Tag Archives: Chelsea Hotel

Chelsea Hotel #1 Video – Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Passes 90,000 Views

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On The Way To 100,000 Viewings

As of April 19, 2013, the Heck Of A Guy Chelsea Hotel #1 video, featuring the audio recording of the first version of Chelsea Hotel from Leonard Cohen’s 1972 concert in Tel Aviv complemented by images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin (whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song), the Chelsea Hotel, and other people and places associated with the song, had accounted for 92,144 unique viewings.

In part, this video was offered in support of my contention that thematically Chelsea Hotel #1 is a much different song than Chelsea Hotel #2.

Chelsea Hotel #1 focuses on the death of the singer’s (i.e., Leonard Cohen’s) lover (i.e., Janis Joplin), with whom the singer identifies primarily as as an admired fellow artist and colleague and only secondarily as an object of affection or, at least, of reciprocated lust. In Chelsea Hotel #2, the situation is reversed with the key issue becoming the singer’s unambiguous examination of his own feelings for and perception of the woman at the Chelsea Hotel – even if doing so results in an ignoble self-characterization.

In the second version, the listener’s knowledge of the identity of Janis Joplin is decidedly less important to experiencing the full impact of he song, which could indeed be the reason Leonard Cohen revised Chelsea Hotel #1 – to make the music more universal and less a biographic tribute to a specific individual.

For more discussion of the significance of the differences between Chelsea Hotel #1 and Chelsea Hotel #2, including a video interview with Leonard Cohen addressing his relationship with Janis Joplin as portrayed in the songs, see How Often Did Leonard Cohen Think Of Janis Joplin’s Sweet Little Sound? – Chelsea Hotel #1 & 2

New Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1

The Once-Unmade Bed In Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel Room

On a trip to New York last month, Mel Joss made a pilgrimage to Room 424 of the Chelsea Hotel, where Leonard Cohen was one of the many famous artists and writers in residence,1  In planning the posting of the photos Mel took during this expedition, I came to realize that these images could be used to best effect as elements in a video of Chelsea Hotel #1, the version of the Chelsea Hotel song before it became Chelsea Hotel #2.

The Chelsea Hotel #1 Video, Leonard Cohen & Janis Joplin

The video features the audio recording of the first version of Chelsea Hotel from Leonard Cohen’s 1972 concert in Tel Aviv2 complemented by images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin (whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song), the Chelsea Hotel, and other people and places associated with the song.

In part, this video is offered in support of my contention that thematically Chelsea Hotel #1 is  a much different song than Chelsea Hotel #2.

Chelsea Hotel #1  focuses on the death of the singer’s (i.e., Leonard Cohen’s) lover (i.e., Janis Joplin), with whom the singer identifies primarily  as as an admired fellow artist and colleague and only secondarily as an object of affection or, at least, of reciprocated lust.  In Chelsea Hotel #2, the situation is reversed with the key issue becoming the  singer’s unambiguous examination of his own feelings for and perception of the woman at the Chelsea Hotel – even if doing so results in an ignoble self-characterization.

In the second version, the listener’s knowledge of the identity of Janis Joplin is decidedly less important to experiencing the full impact of he song, which could indeed be the reason Leonard Cohen revised Chelsea Hotel #1 – to make the music more universal and less a biographic tribute to a specific individual.

Further, if Cohen  revealed who inspired the Chelsea Hotel song while it was still in its first iteration,3 it could, in addition, explain why Cohen famously came to regret this disclosure since it would have been helpful information to those hearing Chelsea Hotel #1  but would have been not only unnecessary but also  counterproductive for audiences listening to Chelsea Hotel #2.

Update: For more discussion of the significance of the differences between Chelsea Hotel #1 and Chelsea Hotel #2, including a video interview with Leonard Cohen addressing his relationship with Janis Joplin as portrayed in the songs, see How Often Did Leonard Cohen Think Of Janis Joplin’s Sweet Little Sound? – Chelsea Hotel #1 & 2

  1. Cohen actually stayed in several different rooms but none longer or more frequently than #424. []
  2. The video mistakenly lists the song as part of the April 20, 1972 concert in Jerusalem; it is actually from the April 19, 1972 concert in Tel Aviv. []
  3. I have been unable to discover when Leonard Cohen first specifically linked Janis Joplin to the Chelsea Hotel song; consequently, this proposition requires the subjunctive mood. []

Revisiting Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel”

The Local Chelsea Hotel Renovation

“Chelsea Hotel,” has been a staple at Leonard Cohen concerts since the early 1970s; it has also been featured on occasion in Heck Of A Guy entries.

Having discovered that embedded videos of performances of this song had been rendered inoperative by YouTube’s removal of the original videos from its site for possible copyright violations, I spent some time replacing those videos and freshening up the posts. In doing so, I realized this presented the opportunity to offer readers a collage of posts on the theme of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel.”

Janis Joplin And “Chelsea Hotel #1″

The keystone of this grouping is Rare Leonard Cohen Chelsea Hotel #1 Video, a post featuring videos and commentary on the  first version of the song, which was played live at concerts but was never released on an album, and a video of “Chelsea Hotel #2″ that includes the story Leonard Cohen tells of  meeting Janis Joplin on the elevator of the Chelsea Hotel (as this introduction explains, the liaison between Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel was the factual basis and inspiration for the song, “Chelsea Hotel,” but you knew that already, didn’t you?).

Janis Joplin is the focus of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox and is briefly discussed by Leonard Cohen in a 1976 interview available at Leonard Cohen – Poet Of Rock Music – On Poems Vs Songs, His Withdrawn Novel, Janis Joplin In LA, Album Titles, & The Perfect Ass. She also plays a major role in Leonard Cohen & Joe Namath – Parallels Between The Poet & The Passer.

“Chelsea Hotel #2″

Of course, several posts contain videos of “Chelsea Hotel #2″ being performed during the Leonard Cohen World Tour. Leonard Cohen In Madrid – 2 Videos & None Of That Jiving Around includes the rendition from the September 12, 2009 Madrid show.

A fascinating perspective on the significance of a single word from the lyrics of “Chelsea Hotel No. 2″ can be found under the heading, In The Beginning Was The Word; It Was, Of Course, Leonard Cohen’s Word, at The Right Words In A Song, On A Date, and In Flight.

The Other “Chelsea Hotel” Songs

Some of the best covers of “Chelsea Hotel,” including versions by Rufus Wainwrigh, Regina Spektor, and Josh Ritter, can be downloaded via links found under the heading, Songs About The Chelsea Hotel, at Download Goodies – Music By Leonard Cohen & Pete Seeger Plus Songs About The Chelsea Hotel.

One of my personal favorites among the covers of this song is Allison Crowe’s, a video of which can be found at Joyfully Caught In Allison Crowe’s “Spiral”.

The Jeffrey Lewis – Leonard Cohen Connection Myth is an interesting take on the writer-singer of the funniest song about Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2.”

The Leonard Cohen-Chelsea Hotel Commemoration

Plaque Commemorating 75th Birthday Of Chelsea Hotel Resident Leonard Cohen Unveiled Today is a report of – well, the placement of a plaque commemorating the 75th Birthday of one-time Chelsea Hotel resident, Leonard Cohen. Video of this ceremony can be found at Video – Unveiling Of Chelsea Hotel Plaque Honoring Leonard Cohen.

Video: Complete Leonard Cohen Plaque Dedication Ceremony Chelsea Hotel

From the onsite description of the video:

To commemorate Leonard Cohens 75th birthday and his song Chelsea Hotel 2, tender memories of his love for Janis Joplin, a gilded plaque was raised on the front of Manhattan’s famed Chelsea Hotel, where Leonard and Janis used to live. 300 members of the Leonard Cohen forum contributed to fund this plaque, and some of them assembled at the Chelsea on October 23, 2009 to unveil it, to meet each other, and to take photographs.

Included in this video are Cohenist Dick Straub, who initiated the plaque project, his wife Linda, Leonard’s vibrant sister Esther, Leonard’s manager, Robert Kory, John Lissauer, his producer, Dylan biographer and Cohen liner notes author, Larry Ratso Sloman, the new manager of the Chelsea, David Elder, who hosted the event and supplied the buffet.

The Chelsea is a landmark at 222 W.23 st in Manhattan, once known for its bohemian atmosphere and roster of famous artists who have passed through.

Included in the video is a video tour of the portions of the hotel of interest to Cohen fans and a rendition of Chelsea Hotel #2 by Leonard Cohen.

Video from Thelma Blitz

Plaque Commemorating 75th Birthday Of Chelsea Hotel Resident Leonard Cohen Unveiled Today

cohenplaque

A plaque honoring Leonard Cohen’s 75th birthday (Sept. 21, 2009) will be unveiled at 2:30 p.m. today at New York’s Chelsea Hotel,  Cohen’s place of residence early in his career and also the site of his liaison with Janis Joplin which was memorialized in “Chelsea Hotel #2,” where it will be on permanent display.

The plaque is sponsored by members of the LeonardCohenForum participating in a project led by the esteemed, indefatigable, and dangerously good-looking Dick Straub.

Download Goodies – Music By Leonard Cohen & Pete Seeger Plus Songs About The Chelsea Hotel

Chelsea_Hotelx

Leonard Cohen Brugge, Belgium Concert (July 10, 2008)

This is a high quality recording from last year’s Leonard Cohen World Tour performance in Belgium. The files, available from a site that boasts an intriguing collection of live music from the 1960s to the present as well as my favorite name for a bootleg site, resurrecting the otter’s cheese, are downloaded as compressed (zip) files that, when extracted, become 192 kbps MP3s.

Tracks: Leonard Cohen at Brugge, Belgium (July 10, 2008)

Disc One:
Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain’t No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
Anthem
Tower of Song
Suzanne
Gypsy Wife

Disc Two:
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
Democracy
I’m Your Man
Take This Waltz
So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Sisters of Mercy
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You
Wither Thou Ghost

The link to the download site follows: Leonard Cohen – July 10, 2008

Pete Seeger – Live in Chicago,  October 12 & 13, 1957

Pete Seeger is the prototype of the politically pertinent, musically significant folk singer. This recording of  a 1957 performance in Chicago is an important piece of history as well as wonderful listening offered by Grateful Breed, a much-favored psychedelicious site for blissfully reliving ones misspent youth.1

The files are downloaded as zip directories that decompress into MP3s.

Tracks: Pete Seeger – 1957-10-12 – Chicago, IL

01 – Hoedowns – Leather Britches – Sally Goodin (trad) (1:12)
02 – Arkansas Traveler (trad) (3:31)
03 – Treat My Daughter Kindly (trad) (2:57)
04 – Conversation with a Mule (Arthur Smith) (2:09)
05 – Theme from Goofin’ Off Suite (Seeger) Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach) Duet from Symphony No. 7 (7:41)
06 – Letter to Eve (Seeger) (2:40)
07 – Let Me Take a Ride (trad) (2:31)
08 – Hold On (Keep Your Hand on the Plow) (trad) (5:09)

Tracks: Pete Seeger – 1957-10-13 – Chicago, IL

09 – She Moves Through the Fair (trad) (1:57)
10 – John Riley (trad) (3:04)
11 – Ballad of Barney Graham (Della Mae Graham) (2:21)
12 – Bard of Armagh (trad) (1:01)
13 – There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land (John Handcox) (1:35)
14 – The Dodger Song (trad) (3:29)
15 – Sinner Man (trad, arranged Hayes-Hellerman-Seeger) (2:23)
16 – Abiyoyo (Seeger) (4:59)
17 – Dink’s Song (trad arranged John & Alan Lomax) (3:30)
18 – Poisoning the Student’s Minds (Seeger) (2:34)
19 – Teacher’s Blues (Seeger) (2:44)
20 – Great Getting’ Up Morning (cut at end when tape ran out) (trad) (3:38)

The link to the download site follows:  Pete Seeger – Live in Chicago, 12 & 13-10-1957

Songs About The Chelsea Hotel

Cover Lay Down is a difficult site to describe. Its own blurb is as good as any definition I could provide.

Folk covers of familiar songs. Reimagined versions of folk songs.
Because in the folk tradition, music belongs to the community.

On the other hand, Cover Lay Down is an especially easy site to enjoy, featuring interesting covers, some well known, some obscure, grouped, often idiosyncratically, into themes. The three most recent offerings, for example, are

  • Lucy Kaplansky Covers (by Nick Lowe, Sting, Roxy Music, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Dylan and others)
  • Songs (and a Story) of Weddings and their Aftermath
  • Townes Van Zand Covers (by Jeffrey Foucault, Guy Clark, Peter Mulvey, The Lemonheads + 7 more)

An explanatory excerpt from the Chelsea Hotel post notes that

… numerous songs by folkies and others mention the place, from Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning, Nico’s Chelsea Girl, and Bob Dylan’s Sara to eponymous songs by Alejandro Escovedo, Jon Bon Jovi, Patti Scialfa, Jefferson Airplane, Ryan Adams, Dan Bern, Okkervil River, and others.  Not all have been covered, of course. But enough have found voice in the hands of others to remind us of how deeply the Chelsea Hotel figured in the lives and transitions of the folk community. Today, we look at covers of a few songs which make reference to the famous landmark, whether or not they are known to have been composed there.

The Chelsea Hotel covers available for download as MP3 files (no zip files) include

Regina Spektor: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (orig. Leonard Cohen)
unknown source

Lauren Hoffman: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (ibid)
live on Le Fou Du Roi, 2006

Lewis & Clarke: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (ibid)
from Light Time, 2009

Keren Ann: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (ibid)
live on Oui FM, 2005

Josh Ritter: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (ibid)
from Mojo Presents Cohen Covered, 2008

Rufus Wainwright: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (ibid)
from Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man OST, 2006

Carissa’s Wierd ft. Sam Beam: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (ibid)
from Scrap Book [out of print], 2003

Fairport Convention: Chelsea Morning (orig. Joni Mitchell)
from Fairport Convention, 1968

Marian Call: Chelsea Morning (ibid)
from Vanilla, 2007

Will Taylor & Strings Attached w/ Molly Venter: Chelsea Morning (ibid)
from Back to the Garden: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, 2007

Michael Walker: Sara (orig. Bob Dylan)
from  YouTube video, 2008

Emily Lacy: The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song (orig. Jeffrey Lewis)
from Friendship Quilt: Emily Lacy sings Jeffrey Lewis Songs, 2007

Elliott Smith: Chelsea Girls (orig. Nico)
live bootleg, 1999

The link to the download site follows: Songs About Places: Coverfolk from The Chelsea Hotel

  1. Previous Heck Of A Guy visits to Grateful Breed  include Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams, The Dirty Mac Sessions – John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell, and The Rolling Stones – Necrophilia, all from the Heck Of A Guy Best Bootlegs series. []