Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

On Christmas Eve, While Visions Of Leonard Cohen Dance In Our Heads …

Leonard Cohen shown caroling after completing his seasonal tradition of decorating his LA home with holiday lights. Asked about the significance of the lighted figure on the wall behind him, Cohen lyrically replied, “It’s just another snowman.”

Leonard Cohen’s 1974 Appearance At The University Of Rome: Performance & Book Promo

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The posting of the above photo four days ago garnered an enthusiastic response from viewers.1 As shown, the caption provided only minimal information about the site and date: “An impromptu performance in an Italian classroom undergoing revolutionary redecoration in the early seventies.”

It also, however, brought to mind a similar shot, which I then tracked down.

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The caption for this photo was more helpful but still limited: “University of Rome 1974. Photo by Carlo Massarini.”

Coco Éclair found this passage from Ondarock by Carlo Massarini that pertains to the above image and also translated it from Italian:

Like the time with Leonard Cohen …

Yes, someone at the State University had heard that Leonard was in Rome, and he agreed to improvise a concert in the Great Hall of Law, all organized in twenty-four hours. He didn’t have a manager with him. I do not believe that the guitar was his, although he also played something just for us in the hotel; the fact remains that he showed up with that guitar at the University, and began to sing with the microphone that was on the counter of the classroom in a very spontaneous way: in short, there was a great willingness to do things outside the box and the conventions, something which today is a bit lost.

After the second photo was posted, Carlo Massarini himself commented:

Hello there,

As translated, the photo is part of a series both in b/w and colour taken in La Sapienza’s Auditorium, in 1974. The quality here is so so, probably a foto shot off my foto-book Dear Mr Fantasy (1969-1982). Leonard was on a promotional trip for the Italian publication of one of his books, and together with Alberto Marozzi, at the time the CBS promo man, we spent some time at his hotel (he played for us Chelsea Hotel, among others) and then we drove downtown to the University area. The guitar was his, by the way. The leftist signs on walls, chalkboard and all over (note the ones close to the windows, Amore Amore Fammi Godere) were very typical of the times.

Merry Xmas to everyone, including The Man himself.

And finally (for now), Coco Éclair also discovered this created-after-the-fact poster (on sale at eBay) commemorating the May 15, 1974 presentation of the Italian translation of Leonard Cohen’s The Favourite Game at Sapienza – Università di Roma.

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Update: In an email received after this post went online, Leonard Cohen confirms he was in Rome promoting The Favourite Game (and the guitar was his own).

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post was contributed by Dominique BOILE. The second photo is found on a handful of websites and at the Francesco Donadio Facebook page.

  1. This was actually a re-publication of the photo, which was almost unnoticed when originally posted in Nov 2011; go figure/ []

Two Photos Of Leonard Cohen Performing At The University of Rome In 1974

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The recent posing of the photo displayed at the end of today’s entry1 brought to mind the shot atop today’s post. Indeed, it is certainly the same scene captured from a different aspect, and its caption offers the location and the year the shot was taken as well as the photographer’s name: “University of Rome 1974. Photo by Carlo Massarini”

In addition, Coco Éclair provides this translation of a passage from Ondarock that accompanies the above image:

Like the time with Leonard Cohen …

Yes, someone at the State University had heard that Leonard was in Rome, and he agreed to improvise a concert in the Great Hall of Law, all organized in twenty-four hours. He didn’t have a manager with him. I do not believe that the guitar was his, although he also played something just for us in the hotel; the fact remains that he showed up with that guitar at the University, and began to sing with the microphone that was on the counter of the classroom in a very spontaneous way: in short, there was a great willingness to do things outside the box and the conventions, something which today is a bit lost.

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At this time, however, other aspects of this event remain a mystery, including the reason Leonard Cohen was in Rome in 1974.  There were no concerts scheduled in Italy that year and, except for these photos, none of the online sources or biographies I checked  nor the Cohen cognoscenti I contacted could offer any pertinent information.

Update: More information about this event can be found at Leonard Cohen’s 1974 Appearance At The University Of Rome: Performance & Book Promo

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is found on a handful of websites and at the Francesco Donadio Facebook page. The second photo was contributed by Dominique BOILE.

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  1. See  Leonard Cohen Performs In “Italian Classroom Undergoing Revolutionary Redecoration” 1970s []

1966 Photos Of Suzanne Verdal – Leonard Cohen’s Muse For “Suzanne”

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By far the most common online images of Suzanne Verdal, she who inspired the classic song “Suzanne” by proffering tea and oranges to Leonard Cohen, are those captured many years after “Suzanne” was written and Cohen and his muse had gone their separate ways. (This is a simple hypothesis to confirm; just perform a Google image search for “Suzanne Verdal” – and then eliminate the photos of Suzanne Elrod, Judy Collins, and Sylvie Simmons that also turn up.) Almost all of these have been taken to illustrate human interest stories of the “Where Are They Now?” ilk (the earliest of these plus links to others can be found at Now Online: “Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne Still Loves Life and Dance”.

Having grown curious about the appearance of Suzanne Verdal during the time she and Leonard Cohen were in contact, I tracked down four photographs of her that are roughly contemporaneous, having been taken in August 1966 (“Suzanne” was first published as a poem in 1966 and released on Songs Of Leonard Cohen in 1967). While the costuming and artistic flourishes are a tad distracting, these shots do provide a picture of Suzanne as Leonard Cohen knew her. (Also see 3 Photos (1956, 1961, 1967) Of Armand Vaillancourt: Sculptor, Leonard Cohen’s Friend, & Suzanne Verdal’s Husband)

These photos can be viewed in larger format at Four 1966 Photos Of Suzanne Verda

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Credit Due Department: This photo was taken by Jeremy Taylor in August 1966 and is archived at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Now Online: “Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne Still Loves Life and Dance” – Suzanne Verdal In 1981

Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne Still Loves Life and Dance
Ottawa Citizen: Dec 5, 1981

The “Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne” of the title is, of course, Suzanne Verdal, the woman who inspired the song, “Suzanne.” Over the years, human interest stories of the “Whatever Happened To Suzanne Verdal” ilk, typically contrasting the life paths of the singer-songwriter and his muse, have become recurrent features in print periodicals and on websites. (A partial listing of such pieces is included at the end of this post.) This article is the earliest instance of this genre I’ve found thus far.

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This article is part of the Leonard Cohen Press Archive

Selected Features About The Fate Of Suzanne Verdal

 

Now Online In Original Format: Leonard Cohen By Pat Harbron – Beetle, Dec 1973

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While this classic 1973 Leonard Cohen interview is available online as text, there is something special about seeing the piece in its original format. Thanks to Dominique BOILE for providing these scans from his personal collection.

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This article is part of the Leonard Cohen Press Archive