Now You See Them, Now You Don’t, Now You Do, … The Spectacular Leonard Cohen Kalvøya Videos
In 2009, Heck Of A Guy posted Baby, Baby, Baby – Leonard Cohen & Anjani Sing The Blues In Norway celebrating the YouTube appearance of three spectacular videos, “I Tried to Leave You,” “Heart With No Companion,” and “Story of Isaac,” taken from a TV broadcast of a 1985 performance by Leonard Cohen in Kalvøya (“Isle of Calf” – near Oslo), Norway. The color and clarity of these recordings were outstanding, the performances, with Anjani on the keyboards and vocals, were solid, and watching these videos was moving, exhilarating, and fun. Since then, the videos have reappeared and been removed at least once. Then, in 2013, some of the Kalvoya performances, including “Memories,” a performance not previously available, were uploaded to Daily Motion. Sadly, “I Tried To Leave You” was missing.
NRK has put their entire broadcast of the festival online, including all four Leonard Cohen songs: “Memories,” “Heart With No Companion,” “Story of Isaac,” and “I Tried to Leave You.” In addition, a brief interview with Cohen is included.
And, with his hair slicked back, his beard stylishly scruffy, a cigarette in one hand, and a microphone in the other (note the dramatic microphone dip at 1:58), Leonard Cohen’s matinee idol persona, typically used in the performance of “Memories,” has never been more enjoyable.
Good Afternoon, My Darling
I Tried To Leave You
While all the songs are interesting and well worth watching, the most entertaining and intriguing of the lot is “I Tried To Leave You.”
Anjani’s Mean Streakin’ Pearl of the Pacific Blues
Then as in the 2008-2013 tours, “I Tried To Leave You” is used as a showcase for the band members’ talents. Unlike the more contemporary rendition of “I Tried To Leave You,” however, the 1985 version is performed as a blues number.
Also Starring …
The video of “I Tried To Leave You” also features an impressive display of guitar skills by band members, Leonard Cohen in stylishly scruffy mode improvising lines and being crowned with a wreath of laurels, and a huge crowd of incredibly wholesome-looking, uniformly well-behaved Norwegians.
The Boys In The Band
“I Tried To Leave You” also serves as background for Cohen’s introductions of the band members which are generous and laudatory as those he performed in more recent concerts. He creates a couple of titles congruent with those he has used for band members in the World Tour. His 1985 drummer, for example, is designated the “Master of Surfaces” while his 2009 counterpart, Rafael Gayol, is labeled the “Prince of Precision” or “Our Timekeeper.”
In addition to Anjani Thomas on keyboards, fans are likely to recognize Mitch Watkins, the guitarist on the recent Cohen tours.
Only The Lonely
And then as now, he has a special concern for those alone. Since 2008, it often took the form of this blessing, “May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if none of these is yours, may the blessings find you in your solitude. ” In 1985, however, he urges his audience to remember him and his band “… even when you find yourself alone in your room making passes at yourself.”
The video cannot be embedded here but can be viewed at Det er fest på Kalvøya igjen (Kalvøyafestivalen 1985)
Note: The contents of the entire video are displayed below the viewing screen. One can access the desired sections by clicking 0n those headings (see highlighted “Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You” section in above screen capture)
Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this video by a Facebook post authored by Gordana Stupar