Tag Archives: Prince Of Asturias Award

For The Full Leonard Cohen Prince Of Asturias Awards Story …

While  the Heck Of A Guy and DrHGuy sites offer extensive coverage of Leonard Cohen’s Excellent Adventure In Oviedo, only a new entry at the exemplary Speaking Cohen site, where the equally exemplary Marie Mazur serves as webmaster, provides access to all the significant articles, photos,  and and videos from the accredited press featuring Leonard Cohen at the Prince Of Asturias Awards.

The categories covered can be seen in this screen capture from the content-links portion of the page.  (click on image to enlarge)

This information-dense, photo-rich page can be found at

Speaking Cohen – The Prince Of Asturias Award Events

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post was taken by Miki López and found at Premios Príncipe de Asturias

Upgraded Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Prince of Asturias Awards Speech With No Overdubbing

It Just Keeps Getting Better

The video of Leonard Cohen’s Prince of Asturias Awards Speech featured in Leonard Cohen’s Prince of Asturias Awards Speech – Direct Transcript & Enhanced English Video was a significant improvement over the previously available videos of that event that suffered from overdubbing in Spanish, which sometimes obscured Cohen’s own words. That English-enhanced version posted here utilized an audio tape of all but the first 2-3 minutes of Leonard Cohen’s speech. While it contained ambient noise and some volume and pitch fluctuations, it did not include the Spanish overdubbing and was, as a result, easier for those who speak only English to understand.

Now, however, Leonard Cohen’s entire speech with professionally recorded, high quality audio is available without any overdubbing whatsoever.

Update: For an in-depth perspective on this monumental speech, see Dissecting The Sublime: Annotating Leonard Cohen’s Prince Of Asturias Awards Speech

For convenience, the English transcript first posted at Leonard Cohen’s Prince of Asturias Awards Speech – Direct Transcript & Enhanced English Video is reproduced below:

The Direct Transcript

Coco Éclair, who also serves as one of Heck Of A Guy’s Chocolodka Goddesses, prepared a complete, direct transcription of Leonard Cohen’s words. I provided a modicum of editing based on my own knowledge of Cohen’s phrases used in telling the anecdotes in the past and, of course, on the English-only tape of the speech not available to Ms Éclair.

The transcription begins just after the Cohen’s opening salutations to the audience.

Transcription:

It is a great honour to stand here before you tonight. Perhaps, like the great maestro, Riccardo Muti, I’m not used to standing in front of an audience without an orchestra behind me, but I will do my best as a solo artist tonight.

I stayed up all night last night wondering what I might say to this august assembly. And after I had eaten all the chocolate bars and peanuts from the minibar, I scribbled a few words. I don’t think I have to refer to them. Obviously, I’m deeply touched to be recognized by the Foundation. But I have come here tonight to express another dimension of gratitude; I think I can do it in three or four minutes.

When I was packing in Los Angeles, I had a sense of unease because I’ve always felt some ambiguity about an award for poetry. Poetry comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. So I feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command. In other words, if I knew where the good songs came from I would go there more often.

I was compelled in the midst of that ordeal of packing to go and open my guitar. I have a Conde guitar, which was made in Spain in the great workshop at number 7 Gravina Street. I pick up an instrument I acquired over 40 years ago. I took it out of the case, I lifted it, and it seemed to be filled with helium it was so light. And I brought it to my face and I put my face close to the beautifully designed rosette, and I inhaled the fragrance of the living wood. We know that wood never dies. I inhaled the fragrance of the cedar as fresh as the first day that I acquired the guitar. And a voice seemed to say to me, “You are an old man and you have not said thank you, you have not brought your gratitude back to the soil from which this fragrance arose. And so I come here tonight to thank the soil and the soul of this land that has given me so much.

Because I know that just as an identity card is not a man, a credit rating is not a country.

Now, you know of my deep association and confraternity with the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. I could say that when I was a young man, an adolescent, and I hungered for a voice, I studied the English poets and I knew their work well, and I copied their styles, but I could not find a voice. It was only when I read, even in translation, the works of Lorca that I understood that there was a voice. It is not that I copied his voice; I would not dare. But he gave me permission to find a voice, to locate a voice, that is to locate a self, a self that that is not fixed, a self that struggles for its own existence.

As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty.

And so I had a voice, but I did not have an instrument. I did not have a song.

And now I’m going to tell you very briefly a story of how I got my song.

Because – I was an indifferent guitar player. I banged the chords. I only knew a few of them. I sat around with my college friends, drinking and singing the folk songs and the popular songs of the day, but I never in a thousand years thought of myself as a musician or as a singer.

One day in the early sixties, I was visiting my mother’s house in Montreal. Her house was beside a park and in the park was a tennis court where many people come to watch the beautiful young tennis players enjoy their sport. I wandered back to this park which I’d known since my childhood, and there was a young man playing a guitar. He was playing a flamenco guitar, and he was surrounded by two or three girls and boys who were listening to him. I loved the way he played. There was something about the way he played that captured me. It was the way that I wanted to play and knew that I would never be able to play.

And, I sat there with the other listeners for a few moments and when there was a silence, an appropriate silence, I asked him if he would give me guitar lessons. He was a young man from Spain, and we could only communicate in my broken French and his broken French. He didn’t speak English. And he agreed to give me guitar lessons. I pointed to my mother’s house which you could see from the tennis court, and we made an appointment and settled a price.

He came to my mother’s house the next day and he said, “Let me hear you play something.” I tried to play something, and he said, “You don’t know how to play, do you?’

I said, “No, I don’t know how to play.” He said “First of all, let me tune your guitar. It’s all out of tune.” So he took the guitar, and he tuned it. He said, “It’s not a bad guitar.” It wasn’t the Conde, but it wasn’t a bad guitar. So, he handed it back to me. He said, “Now play.”

I couldn’t play any better.

He said “Let me show you some chords.” And he took the guitar, and he produced a sound from that guitar I had never heard. And he played a sequence of chords with a tremolo, and he said, “Now you do it.” I said, “It’s out of the question. I can’t possibly do it.” He said, “Let me put your fingers on the frets,” and he put my fingers on the frets. And he said, “Now, now play.”

It was a mess. He said, ” I’ll come back tomorrow.”

He came back tomorrow, he put my hands on the guitar, he placed it on my lap in the way that was appropriate, and I began again with those six chords – a six chord progression. Many, many flamenco songs are based on them.

I was a little better that day. The third day – improved, somewhat improved. But I knew the chords now. And, I knew that although I couldn’t coordinate my fingers with my thumb to produce the correct tremolo pattern, I knew the chords; I knew them very, very well.

The next day, he didn’t come. He didn’t come. I had the number of his, of his boarding house in Montreal. I phoned to find out why he had missed the appointment, and they told me that he had taken his life. That he committed suicide.

I knew nothing about the man. I did not know what part of Spain he came from. I did not know why he came to Montreal. I did not know why he played there. I did not know why he he appeared there at that tennis court. I did not know why he took his life.

I was deeply saddened, of course. But now I disclose something that I’ve never spoken in public. It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern that has been the basis of all my songs and all my music. So, now you will begin to understand the dimensions of the gratitude I have for this country.

Everything that you have found favourable in my work comes from this place. Everything , everything that you have found favourable in my songs and my poetry are inspired by this soil.

So, I thank you so much for the warm hospitality that you have shown my work because it is really yours, and you have allowed me to affix my signature to the bottom of the page.

Leonard Cohen’s Prince of Asturias Awards Speech – Direct Transcript & Enhanced English Video

Leonard Cohen – How I Got My Song

Because of the extraordinary efforts of Heck Of A Guy viewers, today’s post offers English-speaking readers their best opportunity to date to comprehend Leonard Cohen’s speech given at the October 21, 2011 Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony.

The video embedded at New Video, Photos, Transcript – Leonard Cohen Prince of Asturias Awards Speech Oct 21, 2011 suffers from overdubbing in Spanish, which sometimes obscures Cohen’s own words. The transcription included in that post is a Spanish translation of Leonard Cohen’s speech originally published in El Pais and re-translated, as noted, by Google back into English. It is, consequently imperfect. On the other hand, it was – until now – the best transcript available.

The Enhanced-English Video

The Spanish Cohen Brigade, a group responsible for many, many photos seen here and at DrHGuy, secured and shared an audio tape of all but the first 2-3 minutes of Leonard Cohen’s speech. While it contains ambient noise and some volume and pitch fluctuations, it does not, of course, include the Spanish overdubbing and is, as a result, significantly easier for those who speak only English to understand.

I have spliced that tape into the video of Cohen’s talk; that portion of the video begins at 2:25.

Update: A newly available video of Leonard Cohen’s 21 Oct 2011 “How I Got My Song” speech given at the Prince Of Asturias Awards ceremony featuring higher quality audio and no overdubbing whatsoever can now be found at Upgraded Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Prince of Asturias Awards Speech With No Overdubbing.

The Direct Transcript

Coco Éclair, who also serves as one of Heck Of A Guy’s Chocolodka Goddesses, prepared a complete, direct transcription of Leonard Cohen’s words. I provided a modicum of editing based on my own knowledge of Cohen’s phrases used in telling the anecdotes in the past and, of course, on the English-only tape of the speech not available to Ms Éclair.

The transcription begins just after the Cohen’s opening salutations to the audience.

Transcription:

It is a great honour to stand here before you tonight. Perhaps, like the great maestro, Riccardo Muti, I’m not used to standing in front of an audience without an orchestra behind me, but I will do my best as a solo artist tonight.

I stayed up all night last night wondering what I might say to this assembly. After I had eaten all the chocolate bars and peanuts from the minibar, I scribbled a few words. I don’t think I have to refer to them. Obviously, I’m deeply touched to be recognized by the Foundation. But I have come here tonight to express another dimension of gratitude; I think I can do it in three or four minutes.

When I was packing in Los Angeles, I had a sense of unease because I’ve always felt some ambiguity about an award for poetry. Poetry comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. So I feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command. In other words, if I knew where the good songs came from I would go there more often.

I was compelled in the midst of that ordeal of packing to go and open my guitar. I have a Conde guitar, which was made in Spain in the great workshop at number 7 Gravina Street. I pick up an instrument I acquired over 40 years ago. I took it out of the case, I lifted it, and it seemed to be filled with helium it was so light. And I brought it to my face and I put my face close to the beautifully designed rosette, and I inhaled the fragrance of the living wood. We know that wood never dies. I inhaled the fragrance of the cedar as fresh as the first day that I acquired the guitar. And a voice seemed to say to me, “You are an old man and you have not said thank you, you have not brought your gratitude back to the soil from which this fragrance arose. And so I come here tonight to thank the soil and the soul of this land that has given me so much.

Because I know that just as an identity card is not a man, a credit rating is not a country.

Now, you know of my deep association and confraternity with the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. I could say that when I was a young man, an adolescent, and I hungered for a voice, I studied the English poets and I knew their work well, and I copied their styles, but I could not find a voice. It was only when I read, even in translation, the works of Lorca that I understood that there was a voice. It is not that I copied his voice; I would not dare. But he gave me permission to find a voice, to locate a voice, that is to locate a self, a self that that is not fixed, a self that struggles for its own existence.

As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty.

And so I had a voice, but I did not have an instrument. I did not have a song.

And now I’m going to tell you very briefly a story of how I got my song.

Because – I was an indifferent guitar player. I banged the chords. I only knew a few of them. I sat around with my college friends, drinking and singing the folk songs and the popular songs of the day, but I never in a thousand years thought of myself as a musician or as a singer.

One day in the early sixties, I was visiting my mother’s house in Montreal. Her house was beside a park and in the park was a tennis court where many people come to watch the beautiful young tennis players enjoy their sport. I wandered back to this park which I’d known since my childhood, and there was a young man playing a guitar. He was playing a flamenco guitar, and he was surrounded by two or three girls and boys who were listening to him. I loved the way he played. There was something about the way he played that captured me. It was the way that I wanted to play and knew that I would never be able to play.

And, I sat there with the other listeners for a few moments and when there was a silence, an appropriate silence, I asked him if he would give me guitar lessons. He was a young man from Spain, and we could only communicate in my broken French and his broken French. He didn’t speak English. And he agreed to give me guitar lessons. I pointed to my mother’s house which you could see from the tennis court, and we made an appointment and settled a price.

He came to my mother’s house the next day and he said, “Let me hear you play something.” I tried to play something, and he said, “You don’t know how to play, do you?’

I said, “No, I don’t know how to play.” He said “First of all, let me tune your guitar. It’s all out of tune.” So he took the guitar, and he tuned it. He said, “It’s not a bad guitar.” It wasn’t the Conde, but it wasn’t a bad guitar. So, he handed it back to me. He said, “Now play.”

I couldn’t play any better.

He said “Let me show you some chords.” And he took the guitar, and he produced a sound from that guitar I had never heard. And he played a sequence of chords with a tremolo, and he said, “Now you do it.” I said, “It’s out of the question. I can’t possibly do it.” He said, “Let me put your fingers on the frets,” and he put my fingers on the frets. And he said, “Now, now play.”

It was a mess. He said, ” I’ll come back tomorrow.”

He came back tomorrow, he put my hands on the guitar, he placed it on my lap in the way that was appropriate, and I began again with those six chords – a six chord progression. Many, many flamenco songs are based on them.

I was a little better that day. The third day – improved, somewhat improved. But I knew the chords now. And, I knew that although I couldn’t coordinate my fingers with my thumb to produce the correct tremolo pattern, I knew the chords; I knew them very, very well.

The next day, he didn’t come. He didn’t come. I had the number of his, of his boarding house in Montreal. I phoned to find out why he had missed the appointment, and they told me that he had taken his life. That he committed suicide.

I knew nothing about the man. I did not know what part of Spain he came from. I did not know why he came to Montreal. I did not know why he played there. I did not know why he he appeared there at that tennis court. I did not know why he took his life.

I was deeply saddened, of course. But now I disclose something that I’ve never spoken in public. It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern that has been the basis of all my songs and all my music. So, now you will begin to understand the dimensions of the gratitude I have for this country.

Everything that you have found favourable in my work comes from this place. Everything , everything that you have found favourable in my songs and my poetry are inspired by this soil.

So, I thank you so much for the warm hospitality that you have shown my work because it is really yours, and you have allowed me to affix my signature to the bottom of the page.

Because – I was an indifferent guitar player. I banged the chords.

Leonard Cohen – Spanish Style Update

 

Still Stylish and Still Pinned

Happily, the additions, clarifications, emendations, and corrections required in regard to Leonard Cohen – Spanish Style offer an opportunity to include these shots from Cozycot, which describes itself as “Singapore’s best loved online beauty, fashion, lifestyle, shopping portal and forum, catering to women and their insatiable needs.”

Not only are these photos evidence that Leonard Cohen is, indeed, still stylish but they also depict one more accoutrement not listed in the original post – the Prince Of Asturias Award pin bestowed upon Cohen during these ceremonies (see Leonard Cohen, Prince Of Darkness, Pinned By Prince of Asturias) and which he wears on his left lapel.

Click on images for best viewing.

Bracelet Vs Watch

A viewer who prefers anonymity postulates  that “The Other Bracelet” is only a photographic illusion and is, in fact, the wrist watch mentioned in the post

Typically, Leonard Cohen wears a wrist watch (digital, natch) on his left wrist, sometimes with a leather strap, sometimes with a metal band.

The screen capture from a video of Leonard Cohen at the Jovellanos Tribute Concert which (mis)identified the bracelet follows:

After searching for and finding another shot from the same event, I came upon this altogether exquisite  Reuters photo at iDNES.

Expanding the region around Cohen’s wrists shows that, indeed, the supposed bracelet is in reality the metal expansion band of his watch.

Saints Bracelet Vs Saints Bracelets

In her comment, Majmunka accurately points out that

… there are more than one saints bracelets. The one in Oviedo and on the first reference photo has black and white oval shaped pictures. The one spotted many times during the tour (the one on the tour video screenshot) has rectangle shaped colour pictures. (I used the latter as a reference for designing my own bracelet with photos of “my own saints” – the Unified Heart Touring Co. Band

For the record, the first time Mr Cohen was spotted wearing a saints bracelet was at the July 25, 2011 Zagreb concert, a video from which is the source of the referenced screenshot. The Heck Of A Guy post,  Leonard Cohen Zagreb Concert Opens 2010 Tour,  notes:

 Leonard Cohen Dons Bracelet For Zagreb Show

The bracelet visible on the right wrist of Leonard Cohen has not, as far as I can determine, been seen at earlier concerts

The next post, “I’m Your Man” Video, New Song Report, & Setlist From Leonard Cohen Zagreb, Croatia Concert, also included the following:

A LeonardCohenForum post by mnkyface notes the similarity of the bracelet worn by Cohen for the first time at the Zagreb concert (and visible on his right wrist in the photo atop this post and in the final photo of last night’s post) to a bracelet of Catholic saints such as the one shown above.

fedoradivider

Leonard Cohen – Spanish Style

Leonard Cohen’s Always Dapper Details

As the above photos (click on images for best viewing) make clear, “the always dapper Leonard Cohen” may be a cliche, but it also proved to be an accurate description of the Canadian singer-songwriter during  his stay in Spain for the 2011 Prince of Asturias Awards festivities.

Sadly neglected, however, are Leonard Cohen’s accoutrements.

Thankfully, DrHGuy stands ready to correct this lacunae in Cohen’s fashion coverage.

Update 24 October 2011: See Leonard Cohen – Spanish Style Update

The Saints Bracelet & the Unified Heart Signet Ring

The Saints Bracelet was worn during many of the Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts and is similar to the specimen shown below.

The version of the Unified Heart Signet Ring that was available at the merchandise stands during the Leonard Cohen World Tour is displayed below.

For another look at Cohen’s own jewelry, the first photo below displays the ring and bracelet, which are shown in closeup in the second shot of  the series.

Standard Silver Tie Tack

Wearing a standard tie rather than the bolo tie favored during  the World Tour, Cohen opted for a tasteful silver tie tack.

The Other Bracelet

Typically, Leonard Cohen wears a wrist watch (analog, natch) on his left wrist, sometimes with a leather strap, sometimes with a metal band. The latter is shown below in a video screenshot of Cohen performing in a World Tour .

These screen captures from a video of the Jovellanos Tribute Concert, however, depict Leonard Cohen wearing another bracelet.

The Filigree Monogram

And, finally, these screen captures from the press conference introduce us to a filigree monogram on Leonard Cohen’s shirt sleeve.

The Best Non-Leonard Cohen Moment Of The 2011 Prince Of Asturias Awards

Why Practice Is Important but Not Taking Oneself Too Seriously Is REALLY Important

Sir Paul Nurse and Julie Maxton, President and Executive Director of The Royal Society respectively, are shown above receiving the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.1

The Victory Celebration

After receiving the award, the winners pivot to face each other.

They then assume initial positions for the execution of a celebratory  high five.

They commence the move.

And – well, they miss.

But – and  this is  the key – they spontaneously fall into hilarity over their failed attempt to slap their hands together – at a distinguished awards ceremony in front of royalty, an audience, and television cameras.

Ya gotta love these guys.

And now – watch the entire event in action.

Credit Due Department: All images are screen captures from Euronews.

  1. These are folks who, as one might surmise from their positions, are possessed of great intellect and dignity. Sir Paul Nurse is a British geneticist who won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Leland H. Hartwell and R. Timothy Hunt for their discoveries of protein molecules that control the division (duplication) of cells in the cell cycle; he is also the Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute. Julie Maxton studied at University College London, Canterbury University, and the University of Auckland, where she also served as the Dean of Graduate Studies, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dean of the Faculty of Law, and holder of a chair in commercial law.  She was then  Registrar of the University of Oxford as well as a practicing barrister. []