Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

Is “Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin” The Much Awaited 2013 Leonard Cohen Concert DVD?

I happened onto the StaffMeUp website, where I found this listing for George Bellias, a Los Angeles video editor, who recently completed a project called “Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin.”1

geoeliasx

“Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin” is almost certainly the live 2013 Leonard Cohen Concert DVD expected to be released this year.

I think.2

Leonard Cohen played two shows in Dublin in 2013: Sept 11 & 12.

Setlist: Dublin – September 11, 20133

Set 1
Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Bird on a Wire
Everybody Knows
Who By Fire
The Gypsy’s Wife
The Darkness
Amen
Come Healing
Lover Lover Lover (+band intro)

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

Setlist: Dublin – September 12, 20134

Set 1
Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Bird on a Wire
Everybody Knows
Who By Fire
The Gypsy’s Wife
The Darkness
Amen
Come Healing
Lover Lover Lover (+band intro)
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

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  1. Yes, I’m on vacation, but this might not be news – or even a good rumor – by the time I return. []
  2. Nobody tells me nothin’ []
  3. Source: LeonardCohenForum post by Gwen Langford []
  4. Source: LeonardCohenForum post by Gwen Langford []

Cohen Is Coming!! – Edmonton 1966

coheniscoming

Present darling of the campus cognoscenti, the bohemian in-groups, English 384, the Toronto morality squad, and lots of lovers of language. – Description of Leonard Cohen from Cohen Is Coming

This post is a prequel of sorts to the previously published Session With Poet Cohen: Rollicking 1966 Interview With Leonard Cohen Now Online. That interview took place during Leonard Cohen’s five week stay at the University of Alberta – Edmonton. Cohen Is Coming by Jon Whyte The article featured today appeared in the November 25, 1966 edition of The Gateway, the University’s student newspaper, in anticipation of Cohen’s visit.

The motivation for posting this is the incredible enthusiasm, reflected in the over the top language of the piece, attached to the prospect of a poet (Cohen’s first album wouldn’t be issued until Dec 1967, a year after this article was published) visiting the local university located in “the mythic wasteland of the central Alberta tundra.”1 This is a delightful read.

click on image to enlarge
cohencomingsory

Credit Due Department: Retrieved 31 July 2014 from Peel’s Prairie Provinces – University of Alberta Libraries

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  1. For more about the kind of excitement generated by a visit from Leonard Cohen The Poet to a university in 1966, see Girls Gone Wild Over Poet Leonard Cohen: “Normally cool, level-headed, and rational…females reacted to the poet like a mob of teenie-boppers leaving a performance of that modern teen-age aphrodisiac–the Beatles” 1966 – 1 Year Before Cohen’s 1st Album []

The Marianne Variations: So Long, Marianne Composite Video – 7 Verses

solong-7

Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

This is an unexpected but certainly welcomed addition to The Marianne Variations, a series of posts devoted to the major recurring variations of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” that significantly differ from the versions found on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen and Field Commander Cohen albums.  An introduction and links to all published posts in this series as well as the inclusion criteria and the original version of “So Long, Marianne” from the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

Seven Verse Video Version Of So Long, Marianne

This composite video, constructed by AlanM5049 from three videos shot live by Albert Noonan (San Jose: 2009, Zagreb: 2010, Sligo: Aug 1, 2010), showcases all six verses from the the original studio version of So Long, Marianne plus one of the three other verses that have been performed in concert but not released on a recording.

1. Won’t you come over to the window, my little darling (SJ)
2. Oh, you know I really love to live with you (SJ)
3. Oh, we met when we were almost young (Sligo)
4. Oh, your letters say that you’re beside me now (Z)
5. Your eyes, how will I forget your eyes (SJ)
6. For now I need your hidden love (SJ)
7. Oh, you are really such a pretty one & play-out (Z)

The concept is skillfully executed with well-chosen source material and adroit editing. The result is both enlightening and entertaining.

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
San Jose: 2009, Zagreb: 2010, Sligo: Aug 1, 2010
Video composed by alanm5049
Original videos shot by albertnoonan

Ken Tucker On Leonard Cohen: From “one long, wracked sob” to “a sneaky sense of humor” to “saving grace: his dry humor”

funnier

Left to right: Leonard Cohen albums arranged in ascending order of humor as reviewed by Ken Tucker

Introduction: “He was a Byronic bullfrog” – 1985 Leonard Cohen Philadelphia Concert Review Now Online, yesterday’s post on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s gleefully negative review, written by Ken Tucker, of Leonard Cohen’s 1985 Philadelphia concert, the playlist of which predominantly featured songs from the Various Position album, ended with the information that the 1985 concert review was not the only critique of Leonard Cohen composed by Ken Tucker. Today’s entry showcases two more reviews (1988 and 2012) that reflect Tucker’s changing perspective (or, alternatively, Cohen’s changing performance).

Three years after beginning his review of Leonard Cohen’s 1985 Philadelphia concert with “Life for Leonard Cohen is one long, wracked sob,” Ken Tucker penned this review of Cohen’s I’m Your Man album:1

In the interests of critical honesty, it must be admitted that I was three- quarters sold on Leonard Cohen’s new album, I’m Your Man (Columbia * * * * ), on the basis of the cover alone: the perennially dour Cohen, his eyes masked by large sunglasses, pondering the fate of romance – while solemnly chomping on a banana. Inside, the music suggests a similarly sneaky sense of humor: cooing female backup singers reiterate Cohen’s froggy assertions and shaggy-dog non sequiturs, and occasionally the poet even gets off a good melody (“Ain’t No Cure for Love,” “I’m Your Man,” “Tower of Song”). If you want Cohen-as-music, buy Jennifer Warnes’ magnificent Famous Blue Raincoat; if you want Cohen-as-unique-experience, this is the purchase to be made.

And reviewing Cohen’s Old Ideas album for NPR in 2012, Tucker sounds downright enthusiastic2

At this point in his life, sings with a voice so deep and bottomless, he may as well be singing from underneath the earth. But that doesn’t mean it’s faint, or murky, or dead. Cohen’s cracked baritone enunciates meticulous lyrics that sound searching, restless and jaunty. This has long been Cohen’s saving grace: His dry humor juices up his more portentous pronouncements.

Things change.
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  1. Music With Humor From Leonard Cohen by Ken Tucker. The Philadelphia Inquirer: April 24, 1988 []
  2. Leonard Cohen’s ‘Old Ideas’ Inspire Confidence by Ken Tucker. Fresh Air, NPR: Jan 31, 2012.  An audio recording and transcript of the entire program can be accessed at the link. []

“He was a Byronic bullfrog” – 1985 Leonard Cohen Philadelphia Review Now Online

Life for Leonard Cohen is one long, wracked sob.

A master of the half-baked simile and unparalleled in the creation of unintentional howlers.

His croak has never sounded so lulling

His guitar playing, a deceptively artless combination of American folk and Spanish flamenco strumming, was subtle and soothing.

Pop/Rock: Leonard Cohen At Walnut Street Theater by Ken Tucker The Philadelphia Inquirer: May 1, 1985

This review of the April 30, 1985 Leonard Cohen concert in Philadelphia has achieved a certain notoriety.  It is, as the perceptive reader will deduce from the above quotes, a negative review. And, as I’ve noted elsewhere, “especially for those of us who came of age as Cohen fans during the accolade-saturated worship service that was the 2008-2010 World Tour, it’s useful to be reminded that the launch of Leonard Cohen’s singing career did not consist exclusively of being introduced to the world by Judy Collins and then arising at 2 AM at the Isle of Wight for his coronation as a musical icon.”1

It is, however, not just a negative review but a negative review so striking that Leonard Cohen himself considered it worthy of mention.2

At his May 4, 1985 concert at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, Leonard Cohen prefaced his performance of A Singer Must Die with a comment about Ken Tucker’s article.

Audio: Leonard Cohen’s introduction to A Singer Must Die
Boston: May 4, 1985

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thank you very much. It’s been a long time since I played in this country, and it is a real pleasure to be able to understand… understand the reviews that I get for the concerts. I read my first American review in ten years the other night after my very first concert in this country in Philadelphia. And then it’s genuine wit. I say this without any sense of irony. The first half of the column he reviewed my suit. I’m going to relate this news to my tailor. But I bear no grudge. He also called me a ‘Byronic bullfrog’. That man has his finger at the very heart of things.

Pop/Rock: Leonard Cohen At Walnut Street Theater by Ken Tucker The Philadelphia Inquirer: May 1, 1985
click on image to enlarge
85-philly

Update: Also see The Philadelphia Inquirer Wanted Someone To Tell Leonard Cohen To “Lighten Up” – And Leonard Cohen Did

More Ken Tucker Reviews Of Leonard Cohen

The 1985 concert review was not the only critique of Leonard Cohen proffered by Ken Tucker. See Ken Tucker On Leonard Cohen: From “one long, wracked sob” to “a sneaky sense of humor” to “saving grace: his dry humor”

Credit Due Department: The review was posted 31 July 2014 by kentucker13 via Instagram. The transcript of Leonard Cohen’s Boston comments is from Leonard Cohen – Berklee Performing Center Boston, MA 5/04/85 (1985)

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  1. The review that prompted that observation on my part was Nancy Erlich’s report on Leonard Cohen’s 1970 Forest Hills performance published in the August 8, 1970 issue of Billboard, in which she describes Cohen as a musical Svengali, ruthlessly using “his extraordinary command of language and other people’s emotions” to oppress, diminish, and emotionally deplete those who listen to his songs. See Leonard Cohen, Forest Hills 1970 – “Nervous, Uncomfortable, Oppressive, Lifeless” []
  2. Another, perhaps even more impressive example of a criticism that Cohen has repeated to interviewers and audiences is the “Leonard Cohen is a boring old drone …” quote from Melody Maker about his Isle Of Wight performance that he brought up as early as a 1976 taped interview, again in a 1992 print interview, and as  recently as the Dec 2, 2010 Vancouver concert. []

An Illumination Of Leonard Cohen’s Thin Green Candle

996983.ILitaThinGreenCandle

I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me.
But the room just filled up with mosquitos,
they heard that my body was free.

~ From “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” by Leonard Cohen

That thin green candle has become an image often invoked in reference to Leonard Cohen.1 It is consequently unsurprising that questions on the order of “What does the thin green candle mean?” come up with some frequency. This post summarizes  explications offered in response to this query.

The “Expert in The Candle” Hypothesis

The most frequently proffered theory is based on the following anecdote, which Leonard Cohen has recounted several interviews:

Edie Sedgwick was living a few doors down [at the Chelsea Hotel in the mid 1960s]. Through her door came all the most attractive men and women of the period, I was not among them, but I longed to be among them. There was, on the corner of 7th Avenue and 24th Street, there was a Mexican magic store, with potions, candles and powders, which could be used to draw influences into your life — to secure love affairs, or to guarantee successes. My situation was such at the time that I believed in them, so I bought a couple of candles, and a book about candles — I just read that, and the I Ching, though I couldn’t follow anything from one paragraph to another. At a certain point, through some graceful accident, I was invited into Edie Sedgwick’s room. It was filled with very beautiful young people. It was dark, and illuminated by candles, 30 to 40 candles, burning everywhere, on plates, on the stove … I had no credentials at the time, there was nothing I could say. I walked into the room of her glittering crew, and I said, ‘this display of candles is extremely dangerous. So, I presented myself as … an Expert in The Candle. And this did not go over well. So I left at an appropriate time. The next day, her apartment burned down, and my prestige soared.”2

According to this notion, the thin green candle was literally or representatively one of these magic candles Cohen used to advance his wooing of Nico and thus became embedded in the song inspired by her.3

The Candle-Lit Studio Theory

At the request of Leonard Cohen and with the agreement of his then-producer, John Hammond, the decor of studio in which the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album was recorded included candles, as well as incense and a mirror.

Leonard Cohen: There was this church-like atmosphere in the studio, and there were also candles. Perhaps, there was even incense burning, I don’t remember. …

John Hammond: That was in Studio E. It was a small studio we had at 49 East 52nd Street. He was alone, in the studio, and it used to be lit with incense and candles; and we had no lights on in the studio, and it had a very exotic effect. He had a hypnotizing effect on everybody.4

The popularity of this fact notwithstanding, it is difficult to derive a direct link from candles appearing in a recording studio and a thin green candle appearing in the a song recorded in that studio other than, one supposes, the physical presence of a candle might serendipitously suggesting the imagery to the Canadian singer-songwriter (heck, there may have been mosquitoes in the studio as well, which would explain the second line of the song).

Resonance With Anne Hébert’s “La Chambre De Bois”

Writing in Notes Towards A Definition Of A Masterpiece:Ten New Songs
From Sharon Robinson And Leonard Cohen, Judith Fitzgerald observes:

Cohen leads off 1968′s “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” (Songs Of Leonard Cohen) with an arresting and remarkably compressed ear-catcher made all the more resonant by virtue of its affinity with Quebecer Anne Hébert’s “La chambre de bois” (Le tombeau des rois, 1953): “J’aime un petit bougeoir vert,” wrote she in 1953. Cohen respectfully dibbed the concept and transformed “I love a small green candlestick” into a green-eyed monster of an altogether different stripe: “I lit a thin green candle to make you jealous of me,” confesses the representative he; but, three brief verses later, the boy with the badass blues reports the good old news: “The poor man could hardly stop shivering / his lips and fingers were blue / I suppose that he froze when the wind / took your clothes / and I guess he just never got warm / but you stand there so nice / in your blizzard of ice / oh please let me come into the storm… .”

Leonard Cohen’s Other Green Candle

8560In a letter to Marianne dated April 1, 1967, Leonard Cohen writes

… I keep a candle burning all the times in my room, a tall green candle in a glass, dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, Patron Saint of Impossible Causes …5

While this note is rarely mentioned in discussions of “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” it has an intuitive appeal as the most specific of Cohen’s references. It’s a short leap from a “tall green candle” to a “thin green candle.” One can also posit that the “tall green candle in a glass, dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus” could well have been purchased at that “Mexican magic store” located “on the corner of 7th Avenue and 24th Street” in New York. Most significantly, it adds a deliciously ironic, self-effacing twist to ” I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me” if the candle is “dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, Patron Saint of Impossible Causes.”

The Many Candles Of Leonard Cohen

candles

Candles, it turns out, are part of the standard tool kit issued songwriters. troubadours, and poets, especially those raised in a Jewish household within a Catholic cultural enclave such as Montreal.  Consequently, it is unsurprising that  Leonard Cohen has frequently dealt with candles in his prose, poems, and songs. A few examples, which may or may not have anything to do with the thin green candle, follow (all bolding mine):

From You Do Not Have To Love Me by Leonard Cohen
Selected Poems 1956 – 1968 (McClelland & Stewart, 1968)

I wrote all these songs for you
I burned red and black candles
shaped like a man and a woman
I married the smoke
of two pyramids of sandalwood
I prayed for you
I prayed that you would love me
and that you would not love me

From a description of Leonard Cohen’s purchase of his house on Hydra

A priest blessed the house, holding a burning candle above the front door and making a black cross in soot.6

From a narrative by Suzanne Verdal (the Suzanne of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne)”

By 1965 I had separated from Armand and was living with our little girl. Leonard would come over and I would serve him jasmine tea with mandarin oranges, and light a candle. It sounds like a seance, but obviously Leonard retained those images, too. ((Bet You Think This Song Is About You by Dave Simpson. The Guardian: 12 December 2008

From Takanawa Prince Hotel Bar by Leonard Cohen
Book of Longing (McClelland & Stewart, 2006)

but now finally surrendered to the Great
Resignation of Poetry
and not the kind of Wise Experience
or the false kisses of Competitive
Insight, but my own sweet dark
religion of Poetry my booby prize
my sandals and my shameful prayer
my invisible Mexican candle
my useless oils to clean the house
and remove my rival’s spell
on my girlfriend’s memory–

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is by amadeus, posted Jan 21, 2002 at PBase Challenge. The photo of Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas is from Leonard Cohen Nights – Meeting with Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas by  Kim Solez (November 2005).

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  1. See, for example,  Leonard Cohen – Candles In Barcelona []
  2. The Crack In Everything Lets The Light In: Leonard Cohen In New York by Rita Houston. NPR: January 25, 2012 []
  3. Cohen’s own description of Nico in his introduction to “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” at his legendary 1970 Isle Of Wight Concert, is striking: “I was coming off amphetamines and pursuing a blonde lady that I met in a Nazi poster.” []
  4. The John Hammond Years – Interview with John Hammond and Leonard Cohen
    BBC, September 20, 1986. Retrieved 10 July 2014  from LeonardCohenFiles. []
  5. So Long, Marianne: A Love Story (English edition) by Kari Hesthamar. See review []
  6.  “Leonard Cohen’s hallelujah moment” by Sylvie Simmons, The Telegraph (UK), October 26, 2012. []