Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

Recommendations For The Best Online Video Of The Partisan Performed By Leonard Cohen

marseille

Note: These suggestions followed yesterday’s post, Searching For The Best Online Video Of The Partisan Performed By Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Marseille: Sept 21, 2010 (Leonard Cohen’s 76th birthday)
From Linda-Lee Sturgess:

This video is not perfection – but a remarkable capture of Leonard “up close and personal.”

Video by cohenadmirer1

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Verona Arena: 24-09-2012
From Lindy Asimus:

This is my sentimental favourite

Video by Wirebirds

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Olympia, Paris: 29-09-2012
From Christelle Zajac:

Le Partisan is often amazing when played in Paris

Video by Wirebirds

Searching For The Best Online Video Of The Partisan Performed By Leonard Cohen

partisan

The Former Champion
The Partisan: 1988 Reykjavik Concert

In 2009, I posted Best Performance Of Leonard Cohen’s The Partisan, naming  the video of that song from the 1988 Reykjavik show as my favorite. That video and, indeed, all the performance and interview videos from that concert have, however, been removed from YouTube.

Today’s post is an updating of that 2009 entry – a search for the best currently available video of Leonard Cohen performing The Partisan. I have three recommendations and welcome reader suggestions.

I remain fond of Cohen’s 1988 iterations of the song; two candidates from that tour follow:

The Partisan: 1988 Austin City Limits

Video from Richard Evans

The Partisan: 1988 San Sebastian

Video from Javier Rodriguez Fernandez

Note: The same performance is available with different color tuning at MrReykiu: Leonard Cohen The Partisan San Sebastian 1988

The Partisan: 2008 Helsinki

My preference for the 1988 performance style notwithstanding, the 2008 Helsinki version is a contender, offering a solid performance and the advantage of a video that is not only professionally shot (as are the two 1988 videos) but also currently available online in a high quality format.

Video from StrapOnBanana

The Partisan: ??

Know of a better video of Leonard Cohen singing The Partisan?  Do you prefer the 1969 French TV performance, the 1970 Isle of Wight version, or one of the many available videos from the 2008-2013 tours, such as the 2013 rendition before a highly charged Paris audience? Are you passionate about another video I haven’t mentioned? Let me know by email or in the comments.

Update: See Recommendations For The Best Online Video Of The Partisan Performed By Leonard Cohen

Now Online: Review Of 1988 Leonard Cohen Ann Arbor Concert

Concert Gives Fans Glimpse At The New Leonard Cohen
By John Nichols
Toledo Blade – Nov 8, 1988

This review of the Nov 6, 1988 Leonard Cohen concert in Ann Arbor contains no groundbreaking analysis or new revelations but struck me as blog-worthy for at least three reasons:

  1. There is little information of any sort available about the Nov 6, 1988 Leonard Cohen concert in Ann Arbor
  2. It contains a Leonard Cohen quote that is new to me: “I am a candidate for the highest office in the land: a woman’s caress.”
  3. Any article that describes Cohen “as suave and sophisticated as Humphrey Bogart’s ‘Rick'” deserves posting.

click on image to enlarge

newglimpse

Videos: “Everybody Knows” & “Come Healing” From Leonard Cohen’s Live In Dublin DVD

ebodyknows

Today (Nov 12, 2014) LeonardCohenVEVO uploaded a video of “Everybody Knows” from Leonard Cohen’s Live In Dublin DVD (release date: Dec 2, 2014).

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013

The video of “Come Healing” from the Live In Dublin DVD had previously been made available.

Leonard Cohen – Come Healing
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013

Quoting Leonard Cohen: Is “Religion” Synonymous With “Sitting Still?”

artofstillness

This morning, Twitter entries drew my attention to Pico Iyer on What Leonard Cohen Teaches Us about the Art of Stillness by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings: Nov 10, 2014), a post based on portions of Pico Iyer’s book, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere (Simon & Schuster/ TED: November 4, 2014).  In that volume, Iyer uses Cohen’s experience as a monk at the Mount Baldy Zen Center  to introduce and support his “case for the unexpected pleasures of ‘sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it.’”

The following selection from The Art of Stillness is excerpted in the Brain Pickings post (emphasis mine):

Sitting still, he [Leonard Cohen] said with unexpected passion, was “the real deep entertainment” he had found in his sixty-one years on the planet. “Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment. The real feast that is available within this activity.”

Was he kidding? Cohen is famous for his mischief and ironies.

He wasn’t, I realized as he went on. “What else would I be doing?” he asked. “Would I be starting a new marriage with a young woman and raising another family? Finding new drugs, buying more expensive wine? I don’t know. This seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.”

This sounded familiar. And, it turns out that Iyer has previously used a nearly identical quote, albeit in somewhat reorganized form and with one important word added. The following excerpt is from Leonard Cohen: Several Lifetimes Already by Pico Iyer (Shambhala Sun, September, 1998. Retrieved 11 November 2014 from Speaking Cohen)1 (emphasis mine):

Of course, he says, impatiently, he can’t explain what he’s doing here … “I don’t think anybody really knows why they’re doing anything. If you stop someone on the subway and say, ‘Where are you going–in the deepest sense of the word?’ you can’t really expect an answer. I really don’t know why I’m here. It’s a matter of ‘What else would I be doing?’ Do I want to be Frank Sinatra, who’s really great, and do I want to have great retrospectives of my work? I’m not really interested in being the oldest folksinger around.

“Would I be starting a new marriage with a young woman and raising another family? Well, I hated it when it was going on” – signs of the snarl beneath the chuckle – “so maybe I would feel better about it now. But I don’t think so.”

“What would I be doing? Finding new drugs, buying more expensive wine? I don’t know. This seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.”

“I think that’s the real deep entertainment,” he concludes. “Religion. Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment. The real feast that is available to us is within this activity. Nothing touches it.” He smiles his godfatherly smile. “Except if you’re courting. If you’re young, the hormonal thrust has its own excitement.”

Leonard Cohen On the Mount Baldy Zen Center Experience

It is clear, especially in the 1998 Shambhala Sun article, that the issue being discussed  in these excerpts is not “sitting still” or meditation but instead the more general topic of what Leonard Cohen is doing at the Mount Baldy Zen Center, i.e., “What else would I be doing [if I weren’t at the Mount Baldy Zen Center]?” As Iyer himself puts it, “Of course, he [Cohen] says, impatiently, he can’t explain what he’s doing here.” (emphasis mine)

And, while Cohen’s experience on Mount Baldy included hours of sitting meditation, it also included other elements:

My teacher’s school places much emphasis on work and ordinary life, and is very structured, severe and strict. What happens is that you stop thinking about yourself. It worked for me. I never really understood the Zen philosophy. What kept me coming back was my friendship with Roshi. Like all great teachers, he accommodates all students who come to him. Some seek a teacher, others discipline. I needed a friend and he gave me a great deal of affection. He did not try to give me spiritual instruction, but a solution to the pressures of my life, and it didn’t matter to me if it passed for religion, the kitchen or philosophy.2

Leonard Cohen On Religion

Of more concern is the omission of the word “religion” in the quote from The Art of Stillness:

Sitting still, he [Leonard Cohen] said with unexpected passion, was “the real deep entertainment”

“Religion” was an important part of the quote in the 1998 Shambhala Sun article:

“I think that’s the real deep entertainment,” he [Cohen] concludes. “Religion. Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment.

Now, it is certainly possible that “sitting still” (which appears to be similar if not identical to meditation in the post about Iyer’s book) is subsumed in Cohen’s use of the word “religion,” but – and here’s the rub – it is also possible that Cohen had some other facet of religion in mind.

Heck, Cohen once noted that meditation freed one from religion:

Buddhist meditation frees you from God and frees you from religion. You can experience complete at-homeness in this world.3

He has touched on religion in other interviews as well:

Religion is one of the art forms of mankind – perhaps its greatest art form.4

The relation between man and the divine represents a hunger that humans have. So there’s always going to be some kind of effort to make sense of the whole affair, and religion seems to have been, until quite recently, the technology with which we tried to comprehend the whole affair.5

I don’t ever want to set myself up as an enemy of organised religion because those churches, those mosques, those synagogues, they give comfort and solace to millions and millions of people – real comfort and real solace. I don’t think it serves anything or anybody to become an enemy of organised religion.6

We sense that there is a will that is behind all things, and we’re also aware of our own will, and it’s the distance between those two wills that creates the mystery that we call religion. It is the attempt to reconcile our will with another will that we can’t quite put our finger on, but we feel is powerful and existent. It’s the space between those two wills that creates our predicament.7

Conclusion

I am not attempting to repudiate the thesis that Leonard Cohen supports the concept of meditation/sitting still (that proposition seems reasonable enough – just unproven).  I do, however, object to the manipulative use of a partial quotation by Leonard Cohen to make a point.

  1. Also found at Sun After Dark By Pico Iyer. Penguin Books India, Jul 1, 2005 []
  2. An Intimate Conversation with…Leonard Cohen by Elena Pita. Translated by Marie Mazur (using translation software) and aided by Guadalupe Baquero. Originally posted in Spanish at Magazine, Sunday Supplement to El Mundo: September 26, 2001. English translation posted at Speaking Cohen. []
  3. The Profits Of Doom by Steve Turner. Q Magazine: April 1988 []
  4. Leonard Cohen Press Conference: Reykjavik, 1988 []
  5. Aurora Online With Leonard Cohen by Marco Adria. Aurora: July, 1990 []
  6. Leonard Cohen in His Own Words by Jim Devlin. 1998 []
  7. An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Robert Sward & Pat Keeney Smith. The Malahat Review: No. 77 (1986) []

“Dance Me To The End Of Love” In Jon Stewart’s Rosewater; Leonard Cohen Turns Down Cameo

ROSEWATER-POSTER-

Leonard Cohen & The Story Of Maziar Bahari’s Iranian Imprisonment

While the specific event that led to this post was Jon Stewart’s attempt to engage Leonard Cohen in his movie, Rosewater, the significance resides in Cohen’s role in the story on which the movie is based, the imprisonment and torture of Maziar Bahari, who was arrested as a spiy in June 2009 while reporting on the presidential election in Iran for Newsweek. Bahari credited his psychological survival, in large part, to being able to create a “parallel universe” in which he could reside apart from his physical surroundings and dire circumstances. Maziar Bahari’s use of Leonard Cohen’s music to create that parallel universe is discussed in Maziar Bahari On The Music Of Leonard Cohen: “Of such stuff is survival made.”

Leonard Cohen & Maziar Bahari’s Samba

Stewart talked about the scene with Marisa Guthrie of Hollywood Reporter:1

The scene ends with Bahari learning that he is having a daughter; his then-fiancee, Paola Gourley, was pregnant when he was arrested. When Bahari is taken back to his cell, his joy pours forth in a languid samba to Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” as his flummoxed guards watch on surveillance monitors. Cohen allowed the production to use his music, but Stewart’s original idea was to have Cohen himself in the cell with Bernal.

“That was the thing we could not get him to do,” says Stewart of Cohen. “Which, by the way, is a completely reasonable reaction: ‘Hey, Leonard, do you want to leave your tour, just for the day, fly to Jordan and sit in a solitary cell with a guy and play “Dance Me”? Would that be cool?’

“So I told Gael: ‘I’m going to stick [director of photography] Bobby [Bukowski] in there with an easy rig, and I’m going to play you this song. Knock yourself out.’ And he delivered that dance in one take. He and Bobby created a chemistry in that room that was just wonderful, man.”

samba2-400

Jon Stewart & Leonard Cohen

20140801Stewart_3548_Retouched2_A_p-1

Stewart is himwself a Cohen fan, who not only attended the April 7, 2013 Radio City Music Hall show but also contrasted Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah With Handel’s to make a nuanced point about the budget proposal on The Daily Show.

daily-leonard

Credit Due Department: The animation of the jail cell samba was created from the Rosewater Trailer. The photo of Jon Stewart was taken by Wesley Mann for Hollywood Reporter.

__________________________

  1. Jon Stewart on Directorial Debut ‘Rosewater,’ His ‘Daily Show’ Future and Those Israel-Gaza Comments by Marisa Guthrie. Hollywood Reporter: Aug 28, 2014 []