Because of Hattie’s appendectomy,1 Charley appears solo for an somewhat gushing interview (e.g., the interviewer describes their work on “If It Be Thy Will” as “spine-tingling harmonies”) which focuses on their recruitment for and experiences with the Leonard Cohen World Tour. Recordings of two songs are played:
While early reviews of Savages have been mixed, its first track, “Baroque Thoughts,” has captured accolades. Mudkiss fanzine, which characterizes the performances on the album as “unsure,” lauds “Baroque Thoughts:”
“Baroque Thoughts” is a gorgeous piece of melodic folk, voices harmonising beautifully, the tones complimenting each other perfectly.
Catching up on goings-on at my favorite music blogs after a week away from Heck Of A Guy International Headquarters, I could not help but notice that the Webb Sisters, backup singers for the Leonard Cohen World Tour, were featured in the April 18, 2011 entry at Cover Lay Down.
A Cover Lay Down exclusive, today, thanks to some particularly savvy promo folks, who stoked my ego by naming me their No. 1 choice for an exclusive first peek at a new video from The Webb Sisters, in the hopes that it would lure me out of my recent hiatus. What can I say: I’m human, I’ve been itching to get to something more substantive and new since yesterday’s bird-themed coverfolk set marked our triumphant return to blogging, and I’m also on school vacation, looking out at a week of sand, surf, and solitude rather than the usual hectic homelife.
But the British-born sibling pair are absolutely worth coming out of hiding for, with a preference for lush, two-instrument arrangements that show strong influences from both the British and US folkpop traditions, and deep, beautiful, soaring, often heartbreaking brit harmonies, with the strong accents of their native Kent, that pull you in no matter the label you’re looking for. The combination of Hattie’s harp and mandolin and Charley’s guitar and piano is marvelous, at once ancient and modern. And their take on Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You, which I am proud to introduce to the world, is comfortable and intimate, played on a couch with just acoustic rhythm guitar and what appears to be some sort of mandolin or oud. Check it out:
The Webb Sisters have hit the radar before, too. Touted as rising stars of the next generation by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, and Princess Anne, hand-picked to lend their talents for studio recordings and tours for Cohen, Sting, Natalie Maines, and Natalie Merchant, their version of If It Be Your Will – recorded live on tour in 2008, introduced by Cohen himself, with whom the sisters Webb have toured regularly – is a tour de force of femmefolk simplicity, stunningly fragile, delicate, icy, and prayerful, with harp and soaring vox and – barely – a guitar, that gently fills fragments of sparse silences. And the fuller, more contemporary, almost countrypop production which supports their appearance on mixed-bag 2008 Collins tribute Born To The Breed makes for a stand-out track which salvages a song I once considered too treacly to be covered effectively.
The Webb Sisters’ next full-length album, Savages, will drop on May 9th; promisingly, it was produced with multiple Grammy-winning Beatles A&R man Peter Asher’s guiding hand at the helm. Direct Current has described it as both a continuation and expansion of their previous work “from the more traditional-based U.K. folk…into more Americanized rootsy pop,” with both drive and “a lighter than air delicacy” throughout. Sounds like we’re in for a thing of beauty, indeed. Check out today’s bonus tracks, and then learn more at the Webb Sisters’ website.
Worst Of All, It’s An Outstanding Performance
OK, it’s not the first time a object of my affections, bedazzled by a good looking, sweet talking rival elected, in the (paraphrased) evocative title of Lewis Grizzard’s book, to tear out my heart and stomp that sucker flat.
And it’s assuredly not the first time some publication other than Heck Of A Guy got first crack at schedules, performances, interviews, gossip, … from the stalwarts who inhabit and rule CohenWorld.
The crusher is that Charley’s and Hattie’s cover of Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You is outstanding, In fact, I would contend that Baby Can I Hold You (on video), along with If It Be Your Will and Fortune Of Soldiers (both available as MP3 downloads at the link) represent the three best performances in the Webb Sisters repertoire.
The Video: The Webb Sisters Perform Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You
MP3 Downloads From The Webb Sisters
Downloads of two other Webb Sisters songs, If It Be Your Will (written by Leonard Cohen and recorded live on tour in 2008) and Fortune Of Soldiers (by Judy Collins) are available at the Cover Lay Down -Webb Sisters Post.
All I’ve got to say to the young ladies who comprise the Webb Sisters is
and I lift my glass to the Awful Truth which you can’t reveal to the Ears of Youth except to say it isn’t worth a dime
More precisely, the sparsity of of videos from the Leonard Cohen World Tour posted at Heck Of A Guy is due to the sparsity of videos from the Leonard Cohen World Tour posted on YouTube since the New Zealand-Australia leg began.
By all accounts, the concerts have been routinely stellar and the audiences have been large and responsive, yet few videos or photos have wafted into cyberspace. A major hurdle appears to have been more rigid enforcement of camera prohibitions. Most of the few videos that have been uploaded show only a minute or two of the song recorded, leading me to infer that would-be videographers are filming surreptitiously and reduce their risk by recording only brief segments or they are aborting their efforts when the camera police approach.
This is not a complaint, and Heck Of A Guy would not, of course, recommend flouting rules and regulations.
Let’s put it this way – Heck Of A Guy management is sad to announce that insurmountable logistical issues have resulted in a scarcity of videos and photos from recent Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts and is sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Heck Of A Guy does, however, have a few worthwhile views to offer.
Leonard Cohen Ascendant
Notes From The Road remains a reliable source of Tour photos. One recurring image that is a favorite of mine shows Leonard Cohen ready to ascend or already ascending the stairs to the stage. I have cleverly dubbed these shots, such as the one above, “Cohen Ascendant.”
The other Brisbane photos are by B4real (aka Bev) who posted them at LeonardCohenForum.
Shown above are the hind paws of what I am reliably informed is “a flying kangaroo singing Waltzing Matilda,” flung onto the stage by the afore-mentioned B4real (aka Bev).
The nifty location-specific lanyard IDs were created and distributed by dce.
Juxtaposed with the notice that Metallica will next be performing at Acer Arena, The Leonard Cohen marquee is a dandy addition to the Heck Of A Guy collection of Signs Of Leonard Cohen.
The musicians’ view of the venue during soundcheck.
Although it’s difficult to believe given the facial expressions in the above photo, Sony is presenting an award to Leonard Cohen. As Notes From The Road informs us,
Reps from Sony Australia are in the house to give LC a nice award. Down under Live In London has gone triple platinum and Songs From The Road just went platinum.
The Flip Side Of The Webb Sisters Flip
This video of the cartwheel performed by the Webb Sisters during “The Future” is unique in that it was recorded from backstage rather than from the audience and consequently shows them flipping toward rather than away from the camera.1 Now if it were only in 3-D …
The concert information was not provided on YouTube, but the date the video was uploaded was July 27, 2010 so it was likely taken either that day at the Salzburg show or on July 25, 2020 at Zagreb. [↩]
“Heart With No Companion,” one of Leonard Cohen’s lesser known songs, has much to recommend it: it’s uplifting, it offers hope, it is, with the exception of “Sisters Of Mercy,” Cohen’s most direct, least ambivalent affirmation of his belief in the power of love, however flawed, to sustain us through an arduous life:1
I greet you from the other side
Of sorrow and despair
With a love so vast and shattered
It will reach you everywhere
In “Heart With No Companion,” unlike “The Future,” Cohen doesn’t find it necessary to counter defiant slogans like “love’s the only engine of survival” with visions of apocalyptic terror. Desperation and fear play no role in “Heart With No Companion;” it is, instead, a hymn to individual resolution, dignity, and decency, an existentialist paean to personal integrity as the key to confronting the inequities and entropy of life.
Tho’ your promise count for nothing
You must keep it nonetheless
And, don’t get me wrong, redemptive motifs and such are all well and good, but they aren’t the aspect of the performance that grabs me.
Heart With No Companion – The Music
Musically, the Leonard Cohen World Tour iteration of “Heart With No Companion” has taken on a distinctly country-western flair, especially compared to the version released on the Various Positions album.
Bob Metzger’s pedal steel guitar solo is impressively reminiscent of the music I listened to on radio programs like the Grand Ole Opry and The Porter Wagoner Show and I heard played live by local bands in a bar or two in the Ozarks.
And, Leonard Cohen, accompanying himself on the guitar, seems to metamorphose into a grown-up version of the adolescent Leonard Cohen who played in the Buckskin Boys.2
Again, that’s nice, but it’s not the high point of the song for me.
For that, we have to …
Bring On The Dancing Girls
Yep, the current production of “Heart With No Companion” includes a few seconds of Sharon Robinson and Charley and Hattie Web dancing that crack me up every time.
This video from the Grand Odense Opry should automatically start just before the pertinent part of the performance.
Leonard Cohen – Heart With No Companion (Odense 8/14/2010)
That is a rather sedate version of the backup singers dancing, choreography I suspect was originally inserted to stylishly move the singers, usually stationed directly in front of Neil Larsen, aside to unveil the usually (and lamentably) hidden keyboardist.
And speaking of Neil Larsen, I particularly like the video of the same portion of the song from the 2009 Weybridge concert, because it not only shows the Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson dancing with arms linked (perhaps in hopes of preventing them from being blown away by the gale force winds that day) but also displays Neil Larsen’s artistry and adaptability as he performs his solo with his hands beneath a tarp protecting the instrument – but not the musician – from the weather.
Leonard Cohen -, Heart with No Companion (Weybridge, 7/11/2009)
Yes the hoedown took us at that moment. It was a hoedown showdown…!
Thanks (To Maarten) For This Dance
To grasp the full potential however, of this dance sequence, and foresee what may be awaiting the Kiwis this week or the audiences at those final US shows, one has to be privy to the goings on at the soundchecks. While access of that sort is not typically available to the public, Maarten Massa has generously allowed Heck Of A Guy to post his unlisted video of the August 21, 2010 Ghent soundcheck (which also includes a notable hand whistle solo by Leonard Cohen).
Leonard Cohen – Heart With No Companion (Ghent soundcheck 8/21/2010)
Why make a fuss over the brief dance exhibition during “Heart With No Companion?” Well, …
The prototypical, hard core Leonard Cohen fan is a guy who believes that Cohen’s music should stand on its own (a position held and supported by Cohen himself) and that embellishments such as dance steps, gymnastics, fancy cover art for albums, unusual names for songs, etc are at best distractions.
As the astute ongoing reader is likely to have already recognized – I’m not that guy. I need a bit of movement, a few shiny objects, a little song, a little dance, … and I’d love to see a little seltzer in the pants incorporated into, say, the final performance of “The Future.”
I’m the guy who likes the dancing.
Besides, I agree with with Mark Twain:
On with the dance, let joy be unconfined, is my motto; whether there’s any dance to dance or any joy to unconfine.
Yes, I know some critics have characterized “Heart With No Companion” as gloomy; my explanatory hypothesis is that those critics actually listened to a different song (perhaps “Death Rehearsal Rag”) only to be victimized by a malicious prankster who deliberately misidentified the number as “Heart With No Companion.” [↩]
The Buckskin Boys, a country-western trio Leonard Cohen organized during his teenage years that played for parties and square dances and was his first venture as a professional musician. For more information, see Leonard Cohen – Boy Wonder [↩]
Charlie Webb, Hattie Webb, and Sharon Robinson performing as a three in good times
Because I’m musicologically disadvantaged, I was curious about the adjustments the Webb Sisters make to compensate for those times when Sharon Robinson is absent, as she has been for the past couple of weeks. Hattie Webb was good enough to answer my question, but it’s clear that her heart was in the last sentence of her message.
There are some adjustments on the vocals, a shift of parts and arrangements. Focusing on keeping our two voices in close harmony in 3rds versus having spaces of fifths and sixths.
We miss Sharon every concert and look forward to being back together as a three for New Zealand.
Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson hanging together when times get tough
Last week, Charlie and Hattie Webb, backup singers for The Leonard Cohen World Tour, joined forces with Anita Coats to perform “Dark Sky,” a song from their soon to be released new album. The video, ably shot by arlenedick15, also includes a declaration from the stage, “Canada…the nicest people on earth…eh.”
Webb Sisters, Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, June 27, 2010
Credit Due Department: Both the graphic atop this post and the video were provided by arlenedick15 aka bridger15
Do I Have To Dance All Night Surpasses 70,000 Views
"Do I Have To Dance All Night" was performed many times in concerts but was never released in the US.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I've cobbled together 2 videos - one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version - that kinda sorta fit the music.
As of Dec 19, 2012, the video of the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night has been viewed 70,152 times.
Heck Of A Guy offers 3 videos of clips and photos from The Leonard Cohen World Tour:
1. The Original Heck Of A Guy Dear Leonard Cohen - Thanks For The Tour. I Hope It Was Good For You, Too. Video Celebration Of The First 14 Months Of The 2008-2009 World Tour can be viewed at Thanks For The Tour
The Cohen Fandemic
Endemic for decades in areas such as Canada, Norway, Poland, and France, Leonard Cohen Fan Syndrome has become a world-wide epidemic in the past 2 years, spread by the Leonard Cohen World Tour and abetted by proselyting carriers despite efforts by authorities to quarantine these individuals at LeonardCohenForum.
Based on the observations of DrHGuy, standardized criteria for the pertinent Axis II diagnosis are now available at
In addition to the formal medical description of this diagnosis, Heck Of A Guy has also compiled a list of the aberrant behaviors which indicate one is at high risk for being a full-fledged fan of Leonard Cohen. These signs and symptoms can be found at
Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1
This video features the first version of the song Leonard Cohen would later revise into "Chelsea Hotel #2" along with images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin - whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song, the Hotel itself, and other associated people & places.
Photos of or related to Leonard Cohen that fall into specific themes have been among the ongoing features at DrHGuy, HOAG's sibling site. Galleries displaying collected images of 3 of these themes are now available at
Over 35 tunes performed by Dylan, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, The Platters, Joni Mitchell, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Jay-Z, and other musicians.
Read what Cohen said about them and listen to the music at
Photos, Videos, & More
See photos of Leonard Cohen's arrival in Oviedo, the opening of Leonard Cohen: The B-Side - Drawings And Engravings Of A Multidisciplinary Artist, his speech and press conference, his tribute conference, the lost and found Famous Blue Sharpie, and more at:
Note: Almost all HeckOfAGuy and DrHGuy posts contain different content.
And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – Julie’s Story & Video
... I never had a chance. I was - and this is the only word that fits - smitten. I still am.
She was smart and quick-witted, although it would take me 3 years to recognize that she was, in fact, much smarter than me, and then another 2 years to forgive her for that. She was also good-looking and unabashedly sexy.
And, we fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love.
Complementing the unlikely story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and - 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later - got together to spend an outrageously wonderful 20 years together before her death, a video, set to the poignant "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, is now available that evokes the role Julie, who died 10 years ago, continues to play in my life.
Clicking on Taste of LC - Heck Of A Guy and Taste of LC - DrHGuy finds posts from those sites that feature Leonard Cohen's choices in furniture, clothing (including suits, fedoras, caps, berets, other hats, boots and other footwear, swimsuits, and in at least one case cut-offs), art, jewelry, food, books, magazines, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, ... - all of which offer a different perspective on Leonard Cohen.
This Heck Of A Guy compilation includes unreleased Leonard Cohen performances over a 30+ year period.
Track List: Vol 1
1. Feels So Good (The Other Blues Song)
2. Book Of Longing
3. The Darkness
6. Do I Have to Dance All Night (1976)
7. Blues By The Jews
Track List: Vol 2
1. Red River Valley
2. Never Got To Love You (Duet with Anjani)
3. Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Ride Around
5. The Union Makes Us Strong
6. We Shall Not Be Moved
7. To Love Somebody
8. The Hypnotist (Poem)
9. Chelsea Hotel #1
10. There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me
11. Streets Of Laredo
12. Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Now, Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, the second collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs joins the popular The Other Leonard Cohen Album to offer fans of the iconic singer-songwriter a total of 3 CDs of musical treats. Another Other Leonard Cohen Album includes the following tracks plus liner notes by Sylvie Simmons.
1. Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul
2. Kevin Barry
3. Die Gedanken Sind Frei
4. Store Room
5. As Time Goes By
6. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on
7. Blessed is the Memory
8. Silent Night
9. Dead Song
10. Another Saturday Night
11. Ballad of the Absent Mare
13. The Butcher
14. Un As Der Rebbe Singt
15. Song to the Machines
16. If It Be Your Will
17. Thirsty for the Kiss
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep
19. I Tried To Leave You
20. Whither Thou Goest
21. Mr Cohen Must Be Going
Heck Of A Guy celebrates Leonard Cohen’s 77th birthday (September 21, 2011) with a video of scenes from Leonard Cohen’s life and photos of fans expressing their affection for Mr. Cohen, all set to “I Love Leonard Cohen” by Robin Grey.
Video – Jennifer Warnes’ Way Down Deep & Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep
The video begins with Jennifer Warnes singing the gorgeous but routinely overlooked "Way Down Deep," which is followed by Leonard Cohen's recitation of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" in Dublin to juxtapose the earliest performed precursor of Cohen's now classic "A Thousand Kisses Deep" with the most recent version.
Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling in the 1960s that, for unspecified reasons, was short-lived, with Cohen instigating the parting.
It was then and is now a complex connection. In 1988, Cohen said, I'm still very friendly with Joni - I had dinner with her before the tour, and I have the same admiration for her as you do. But I think it was Noel Harrison who came up to me in the LA Troubadour and said "How do you like living with Beethoven?"