The audio recording of Leonard Cohen’s Feb 14, 1996 reading at the 92nd Street Y in New York was posted yesterday on the event’s anniversary. The bonus in this case was the publication of Pico Iyer’s essay about that presentation. An excerpt follows:
Cohen in his youth, in other words, was already the exact and rhythmical soul who holds the stage in concerts from Oberhausen to Hanging Rock forty-eight years on, unafraid of put-on or proclamation, halfway already to being robed acolyte, swain of movie-stars and inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He’d found his voice when he was young, and in it his allegorical landscape of goddesses and G-d. Irving Layton, whom Cohen would call “our greatest poet, our greatest champion of poetry,” and for whom Cohen had served as quasi-best man, gets all but forgotten, as does his free verse, once the pages from Cohen’s coming novel are revealed as poetry traveling in mufti, using sound as incantation to pull his audience into the spell of worldly chant.
Cohen’s program comprises poems, including “For E.J.P” and “You Have the Lovers,” excerpts from his novel, Beautiful Losers, which would be published a few weeks after this event, and a performance of The Stranger Song.
Credit Due Department: Photo by Jennifer S. Altman
In naming Leonard Cohen a phenomenon, I am motivated by the quantity, quality and variety of his achievement. Still only thirty-three, Cohen has published four books of verse and two novels, and has made a national if not an international reputation by his poetry reading, folk-singing, and skill with the guitar. The best of his poems have lyrical grace and verbal inevitability; his two novels are as perceptive in content and as sophisticated in technique as any that have appeared in English since the Second World War; and his voice has a magic incantatory quality which hypnotizes his audiences, and especially teenage audiences, into a state of bliss if not of grace.
Opening paragraph of The Phenomenon of Leonard Cohen by Desmond Pacey. Canadian Literature #34 (Autumn 1967)
Views Of Leonard Cohen – 1967
In 1967, Canadian Literature featured Leonard Cohen in its 34th issue, labeling the issue “Views of Leonard Cohen” and offering two articles on his work: The Phenomenon of Leonard Cohen by Desmond Pacey (p 5-23) and Leonard Cohen: Black Romantic by Sandra Djwa (p 32-42).
Both articles are valuable, frequently cited discussions of Cohen’s literary efforts, especially because they offer a contemporaneous perspective. Further, while Cohen was clearly considered the golden boy of Canadian poetry, he had, at the time of this publication, yet to be anointed a singer-songwriter icon; consequently, the inevitable filters of hero worship and hero worship backlash apparent in contemporary articles are necessarily (and happily) absent in these pieces.
Now, these difficult to find articles1 are now available as free PDF2 downloads (either individually or as part of the complete 103 page issue) links below:
The Phenomenon of Leonard Cohen by Desmond Pacey is available online at – no prizes for guessing – the Speaking Cohen site; I have not been able to discover another online copy of Black Romantic by Sandra Djwa [↩]
The PDF files are text files, not graphic scans, and as such are searchable and text can be copies and pasted [↩]
In 1964, Al Purdy, who has been called Canada’s “unofficial poet laureate,” wrote a 14 page consideration of Leonard Cohen’s prose and poetry, which was published as Alfred Purdy, “Leonard Cohen: A Personal Look” in Canadian Literature 23 (Winter 1965). It’s an interesting discussion – very much a poet’s perspective on another poet’s work.
As a sampling from the piece, I’ve excerpted below the final two paragraphs (click on image to enlarge):
As far as I can determine, this paper is available for viewing only at the A.W. Purdy Digital Archive hosted by the University of Saskatchewan Special Collections. It’s an insightful, worthwhile read, accessible at
This video, first broadcast on Norwegian TV in May 1988, comprises interviews interspersed with performances from Cohen’s concert in Oslo Konserthus, Norway. As I posted then
The quality of the performances, the content of the interviews (which includes Cohen’s prose, poetry, and art as well as his music), the interviewer’s (Vera Kvaal) skills, and the video and audio recordings are uniformly excellent. The only obvious negative is the choice to sometimes interrupt the songs with interviews.
Topics include Cohen’s ties to Montreal, Israeli-Palestinian politics, Cohen’s self-view as a songwriter Vs a poet, his greater popularity in Europe than in the US, and his plans to install new parking meters after he takes Manhattan and Berlin.
Songs performed (some interrupted by interview segments) include First We Take Manhattan (complete), Joan Of Arc, I’m Your Man, Chelsea Hotel #2, Hallelujah, Tower Of Song, & Take This Waltz.
To counter the grotesquely mistaken perspective that Leonard Cohen is gloom incarnate, I’ve put together a video of Cohen humor. The majority of this video is devoted to remarks Cohen makes during his concerts presented here without the annoying interruptions of those songs he insists on performing between comic turns.
1. Acceptance of 1993 Juno Male Vocalist Award & demonstration of Cohen’s golden voice (1988) 2. Warning to audience that he is going to “fire up” his synthesizer & an exhibition of his solo skills on that instrument (2013) 3. Reverend Leo’s Toronto Revival Meeting (1993) 4. Five words Cohen chooses to describe himself 5. Meeting Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel 6. The Saga of Raphael Gayol (2010) 7. Cohen’s Zen names 8. Everybody wants a long stem (2012) 9. Cohen’s six stages of man’s allure to women (2013) 10. Cohen announces plan to resume smoking at age 80 (2013) 11. Leonard Cohen – Just a kid with a crazy dream (2009)
Because many of the segments are taken from the most recent tours, fans may be familiar with some of this material, but I find these routines entertaining even on repeated viewings. And, there are some bits I think will be new to most viewers.
Finally, the video’s title is actually “The Comedic Stylings Of Leonard Cohen: Volume 1;” if this video is well received, I plan a series of such efforts.
In an interview during the 2014 NAMM1 meeting at the TC Electronic2 booth, Roscoe Beck spoke of his plans for 2014, including working on Leonard Cohen’s new CD, co-producing a new Jennifer Warnes CD, and “maybe a little more touring with Leonard at the end of the year.”
Note: The date of the interview is not given; the 2014 NAMM meeting took place Jan 23-26 in Anaheim, CA.
The video is cued to start with Roscoe’s discussion of his 2014 plans.
Roscoe Beck And Greg Koch TC Electronic NAMM 2014
Published Feb 7, 2014
Video from TC Electronic
NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization’s popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that promotes the pleasures and benefits of making music and strengthens the $17 billion global music products industry. Source: NAMM web site [↩]
TC Electronic is a Danish audio equipment manufacturer which produces guitar effects, bass amplification, computer audio interfaces, audio plug-in software, live sound equalisers, studio and post production equipment, studio effect processors and broadcast loudness processors and meters. Source: Wikipedia [↩]
Do I Have To Dance All Night Surpasses 70,000 Views
"Do I Have To Dance All Night" was performed many times in concerts but was never released in the US.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I've cobbled together 2 videos - one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version - that kinda sorta fit the music.
As of Dec 19, 2012, the video of the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night has been viewed 70,152 times.
Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1
This video features the first version of the song Leonard Cohen would later revise into "Chelsea Hotel #2" along with images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin - whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song, the Hotel itself, and other associated people & places.
Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling in the 1960s that, for unspecified reasons, was short-lived, with Cohen instigating the parting.
It was then and is now a complex connection. In 1988, Cohen said, I'm still very friendly with Joni - I had dinner with her before the tour, and I have the same admiration for her as you do. But I think it was Noel Harrison who came up to me in the LA Troubadour and said "How do you like living with Beethoven?"
Photos of or related to Leonard Cohen that fall into specific themes have been among the ongoing features at DrHGuy, HOAG's sibling site. Galleries displaying collected images of 3 of these themes are now available at
And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – Julie’s Story & Video
... I never had a chance. I was - and this is the only word that fits - smitten. I still am.
She was smart and quick-witted, although it would take me 3 years to recognize that she was, in fact, much smarter than me, and then another 2 years to forgive her for that. She was also good-looking and unabashedly sexy.
And, we fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love.
Complementing the unlikely story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and - 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later - got together to spend an outrageously wonderful 20 years together before her death, a video, set to the poignant "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, is now available that evokes the role Julie, who died 10 years ago, continues to play in my life.
This Heck Of A Guy compilation includes unreleased Leonard Cohen performances over a 30+ year period.
Track List: Vol 1
1. Feels So Good (The Other Blues Song)
2. Book Of Longing
3. The Darkness
6. Do I Have to Dance All Night (1976)
7. Blues By The Jews
Track List: Vol 2
1. Red River Valley
2. Never Got To Love You (Duet with Anjani)
3. Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Ride Around
5. The Union Makes Us Strong
6. We Shall Not Be Moved
7. To Love Somebody
8. The Hypnotist (Poem)
9. Chelsea Hotel #1
10. There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me
11. Streets Of Laredo
12. Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Now, Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, the second collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs joins the popular The Other Leonard Cohen Album to offer fans of the iconic singer-songwriter a total of 3 CDs of musical treats. Another Other Leonard Cohen Album includes the following tracks plus liner notes by Sylvie Simmons.
1. Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul
2. Kevin Barry
3. Die Gedanken Sind Frei
4. Store Room
5. As Time Goes By
6. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on
7. Blessed is the Memory
8. Silent Night
9. Dead Song
10. Another Saturday Night
11. Ballad of the Absent Mare
13. The Butcher
14. Un As Der Rebbe Singt
15. Song to the Machines
16. If It Be Your Will
17. Thirsty for the Kiss
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep
19. I Tried To Leave You
20. Whither Thou Goest
21. Mr Cohen Must Be Going