Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

Video: Leonard Cohen On The High Price Of His Concert Tickets – 1970

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Leonard Cohen On Tour 1970

Part of Leonard Cohen’s stage routine during the 2013 Tour was thanking those in the front rows, some of whom paid $150-200 for a ticket, for thus “endangering the family budget.” It wasn’t the first time the price of admission to his shows was broached. The reporter in this 1970 video questions the Canadian singer-songwriter about the high cost of his tickets.

Based on the August 1, 1970 date of this video,1 the French setting, the reference to a “festival” in the original blurb, and the focus on cost, it seems likely that the appearance referenced in the interview is Cohen’s Aug 2, 1970 show at the Aix-en-Provence Festival – an especially weird event that took place during the weirdness that was the 1970 Tour. For an overview of that concert, see Leonard Cohen At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival – Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem

The total three-day Aix Festival admission fee was  55 francs (about $12 US), not adjusted for inflation. According to a concert summary by Jacques Vassal published in the September 1970 edition (#44) of Rock & Folk, Leonard Cohen received 35,000 dollars (US) for his two hour concert on August 2, 1970 of the Festival.

“COHEN, Leonard: resta près de deux heures sur scène (35000 dollars valaient bien ça!)”.
“COHEN, Leonard: remained nearly two hours on stage (35000 dollards was well worth it!)”.

The Video

Since the video is in French and the majority of this blog’s readers are English-speaking, providing a spoiler revealing the punchline of the piece is unfortunately necessary. It’s still fun watching Cohen responding to the question in the short (under one minute) clip.

The original description of the film follows:

Léonard COHEN est vivement apostrophé à sa descente d’avion à propos du coût exorbitant de ses cachets et donc du prix des places dans un festival. “Vous êtes obligés d’avoir des cachets si chers ?”Léonard COHEN : “non, je ne suis pas obligé, c’est un plaisir”.

Coco Éclair provides an English translation:

Leonard Cohen is accosted when getting off his plane about the exorbitant cost of his tickets and hence the price of the seats for the concert. “Are you obligated to have such expensive fees?” Leonard Cohen: “No, I am not obligated, it is a pleasure.”

Leonard Cohen À Propos Des Gros Cachets
[Leonard Cohen About Big Fees]
Aug 1, 1970
Note: The first few seconds appear to be from another feature altogether.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Dominique BOILE for the information re Cohen’s fee for the concert.

  1. The dates given for videos have not proven reliable in all cases. Caveat emptor and all that. []

I Came To Love – New CD By Anjani Thomas – To Be Released May 2014

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I Came To Love To Include Three New Songs Co-Written With Leonard Cohen

From Anjani’s website:

I Came To Love, a new release from Anjani Thomas, heralds the next chapter for the accomplished singer-songwriter.  This ten-song collection chronicles the path of the heart through passion, jeopardy, and ultimately love, all revealed through Anjani’s fluid and mesmerizing sound.

Picking up where the critically acclaimed Blue Alert left off, Anjani sets the tone with the album’s title track: i came to love as a novice / with an aim to learn… now I love as a woman / sure of what she sings. With vocal nuances and impeccable phrasing, Anjani establishes a startlingly intimate connection with the listener: she’s not singing to you, she is touching what’s inside of you.

Anjani’s creative partnerships have always been unerringly honed, and it is no exception with the assembly of pros on this recording. Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), acts as producer and percussionist on five tracks, building potent rhythms on “Weather A Storm With You,” and the mysteriously moody “Standing On The Stairs”.  Toronto producers Rob Piltch and Jonathan Goldsmith sync a hypnotic trance groove on “Holy Ground”: my lover stands on holy ground/in a scarred and barren field/where my weakness is revealed/he holds space for me to heal.

“Love In Between” features country music giant Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) on guitars and fiddle; while renowned flamenco guitarist Pavlo takes a passionate solo turn on “Love Be A River.”  For her longtime fans, Anjani reprises her celebrated musical collaboration with the legendary Leonard Cohen on three new tracks, including “Song To Make Me Still,” a wistful poem sung to meditative piano accompaniment. The album wraps with a touching version of the Les Paul/Mary Ford classic “Whither Thou Goest,” with Cohen as Anjani’s duet partner.

One part biography, one part love letter, one part statement album, I Came to Love is a rich and varied musical journey.  “It took much longer than I expected to finish this record,” Anjani says, because every time I thought it was done, something tipped the balance, which compelled me to keep working until it felt complete again. Leonard told me when we started writing together in 2005 that part of the creative process is allowing for that sense of ‘Ah, now it’s right.”  It can take time for the weak spots to surface; and being patient yielded songs as nurturing to write as they are satisfying to sing. For me, it was worth the wait.”

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Videos & More: Song to Make Me Still & Standing on the Stairs

Videos of live performances of two of the new songs co-written by Anjani & Leonard Cohen, their origins, and their lyrics can be found at Anjani Thomas Performs Two Unreleased Songs Co-written With Leonard Cohen At 2013 Feast Of Cohen

Video: Leonard Cohen Recites “Since You Asked” By Judy Collins

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Judy Collins, whose early covers of Leonard Cohen songs gave his career as a singer-songwriter an impressive start, began recording her own compositions due, she has reported, to Cohen’s urging. The first album of her own songs was the 1967 Wildflowers with “Since You Asked.” In 2008, Leonard Cohen completed this cycle by performing “Since You Asked” for the Judy Collins tribute album Born To The Breed. This video joins the audio track of Leonard Cohen performing “Since You Asked” with images of Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins, separately and together.

Leonard Cohen Recites Since You Asked By Judy Collins
Video by Allan Showalter

Video: Leonard Cohen Discusses Songs From The Future, Demonstrates Komboloi Technique, Explains Effect Of Incense, …

future-int

Leonard Cohen Gives Good Interview – Again

This 12 minute video, described in the YouTube blurb as a promotional video, from VHS, never commercially released,” contains segments from at least two different interviews, music video clips, and a few scenes, including one with Rebecca De Mornay, added for local color. The production card in the first frames carries a last revised date of Jan 4, 1993, but the interviews took place in 1992. The interviews are notable in that Cohen atypically explicates several specific songs, including Waiting For The Miracle, The Future, Closing Time, and Anthem.

The Future – Conversations with Leonard Cohen – 1993
Video from Doug Osborne

Video: Jennifer Warnes’ Way Down Deep & Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep

Note: This is a reposting, justified by my profound enjoyment of both of the performances captured on this video.

Tom Sakic and I thought it would be interesting to present the earliest performed precursor of A Thousand Kisses Deep juxtaposed with the most recent version. The result is a video that opens with Jennifer Warnes singing the gorgeous but inexplicably overlooked “Way Down Deep” (credited to Jennifer Warnes, Leonard Cohen, and Amy Latelevision), which is followed by Leonard Cohen’s 2009 recitation of “A Thousand Kisses Deep.”

Video: From Way Down Deep By Jennifer Warnes To A Thousand Kisses Deep By Leonard Cohen

Jennifer Warnes – Way Down Deep
From The Hunter: 1992
Leonard Cohen – A Thousand Kisses Deep
Dublin: July 20, 2009
Video by Allan Showalter

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is by Claude Gassian. Contributed by Dominique BOILE

Leonard Cohen Gives Good Interview – The Book: Review Of Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen + Q&A With Editor Jeff Burger

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Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters (Musicians in Their Own Words)

The Basic Points

1. This is a collection of 50+ Leonard Cohen interviews, the earliest of which is a transcript of the 1966 Take 30 CBC TV session with Adrienne Clarkson and the most recent a 2012 piece by Dorian Lynskey for the Guardian (London). Fans are likely to be familiar with many of these but a number were previously unavailable (see Q&A  Question #3 below). The interviews are supplemented with a foreword by Suzanne Vega, a preface, including a brief biography of Cohen, by the editor, Jeff Burger, and introductions to each of the interviews, many of which include comments from the interviewers.  The book also contains eight pages of photos (not included in the galley proof used for this review).

2. As noted repeatedly in posts on this site, Leonard Cohen gives good interview – sometimes in spite of egregiously narcissistic, overtly antagonistic, or embarrassingly incompetent interviewers. He is articulate, gracious, clever, and revealing.

3. If you have any interest in Leonard Cohen, this volume offers not only insights into the Canadian singer-songwriter and his work but also a delightfully entertaining read.

Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen Now Available

Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen has an official release date of April 1, 2014, but on checking this morning I discover that date is apparently an April Fools joke since Amazon lists the book as being in stock, at least in hardcover.

 Jeff Burger

jeff-burger-author-photo

Note: The following biographic material and the above photo are from byjeffburger.com, a site which also provides more information about Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen and Burger’s other works.

Burger has been a writer and editor for more than four decades and has covered popular music throughout his journalism career. His reviews, essays and reportage on that and many other subjects have appeared in more than 75 magazines, newspapers and books, including Barron’s, The Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, Melody Maker, High Fidelity, Creem, Circus, Reader’s Digest, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, All Music Guide, the Berkeley Barb, The Morton Report and No Depression. He has published interviews with many leading figures from the music world, including Bruce Springsteen, Roger McGuinn, Wolfman Jack, Tom Waits, Foreigner’s Mick Jones, Billy Joel, Tommy James, the Righteous Brothers, Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin, and members of Steely Dan and the Marshall Tucker Band. He has also interviewed many other public figures, such as Suze Orman, Daymond John, James Carville, Donald Trump, Sir Richard Branson, F. Lee Bailey, Sydney Pollack and Cliff Robertson.

Burger has been editor of several periodicals, including Phoenix magazine in Arizona, and he spent 14 years in senior positions at Medical Economics magazine, the country’s largest business magazine for doctors. A former consulting editor at Time Inc., he currently serves as editor of Business Jet Traveler.

Q&A: Jeff Burger

 1. You are the editor of a collection of interviews with Leonard Cohen. Who are the readers you had in mind when you put together Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen?

Serious fans who want to know more about the man behind the music will likely constitute the primary audience for Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen; I don’t expect that someone with just a passing interest will be likely to spend 600+ pages with his thoughts. But more people are becoming devoted fans every day and for them, this chronologically arranged collection should offer lots of insights and surprises and a chance to examine Cohen’s entire adult life as it unfolds through his own words.

2. How did you choose the specific interviews that comprise the book? Did you have any formal criteria? Do the articles that ended up in the book have any common characteristics?

While I had no formal criteria, I did make an effort to include material from as many years as possible. I also looked for interviews that shed new light; some repetition was inevitable—people tend to repeat stories, jokes and observations—but I tried to include conversations that showed some aspect of Cohen you couldn’t quite find elsewhere. I should add that I had no shortage of material to choose from. I passed on using dozens of Q&As and I was being approached about including interviews even after I’d finished the book.

3. The description of the book on your web site has it that “Approximately 25 percent of the material has not previously been printed anywhere. A few of the print pieces have not previously been published in English and some of the material has not previously been available in any format, including the many reflections and reminiscences that contributors supplied specifically for this project.” I know that previously unavailable content will be of special interest to fans who may have already read many interviews with and articles about Cohen. Can you tell us about this material that is available for the first time in English and, especially, the material that is available for the first time in any format in Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen?

Among the most important “first time” pieces are the many radio and TV interviews from the CBC, Vin Scelsa and other sources that have never previously been printed. The Paris interview with Stina Lundberg Dabrowski was aired in part and a partial transcript appeared online but Stina sent me the raw footage, which included much more. Also, singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega contributed a memorable foreword to the book and, as noted above, many of the interviews are preceded with fresh insights and recollections that the interviewers supplied specifically for this project.

4. What are the important themes that recur in these pieces? Did you detect any concepts or beliefs espoused by Leonard Cohen in the interviews that changed over time? Are there instances in which he contradicted himself? Are there issues that he consistently tried to avoid?

There are many important recurring themes. To cite just one: Cohen’s sense that everything is falling apart. Much does change through time, including his willingness to talk about his bouts with depression, which is one of several subjects he avoids early on. Contradictions abound: he discusses his romantic involvements with assorted movie and pop stars but repeatedly emphasizes that he is not the ladies’ man he’s often said to be; he insists he’s not depressed but eventually talks in detail about his depression and lists all the antidepressants he’s tried; and while he takes obvious and well-deserved pride in his poetry and lyrics, he claims that he’s a minor poet and suggests that his poems are mere “jokes.” As I point out in the preface, there’s also the fact that he once said he dislikes talking but seems in many of these interviews to thrive on conversation.

5. You interviewed many of the interviewers.  What insights did you gather from them?

Many of the interviewers are seasoned journalists who have talked with countless celebrities over a period of decades. As such, I was struck by how many of them remembered their conversations with Cohen as the most memorable they’d ever done or as a pivotal moment in their own careers. Many recalled that Cohen was the most gentlemanly person they’d ever met and Stina Dabrowski—who has interviewed everyone from Nelson Mandela to Norman Mailer to Mikhail Gorbachev—told me that while she has a rule against interviewing anyone more than once, she made an exception for Cohen because “he was so uniquely interesting.”

6. My standard line for years has been “Leonard Cohen gives good interview” – and often, especially in the video interviews, it appears he does so regardless of the skills of the person asking the question. How important is the interviewer to a Leonard Cohen interview?

I agree that he gives consistently good interviews. But I think his most illuminating ones are with people to whom he feels some connection—people who ask the most perceptive questions and with whom he establishes a true dialogue. It also helps if he’s interested in the interviewer’s life. Occasionally in such cases, he turns things around and starts interviewing the interviewer.

7. From your own reading of these interviews, which is your favorite? Why?

I have several favorites, including the ones with Paul Zollo (more substantive talk about Cohen’s songwriting than you’ll find just about anywhere else), the ones with Stina Lundberg Dabrowski (they have an obvious rapport and the conversations are revealing) and Jian Ghomeshi (ditto).

8. Of all those Leonard Cohen quotes, which did you find the
A. Most surprising?

Probably the ones in his conversation with Richard Guilliatt, where an apparently inebriated and unhappy Cohen seems to be looking for a one-night stand.

B. Funniest?

There are no knee-slappers here, but Cohen’s dry sense of humor, which is greatly underappreciated, permeates many of these interviews. That said, Cohen is at heart a pretty serious guy and it’d be difficult to label anything here the “funniest.”

C.  Most moving?

Perhaps when he tells Dabrowski that while women have loved him over the years, he was “unable to reply to their love…I couldn’t reach across the table for it. I couldn’t reach across the bed.” Judging by his failure to establish a relationship that has stood the test of time, this is apparently true. And sad.

 D. Most perceptive?

There are quite a few candidates for this title. To pick one, almost at random, there’s his explanation to Paul Zollo of the line, “The maestro says it’s Mozart but it sounds like bubblegum.” He understands that “every generation revises the game and decides on what is poetry,” so there are no absolutes, and that has helped to open him to everything from rock to rap.

 9. How would you characterize Leonard Cohen’s interview style(s) and what he was trying to accomplish in interviews? Did his style and intent change from interview to interview or over the years?

As I point out in the preface, his style does indeed appear to change over the years. Early on, he is often sarcastic, cynical or playful—and certainly less than fully candid. He talks a lot about religion, politics, philosophy and the world condition but says relatively little about his personal life or failings. That comes later, when he discards what he himself refers to as his “cover story” and opens up about his depression and other subjects.