One of the choices for this multiple choice photo-based query was inadvertently omitted. Fans of Lily Tomlin and the University of Missouri will recognize the reference immediately but the image should be clear to most folks. The option has been added to the original post and is displayed in bold font below.
In this post-wedding photo of Very Very Good Girl, she is
A. Dancing with exuberance and abandon
B. Shimmying out of her gown with exuberance and abandon
C. Demonstrating the overhead, two-handed throw used to inbound the ball in soccer with exuberance but not so much abandon
D. Posing as the model for a hood ornament
E. Performing the Antler Dance, which she chose for the Bride and Groom First Dance
F. Completing the toss of the bridal bouquet, causing the assembled unmarried women, ostensibly gathered to catch the flowers, to scatter in terror as though the floral arrangement were a live hand grenade.
Included in this post was Leonard Cohen’s story of being introduced to Judy Collins for the first time:
[Cohen:] A friend of mine introduced me to Judy Collins. I went to her house and sang her a couple of songs that didn’t interest her and she said to me “Come back if you have something I might like.” A few months later after having finished “Suzanne”, I called her from Montreal and sang it to her on the phone. She wanted to sing it right away. Mary Martin, who became my manager, called John Hammond, who knew Judy Collins’ record company. He took me to lunch near the Chelsea Hotel and asked me to sing a few tunes. He said “You got it!”, I could start to record a record. …
I received an email from an “anonymous fan of Judy Collins,” politely pointing out that Judy Collins tells the story differently. Her version, which she has consistently reported since the time of her songbook in 1969 (a memory confirmed by Jac Holzman in Follow the Music), is that Cohen sang a couple of songs and she (Collins) then recorded Suzanne and Dress Rehearsal Rag almost immediately rather than instructing Cohen to come back when he had something she might like.
In addition, this fan noted that Collins “also recorded dozens of Cohen’s songs and is his biggest, if that is possible, fan.”
While I initially felt the differences between the stories was of modest significance, I now think adding the Judy Collins version to the original post is worthwhile because the implications of the fact that the incident is remembered differently are themselves interesting, and it was, after all, a post celebrating Judy’s birthday.
On the other hand, I am at fault for not elaborating on the extensive support that Judy Collins provided for Cohen, especially when he was making the transition from poet to singer. My only defense – and it’s inadequate – is that most regular readers of my posts are Cohen fans who know about the role Judy played in his career. I do occasionally forget that not everyone who, for example, finds one of my entries via Google, is aware of such background. I should know better.
An impassioned but anonymous comment and a couple of emails objected to my self-labeled “guess” that one reason Leonard Cohen’s Tour opened in a series of smaller venues was to work out any kinks in the new show before moving to stadiums and other stages with larger audience capacity.
The writers seemed to object primarily to my characterization of towns like Fredericton as “small venues” and to my likening them to “off-Broadway” in the theater world. I don’t think that either of those terms qualify as insults.
Defining “small venue’ seems an arithmetic function. The Fredericton Playhouse has a capacity of just over 700. Compared to a stadium holding thousands, that seems to me to be a small venue.
The nearest theater to my home with live performances turns out to be about the same size (800 seats) as the Playhouse. I would describe it as small venue as well, although I note that most theaters of this size preferentially use the euphemism “intimate” instead of “small” in their marketing.
If Leonard Cohen has opened his tour here, I am certain that, after I recovered from the shock, I would write an much more sardonic and much nastier post, if only because I know a lot more about the flaws of this area than I know about Eastern Canada.
And, contrary to some of my correspondents, I feel “Off-Broadway” connotes an avant-garde, cutting edge approach to theater as well as a certain sophistication. But what do I know? Let’s check the American Theater Guide’s take on “off-Broadway:
By the 1960s Off-Broadway theatres were often providing much of the most exciting theatre in New York. Among the notable producing groups were the Circle in the Square, La Mama, the Living Theatre Company, the Negro Ensemble Company, the Phoenix Theatre, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Many playwrights, such as Beckett, Genet, and the Americans Sam Shepard and A. R. Gurney Jr., have been presented in New York almost solely in Off-Broadway houses, and several playwrights, such as Tennessee Williams, announced a preference for Off Broadway after their later plays were not well received uptown.
Well, how about the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:
The term was first used to refer to experimental plays produced on low budgets in small theatres, which provided an alternative to the commercially oriented Broadway theatres. Off-Broadway theatres grew in quality and importance after 1952, with the success of José Quintero’s productions. Plays by Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, and Lanford Wilson were first produced off Broadway, as were avant-garde works by Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, and Harold Pinter. Many new plays are now staged in well-equipped Off-Broadway houses, and Off-Broadway theatre has its own set of awards, the Obies. As production costs increased, smaller and more experimental theatres emerged; these were quickly labeled Off-Off-Broadway.
Yep, I can certainly see why that would rile some folks.
Perhaps the point is that – even if my speculation is accurate – opening a tour in showplaces that are
smaller more intimate doesn’t negate the other attractions of those locations.
I once knew a woman who was attractive, witty, and smart, but her most powerful skill was the capacity to convince every male within within sight (and some who weren’t) that she was focused exclusively on him. This phenomenon was not dependent on explicit or implicit declarations from her and it took place even among those of us who observed it happening to others. If her attentions seemed to turn to one guy, the rest of us would immediately console ourselves with “That poor schmuck. He actually believes that she is interested in him.”
Well, Leonard Cohen is a bit like that. Those of us who are fans all want him to love us or our town or our interests the best. And sure enough, if one meets him, sees him at a concert, receives an email from him, or has any contact with him, it is overwhelmingly clear that Leonard Cohen thinks that person is someone special, that there is a resonance shared between them that is unique and wonderful.
I suspect that pointing out any possible motivation for Cohen being kind to a visitor, grateful to an audience, or gracious to a blogger other than a kinship of souls invites such protests. As far as I can determine, Cohen is genuinely fond of almost all his concert sites, especially the Canadian locations. He often, in fact, points out a special literary, political, or personal connection with the places he plays.
The problem is that Cohen being fond of a city may not be sufficient for some folks. Everyone wants to be #1 and every audience wants to be Leonard Cohen’s favorite.
It’s not just audiences. Watch or read a few Cohen interviews. Journalists fall over themselves to make it clear to readers and viewers that their relationship with him supersedes and transcends the connection between reporter and subject.
The same process, by the way, goes on in large venues. In Best Hook For Leonard Cohen 2008 Tour Schedule Announcement, I wrote about …
The Jingoism Hook
On the other hand, the list of concert sites is a genuinely fresh addition to the available facts. Moreover, it is a data domain that enables the emergence of gloriously chauvinistic provincialism. The blurb from The Canadian Press is instructive:
Leonard Cohen announces world tour after hall of fame induction
Hot on the heels of his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Leonard Cohen has announced a world tour. It’s being hyped as the first time the Montreal-born performer takes to the live arena in 15 years. Cohen, who was inducted into the hall of fame Monday night in New York City, will kick off the tour June 6 and 7 at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. He’ll give three shows at the Montreal International Jazz Festival on June 23, 24 and 25 at Place des arts. He’s expected to play Europe for the rest of the summer.
This piece has a couple of the essentials, the reference to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and the 15 year gap since the last tour.
The article goes on to list the dates and specific venues of the five Canadian performances, appending as an afterthought the wonderfully nonspecific and even a bit skeptical comment “He’s expected to play Europe for the rest of the summer.”
I suspect only the civility and and tact seemingly inherent to Canadians prevented a final paragraph on the lines of “And he won’t be appearing anywhere in the United States. Suck on that, Yanks. Nanner, nanner, nanner.”
The first lines of the Globe and Mail article, Cohen tour his first in 15 years, are equally revealing:
He may be Montreal’s man, but Toronto might just be his mistress.Iconic Canadian singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen has revealed plans for his first proper tour in 15 years, and it kicks off in Toronto, at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, on June 6 and 7. And it’s not the first time the cloistered Cohen has picked Toronto for a comeback.
So, not only is the alliteratively cloistered Cohen an “iconic Canadian singer-songwriter,” he is an “iconic Canadian singer-songwriter” with a special connection to one particular Canadian city – Toronto – where the Globe and Mail is the hometown paper.
The nationalism angle is uniquely appealing in that, by its nature, reverting to pride of place renders the exposition automatically superior to analogous essays originating in other areas. And, this phenomenon is hardly an exclusively Canadian aspect. Heck, if Leonard’s tour had begun – as God surely intended – in Chicago, we would be reading headlines that start with USA! USA! USA! …
Heck, the real problem is how disappointed all these folks are gonna be when they finally realize that Leonard likes me best.