Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

Dance Me To The End Of Love: Remembering Don – October 12, 2014

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By Penny Showalter

On October 12, 2009, Don, my cherished husband, died. I am still in love with Don and miss him every day, but things have changed. I am also deeply in love with Allan, who became my husband three years ago. Now we both miss Don.

Don only had two levels of interest in a given activity; he was either indifferent or passionate. His pursuit of those passions supplies my most vivid and abiding memories of him. Even as I write this, for example, I can picture him streaking down a mountain on skis. I can just as easily recall the intensity and skill he invested in building a superb, perfectly crafted wooden headboard.

Most of Don’s interests were embedded long before we met. Dancing was different, and that made it special to me.

I’ve loved dancing since I was a little girl shuffling my feet, following my Daddy’s lead. My most memorable learning experience in high school was the discovery that dance – which was more fun and involved more attractive uniforms than field hockey – could fulfill my physical education requirement.

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Don wasn’t a dancer when we met. Over time, an implicit matrimonial arrangement of the sort couples routinely create to accommodate each other evolved: at gatherings, Don didn’t complain about me accepting dance invitations from other men, and, in turn, I didn’t complain about him sitting out most of the numbers. It wasn’t the kind of resolution that results in the relationship equivalent of the Age of Aquarius, but it served its purpose.

Then, ten years into our marriage, on our way home from a Christmas party where, true to form, I had spent most of the night on the dance floor while Don stayed in his seat at the table, he offhandedly suggested, “We should take dance lessons.” Assuming this was the product of too many holiday martinis, I didn’t pursue it. When, however, he made the same proposal while a tad hung over but clearly sober the next morning, I immediately contacted the good folks at Arthur Murray before he had the chance to revert to “I don’t dance” mode.

The dance lessons were – and I earn no commission from Arthur Murray Studios for this endorsement – a peak experience for us. Not only did we learn to waltz, foxtrot, rumba … but we made friends and, most importantly, found a new way to delight each other.

The lessons also led to me participating, with our instructor as my partner, in pro-am dance competitions. Don not only encouraged me but took an active role, attending the events, enduring hours of my rehearsals, setting up my music, and videotaping my performances.

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Dancing remained a vital part of our life together long after the lessons and studio activities ended. A favorite date was a Saturday night spent waltzing to live music at the Balboa Bay Club.

I never asked Don why he suddenly decided on that trip home from the party that we should take dancing lessons. I suppose it could be that it really was those Christmas cocktails that loosened his inhibitions or maybe ten years of watching me dance while he was stuck at a table was enough to convince him. Heck, I suppose it could just be that cosmic serendipity thing Allan likes to invoke.

But actually I do know. I am absolutely certain that Don became interested in dancing simply because he knew I was interested in dancing.

It was a  marvelous act of love.

Allan put together a video using tapes Don took of me dancing along with still photos of me with Don and with Allan. The first time I watched it, I was moved to tears by my feelings for the two men that live in my heart and my realization of how very lucky I am. Now that I’ve seen this dozens of times – I feel exactly the same.

You’ll Carry Me Down On Your Dancing

And that’s how I remember Don – full of passion, support and love for his work, for his play and for me.

Intriguing Photo of “Leonard Cohen, Poet-Writer, Montreal, Quebec, 1967″

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The Other Sam Tata Photo Of Leonard Cohen

The above photo was shot in 1967 (printed in 1968) by Sam Tata. The caption follows: “Leonard Cohen, Poet-Writer, Montreal, Quebec, 1967, printed 1968.” There is, of course, another photo Sam Tata took of Leonard Cohen (see heading below: The Sam Tata Photo Of Leonard Cohen Everybody Knows)

Leonard Cohen Goes For Broke

While Mr Cohen is characteristically spiffy in his double breasted jacket, black mock turtleneck, and demi-boots, I find myself drawn to the items in the background and the attendant question of where the photo was taken.

Leonard Cohen spent much of 1967 in New York singing his songs, working in the studio, following Nico around town, hanging out with the Warhol crowd, living at at the Chelsea and Henry Hudson hotels, and, well, being Leonard Cohen. He also performed at concerts and festivals in the US and Canada. His time in Montreal that year was, in short, limited.

And, he had not yet purchased his own home near the corner of Vallières and St. Dominique, across the street from Parc du Portugal.  He did visit his childhood home on at least one occasion in 1967 (we know because he took Joni Mitchell with him and she wrote “Rainy Night House” about it), but that room doesn’t look like it belongs in his mother’s home. The secretary’s chair in which he is seated and the folding desk, for example, seem unlikely accoutrements for the house in Westmount.

Cohen’s Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter, his two guitars, and his cigarettes are easily recognizable. The only books I can identify with certainty are the copies of “Beautiful Losers” that fill one shelf. (The three large drawings directly behind Cohen seem familiar, but I can’t place then.)

The item I find most fascinating, however, is the Go For Broke game (brought to the market in 1965 by Selchow & Righter) in the shelf over Cohen’s right shoulder.  Board Game Geek offers this description:

Go For Broke is a roll and move game for 2-5 players [suggested ages: 10 and up]. Players receive one million dollars from the bank and race to be the first player to spend all of their money and go bankrupt. Players can risk money at the Racetrack, the Casino, play the Stock Market or make donations to charity. Outcomes are determined by spend and receive cards and by the spinners that represent the various locations.

It is difficult for me to come up with a scenario in which Leonard Cohen is temporarily using a room (perhaps his publisher’s office?) to write, keep extra copies of his novels on hand, play guitar, and carry out grownup activities that would also explain the presence of a child’s game, the goal of which is to lose all of one’s money and go bankrupt.

Clearly, the only possible explanation is that this game was an omen of the fiscal catastrophe Cohen was to experience some 35+ years later that the young, brash poet-writer ignored to his peril.

The Sam Tata Photo Of Leonard Cohen Everybody Knows

Sam Tata’s best known shot of the Canadian singer-songwriter is the 1973 photo shown below in its iteration as a CBS Records promotional photo. It has also  been used for ads, posters and album cover art. Leonard Cohen provides the location it was taken:1

It’s the upper duplex back-door of the house on Rue St. Dominique in Montreal where I used to live. Morton Rosengarten (Krantz in The Favourite Game), my old friend, lived downstairs and now occupies both floors.  We bought the place together around 1970.2

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Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post was found at National Gallery of Canada.  The CBS promotional shot is from the private collection of Dominique BOILE.

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  1. Source: LeonardCohenFiles []
  2. Note: According to Montreal homes: Leonard Cohen hangout goes up for sale by  Kathryn Greenaway (The Gazette: June 20, 2014) the purchase date is identified as 1973 []

Leonard Cohen “Live In Dublin” Available For Pre-Order At US Amazon Site

Leonard Cohen – Live in Dublin is available for pre-order as a 3CD/1DVD set at the US Amazon site. Price: $39.98; Release date: December 2, 2014.

The 3CD/1 Blu Ray version can also be pre-ordered at Amazon. Price: $49.98; Release date: December 2, 2014.

Celebrating The 2013 Leonard Cohen “Live In Dublin” Concerts

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“And I never got to tell you just how beautiful you are – And I mean it, goddamnit, I really mean it”

Leonard Cohen’s 2013 heartfelt, dramatic farewell to Dublin

Leonard Does Dublin

The listing of the Leonard Cohen “Live In Dublin” DVD/CD/Blu-Ray recording at various retail web sites1 offers the opportunity to celebrate these outstanding Sept 11 & 12, 2013 shows with videos of a few select performances and that emotional goodbye.

Best Of Tour Videos

No fewer than three entries from the Best Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour, are Dublin performances.

Leonard Cohen – Night Comes On
Dublin: Sept 11, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – Anthem
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – I’ve Got a Little Secret
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Leave-Taking

Leonard Cohen – Final Portion of Closing Time & Final Comments
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013
Video: Gwenluvsmusic

Setlist: Sept 11, 2013 Leonard Cohen Dublin Concert

Set 1

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Bird On A Wire
Everybody Knows
Who By Fire
The Gipsy’s Wife
The Darkness
Amen
Come Healing
Lover Lover Lover

Set 2

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Chelsea Hotel
Waiting For The Miracle
Night Comes On
The Partisan
In My Secret Life
Alexandra Leaving (Sharon Robinson)
I’m Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (Poem)
Hallelujah
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long Marianne
Going Home
First We Take Manhattan

Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will (Webb Sisters)
Closing Time

I Tried To Leave You

Source: Gwen Langford, web master of Gwen’s Leonard Cohen Journey

Setlist: Sept 12, 2013 Leonard Cohen Dublin Concert

Set 1

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Bird On A Wire
Everybody Knows
Who By Fire
The Gipsy’s Wife
The Darkness
Amen
Come Healing
Lover Lover Lover (+Band Intro)Jill
Anthem

Set 2

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Chelsea Hotel
I’ve Got A Secret*
Waiting For The Miracle
The Partisan
In My Secret Life
Alexandra Leaving (Sharon Robinson)
I’m Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (Poem)
Hallelujah
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long Marianne
Going Home
First We Take Manhattan

Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will (Webb Sisters)
Closing Time

I Tried To Leave You
Save The Last Dance

Source: Gwen Langford, web master of Gwen’s Leonard Cohen Journey

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  1. Leonard Cohen Live In Dublin Listed On French Amazon Site – Release Date Dec 1, 2014 []

Leonard Cohen Live In Dublin Listed On French Amazon Site – Release Date Dec 1, 2014

Dominique BOILE sends word that the anticipated Leonard Cohen Live In Dublin album, first discussed on in a post at this site two months ago,  is now listed on the French Amazon Site although it is not available for pre-order, a Dec 1, 2014 release date has been published. The album is listed as a  1 DVD + 3 CD set.

Update: See Leonard Cohen “Live In Dublin” Available For Pre-Order At US Amazon Site

Update: Amrei Christensen informs us that Live In Dublin is also listed on the German Amazon site. Several readers have also alerted me that the Blu-Ray version is now listed at CDON.com

Pat Boone’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox – And In His Novel

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Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

- Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Heck Of A Guy feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

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Breavman Listens To Pat Boone’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” in The Favourite Game

While Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox entries are typically discovered in interviews with the Canadian singer-songwriter, Pat Boone’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” is featured in a long section of Cohen’s novel, The Favourite Game.

From The Favourite Game
By Leonard Cohen

Now, Breavman, here is the proposition. Let us suppose that you could spend the rest of your life exactly as you are at this very minute, in this car hurtling towards brush country, at this precise stop on the road beside a row of white guide posts, always going past these posts at eighty, this juke-box song of rejection pumping, this particular sky of clouds and stars, your mind including this immediate cross-section of memory — which would you choose? Fifty more years of this car ride, or fifty more of achievement and failure?

And Breavman never hesitated in his choice …

Let the compounded electric guitar keep throbbing under the declaration:

When I lost my baby
I almost lost my mind.

Let the edges of the hills be just about to brighten. Let the trees never fuzz with leaves. Let the black towns sleep in one long night like Lesbia’s lover. Let the monks in the half-built monasteries remain on their knees in the 4A.M. Latin prayer. Let Pat Boone stand on the highest rung of the Hit Parade and tell all the factory night shifts:

I went to see the gypsy
To have my fortune read.

Let snow always dignify the auto graveyards on the road to Ayer’s Cliff. Let the nailed shacks of apple vendors never show polished apples and hints of cider.

But let me remember what I remember of orchards. Let me keep my tenth of a second’s worth of fantasy and recollection, showing all the layers like a geologist’s sample. Let the Caddie or the VW run like a charm, let it go like a bomb, let it blast. Let the tune make the commercial wait forever.

I can tell you, people,
The news was not so good.

The news is great. The news is sad but it’s in a song so it’s not so bad. Pat is doing all my poems for me. He’s got lines to a million people. It’s all I wanted to say. He’s distilled the sorrow, glorified it in an echo chamber. I don’t need my typewriter. It’s not the piece of luggage I suddenly remembered I forgot. No pencils, ball-pens, pad. I don’t even want to draw in the mist on the windshield. I can make up sagas in my head all the way to Baffin Island but I don’t have to write them down. Pat, you’ve snitched my job, but you’re such a good guy, old-time American success, naive big winner, that it’s okay. The PR men have convinced me that you are a humble kid. I can’t resent you. My only criticism is: be more desperate, try and sound more agonized or we’ll have to get a Negro to replace you:

She said my baby’s left me
And she’s gone for good.

Don’t let the guitars slow down like locomotive wheels. Don’t let the man at CKVL tell me what I’ve just been listening to. Sweet sounds, reject me not. Let the words go on like the landscape we’re never driving out of. g

gone for good

OK, let the last syllable endure. This is the tenth of a second I’ve traded all the presidencies for. The telephone poles are playing intricate games of Cat’s Cradle with the rushing wires. The snow is piled like the Red Sea on either side of our fenders. We’re not expected and we’re not missed. We put all our money in the gas tank, we’re fat as camels in the Sahara.

“I Almost Lost My Mind,” written by Ivory Joe Hunter, was published in 1950. Hunter’s recording of the song was a number one hit on the US Billboard R&B chart in that year. The best selling version of the song was Pat Boone’s cover, which hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1956.

Pat Boone – I Almost Lost My Mind

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