Category Archives: Music

Why Singer Sylvie Maréchal Denounced The Album In Which “It Just Feels” By Leonard Cohen Appears

Dave Stewart, Sylvie Maréchal, Leonard Cohen

The “It Just Feels” Story – Before Sylvie Maréchal

In early May 2011, Heck Of A Guy published It Just Feels – Yet Another Leonard Cohen Song You (Probably) Haven’t Heard, a post which offered the basics about “It Just Feels,” written by Leonard Cohen (one of those few songs song written but never performed by Cohen) and David A Stewart and recorded by Sylvie Maréchal in 1992.1

In addition to providing a streaming rendition of the song and such fundamental data as its history, lyrics, and the album in which it appeared, that earlier post noted that this

… lesser known Leonard Cohen composition, offers not only an opportunity for most fans to hear an unfamiliar Leonard Cohen song, echoes of which resonate in another song Cohen debuted in 2009, but also provides a minor mystery for those fans to ponder:

Why did Leonard Cohen write one song and one song only
(“It Just Feels”) that is co-credited to David Stewart, best
known, albeit unfairly, as the half of The Eurythmics
not named Annie Lennox, for an attractive, then up
and coming French vocalist, Sylvie Maréchal, who has since
denounced the album(s) on which the song appeared?

Two  weeks later, How Leonard Cohen Came To Write “It Just Feels” With Dave Stewart – According To Leonard Cohen appeared, focusing on how and why Leonard Cohen collaborated with Dave Stewart on this song.

The final post in this series deals with Sylvie Maréchal,  the singer who performed “It Just Feels.”

Sylvie Maréchal Vs The French Music Industry

While Sylvie Maréchal is peripheral to our initial focus, the role Leonard Cohen played,  her story is dramatic and revealing.

From the sparse material available, it appears that in the early 1990s, Sylvie Maréchal was an up and coming vocalist who performed in French and English and who had somewhat of a following in her native France. A review of French music companies in the May 22, 1993 issue of Billboard, for example, reports,

Sylvie Maréchal … sings equally well in both French and English and is another BMG artist with international potential.

In the same issue of that trade journal, Philippe Crocq, writing in “Remedy For A Down Music Market: Talent,” noted

The following artists made a significant impact last year… Sylvie Marechal: Produced by Dave Stewart for RCA, this bilingual (French/English) artist looks set for a long and successful international career.

An ad promoting a Sylvie Maréchal / Bundock-Lanoie gig in December 1993, translated into English,2 follows:

As pale and thin as Patti Smith, 25 year-old French singer, “Sylvie Maréchal, has the rage, the bluesy voice, and the fitting physique.  Sylvie Maréchal sings from her gut – from her innermost self.  With a stream of anger, her bluesy rails, her unavowed tenderness, she screams her story.”

And it resonates.

Dave Stewart (ex-Eurythmics) chose to be the producer of her album, “Voie Lactée”, while Leonard Cohen wrote an original song for her, and Jean Fauque (one of Bashung’s lyricists) also contributed. She was born for greatness.

When you sing in your native language, you speak directly to those who can understand you, and you are much more attuned to their feelings toward your music. We will sing in French from now on “because French is beautiful”.

This profession of faith by Pierre Bundock reflects the position of the duo Bundock-Lanoie, chosen successor of the Bundock band.

Continuing in the same vein, this duo concocts a percussive blend of folk-rock, with medieval and acoustic sounds. Oboe, saxophone, and Irish flute join with simple, catchy vocal harmonies without forgetting the acoustic guitar.

Thanks to them, “it’s summer” all year round.

Discography

Sylvie Maréchal released a handful of 45 rpm records, including Mercedes Rouge (1988),  La vie Lola and J’ai l’rock t’as l’blues (1990), and On s’fait du mal, which was produced by Dave Stewart (1992).

She released an album, J’ai l’Rock T’as l’Blues, in 1990 and a second album, Faith Healing , in 1992. Voie Lactée, released in 1993, is the French version of Faith Healing.3

“It Just Feels” was the second track on both Faith Healing and Voie Lactée.

Faith Healing and Voie Lactée albums

J'ai l'Rock T'as l'Blues,

Sylvie Maréchal Censures Album Featuring “It Just Feels”

It is at this point that researching Sylvie Maréchal’s role in the production and fate of “It Just Feels”  reveals events that are, at most, tangential to the original goal of determining the motive forces for Leonard Cohen’s participation in composing this song but are so intriguing that they certainly warrant exposition here.

First, Sylvie Maréchal  has made it clear that she is unhappy with one or both of the albums, Faith Healing (English, 1992) and Voie Lactée (French, 1993) of which “It Just Feels” is a part.4 were  The following message is from the Sylvie Maréchal Fan Page:

From: jacktocah
To:
Subject: site-Sylvie Marechal
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 11:27:07 +0200

Je Suis Sylvie Maréchal Et Je Tiens À Préciser Que L’album Originale Est Faith Healing Et Non Voie Lactée Qui A Été Une Obligation De Bmg France Et Non Ma Volonté Ayant Co-Écrit La Version Anglaise Avec Dastewart Et John Turnbull . Je Me Suis Remise Au Travail En Indépendant Et Mon Travail Est Visible Sur Dailymotion Et Youtube5

The fan page author explains:

The gist is that English Faith Healing came out first and it was not Sylvie’s will to have the album co-written by Stewart & Turnbull. After that, under obligation to BMG France, they had to release a French version of the album, Voie Lactee. She has since gone on to doing independent work.

This October 26, 2008 entry at Contre Culture Info, indicates both the interest Sylvie Maréchal generated in some fans and her unhappiness with the albums.

[Google English Translation.]

Late 80s, Sylvie Maréchal 22 when his first album: ” I rock you got the blues . ” Then a revelation on the French stage.  A singer with a unique voice that sounds perfect for rock and blues.  At the time this kind of voice is really rare for the remark, even today. She spends the Francofolies de La Rochelle , she is pampered by Francis Cabrel, Jean-Louis Foulquier , it happens in television. Francis Cabrel even sings on this album on the song “rainy day”.  A second album released a few years later, “Milky Way”, an album produced by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. Everything seems to plot Sylvie Marshal who also participate Francofolies de Montreal.

Over time I have always felt that Sylvie had disappeared overnight. Who listened to me in 1989 and after, I never understood this absence, disappearance after two albums.  A few days ago, I came across his MySpace.  How? I can not remember. Anyway, I had a lot of fun to find and replay his voice so deep and genuine.  It is therefore with some interest that I wanted to learn more about its artistic past and especially to know what she became, as I learned that a third album was ready after “Milky Way”, but never out.  What a mess!

Through our conversation, I understood how Sylvie is a genuine artist and free. If it disappeared overnight, simply because it’s had chosen to sing in English, so her record company dropped him and the media too. For that alone! How can you fault an artist, to do what she wants and not what others want? Cultivate a difference is there better to do when you’re an artist.

Today she is a painter and she is working on a new album with her husband Jack Tocah, with whom she formed a duo. Their music between rock and blues experimental emotional intensity, marked by the voice of Sylvie always so deep and genuine passion for artistic creation.

To follow his news, go to: MySpace page

It is therefore with great pleasure that I inform you that interview.

[The interview below is translated into English by Coco Éclair with the words spoken by Sylvie Maréchal in bold.  The Google English translation is included in the footnote for comparison.6]

INTERVIEW:

In the late 80′s, early 90′s, your singing career was at its peak.  How do you explain this success, and what memories to you have of these golden years?

We get positive results from hard work and commitment, and I have fond memories of great encounters, like with Léo Ferré which was short but intense, or with Gabriel Yared from whom I learned a lot both humanly and musically.

Do you think that this success would be the same today?

Yes , probably.

Francis Cabrel was present on your first album (he sang “on a rainy day”), have you kept in touch with him or others in the profession?

I haven’t kept in contact with anyone from the Parisian show biz.

You have always been very discreet even in your finest hour.  It’s true that at that time “people” were less present in the mass media.   It all happened long ago, so now it seems as though you disappeared overnight.  How did you experience this withdrawal marked by a disagreement with your record company, when you were at the top of your game (first part of Deep Purple)?

The disagreement was serious, and I took it very badly.  When they started to lie to me, I became very upset, and pulled away. They fired me, and I had no support.

And what do you think of this lack of media interest when you were perhaps the most promising of French singers at the international level?

That is what hurt so deeply.  In my opinion, it was necessary to follow up with a second international album immediately.  Being written and composed  in London with an original song by Leonard Cohen and Dave Stewart,  I think there was the material to work seriously on this album, not “Voix Lactée”, but “Faith Healing” the one and only version that should have seen light, and not some French version by Buzy.

Buzy did a crappy job because she failed to produce the labial sounds, so that in the end it didn’t sound right at all.

I voluntarily boycotted the French version even at the Francofolies in Montreal, which, in the end, earned me a fight with Foulquier.  That’s why “Faith Healing” was never released, and now I think it will never be released .

What a mess!  What a shame for me vis-a-vis all the English staff who supported and adopted me.  I was part of the family; I felt as if I had been betrayed.

Looking back , do you now think you were actually an unmanageable artist?

It is the job , as they say , that made me unmanageable.

Do you think it is more difficult to make a living from music today?  What with the multitude of groups and broadcasts via the Internet, music has, over time, become more precarious.

I don’t think so.  There are more ways to exist independently, and it might even be a good thing if life is more precarious today, there is the freedom to create.

What do you think about the evolution of music, the standard one finds not only in terms of creation, but also in terms of distribution?

I think that music is above all an art, and must be respected.  As long as it stays free and wild, it’s OK, but when we want to make a product, that’s when it gets dangerous.

There is very little information about you on the Internet, no site, just your MySpace, which shows what you do today, and which doesn’t show even a hint of nostalgia.
Yet you have made your mark on the French scene.  How do you explain this absence ?

I fell in love with bassist, Jack Tocah, on the Deep Purple tour, and he became my husband, composer, and saviour.

The years have flown by since being with Jack; we  became a duo and we self-produced our debut album OTCHA, which nobody wanted neither for distribution nor broadcast.  When they fired me in January 1994, I became a complete alcoholic which worsened my depression.  I survived that way for 13 years. Today I’ve left it behind otherwise I would not have responded to you because without Jack, I would no longer be in this world.

One can read kind comments about you on Youtube.  Internet users say they remember your voice, that they miss you.  This means that some, like me, haven’t forgotten you despite this long absence from the media.  It is true that you had, and you will always have this very distinctive voice that sounds so blues, rock, and that your style is very rare today, as it was even back then.
Are you aware of this?

Yes, I am aware of this.

Might we see you in a typical nostalgic program with artists like Desireless, Jean-Pierre Mader, or on a Nostalgic tour, like the ones that exist today?

No way!

The excerpt you had me listen to is a piece of modern experimental blues, where the intro is very dark.  On your MySpace, there are also some very beautiful pieces, for example, “dans le silence”.  Do you have an album in the works?

Experimental modern blues, that’s exactly what it is.

The  Sylvie Maréchal/Jack Tocah duo is uncompromising, and unpredictable.  We don’t create a particular style of music, rather we simply create art in the sense that art is free like our music, set apart, unclassifiable.  We are going to get to work on making a second self-produced album as well.

What are your ambitions today?

To live music and stay free, and if a label wants us as we are, then fine.

I especially want to thank Sylvie for her availability and her responses, and Jack Tocah for everything he has done.  He will understand, I’m sure.

 

While it is obvious that Sylvie Maréchal is bitter about at least the French version of the album and had a near-catastrophic reaction (“I became a complete alcoholic with depression”) to its release, resulting in her “purposely boycott[ing] the French version” and cutting herself off from the French music industry, her reasons, again perhaps because of the translation barriers, are nonspecific. She complains, for example, of lack of support, lies, and the audio production choices on the album.

There were no responses to my requests for information sent to Ms Maréchal, her partner, Jack Tocah, and Dave Stewart.

An email to Patrice Clos, webmaster of the French Leonard Cohen Site, however, resulted in this clipping of an interview with Dave Stewart by Stephanie Theobald published in the 26 August /1 September 1994 edition of  The European, found in Dominique Boile’s incredible archives:

While Stewart does not name the female singer, he was the producer for some of Sylvie Maréchal’s records,  the timeline fits with Sylvie Maréchal’s clash with the French music industry, and Sylvie Maréchal would certainly qualify as a “French Janis Joplin,” given her own profession of being  influenced by Janis Joplin and her performance, released as a 45 in 1988, of Mercedes Rouge (Janis Joplin – adapted Vivien Savage).

Today, Sylvie Maréchal’s artistic career appears limited to a few videos from the albums she recorded in the 1990s and performances given in the past 1-3 years on YouTube, ads to sell her albums on eBay and other sites, the Sylvie Maréchal and Jack Tocah Myspace page, and the rare mention of her in postings on current web sites – like this one.

 

>         As pale and thin as Patti Smith, 25 year-old French singer , “Sylvie Maréchal, has the rage, the bluesy voice, and the fitting physique.
>         Sylvie Maréchal sings from her gut – from her innermost self.  With a stream of anger, her bluesy rails, her unavowed tenderness, she screams her story.”
>
>         And it resonates.
>
>         Dave Stewart (ex-Eurythmics) chose to be the producer of her album, “Voie Lactée”, while Leonard Cohen wrote an original song for her, and Jean Fauque (one of Bashung’s lyricists) also contributed.
>         She was born for greatness.
>
>         When you sing in your native language, you speak directly to those who can understand you, and you are much more attuned to their feelings toward your music.
>         We will sing in French from now on “because French is beautiful”.
>
>         This profession of faith by Pierre Bundock reflects the position of the duo Bundock-Lanoie, chosen successor of the Bundock band.
>
>         Continuing in the same vein, this duo concocts a percussive blend of folk-rock, with medieval and acoustic sounds.
>         Oboe, saxophone, and irish flute join with simple, catchy vocal harmonies without forgetting the acoustic guitar.
>
>         Thanks to them, “it’s summer” all year round.
>
>
>
>
>
  1. A precipitant of this discussion was Arlene Dick’s serendipitous meeting with Dave Stewart, an account of which can be found on Arlene’s Leonard Cohen Scrapbook at Dave Stewart is a “Big Fan of Leonard Cohen.” []
  2. This translation has been contributed by Coco Éclair.  The Google English translation which follows was originally used in this post and is not without its charms, including attaching a diagnosis of  rabies to Ms Maréchal:

    Pale and thin with Patti Smith, Sylvia Marshall, French singer of 25 years has rabies, the voice of blues and physical need. “Sylvie Marshall sings with her guts, until thoroughly after itself, with its caravan of anger, his bluesy groans, his unspoken affection, screaming his life.” And it resonates. Dave Stewart (ex-Eurythmics) chose to be in the direction of his album Milky Way while Leonard Cohen has written an original and Jean Fauque (one of the lyricists of Bashung) also contributed. When we are born for the upper hand. “When you sing in your language, you speak directly to those who understand you and you can feel what they felt better listening to you. Now we sing in French “Because French is beautiful.” This profession of faith of Peter Bundock reflects a position taken by the duo-Bundock Lanoie, successor appointed group Bundock. Continuing in the same vein, this duo concocts a blend of percussive rock-folk and medieval-sounding acoustic. Oboe, saxophone and flute Irish joined in vocal harmonies and catchy single, but still leave the acoustic guitar. Thanks to them, “It was the” year-round. []

  3. The complete discography can be found at Sylvie Maréchal: Discography, and a complete set of lyrics can be found at Sylvie Maréchal: Lyrics. []
  4. The vagaries of French to English translation makes it impossible to discern if the complaints were directed to only the French version or if the problems extended to both the English and French versions. []
  5. Google Translation of original message into English: “I Am Sylvie Marechal And I want to clarify that the original album Faith Healing And Is Not Milky Way which was an obligation of BMG France And My Will Not Having co-wrote the English version with Dastewart [Dave Stewart] And John Turnbull. I went back to freelance work and my work can be seen on Youtube and Dailymotion.” []
  6. Google English translation of interview:

    Late 80s, early 90s, your singing career is at the top. How do you explain this success and what memories do you keep your golden years?

    It's hard work and commitment that we get a positive result and I have fond memories and great events, like Léo Ferré, which was short but intense and with Gabriel Yared me a lot learned humanly and musically.

    Do you now this success would have been like?

    Yes surely.

    Francis Cabrel was present on your first album (he sang on rainy day), have you kept in touch with him or others in the profession?

    I kept no contact with the Parisian show business.

    You were always very discreet even your finest hours. It is true that at the time the "people" was less present in the mass media. Over time, it seems that you disappeared overnight. How have you experienced withdrawal marked by a disagreement with your record company, while you were in full glory (first part of Deep Purple)?

    The disagreement was serious and I lived very poorly. I was sacked and I did not supported. When we started to lie to me, I take the nerves and I tear myself.

    And what do you think of this lack of media interest, while you were perhaps the most promising French singers on the international level?

    That is where the bottom lies. For me, it was the second follow up album to the International directly. Written and produced in London with an original song by Leonard Cohen and Dave Stewart, I think there were grounds for serious work on this album, not "Milky Way", but "Faith Healing" the only version that would exist and none of the French version Buzy controlled by the major. Buzy did a crappy job because she missed the labial sound of the voice, so that at the finish it did not sound at all. I purposely boycotted the French version, even at the Francofolies in Montreal, which earned me a fight with Foulquier final.

    That's why "Faith Healing" was never released and I think it will come out now. What a mess! What a shame for me vis-à-vis all the staff who supported me English, passed. I was part of the family, for me it's as if I had betrayed.

    Over time, do you think you were really an artist unmanageable?

    It is the job as they say, that made me unmanageable.

    Do you think it is more difficult to live music today? By the multitude of groups and broadcasts via the Internet, music eventually became more precarious? No I do not think so.

    There are more ways to exist by himself and it's a good thing even if life is more precarious today, there is the freedom to create.

    What do you think of the evolution of music, at what is found in creation, but also in terms of distribution?

    I think music is primarily an art and must be respected. As long as he remains free and wild okay, but when we want to make a product, then there is danger.

    There is very little information about yourself on the internet, no site, just your MySpace, which shows what you do today and that does indeed no sign of nostalgia. Yet you have marked the French scene. How do you explain this absence, and how the lives you?

    I fell in love with the bassist Jack Tocah at the Deep Purple tour and he became my husband, composer and my savior. I have not seen since the years pass with Jack, we started as a duo and we have our self-produced debut album Otcha, which nobody wanted, or distribution or broadcast.

    When the staff got fired in January 1994, I became a complete alcoholic with depression worsened and more. It took me to pick up first alcohol to be able to treat depression. 13 years to survive. Today I came out otherwise I would not have answered, because without Jack, I would no longer of this world.

    You can read at your nice comments counter on YouTube . Internet users say they remember your voice, you miss them. This means that some, like me, do not forget thee, despite his long absence in the media. It is true that you had, and you always have this very distinctive voice that sounds so much blues, rock, and that your style is very rare today and even back then. "Are you aware?

    Yes, I am aware.

    Could we see you in a typical broadcast nostalgia, with artists like Desireless, Jean-Pierre Mader, or in a touring nostalgia, as it currently exists?

    No way!

    The extract you make me listen, this is a piece of modern experimental blues, where the intro is very dark. On your MySpace, there are also some very beautiful pieces, but the example of "the silence".  Do you have an album in preparation?

    Experimental modern blues, that's what it is. The duo Sylvie Marshall / Jack Tocah is uncompromising and unpredictable. It is not a particular style of music but simply the creation of art in the sense that art is free as our music, one side unclassifiable. We'll get to work to make a second self-produced too.

    What are your ambitions now?

    Live music and stay free, and if a label wants us well as we are, then it's ok.

    I especially want to thank Sylvie for her availability and her answers, and Jack Tocah for everything he did. He will understand, I am sure. []

New Adam Cohen Video – Stranger

Second Song From Adam Cohen’s Like A Man Album On Video

Adam Cohen has released video presentations of “Stranger,” a song from his soon to be released album, Like A Man.

Adam had previously offered a video of the titular song from the album, “Like A Man,” and discussed his work and his evolving relationship with his father and fellow singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen. Pertinent information and those videos can be found at Video – Adam Cohen Talks About His New Album And His Father, Leonard Cohen.

The Videos

Two video versions of  “Stranger” are available. The official music video cannot be embedded but can be seen on YouTube. Happily, the same song, presented as a first cut, can be viewed at the end of this post.

Update: On 11 June 2011, both videos of “Stranger” were withdrawn from public view.  The following explanation was found on Adam Cohen’s Facebook page:

so sorry folks, although i’m flattered by the interest and kind words dispensed on both the song and video; the video is wholly unfinished and meant to come out in a sequence down the line, not first. all the best, a.

Both videos feature scenes from Hydra, where both Leonard and Adam Cohen lived for several years, albeit not always at the same time. While Leonard Cohen is not mentioned in the videos, the allusion to the father-son connection is unmistakable to fans who will recognize the precedent for this screenshot from the videos

… in this iconic photo taken by Dominique Issermann of – um, the icon himself.

Adam Cohen – Stranger (First Cut)

Uploaded by

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAADZNHJfr0&feature=related

 

fedoradivider

Credit Due Department:  I discovered the official music video in a post on LeonardCohenForum by Marie of the redoubtable Speaking Cohen site. The first cut version was described in another post, this one written by Goldin, in that same thread. Finally, B4real posted, again in the same thread,  juxtaposed photos of  Adam (a different screen capture from that shown in this post was used) and Leonard Cohen sitting outside the Cohen home in Hydra. The photos, other than the shot by Dominique Issermann, are screen captures from the videos.

“Come Spend The Morning” – A Leonard Cohen Song Never Performed By Leonard Cohen

Bob Johnston (left) with Leonard Cohen in 1972. Photo credit: Ilpo Musto

The Bob Johnston – Leonard Cohen Songwriting Team

In 1972 or 1973, Leonard Cohen wrote the lyrics to and Bob Johnston composed the music for “Come Spend The Morning,” a song performed  by Lee Hazlewood on “Poet, Fool Or Bum” (1973) and by Engelbert Humperdinck on “Don’t You Love Me Anymore”  (1981).

While little is known about how this collaboration between Cohen and Johnston came about, the most puzzling issue may be why the two as a team produced only one such song. Most Heck Of A Guy readers are familiar with Leonard Cohen’s credentials as a songwriter. And Bob Johnston, while best known as the producer responsible for Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison” and “San Quentin” albums, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends,” several Willie Nelson records, and Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Blonde On Blonde,” “John Wesley Harding,” “Nashville Skyline,” “Self Portrait”, and “New Morning,” he also wrote  for Mac Curtis and others, recorded a few of his own rockabilly singles (1956 to 1961), did freelance arranging for Dot Records, and served as a songwriter for music publisher Hill and Range.

Further, Johnston and Cohen were familiar with, respected, and liked each other.  Johnston  produced three of Leonard Cohen’s albums: Songs from a Room (1969), Songs of Love and Hate (1971), and Live Songs (1973) and, as described in these excerpts from  First We Take Berlin by Louis Black1,  toured with Cohen:

… First they [Leonard Cohen and Bob Johnston] recorded Songs From a Room, and following its release, they embarked on their first world tour together. After they recorded and released Songs of Love and Hate, Cohen’s third album, they undertook their second world tour. …

After working together on Songs From a Room, Cohen asked Johnston to put together a band for the world tour. Then Cohen suggested – insisted, actually – that Bob should join the band

“Bob Johnston put the band together for me,” Cohen recalled, “and it was a good little band, very modest sound, very modest approach, very nice people. I had a good time. Mostly on Mandrax at this point.”

Discographer Martin Strong lays out the chronology: “… the follow-up Songs from A Room … [was] another opus cloaked in melancholic intensity and an aching sense of loss. … The record reached No. 2 in Britain and Cohen set off for Europe on an extensive round of touring that included an appearance at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970. Following the release of Songs of Love and Hate (1971) the singer embarked on another sojourn to foreign shores, even playing for Israeli soldiers at various military bases.”

Cohen always insisted on giving Johnston full credit for his work with him. Not quite but almost unique among the many artists and albums Johnston produced, when discussing Cohen’s albums, reviewers almost always note Johnston’s contribution.

“He created a hospitable atmosphere in the studio,” Cohen notes. “He is a very forceful and very hospitable man. He wasn’t all that naive and all that primitive in terms of what he was doing. Southerners [are] often very deceptive in their personal style. They invite you to think of them as country bumpkins. They’re very far from that. Bob Johnston was very sophisticated. His hospitality was extremely refined.”

… Although Songs From a Room was released March 1969, the tour didn’t get under way until August 1970. …

Europe was ready for Cohen, who was just as ready for the continent, though in a far more perverse way. Seven capitals of European countries were stops on the tour as was the Isle of Wight Festival on Aug. 30, where they played to an audience of 100,000. The last European stop on their first tour was the Olympia in Paris, after which the tour continued on in the States. Cohen was finally warming to his role as a performer.

“I had been out on the road with these Texans and Southern boys,” he offers as explanation. “Yeah I was stretching out a bit, having quite a lot of fun out there.”
Johnston on Joining Cohen’s World Tour

I was touring worldwide with Leonard Cohen. I loved Leonard! He’s one of my favorite people in life! I loved Dylan; he’s one of my favorite people in life! But I loved Leonard, and it was so much fun.

I ended up on the tour almost by accident. He asked me to manage him; then he asked me to get his band together. Getting ready, I had said to Cohen, “Man, I’ll get you the best piano player in the world.”

“No, I want you,” Leonard insisted

I protested: “I can’t play piano. I can bang around, but I can’t play, and you’ve got great musicians here. They’re wonderful people.”

“Either you come and play, or I won’t go” was Cohen’s response.

I thought, “Hell, I’m not gonna miss this.” So we started off.

I just played piano and guitar and organ, whatever. I couldn’t play very well, but he couldn’t sing very well.

I did two world tours working and playing with him.

Regardless, only one song is attributed to Cohen and Johnston jointly – and Leonard Cohen has never performed it.

“Come Spend The Morning” Lyrics As Performed By  Engelbert Humperdinck

We took the night as it came to us
And it came like the tide from the sea
Long legged, dusty eyed, satisfied woman
Come spend the morning with me

We took the night as it came to us
Both of us hungry and free
Long legged, open eyed, satisfied woman
Come spend the morning with me

Wake up my lady, the darkness is gone
Whatever will be, let it be
Long legged, dusty eyed, satisfied woman
Come on, spend the morning with me

“Come Spend The Morning” Lyrics As Performed By  Lee Hazlewood

Long legged, dusty-eyed, satisfied woman,
Come spend the morning with me.

We took the night
As it came to us
Both of us hungry and free
Long legged, dusty-eyed, satisfied woman,
Come spend the morning with me.

Go tell the saints on their crosses
Go tell all the brave, young
Captains at war
To come back and find them such a peaceful morning
Then they’ll go killing no more.

Come spend the morning,
Come spend the morning,
Come spend the morning with me.

Wake up my lady
The darkness is gone
Once again, I guess we’re both free
Ah you, long legged, open-eyed, satisfied woman,
Come on, spend the morning, Spend the morning with me.

A Performance Of “Come Spend The Morning”

This is not, to my ears, a great Cohen song – or for that matter, a great Johnston, Humperdinck or Hazlewood2 song although  Lee’s laid back, urbane cowboy approach comes closest to redeeming it for me.

The song does, however, have its defenders.  A significant number of approbative YouTube comments are in the vein of “Leonard Cohen is one of the best poets in the world of music, and Lee is the coolest “Cowboy” ever to have set foot here in ****” and  “What a gem. so beautiful it gives me shivers. I can hear Cohen in this. . ..”

And, on reflection, “Come Spend The Morning” does offer a certain sweetness and dignity in the dawning of a new day.  I’ve come, in fact,  to think of “Come Spend The Morning” as the anthem of the morning after that night spent with “Winter Lady:”

Trav’ling lady, stay awhile
until the night is over.
I’m just a station on your way,
I know I’m not your lover.

Lee Hazlewood – Come Spend The Morning

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  1. Austin Chronicle, Nov 16, 2007 []
  2. It is telling that “Poet, Fool Or Bum,”  the Hazlewood album on which “Come Spend The Morning” appears, is best known as the straight line for  NME’s Charles Shaar Murray, who answered the question implicitly posed by the title with a one-word review – “bum.” []

Dave Stewart Comments On Writing “It Just Feels” With Leonard Cohen

Dramatization of Dave Stewart comment

The Dave Stewart Comment

Because not every Heck Of A Guy reader relentlessly tracks every new comment on every week-old post, it seems worthwhile to point out that Dave Stewart, listed in Wikipedia as “a Grammy and BRIT Award winning English musician, songwriter and record producer, best known for his work with Eurythmics,”  but more pertinently identified here as the titular Dave Stewart of How Leonard Cohen Came To Write “It Just Feels” With Dave Stewart – According To Leonard Cohen lived up to his reputation as one of the good guys by leaving this comment on the article:1

Hi Everyone ,

I have to agree with Leonard here, we met we talked we got excited as artists do and the rest is a bit of a blur , not our best work although now I think I could do those lyrics justice

The Context

When Stewart writes “I have to agree with Leonard here, …” he is referring to the response, contained in the post,  from Leonard Cohen to my queries about how he and Dave Stewart came to write “It Just Feels:”

Allan –

It’s a bit of a blur, but somehow Dave Stewart and I were in touch -not sure if we actually met – and I got a bunch of lyrics to him, I guess it was by fax.

These were lyrics that I couldn’t seem to invite into a tune myself.  I very much admired Dave Stewart’s work, and I thought he might be able to do something with them.

I believe he was the primary mover in the enterprise. I don’t recall being in touch with Sylvie Maréchal.

I don’t remember how it all turned out.  Memory very shaky here.

I think I had the general feeling that it wasn’t his best work, or mine.

Leo

The Next Installment

The  final post on “It Just Feels”  – Why Singer Sylvie Maréchal Denounced The Album In Which Leonard Cohen‘s “It Just Feels” Appeared – is due to be published soon.

  1. Note: The image atop this post is a dramatization of Dave Stewart stating his comment in  a comic speech bubble. This graphic is for illustrative purposes only; Heck Of A Guy does not purport or imply that Mr Stewart has used comic speech bubbles to convey this or any other sentiment – although Mr Stewart’s role as co-creator of the comic books Walk-In and Zombie Broadway would seem to indicate the potential for such methodology. No celebrity commenters or Canadian singer-songwriter-icons were harmed in the making of this dramatization. []

Review – Durham Digs Steve Martin, The Steep Canyon Rangers, & Bluegrass

Steve Martin’s Banjo-centric Performance Wins Applause

A banjo-playing, singing, wisecracking Steve Martin, abetted by the Steep Canyon Rangers, performed bluegrass songs he composed last night at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Somewhere in this big, wide, wonderful world about which one hears so many good things there may be an audience more receptive to Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers – if so, that would be one scary bunch of individuals.

Martin et al earned a standing ovation by walking onto the Durham stage.1 From that point, however, the crowd became increasingly enthusiastic.

Not that the love and respect wasn’t reciprocated.  As Martin noted,

It has been my life-long desire to play bluegrass in Durham, North Carolina.

Now, I feel I’m one step closer to that goal.

Folks here in Durham are well-behaved. That cultural imperative may well have saved the entertainers from being crushed by fans storming the stage to demonstrate their approval in an up close and personal way. Every song received raucous ovations, a nicely performed riff on banjo, mandolin, or fiddle invariably triggered appreciative whoops, and Martin rarely completed his punch lines without the accompaniment of raucous laughter begun in anticipation of forthcoming hilarity.

Steve Martin and  the Steep Canyon Rangers, are touring in support of their CD, “Rare Bird Alert,” which also features Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks chiming in on “Best Love” and “You,” respectively. In addition to playing joint concerts  throughout the south, Martin and the Rangers have performed on the Ellen Degeneres and Conan O’Brien Shows and at the White House.

Video – Atheist Song, First Hymnal for Atheists

While no videos of last night’s show are online, this recording of my favorite tune from the show, Atheists Don’t Have No Songs, performed at  Merlefest2 2010 provides a taste of the experience.

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Celebration Announcement

The Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers bluegrass extravaganza and a preceding dinner at Durham’s iconic Q Shack were the officially designated celebratory events commemorating the 36th wedding anniversary of Duke of Derm and Princess of Peds, DrHGuy’s medical school buddies and, along with Duchess of Durham, his current Carolinian co-conspirators.

Credit Due Department: Photo from Steep Canyon Rangers web site

  1. One must admit they did a fine job of professionally ambling onto the stage, demonstrating a graceful stroll, neither unbecomingly hurried nor too leisurely, unblemished by a stumble or misstep, but still, … . []
  2. MerleFest is an annual Americana music festival held in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. []

NEeMA Mini-Documentary Video Online

Hello NEeMA – The Video

This nine minute mini-documentary by J.S.  Carenza III1 is an excellent introduction to NEeMA, the Montreal vocalist and Leonard Cohen protege now touring Europe2 in a concert series  that includes both solo shows and gigs opening for Jeff Beck, Joe Cocker, Cyndi Lauper, and Elton John. NEeMA is much more accessible – and delightful – in this video than she comes across in her writeups in the press.

Down from the North : A mini-documentary about NEeMA

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NEeMA was featured here six weeks ago in a Q&A: at NEeMA On Her Music, Her Family, Wekweti, And Leonard Cohen.

fedoradivider

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this video by Arlene Dick, webmaster of Arlene’s Leonard Cohen Scrapbook.

  1. Carenza was  the Road Manager for  the Leonard Cohen World Tour []
  2. see NEeMA Concert Schedule []