Tag Archives: Lorca Cohen

Father’s Day And Leonard Cohen

“It’s Father’s Day and everybody’s wounded,” from Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan, isn’t likely to turn up on a Hallmark card. And, the Canadian singer-songwriter has consistently criticized his own record as a father:

I have never been a good civilian. my children like me. But the truth is that I tried to be a good father and husband, but I was not very good.1

On the other hand, he has just as consistently expressed his affection, admiration, and appreciation for his son, Adam, and his daughter, Lorca.

Neal Preston lorca

Leonard Cohen & his daughter, Lorca. Photo by Neal Preston

Cohen’s actions have evidenced his perspective on father hood. In the early 1980s, for example, he repeatedly traveled from his homes in Montreal, Los Angeles, and Hydra to live in a trailer he installed at the bottom of a path leading to the home in the south of France where Suzanne Elrod had moved with their children following their breakup.2

Similarly, when Adam, then 17 years old, was involved in a near fatal road accident, his father attended his bedside daily during his most helpless three months in hospital.3

Perhaps most telling are Adam’s own observations about his father.


Leonard Cohen with his children, Adam & Lorca, in Hydra. Dec 1980. (Sunday Telegraph: May 12, 2012)

This picture was taken in the kitchen of my father’s Greek fisherman’s house on the island of Hydra. He would often read my sister Lorca and me stories or poetry at the table. … My mother, Suzanne Elrod, left my father shortly before the picture was taken. Lorca and I moved to the south of France with her but would spend Easter and summer with my father. It was a bitter divorce but he managed to remain in our lives through their cold war. As a father now, I recognize the gargantuan effort that he put in.4

It was particularly admirable, I think, the way in which he managed to keep in touch with us despite the … the domestic unrest, shall we say, the post-divorce antagonisms.5

And, Leonard Cohen certainly seems to enjoy being grandfather to Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen (daughter of Lorca Cohen and Rufus Wainwright) and Cassius Cohen (Adam’s son, pictured below).6

From Adam Cohen’s Facebook Page

From Adam Cohen’s Facebook Page

Leonard Cohen, Marianne, And Little Axel

Finally, one should not overlook the fact that Leonard Cohen, Marianne Ihlen, and Marianne’s son, Axel, were in every way a family. Cohen’s role as a father is described in this excerpt from Interview with Marianne Ihlen by Kari Hesthamar (Norway, 2005)7

INTERVIEWER: So how was Leonard as a father?

MARIANNE: Well, actually, he… I was terrified that Axel was going to disturb him, because he had to write. But what happened was that Axel would be lying prone on the floor drawing. And didn’t say a word. He was a nightmare with me. Then he would… uhuhuhu. You know what kids are like with mother. And so then Leonard would elegantly open the door into his tiny atelier, and say: ”Axel, I need your help.” And then it would be deadly silent in there for two hours. And little Axel drew and Leonard wrote. That’s how I experienced it. And little Axel was enormously proud. He called him Cohne.

Credit Due Department: Photo of Leonard Cohen, Marianne, & Axel by James Burke. Photo of Leonard Cohen reading to children contributed by Dominique BOILE.

  1. Magazine, Sunday Supplement to El Mundo, September 26, 2001 []
  2. I’m Your Man – The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012. P 327 []
  3. CBC Music []
  4. Flashback. Adam Cohen interview by Tim Burrows. Sunday Telegraph: May 12, 2012 []
  5. Adam Cohen: ‘I’ve found my own voice’ by Nick Duerden. Guardian: Oct 7, 2011 []
  6. A collection of Leonard Cohen’s comments about his children and childhood in general can be found at Leonard Cohen On Children. []
  7. LeonardCohenFiles []

Leonard Cohen On The Carpet – In Concert

This is your icon

This is your icon on rugs

Leonard Cohen – Carpet Diem

The oriental rugs on which Leonard Cohen has performed during the previous Tour as well as the current campaign have not gone unnoticed.

The set was tenderly elegant (brocade rugs and red velvet chairs!)1

Saw Leonard Cohen last night, truly civilised performance, Persian carpets on stage, velvet chairs and a gentleman’s grace to you don’t see.2

Leonard Cohen’s band took their places, the instruments assembled on different levels on a huge red Persian rug.3

The stage looked fantastic minimalistically decorated with a Persian carpet, …4

The effort required to achieve and sustain this aesthetic is evident in this elegantly worded excerpt from a Sept 6, 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Diary post by Leif Bodnarchuk and in the stage preparation photos for the 2012 Verona Concert that follow it:

Some members of The Winning Team, self included, left the hotel early this morning, to deal with the carpets; soaked by Jupiter’s vengeance in Verona, they were dripping wet when rolled and loaded into the truck outside the amphitheatre. In Toulon, behind the venue, in a little-used driveway, Chris, Dan and I hung the heavy, sodden tapis along a sharply cut fence; clawing at the grids of steel, we balanced one-handed on the fence’s anchors of concrete road dividers, pulling the smelly, six feet depth of forty-four foot lengths over us and onto their would-be clothesline. Hanging, the three black runs dripped water, staining the off-white concrete anchors a dark grey. It is quite the convenience, all told, that we should be granted the space and near-perfect conditions to hang the unsavoury rugs. It could be raining here too; one always suspects wrath is in plentiful supply where the gods concern themselves.

The black carpets may have been long and wet, but they were light compared to the thick, drenched ‘reds.’ It took the strength of three men [What, you lot?] to manage the hang; two on the flanks, with the ends of rolled carpet in one hand, lifting-by-claw ourselves onto the anchor, one person on the ground. Keep the rug rolled, lift it, unfurl the end and flap it over the spikes which will easily tear the skin of one’s arm. Unroll the coil of carpet a couple of feet, centre-man holding the bulk; shove upwards, the unfurl curling over the fence; unroll, shove, unroll, shove. Répétez twice more. (Of the five reds, the rear pair were not greatly affected by the rain.) Surely, this situation of men fighting against wet, smelly rugs is precisely what springs to mind when fantasying over the luxuries of world travel, sleeping in hotels, and eating fine cheeses in private planes.

When time came for our setup, the black runs of carpet were not yet dry and the decision was made to forget about them today. With some spare black, we ran a token; an aesthetically pleasing row of rug, taped together to make the forty four necessary feet along the front of the stage. We have no choice but to use the reds, the downstage edge of the front trio still quite wet, damp to the touch. Overall, the stage does not carry its established visual appeal, but we have at least conquered the ‘squelchy’ period of wetness.

 Laying The Carpet For The 2012 Verona Concert

Photos by Martine Nevens

How The Rugs Came To Be

Leif also spoke to the origins of the rugs:

Q:The carpets for the tour look expensive and I’m wondering if they are Persian, and pure wool. The intricacy of the patterns is amazing.

Hi — I’m not sure what they are, but they weren’t crazy expensive, I’ve heard. Leonard’s daughter picked them up in Vienna ages ago, and we’ve been carrying them since.

Taking my cue, I followed up with Lorca Cohen, who responded,

The carpets story. Not very interesting and I remember almost nothing. One day we realized we needed carpets. It was one of the first shows and we were in some town (Leif may remember better than I).  I just ran around like a mad woman looking for options in any large store. We finally found the right thickness and sizes and bought them. Lucky for us they were about 90 euros each. All this to say they do the job and were oddly inexpensive. Guess we just got lucky.

By way of  comparison, Eric Clapton told an interviewer in 2001 that the rug he used on stage was

Very expensive – ten thousand dollars – hand woven. It’s a new one. Positioning of the rug is critical (laughs). The rug came about because we were getting static.5

The same source also quotes Greg Lake of Emerson Lake and Palmer on the expense of the Persian rug that group used on stage in 1974:

[It[ cost me a small fortune….I use it to keep from being electrocuted on the stage!

“Dad seems to like it that way”

Given the wear and tear on the rugs described by Leif, I also asked Lorca about contingency carpets should replacements be needed. Her reply follows:

We have no backup carpets. If something happens, we can just live the same story again. They are pretty run down, but dad seems to like it that way.

Musicians & Oriental Rugs

Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer are not the only musicians to employ oriental rugs. Their use by rock bands goes back to at least 1970 when Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had one for their show at  the Filmore West.6

A Metafilter thread titled “Why do rock bands like Oriental rugs so much?” provides the following nuggets of information:

The Grateful Dead have been using oriental rugs for over 40 years. I remember seeing it and staring at it at a show at the Nassau Coliseum in or around 1978. I first heard it was so Jerry wouldn’t get lost on stage, or so that when Jerry was looking at his feet he would see cool patterns on the rugs.

Grateful Dead in concert & on carpet

Tangential but mildly interesting: the carpet is basically an antiquated stage. During the middle ages, fairground performers travelled with a carpet under their arm which they rolled out for shows. To this day performers who tumble on the ground (handstands, flips, etc.) are known as “carpet acrobats.”

During the 1970’s it was a trendy thing for symphony orchestras to give concerts where the audience lolled around on rugs and cushions. They were called ‘Rug Concerts’. I assume that they used oriental rugs although I can’t find any pictures to confirm this. I know this happened with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Pierre Boulez and with the Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin.

So, Why Do Musicians Work On Carpet?

Quora , in the person of AJ Minich, programmer & guitarist, offers enlightening responses to “Why do musicians put oriental rugs on stage to stand on?”

Interesting question – as is true of most things in music, there are logical answers and then there are touchy-feely answers.  Among the logical:

  •  Stages are generally slippery, both due to typical stage construction and the fact that many artists sweat heavily and/or spill booze on the stage during performances.  An oriental rug is a reliable, portable way to get some traction.
  • Stages are generally hard, and most performances involve standing for long periods of time.  A rug provides a fair amount of cushioning to reduce fatigue during extended sets.
  •  Many instruments involve foot pedals (keyboards, electric guitar, drums), and as mentioned before, the stage is slippery.  In the heat of performing, it’s easy to accidentally kick one of these pieces out of reach (or even off the stage, as Slash has famously done with his Wah pedals).  Placing pedals on the rug helps keep them in front of the artist.
  •  A typical music setup may involve dozens of wires crisscrossing the stage (or hundreds, as in U2’s rig).  Placing these under the rugs decreases the chances that a musician will trip over them in the midst of the performance.

Cables and carpet at 2012 Leonard Cohen concert. Photo by Leif Bodnarchuk.

  • Stages are built to reflect sound, and given the placement of amplifiers and loudspeakers, this makes the stage the loudest place in the venue during a concert.  Musicians need a way to reduce the noise level onstage so they can hear each other and stay in sync – and a thick rug is a relatively cheap, easy, effective sound attenuator that doesn’t affect the audience.

All that said, you could accomplish the above points with just a normal floor carpet, so why spring for a full-on oriental rug?  Among the touchy-feely reasons:

  • An oriental rug is classier than carpet, and gives the musician an extra way to express his or her creative side.  And if you don’t think musicians go out of their way to seem especially creative at concerts, go to one of Prince’s shows.  You’ll see.
  • Being on stage in front of tens/hundreds of thousands of people is a harrowing experience for even for veteran performers, and any sign of familiarity helps the musician relax, feel at home, and play better.  An oriental rug is not only a subconscious reminder of home – most musicians (Trey Anastasio from Phish, Mike McCready from Pearl Jam) actually practice on oriental rugs, for many of the reasons listed above.  Thus having the rug there on the concert stage makes performing feel more routine.

And finally, there’s the last reason: tradition.  Professional orchestras used rugs under certain percussion instruments starting hundreds of years ago, and the habit of putting rugs down under the loudest pieces has trickled down to modern-day music setups.  So ultimately, the reason they still use oriental rugs may simply be because that’s how the techs have always done it.

The Other Leonard Cohen Carpets

Leonard Cohen has experience with offstage carpets as well:

Before you know it, you’re crawling across the carpet in your underwear trying to find a rhyme for ‘orange.’7

And there is that carpet he keeps for his mouse.


  1. SPIN – Best & Worst from Coachella – Friday []
  2. Cecilia McAllister via Twitter []
  3. Leonard Cohen Live – United Hearts Tour []
  4. Ticketmaster Reviews []
  5. Persian and Oriental Rugs in Rock Shows by John Farr []
  6. Persian and Oriental Rugs in Rock Shows by John Farr []
  7. “Porridge? Lozenge? Syringe?” by Adrian Deevoy. The Q Magazine, 1991 []

Rufus Wainwright Sings To Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen

Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen And Her Family

Many Leonard Cohen fans as well as those who follow Rufus Wainwright recall Viva’s birth as it was announced by the father:

Darling daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born on February 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California to proud parents Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt. The little angel is evidently healthy, presumably happy and certainly very very beautiful.

Lorca Cohen is, of course, Leonard Cohen’s daughter. (For the full story of Viva’s birth, see Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen Born To Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, and Jorn Weisbrodt)

In this touching performance of three songs at the NPR offices, Rufus Wainwright, more affectingly than I’ve seen him do so before, evokes the bond between himself and Viva.

A more complete description of the performance, written by NPR’s Bob Boilen follows below the video:

Rufus Wainwright: Tiny Desk Concert by Bob Boilen

Rufus Wainwright was touring behind his new album, Out of the Game, and had scheduled a more formal appearance at Wolf Trap in Virginia that evening. Here, sporting a T-shirt and shorts, he performed three songs.

By the middle of his closer, “Montauk,” few dry eyes remained among the NPR employees and guests. “Montauk” is Wainwright at his best. The piano lines flow with forward motion in a Philip Glass way, and there’s also a hauntingly beautiful story. Wainwright sings to his daughter Viva, whom he raises with his husband and whose biological mother is Lorca Cohen. Cohen is Leonard Cohen’s daughter; Wainwright is the son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. As if there weren’t enough family ties already, the song imagines Viva grown up and visiting her two fathers in Montauk, a small community on the eastern tip of Long Island.

Wainwright plaintively sings:

One day you will come to Montauk

And you will see your dad wearing a kimono

And see your other dad pruning roses

Hope you won’t turn around and go

 “Montauk” is the story of a modern family filled with old family worries, an emotional range familiar to the singer-songwriter.

Set List:
  • “The Art Teacher”
  • “Respectable Dive”
  • “Montauk”

Leonard Cohen Reads From Peter Pan To Lorca And Adam – A Photo For Father’s Day

Leonard Cohen’s reference to Father’s Day in First We Take Manhattan, “It’s Father’s Day and everybody’s wounded,” isn’t likely to turn up on a Hallmark card. Further, the Canadian singer-songwriter has consistently criticized  his own record as a father:

I have never been a good civilian. my children like me. But the truth is that I tried to be a good father and husband, but I was not very good.1

On the other hand, he has just as consistently expressed his affection, admiration, and appreciation for his son, Adam, and his daughter, Lorca. And, he certainly seems to enjoy being grandfather to Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen (daughter of Lorca Cohen and Rufus Wainwright) and Cassius Cohen (Adam’s son, pictured below).2

So, when Dominique BOILE serendipitously suggested, a couple of days ago, the evocative photo now seen atop this post (click on images for best viewing) for another project,  I realized that a young Leonard Cohen reading from Peter Pan to his delighted children could well be the  quintessential Heck Of A Guy Father’s Day offering.

Turns out I was right.

  1. Magazine, Sunday Supplement to El Mundo, September 26, 2001 []
  2. A collection of Leonard Cohen’s comments about his children and childhood in general can be found at Leonard Cohen On Children. []

Reimagined New Skin for the Old Ceremony Opens At MoMA April 14, 2011

Leonard Cohen’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony Interpreted By Artist Filmmakers

The Museum Of Modern Art has announced three showings of New Skin for the Old Ceremony, the film composition curated by Lorca Cohen and Darin Klein and based on the Leonard Cohen album of the same name:

New Skin for the Old Ceremony is a compilation of short moving-image pieces set to the music and lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s 1974 album of the same title. Organized by Cohen’s daughter, Lorca, and Darin Klein, Programs Coordinator, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the film comprises pieces—by Brent Green, Alex Da Corte, Weston Currie, Theo Angell, Christian Holstad, Sylvan and Lily Lanken, Lucky Dragons,1 Kelly Sears, Brett Milspaw, Peter Coffin, and Tina Tyrell—that mirror the album’s original track listing.

Posted by Jonathan Shia at Interview December 14, 2010, Sincerely L Cohen offers a description of the process of  the project:

No one can build a song like Leonard Cohen. For more than 40 years, the poet, troubadour, and renowned heartbreaker has shed light on life’s darker moments through intensely personal, highly romantic compositions. On December 16th, Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum will present an evening of video interpretations of Cohen’s 1974 masterwork New Skin for the Old Ceremony, curated by Cohen’s 36-year-old daughter Lorca along with Hammer programs coordinator, Darin Klein. Eleven contemporary artists, including Peter Coffin, Tina Tyrell, and Christian Holstad, have contributed a filmic take on one of Cohen’s mournful dirges.

For the plaintive “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” multimedia artist Alex da Corte focuses on characteristic found objects—a stack of bread, a falling broom—to build striking images of tension and sorrow. The curators call it a “new skin for an old work,” a fitting reminder that Cohen, despite his 76 years, is forever young.

MoMA showtimes with links to ticket information follow:

Other Showings Of New Skin for the Old Ceremony

New Skin for the Old Ceremony was featured at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on December 16, 2010, a performance enthusiastically lauded by Arlene Dick in her post at New Skin For The Old Ceremony at the Hammer Museum, December 16, 2010, which includes a recording of four of the film-makers participating in the post-show Q&A. The Hammer Museum blurb includes brief biographies of all the artists involved in the project along with this explanation:

Leonard Cohen’s 1974 album, New Skin for the Old Ceremony, is reimagined and interpreted by a stellar group of select artist filmmakers. Eleven newly commissioned works illustrate the album in its entirety through the medium of the moving picture. This program highlights the craft of each artist as they complement and coalesce with the work of the legendary singer/songwriter.

Following its New York premiere, New Skin for the Old Ceremony will play the San Francisco International Film Festival at 9 PM on Tuesday, April 26. 2011.

Leonard Cohen has enthralled us with his writing and music for over 50 years. This three-part evening features films and music produced in response to the profound beauty and unexpected humor of Cohen’s work. Cohen’s 1974 album New Skin for the Old Ceremony is the source for 11 new short films, each by a different director, each set to a different track from the album. The project was developed and first presented at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles by curators Lorca Cohen (Leonard Cohen’s daughter) and Darin Klein. The films will be projected uninterrupted with the album as a soundtrack. The eclectic selection includes shorts by a number of fine artists, musicians and animators, including Theo Angell, Kelly Sears, Brent Green and Lucky Dragons. To accompany this new compilation, we present a classic documentary focusing on Cohen’s literary work and public persona in the late ’60s, Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen (Donald Brittain, Don Owen, Canada 1967, 45 min). This wonderful film reveals Cohen at work and with friends, and the multifaceted nature of his popularity. At turns reserved and brash, self-deprecating and self-assured, the young Cohen is a complicated and intriguing subject. Finally, we present live renditions of several Cohen songs, in performances anchored by local songsmith and Sub Pop artist Kelley Stoltz and beloved duo Pale Hoarse.

—Sean Uyehara

Film Stills Gallery

Click on images to enlarge

Credit Due Department: The film stills in the gallery were found at the Hammer Museum site.

  1. “Lucky Dragons” means any recorded or performed or installed or packaged or shared or suggested or imagined pieces made by Luke Fischbeck, Sarah Rara, and/or any sometimes collaborators who claim the name. []

Revisiting A 1998 Tribute To Leonard Cohen

Billboard’s 30th Anniversary Tribute To Leonard Cohen – November 28, 1998

The November 28, 1998 issue of Billboard contains a 14 page celebration of Leonard Cohen.  That section was described in a post at LeonardCohenFiles:

The tribute is a 14 page appendix in the middle of the magazine. A recent interview with Leonard written by with Susan Nunziata was also posted on Billboard’s own website, but there is more in the magazine – we can read comments from his co-workers and friends, like Phil Spector, Jennifer Warnes, and Steve Lindsey. Dylan Siegler writes about Leonard’s career. There are numerous stylish advertisements showing great photos of Leonard and his family. For instance the staff at Stranger Management, his promoters, record companies, financial advisors, music publisher, and TV/radio channels greet him. A touching ad is on page LC-12: photos from Leonard’s family album are presented with the text “With love from your family; Suzanne, Lorca, Adam and Esther”.

The Nunziata interview is studded with gems, including  Cohen’s acknowledgment of  his debt to Jennifer Warnes:

Jennifer Warnes practically revived me from the dead in America by putting out Famous Blue Raincoat.… She’s been an invaluable help in my life.

And there is also a discussion of Cohen’s project with Phil Spector:

Of note was Cohen’s collaboration with Phil Spector on the album “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. The almost unimaginable combination of Spector and Cohen has been well documented. Spector’s obsession with guns, his heavy drinking, his tendency to surround himself with menacing henchmen, and his penchant to threaten musicians. The now infamous stories of Spector holding a gun to Cohen’s neck as a sign of his unswerving affection and his obsessive possessiveness of the master tapes, to the extent that Cohen was prevented from hearing the mixes before the album was released, are now legendary. The sound and style of Ladies’ Man were in such contrast to Cohen’s previous work that it came as a great disappointment to him.

However, with the intervention of time, Cohen has mellowed and warmed toward the album and has now developed a great affection for it, even to the extent that he has entertained the possibility of working with Spector again. Spector, for his part, expressed great admiration for Cohen, and warmly cherished the honor of working with Cohen and of sharing in the writing and production of “Death of a Ladies’ Man”. [emphasis mine]

The Cohen Cover Photo

The intriguing qualities of the interview notwithstanding, I am more taken with the ads placed in the Cohen tribute section by his business associates and family (seen in the following sections) and the spectacularly cluttered cover (seen atop this post).

While I understand the significance of the Cohen-authored books and albums comprising the border of the cover and the fact that no periodical is likely to sacrifice its own logo to highlight a cover photo, I am convinced the simple image of Leonard Cohen, freed of the clunky icons surrounding the image’s perimeter, is far more striking. Click on images for best viewing.

The Leonard Cohen Family Ad

Clearly the highlight of the ads is the touching collection of family photos with the inscription

With love from your family;
Suzanne, Lorca, Adam and Esther

Ad From Moses Znaimer

Moses Znaimer was the head of several Canadian specialty channels, including  Much Music, MusiquePlus, MusiMAX, and MuchmoreMusic. His ad places Cohen on a background filled with images of music, Hebrew script, a rose, a statue emblematic of Eastern thought, and a list of Cohen’s roles: Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Rabbinical Student, Buddhist Adept, and Lover Of Women.

Ad From European Promoters

I first award this ad the prize for Funniest Tribute Ad because of its legend,

First we take Manhattan
Then we take a break

… and the accompanying pseudo-Polaroid of Cohen collapsed on the floor.

It also wins the award for Most Sincere Tribute Ad because of the openly self-serving signature lines:

Dear Leonard,
We can’t wait to see you back on the road.
Love, Fleming, Steen, & your European promoters.

Ad From Greenberg & Associates Financial Advisors

Things change. In 2005, Cohen and his legal team would accuse Greenberg of failing to warn Cohen about his dangerous financial situation. 1

Ad From Stranger Music

Some things really change. The text reads,

“Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free”

Dearest Leonard,
With great love and affection,
from Kelley [Lynch], Joan [Lynch], Jack [Lynch], and all your friends at Stranger Management, and from Steve Lindsey [arranger & producer]

The ad shows Leonard Cohen playing  at Statale Università, Milan, Italy (probably in 1974)2


Billboard's 30th Anniversary Tribute To Leonard Cohen – November 28, 1998
  1. Leonard Cohen’s Troubles May Be a Theme Come True By Marc Weingarten.  New York Times October 6, 2005. []
  2. LeonardCohenFiiles []