless reading of the song…thanks for putting so much work into the video….i hope everyone on earth gets to see it!


OK, let’s make that “Don Was, world class musician, Grammy-winning record producer, and one heck of a guy.”


Leonard Cohen, Was (Not Was), Elvis’s Rolls Royce, & The VIdeo

In 1990 Was (Not Was) published the album, Are You Okay?, which included the song, “Elvis’s Rolls Royce” with Leonard Cohen as lead vocalist (and Iggy Pop contributing backing vocals). One suspects that it was fun to produce, and it’s clearly fun to hear. It seemed only fitting that it should have a fun video as well. That’s where DrHGuy, master of the cut and paste flick, came into the picture.

Considerable poetic license was involved in the composition of “Elvis’s Rolls Royce.” Elvis owned many cars, a significant number of which he gave away to friends and family. He did own a Rolls Royce:

January 1961 Elvis signed a 5 year contract with Hal Wallis. To celebrate he went out and bought a Rolls Royce Phantom V from a Beverly Hills dealer only to bring it home and have his mothers’ chickens peck away at their reflections in the elegant finish. Most people would have just shot the birds but Elvis just chose to have the car repainted four or five times.2

That Rolls Royce is the one featured in the extraordinarily rare3 photo of Elvis, Leonard, & the Rolls atop this section of the post.

Elvis also owned a 1966 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, pictured below.

Elvis's 1966 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud

In any case, images in the accompanying video are likewise “inspired by” rather than “based on” Elvis’s cars. Viewers are advised to rev up their “willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith;”4 a literal-minded perspective may result in significant cognitive whiplash.

More information, including a disposition on and video of the most popular Was (Not Was) song, “Walk The Dinosaur,”5 is available at Elvis’s Rolls Royce – Another Leonard Cohen Song That You Have (Probably) Never Heard.

Video: Leonard Cohen & Was (Not Was) – Elvis’s Rolls Royce

Video by Allan Showalter

  1. Don Was has produced every Rolling Stones album since 1993, co-led the 1980s group Was (Not Was), was appointed president of the jazz record label, Blue Note Records, in 2012, served as music director for a batch of movies (e.g., Thelma and Louise, The Rainmaker, Hope Floats), and has recorded with – well, just about everyone, including Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Ziggy Marley, Bob Seger, Al Green, Lucinda Williams, Garth Brooks, Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker, Hootie and The Blowfish, Amos Lee, Willie Nelson Elton John, Stevie Nicks, George Clinton, Randy Newman, The Black Crowes, Carly Simon, Travis Tritt, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, The Barenaked Ladies, Old Crow Medicine Show, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Richie Sambora, The Presidents of the United States of America, B.B. King, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Elling, Poison, Cheb Khaled, The B-52′s, Zucchero, Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, Jill Sobule and Solomon Burke. []
  2. []
  3. It is so extraordinarily rare that it was, in fact, nonexistent in the pre-Photoshop world []
  4. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1817 []
  5. Unfortunately, there are no known versions of “Walk The Dinosaur” featuring Mr Cohen. []

Three Excerpts From Liel Leibovitz’s “A Broken Hallelujah” Now Available Online


At least three  online publications have issued significant, self-contained excerpts – each of them rewarding reads1 – adapted from Liel Leibovitz’s just-published “A Broken Hallelujah:”

More about “A Broken Hallelujah” by Liel Leibovitz:

Update: Also online now: St. Leonard, Live (Tablet Magazine: April 7, 2014) – Leonard Cohen’s Top Five Concert Appearances

  1. OK, there are two rewarding reads and one rewarding listed (a podcast). []
  2. With all respect to Liel, I hold my previous characterization of the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour as “the astoundingly weird Cohen Tour” to be superior to his description of it as “worst tour ever.” []

DrHGuy Is Taking The Day Off To Celebrate Return Home Of Duchess

cohen1 & will be closed today in celebration of the return of the Duchess after a sojourn on the Left Coast. Posting will resume April 7, 2014

View High Efficiency PowerPoint Version Of Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan


Leonard Cohen’s conventional live performance of First We Take Manhattan requires 6+ minutes to perform.1 Who has that kind of time? By eliminating textual redundancies (How many times do you need to hear someone tell you “I’d really like to live beside you, baby?”) and the singing, the condensed content of the song can be presented in PowerPoint format in less than 2 minutes – without the need for backup singers, a band, or wear and tear on Mr Cohen’s knees.

PowerPoint Version Of First We Take Manhattan by Leonard Cohen

Note: An earlier version of this post was published here on May 21, 2010

  1. For example, see First We Take Manhattan – Chicago 2009 []

Various Positions Onstage – The Shifting Locations Of Leonard Cohen Backup Singers 1970-2013

Backup Singers Charley Webb, Hattie Webb, & Sharon Robinson Stage Right at Leonard Cohen Concert - Toronto: Dec 4, 2012

Backup Singers Charley Webb, Hattie Webb, & Sharon Robinson Stage Right at Leonard Cohen Concert – Toronto: Dec 4, 2012

On The Side Of The Angels – But Which Side Is That?

The onstage arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s angels, aka backup singers, has been constant at the 2008-2013 concerts: Charley Webb on the audience’s far left, then Hattie Webb, and then, nearest Leonard Cohen’s center stage position, Sharon Robinson. It’s not unusual, in fact, for Cohen fans attending a concert to identify their seats as being on the “boys’ side” (the same side as the band members – on Cohen’s left) or the “girls’ side” (the same side as the backup singers – on Cohen’s right).

As Alan Mawhinney points out, however, this was not always the case.

When Anjani Thomas was in the band in 1985 she was to Leonard’s right, albeit on the keyboard. All the videos I can recall from earlier times show the lady singers to Leonard’s left.

When Perla and Julie were touring, they were on Leonard’s right, but usually with Julie closer to him. In Barcelona, Perla was closer to Leonard, in contrast to most other performances I have seen. Perla is also adjacent to LC in the San Sebastian 1988 concert. Could it be because he used her as an interpreter par excellence in the concerts in Spain? My guess is that Julie usually stood closer to Leonard due to her featuring in “Joan of Arc” and “Take This Waltz”. Also re Perla and Julie there are a number of occasions where Leonard stood between them, but I don’t recall seeing any vision of him standing adjacent to any of the others, with the occasional exception of being to Sharon’s left on the recent tour.

In the, unfortunately now ended 2008 – 2013 World Tour, Sharon, Hattie and Charlie were always on Leonard’s right.

As Alan and I exchanged  email about who stood where when during Leonard Cohen shows, this bit of stage business grew more and more interesting, resulting in this post and an associated gallery of photos illustrating the onstage positions of the backup singers for the various tours at Various Positions Onstage: The Gallery –

Help Complete This Project

This is by no means an exhaustive listing2. Nor is it intended as the last word on the subject. Beyond the speculations contained in Alan’s email, no reasons are offered explaining why the singers are on the right or left or why one backup singer stands further from Leonard Cohen (e.g., Sharon Robinson in 1979) or closer to Leonard Cohen (e.g., Sharon Robinson in 2013). I am, in fact, hopeful that readers will contribute other variations in the placement of Cohen’s singers as well as knowledge of or ideas about such stage positioning in general or specific to Leonard Cohen.

Stage Positions Of Leonard Cohen Backup Singers By Tour

In 1970 and 1972 the backup singers were stage right. In 1974, the angels moved across the stage to Leonard Cohen’s left and remained there in 1976, 1979, and 1980. In 1985, the backing vocals shifted back to stage right, where they have remained since.

The Leonard Cohen Slip & Slide Realignment Between Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla

One specific stage maneuver pertinent to the backup singers seems worthy of spotlighting.  Cohen has used this move, as far as I can determine, only with backup singers Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla. While singing, Cohen slips  back from his solo position center stage, loops around behind the backup singers on stage right, and slides between them where he continues the song.

Leonard Cohen Moves Between Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla
Austin: 1988

Various Positions Onstage: The Gallery

Click here: Various Positions Onstage: The Gallery –

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post taken by -Astin-

  1. The photo gallery is located at because of technical issues. []
  2. I cannot find, for example, a single photo of Leonard Cohen and his backup singers  on stage in 1975 []

Lorri Zimmerman: 1975 Leonard Cohen Backup Singer


Lorri Zimmerman sang backup along with Erin Dickens during the Leonard Cohen USA tour in late 1975.1 None of the standard books about Leonard Cohen or the websites focusing on Leonard Cohen offer a photo of or more information of this vocalist. There are several reasons that might explain Lorri Zimmerman’s obscurity in the Cohen literature, whether online or print:

  1. Lorri Zimmerman sang backup for Cohen only a few times. She, along with Erin Dickens, was a vocalist for only the seven2 US concerts Leonard Cohen played in November 1975 in support of The Best Of Leonard Cohen.3 (There were also 17 North American concerts from Jan 27-Mar 4, 1975 in support of New Skin For The Old Ceremony. The backup singers during this period were Emily Bindiger and Erin Dickens.)4
  2. There are currently few available photos of Leonard Cohen performing in 1975,5 and none showing him performing with any of his backup singers that year. Similarly, there are few reviews of the 1975 concerts, none of which address the November shows.
  3. Little is known about Lorri Zimmerman in general these days and that small amount is scattered hither and yon, in large part because she was known at various times as Lorri Zimmerman, Lorraine Nidgelski,  Lorraine Nied, Laurie Niedzielski, Lauri Nigelski, and a few other names. In addition, much of the information about her is available only in French.

Update 03 April 2014: I have just discovered a previously photo shows Leonard Cohen and Lorri Zimmerman working together in 1975 (kinda sorta). The image below is also included in Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life by Anthony Reynolds along with this pertinent information contained in the caption:

At the Sound Ideas Studio in New York during the aborted Songs For Rebecca sessions of 1975. Backing singer Lori Zimmerman can be seen behind Cohen. [Photo by] John Miller


Regardless of the reasons for the obscurity, that ain’t how we treat Leonard Cohen backup singers in these parts.  This post comprises the organized bits and pieces about Lorri Zimmerman I have been able to unearth.

Lorri Zimmerman & The 1975 Leonard Cohen Tour

Erin Dickens, Cohen backup singer during the entire 1974-1975 tours, explains how Lorri Zimmerman was chosen for the late 1975 shows:6

She was a singer from Montreal with whom John Lissauer and I worked regularly. We toured with her in our own band in Japan in 1976. A wonderful girl and great singer. I think John simply chose her for those reasons.

Emily Bindiger, who sang backup for the 1974 Cohen tour and the early 1975 shows, offers her best guess that she was unable to take part in the Nov 1975 concerts because at that point she was performing in “Shenandoah” on Broadway.

Lorri Zimmerman Biography

lorri zimmerman

The only organized biography for “Lorri Zimmerman” is the following posted by Jason Lymangrover on AllMusic:

One of the lesser-known femme-psych singers, Lorri Zimmerman got her start when she auditioned for a TV talent show called The Like Young and was extended an invitation to participate in an album the show released featuring several of the performers. Two years later, in 1968, Lorri met up with a band called the Munks and the members performed under the moniker Sweet Loraine & the Munks for nearly a year before going their separate ways. She soon joined up with Life, a Montreal-based psychedelic band on Polydor that had some chart success with their single “Hands of the Clock.” In 1969, the group disbanded and Zimmerman began making some demos for music publishers Chappell & Co. Ltd, which led to the recording of her only solo album for Crescent City, an obscure underground pop/rock record (with elements of psych) that remained an underground gem until it was reissued by Fallout Records in 2007.

Best Of Like Young album with Lorraine Nied

Best Of Like Young album with Lorraine Nied

From 2 février 2014: Fluent dans toutes les langues!, posted Feb 3, 2014 by Sebastien at Mondo P.Q. [via Google Translate - bolding mine]:

The Munks – Long Time Waiting (Columbia, 1966)

The_Munks-258x3004 monks in robes of Montreal with Rick St-Jean René Boileau, Tagg Hindsgaul and Ed Kaye. Their first single was released in September 65 as The Exit 4. This will be their third 45s most popular Long waiting time moving up on some local English charts. Lorraine Nied aka Sweet Loraine aka Lorri Zimmerman will join the group in 1967 and the end of 1968, St. John Kaye and leave to form the Freedom group … soon renamed Freedom North.

From 19 February 2012: Hardrock Province (1968-1975)
Posted February 21, 2012 by Sebastien at Mondo P.Q. [via Google Translate]:

Lorri Zimmerman – ‘Cause the world is mine (Crescent Street, 1971)
She began her career under the name Sweet Loraine in the second version of the group of Verdun The Munks before joining the Montreal Life. Later, she would form a third bilingual and disco trio Toulouse. Along with Mari-Lou Gauthier (itself later Toulouse more), it would choirs on the single album Emerald City group.

From 9 mars 2014: Mondo P.Q. au féminin Posted March 11, 2014 by Sebastien at Mondo P.Q. [via Google Translate]:

The last simple Zimmerman solo voice already known at the time on the Montreal scene, always in demand for vocals on many albums. Pressed here and in England, with Vegetable Band (unknown member).

Lori Zimmerman Vegetable & the Band – 60 Minute Man (Pye / Sweet Plum, 1973)

From Nick Warburton & Life

Another addition to two of the album’s songs was Zimmerman’s wife Lorraine Nidgelski (aka Neid), who had been working with Montreal band, The Munks. As Simon recalls, Neid sang the chorus on “Ain’t I Told You Before” and contributed joint lead vocals on the band’s cover of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

Life with Lorraine Nied - From La Patrie - Sep 7, 1969

Life with Lorraine Nied – From La Patrie – Sep 7, 1969

Lorri Zimmerman & Toulouse


From Canadian Bands [boding mine]:

Canada’s disco scene was fronted in Montreal as much as it was in Toronto, full of world beats set to a danceable rhythm. When sisters Heather and Mary Lou Gauthier and Judi Richards decided that singing backup for various local groups wasn’t cutting it, they formed their own trio in 1975 called Toulouse.

They were signed by Steve Grossman at Magique Records, and were teamed up with producer/songwriter Peter Alves. With him helping write the material, they released their self-titled debut album in the fall of 1976. Although no singles were released, the album as a whole was a hit with the francophone dance market, warranting an English re-release of the album to cater to the rest of Canada and hopefully break out in the US. While they were in the studio, management teamed them up with another French group called Boule Noire, who together released POTION MAGIQUE, half one group and half the other. Tracks from their catalogue also began appearing on numerous K-Tel specials, helping the band get name recognition.

By this point Laurie Zimmerman had replaced the recently departed Mary Lou Gauthier. The revised version of Toulouse’s debut album was called EXPORT, released in ’77 with totally revamped lyrics, written largely by Richards while at Muscle Shoals Sound in Sheffield, Alabama. The lead single, “It Always Happens This Way” (“C’est toujours à recommencer”) was an instant hit in Quebec, and although it only contained two lines in English, it managed to crack Canada’s top 40 dance chart, and peaked at #29 in Toronto while also getting some airplay south of the border. “APB” (which made the American top 40 and #1 in several markets across Canada), “Funkysation,” and “What Would My Mama Say” followed it into the charts while the ladies rode the disco train. This trio of singles made Toulouse the first French Canadian group to have substantial airplay in the American disco market.

By the time TAXI POUR UNE NUIT BLANCHE was in the stores in the spring of 1978, Yves Lapierre was the new producer. Five singles found their way to the charts over the next year, starting with the instrumental “Lindbergh II,” followed by “Prends-moi Je Veux T’aimer,” “Don’t Play With My Heart,” “Je N’ai Jamais Pense,” and “Comme La Lumiere.” A series of mini-tours ensued, following which Heather Gauthier was gone and was replaced by Liette Lomez.

With the band now on CBS Records, Lapierre was brought back for DANGEROUS LADIES in 1980. For the first time the album featured a joint-writing process, but with everyone else leaving the disco train, only “Je N’ai Jamais Pense” and “Rock My Love” found their way to single, though both were re-worked a few times over as 7″ extended mixes for the clubs.

They recorded their final studio album a year later, and although TROIS DIMENSIONS attempted to bridge the gap between disco and ’80s pop, the singles “11 AM ‘n Rainin’,” “Tendre Doux,” and the duet with Robert Charlebois called “Que c’est, quest c’est?” all missed the mark. They carried on the scene for a few years doing special appearances and backing up other artists in the studio, making their final appearance together in 1985. Present and past members joined the one-off project called Foundation Quebec-Afrique, Quebec’s counterpart to their English counterpart Northern Lights’ African relief effort, recording the song “Les yeux de la faim” (“Eyes of the famine”).

Unidisc compiled enough predominantly English material for the BEST OF TOULOUSE album in 1993, including instrumental versions of “What Would My Mama Say” and “It Always Happens This Way.”


Toulouse with Lorri Zimmerman (center) – 2008

From Judi Richards: Exclusive Interview – Le retour de Toulouse by Geo Giguère (Canoe: 05-03-2008) [via Google Translate; bolding mine]:

This is a surprise because it was not planned. It all began when the trio made ​​an appearance on the show was not all evening in tribute to Georges Thurston in 2007. It was he who wrote the bilingual song It’s always again, their greatest success. Toulouse was then temporarily reformed to sing this song.

Judi, we can say that it is partly thanks to Thurston you reformed Toulouse?

[Judi Richards] Absolutely. I then invited Liette and Laurie to join me for some shows that I gave after the release of my Cd From seventh heaven on. We found that we had a lot of fun together.

Yvon was found also and he said you are ripe for reform Toulouse. You will probably go on tour … And it is not true that I will stay at home. Find me a place in your show! (Laughter)

[Judi Richards] We will be together with Yvon. It will be special, because Liette and Laurie are friends since adolescence. Yvon and I met 17 years. It will be all my life to be on stage at the same time. It is unusual is not it!

Toulouse was formed in 1976. Judi was then teamed with sisters Gauthier. Laurie and Liette have replaced successively. The most famous of our Quebec trios ceased operations in 1986.

22 years after the end of Toulouse, Judi has never stopped practicing his art. Laurie Niedzielski became a teacher in English, but she found her voice without problem, 22 years after she stopped singing professionally.

Toulouse already has commitments until May 2009

Toulouse: Liette Lomez, Laurie Niedzielsk, & Judi Richards.  March 4, 2009 (Photo by Patrick Woodbury, Le Droit)

Toulouse: Liette Lomez, Laurie Niedzielski, & Judi Richards. March 4, 2009 (Photo by Patrick Woodbury, Le Droit)

This is the most recent reference I’ve found to Lorri Zimmerman/ Laurie Niedzielski.

Discography: Discogs

Lorri Zimmerman: Performances

Toulouse – Funkysation

Toulouse – Dreamin’ Laurie

Lorri Zimmerman – Don’t Twist My Mind & You’re The One
From  Lorri Zimmerman album

  1. Source: Is This What You Wanted by Jim Devlin []
  2. The actual number of concerts during this tour may differ. 1975 was apparently not a stellar year for record-keeping.  The most authoritative source, Cohen Live includes several shows with uncertain dates and excludes a relatively well known Feb 25, 1975 Milwaukee concert. It would not be surprising if other later 1975 concerts turn up as well. []
  3. In at least one of these November 1975 concerts (The Main Point in Bryn Mawr on November 23, 1975), Cohen played five of the songs he and John Lissauer had co-written for  Songs for Rebecca, an abandoned album. []
  4. Sources: Cohen tour information accessed at Cohen Live 02 April 2014. Identities of backup singers from Is This What You Wanted by Jim Devlin []
  5. I have thus far found only four 1975 Cohen performance photos []
  6. Erin also generously gave me one of the other names Lorri used professionally, a link to her discography, and other helpful information. []