Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

Van Morrison’s “Veedon Fleece” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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.

Veedon Fleece

Unsurprisingly, Leonard Cohen is a fan of Van Morrison.1 When asked to name those he admired on the “contemporary music scene today [1975],” the Canadian singer-songwriter’s responded

I also like Van Morrison very much, including his superb ‘Veedon Fleece’ effort.2

Recorded shortly after Van Morrison’s sudden divorce from wife Janet Rigsbee, Veedon Fleece was released in October, 1974, only a month after his acclaimed double live album, It’s Too Late to Stop Now. Perhaps as a result of the timing, Veedon Fleece is typically included in the “lost masterpiece” category. This album marks a return to the style of songwriting found in Van Morrison Astral Weeks.

Since Leonard Cohen’s accolade covers the entire album, I’ve take the prerogative of selecting as a representative track my own favorite song from Veedon Fleece:3 Streets of Arklow.

Van Morrison – Streets of Arklow

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  1. See Into The Mystic Leonard Cohen – Van Morrison Connection []
  2. Cohen’s New Skin by Harvey Kubernik & Justin Pierce (Melody Maker, March 1, 1975) []
  3. The entire album is on a single YouTube playlist: Van Morrison – Veedon FLeece []

The (Big) Guns Of Leonard Cohen

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The Guns Of Leonard Cohen Supplement

When I came across these photos of a very young Leonard Cohen and his sister Esther posing with military artillery, I immediately realized they were an essential augmentation to the collection of posts about Leonard Cohen & Guns.

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And, the association of the Canadian singer-songwriter with this sort of weapon called to mind this newspaper cartoon, labeled “Tanks For The Memory,” portraying Leonard Cohen during the Yom Kippur War.

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The text accompanying the cartoon follows:

Cohen Into Action
A cable from Uri Alony, editor of a top Israeli pop mag, claims that top international artists and singers have arrived in Israel to perform for soldiers involved in fighting – at the fronts. Among them are … Leonard Cohen – who has written a new song about the war which he sings wherever he performs.1

Also note the eye patch a la Moshe Dayan

Credit Due Department: A special thank you to Maarten Massa for access to the images of Leonard Cohen & the cannons. The “Tanks For The Memory” cartoon and text were retrieved from Jem Treadwell’s Leonard Cohen Scrapbook. The name and date of the newspaper publishing the cartoon are not available.
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  1. To comparison, read the real story of Leonard Cohen’s involvement in the Yom Kippur War at Photo Of Leonard Cohen & Ariel Sharon During 1973 Yom Kippur War Plus Leonard Cohen On War and Leonard Cohen On War: 2 Videos About Leonard Cohen & The 1973 Yom Kippur War []

The Marianne Variations Supplement: Leonard Cohen’s 4/4 Version of So Long, Marianne

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Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

This is a Supplement 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.

As noted in an earlier post, even before the official completion of The Marianne Variations series, Lennard Torbijn of the Netherlands had astutely identified a Leonard Cohen rendition of “So Long, Marianne” that meets criteria as a distinct version although it does not fit the characteristic pattern of the other members of The Marianne Variations collection.

The 2008 So Long, Marianne Time Shift

Leonard Cohen has performed “So Long, Marianne” hundreds of times in 3/4 time. Twice, however, he has played it in 4/4:1 once on May 23, 2008 in Moncton and again on May 26, 2008 in St. John’s.

As Lennard observes, this rendition fulfills the standards for a major variation of “So Long, Marianne;” i.e., the time signature shift is clearly a significant, planned deviation from the original that alters the listening experience. On the other hand, the Moncton-St. John’s version does not feature any changes in the lyrics, the sine qua non of the other Marianne Variations. Consequently, I am arbitrarily ruling that the 4/4 version of “So Long, Marianne” meets my arbitrary criteria as an entry in The Marianne Variations with the qualification that it is a “time signature variant” rather than a “lyrics variant.”2

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
St. John’s, Newfoundland: May 26, 2008
Video by StacksMaxwell

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  1. Leonard Cohen spoke about his process for transforming another song written in 3/4 time into one performed in 4/4: “['Always'] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it. It’s very beautifully constructed as a song, and I think the lyric is very touching. So, I went in there with Steve Lindsey, a producer, and some really excellent musicians, and we prepared a drink that I had invented called the “Red Needle.” It’s basically, Tequila, Cranberry juice, and lime, and some other elements. And after I had distributed this drink, and people had sampled it, we produced this track.” Source: Interview With Leonard Cohen by by Chris Doritos. KCRW, Los Angeles: February 18, 1997. Retrieved 09 July 2014 from LeonardCohenFiles []
  2. Consider it a Roger Maris asterisk []

Marianne, Leonard Cohen, & The Four Seasons

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Come On/So Long, Marianne

In researching the just published Marianne Variations posts devoted to the major recurring variations of  Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne,” I reviewed this excerpt from  I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons (Ecco: 2012):

In June 1967, at Columbia’s Studio C – a converted Greek-Armenian Orthodox church on 30th Street where Miles Davis recorded Kind of Blue – Leonard recorded four songs with John Hammond. The songs were  Anyone Can See, which he’d formerly called Just Two People, The Sun is my Son, and a song which had the title ‘Come On, Marianne’.  Marianne told me, “I thought it always was ‘Come on, Marianne, it’s time that we began to laugh and cry’‘ but – unless I’m dreaming – there was a group in California, maybe the Beach Boys, who had similar words in a song. When he wrote it, for me it was like, ‘Come on, if we can just keep this boat afloat.’ And then we found out that we could not.”

Of course, “Come On, Marianne” became “So Long, Marianne,” the classic Leonard Cohen song about leaving – not restoring – a relationship.

I was taken with Marianne’s recall of a group from the same era with “similar words in a song.” I couldn’t find any songs by the Beach Boys or other California groups released during that time with words similar to “Come on, Marianne, it’s time that we began to laugh and cry,” but a 19671 hit by an iconic New Jersey group fits that description and may be the song Marianne had in mind.

“C’mon Marianne,” written by L. Russell Brown and Raymond Bloodworth and popularized by The Four Seasons, hit #9 on the charts in June, 1967. 2 The lyrics follow:

Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Whoa-ho-ho here I am on my knees again
I’ll do anything just to make it right
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can, c’mon Marianne

No matter what people say, it didn’t happen that way
She was a passing fling and not a permanent thing
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can

C’mon Marianne, c’mon Marianne
C’mon Marianne, say you can understand
My Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Well now your big brown eyes are all full of tears
From the bitterness of my cheatin’ years
So I hang my head, wish that I was dead

C’mon Marianne, c’mon Marianne
C’mon Marianne, say you can understand
My Marianne
C’mon Marianne, c’mon Marianne
Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Marianne
Marianne
Marianne

The Four Seasons – C’mon Marianne

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  1. “So Long, Marianne” was a track on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album released December 27, 1967 []
  2. “C’mon Marianne” was, in fact, the final US Top Ten hit for The Four Seasons in the 1960s. []

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s Most Divergent & Devastating Version Of So Long, Marianne – New Video Of 1993 Oslo Rendition

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Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

This is the final entry1 in 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.

The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” + “Your Eyes” Version of So Long, Marianne

No rendition of “So Long, Marianne” differs more from the original script than the one Leonard Cohen performed at the May 1, 1993 Oslo Spektrum Concert. This version features not only a radically altered arrangement but also two verses not found on any album.

“Here Comes The Morning Boat”

The introduction, sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen, was first performed (by the same two backup vocalists) as the song’s conclusion during the 1988 Tour:2

Here comes the morning boat,
Here comes the evening train,
Here comes Marianne now,
To wave goodbye again.3

“Your Eyes”

The song’s concluding verse, all of which is sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen with one line also spoken by Leonard Cohen, follows:

Your eyes,  I forget your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea,
You gave your news to everyone
You said was a secret just for me

This verse, with minor changes, was printed in the booklet for the 1975 Best Of Leonard Cohen (aka Greatest Hits) album but was not found on the recording itself:4

Oh your eyes, well I forgot Your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

Variations of this verse were performed at the April 3, 1972 Stockholm show and the April 6, 1972 Frankfurt concert:5

Oh Tonight, I know I’m gonna forget tonight (Stockholm)
Ah your eyes, oh how could I forget your eyes (Frankfurt)
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

In 1972, however, Cohen sang the verse himself, as he also did in at least one 2009 show.6

The 1993 Version Of The Gift Of A Golden Voice

Finally, Cohen’s voice in the Oslo show is strikingly different from the original  version and even more so from the performances during the 2008-2013 Tours. Cohen stridently speaks as much as sings the words.7

The impact of these multiple changes and adaptations is dramatic.

Video: So Long, Marianne – Oslo 1993

Although no live videos or even photos of this concert are to be found online, the show was broadcast on FM radio, and a high quality recording of that broadcast  serves as the soundtrack of the video. Augmenting the music are photos which predominantly feature Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen, and backup singers, Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen.8 Also included are a few shots of the other musicians from the 1993 Tour.9

Leonard Cohen – “So Long, Marianne”
Oslo Spektrum: May  1, 1993
Video by Allan Showalter

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  1. “Final entry” already requires qualifications. Even before the official completion of The Marianne Variations series, Lennard Torbijn of the Netherlands has astutely pointed out a Leonard Cohen rendition of “So Long, Marianne” that meets criteria as a distinct version although it does not fit the characteristic pattern of those revisions thus far included in The Marianne Variations group. That version will be posted later in a supplement to The Marianne Variations. []
  2. A discussion of this version and a live video of a 1988 performance can be found at Leonard Cohen’s “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of  So Long Marianne []
  3. Note: At some point in the process of recording Songs Of Leonard Cohen, “So Long, Marianne” was titled “Come On, Marianne.” (Source: I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012)  While the existence of the same verb in the title of that early iteration and in the third line of this verse added in 1988, “Here comes Marianne now,”  is certainly insufficient evidence of a connection between the two versions, the possibility exists that the 1988 line is a vestigial remnant of lyrics written twenty years earlier or that both lines share a common precursor. (More about “Come On, Marianne” in a later post.) []
  4. Source: GuitareTab.  In addition, another verse is also listed in the booklet but not included on the recording:

    If you leave, where will I keep you then
    In my heart as some men say
    But I who was born to love everyone
    Why should I keep you so far away? []

  5. Source: Leonard Cohen Prologues []
  6. A discussion of this version and a live video of the 2009 performance can be found at Leonard Cohen’s ‘“Your Eyes” Version Of “So Long Marianne” []
  7. The 1993 version would not be a good fit with the audience karaoke “So Long, Marianne” singalongs that took place in the 2008-2013 tours that have earned the crowd a “You sing so pretty” accolade from Leonard Cohen. []
  8. Note: Most of the performance photos are from 1993, but some were taken during the 1988 Tour, during which Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen also served as vocalists. []
  9. 1993 Tour Musicians:

    Leonard Cohen – vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar
    Perla Batalla – vocals
    Julie Christensen – vocals
    Bob Metzger – guitars, pedal steel guitar
    Bob Furgo – keyboards, violin
    Paul Ostermayer – keyboards, saxophone, flute
    Bill Ginn – keyboards
    Jorge Calderon – bass
    Steve Meador – drums

    Source: Jim Devlin’s Is This What You Wanted []

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of So Long, Marianne

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Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

This is the fourth of five entries in 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.

The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of So Long Marianne

Often the variations in this classic Cohen song have been relatively minor, comprising, for example, the substitution of a single word for another or a verse being skipped. In 1988, however, an entire stanza, sung by backup vocalists, Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen, appeared de novo as the song’s final verse:

Here comes the morning boat,
Here comes the evening train,
Here comes Marianne now,
To wave goodbye again.

Note: At some point in the process of recording Songs Of Leonard Cohen, “So Long, Marianne” was titled “Come On, Marianne.”1 While the existence of the same verb in the title of that early iteration and in the third line of this verse added in 1988, “Here comes Marianne now,”  is certainly insufficient evidence of a connection between the two versions, the possibility exists that the 1988 line is a vestigial remnant of lyrics written twenty years earlier or that both lines share a common precursor. (More about “Come On, Marianne” in a later post.)

Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne
San Sebastian: May 20, 1988
The pertinent verse begins at 2:44
Video from AmericaSings

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  1. I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012 []