“A good song exists in very modest terms and also in Himalayan terms” Leonard Cohen

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In “Everybody Knows,” there is a line that I found deeply moving, “Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton, for our buttons and our bows,” which seems to be a fairly heavy indictment of capitalism.

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Whatever grip capitalism has on its constituents, it seems to be a more benign grip than any of the other systems that people have thought out. So I would resist, although not with a tremendous amount of interest in the matter, having it serve an anti-capitalist program. I think that a good song exists in very modest terms and also in Himalayan terms. I mean, it’s a thing to get you through the dishes. It provides a sound-track for your courting and for your solitude. That’s the modest element. Then there is an element in song which provides deep comfort and deep solace and stimulation for the imagination and courage. You can’t use it for something as deliberate as a program. It could be, but it falls away. A good song slips away from its dogma.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen:  Several Lifetimes Already by Cindy Bisaillon (Shambhala Sun, Jan, 1994). Originally posted Dec 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Unsung Guitar Hero: “Leonard Cohen had a unique guitar style and musical approach that are worthy of praise”

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When you hear the name Leonard Cohen, six-string mastery isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But, in addition to his craftsmanship as a poet and songwriter, Cohen had a unique guitar style and musical approach that are worthy of praise—certainly no less so than other influential guitarist-singer-songwriters like Neil Young. Sylvie Simmons, who wrote biographies of Cohen and Young, once said they both created a “one man genre.”

Cohen’s contribution lies within the Spanish and classical flavors he incorporated into his music. He built a musical bridge above the Atlantic Ocean, even if it was just by using a nylon-string guitar that was (and perhaps still is) considered less conventional in the “West.”

Opening paragraphs of Unsung Guitar Heroes: Tribute to Leonard Cohen by Udi Glaser (Guitar World: Dec 22, 2016). The complete article, including specific examples of Leonard Cohen’s finger-picking expertise, is available at the link. One of the examples is shown below:

EXAMPLE 1: It Takes You Down

In this example, you’ll find an intro in the style of “Suzanne.” It uses a picking pattern in 6/4 that uses a repeated bass line—root-5th—and that iconic “Conehic” sus4 note. This creates a sense of three parts: the bass, the chord arpeggios and an additional melodic line that derives from the added note, which turns a major chord almost into a “minor.”

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Bonus Leonard Cohen Feature

Guitar World also offers another recent article detailing Leonard Cohen’s guitar skills:  The Fingerpicking Finesse of Leonard Cohen by Dale Turner (Guitar World: Nov 15, 2016).

Credit Due Department: Photo atop post by Mandy MacLeod.

Video: After Final Leonard Cohen Concert, Mitch Watkins, Rafael Gayol & Roscoe Beck Perform “Christmas Time Is Here”

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After the last Leonard Cohen concert (Dec 21, 2013), band members Mitch Watkins, Rafael Gayol, and Roscoe Beck recorded an elegant version of “Christmas Time Is Here” for fans.

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs Heart With No Companion – Toronto 2008

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While this is not a pristine video, it is entertaining to watch and the audio is good. In addition, it has redeeming features, including the fact that Heart With No Companion is a personal favorite of mine. It is also the song used to spotlight brief solo efforts by each of the band members. And, finally, this is one of the few decent quality videos from the early portion of the 2008 Leonard Cohen Tour.

Leonard Cohen – Heart With No Companion
Toronto: June 5, 2008
Video by backpackdave2008

Note: Originally posted June 8, 2008 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen And The Dogs In His Life

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Leonard Cohen (10 months) and Kelef (age unknown). July 1935.

Leonard & Tinkie – A Boy & His Dog

While Leonard Cohen’s first canine playmate was Kelef (see photo atop this post), the most important dog in his life was his family’s pet through most of his childhood, Tinkie (also spelled “Tinky” and “Tinke” in various publications).

As a child, Cohen had a small Scottish terrier, nicknamed Tinkie for the tinkle of his license and identification tags. His parents surprised him with the dog as a gift … His mother had actually named the dog Tovarishch, but his father disliked the reminder of the site of the Russo-German treaties. Tinkie disappeared in a snowstorm fifteen years later and was found dead under a neighbor’s porch the next spring. The dog had been one of Cohen’s closest childhood companions; Cohen still keeps a picture of Tinkie in his Los Angles home. To this day he refuses to get another dog…1

Tinkie, Esther Cohen, Leonard Cohen

He apparently also has a photo of the same pet at his Montreal home, as indicated in this excerpt from a 2007  interview that describes  the interior of that house:

He will explain all: the eclectic collection of objects in his house – the black-and-white picture of the dog on the pine sideboard (it’s of Tinky, the Scotch terrier he grew up with) that sits beside a modernist sculpture in silver by his childhood friend, Mort Rosengarten, …2

And, he tells about how he felt about Tinkie and how Tinkie died in this excerpt from a 2001 interview:

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  1. Various Positions by Ira Nadel. 1996 []
  2. Leonard Cohen – Life Of A Ladies’ Man by Sarah Hampson. The Globe & Mail: May 26, 2007 []

Warning Sign #30: You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If –

On vacation, you realize that the obvious sequelae to the Leonard Cohen Montreal murals are Kaanapali-appropriate Leonard Cohen Maui murals.

Since the publication of the official criteria for the prototypical Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis, 301.LC Cohenphilic Personality Disorder, the Cohencentric Leonard Cohen Fan Disorders Asylum and Sanitarium has received numerous messages asking if one or another behavior is a symptom characteristic of a Leonard Cohen fan. Consequently, Cohencentric is publishing, as a public service, signs which indicate that one is at high risk of being a full-fledged Leonard Cohen fan.

All published You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … entries can be found at the You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … Page

The Incredibly Unofficial Leonard Cohen Gift Guide: On Tour With Leonard Cohen By Sharon Robinson – Preview Photos + Reviews

The Incredibly Unofficial Leonard Cohen Gift Guide

Now that we’re in the holiday season, the question inevitably arises:

What is a good gift for a Leonard Cohen fan?

The obvious choices, recordings and official merchandise, are – well – obvious. Most Cohenites, for example, already own all the albums (usually in least three formats) as well as any of the official merchandise they actually want. And how many fedoras can one own without appearing a hipster wannabe? So, as a public service, Cohencentric is offering The Incredibly Unofficial Leonard Cohen Gift Guide, featuring – oh, let’s go with more imaginative gift offerings such as the item that inspired the Guide, A Scarf Like Leonard’s. Today’s recommendation is a unique volume of Leonard Cohen photos:

On Tour with Leonard Cohen By Sharon Robinson

Official Description:

On Tour with Leonard Cohen documents the wildly successful Leonard Cohen World Tour through the eyes of his friend and longtime collaborator, Sharon Robinson. In 2004 Cohen’s manager stole his life savings, forcing him out of planned retirement into what has now become a legendary six-year sojourn.

Sharon Robinson has been associated with Cohen since the Field Commander Cohen tour of 1979-80, first as a singer and subsequently as his co-writer and producer. She was drafted into the current iteration of Cohen’s band, The Unified Heart Touring Company, from the onset, and has literally been at his side for over 400 shows. Robinson has captured her experience behind the scenes with the complete freedom afforded her by her unique position.

On Tour with Leonard Cohen
 is an impressionistic view of what it was like to be on tour with the legendary singer-songwriter poet. Robinson reveals the nitty-gritty of day-to-day life of the road, onstage and behind the scenes, and the chemistry of Cohen and his supporting artists, together on an incredible journey across the globe, their hearts and minds focused on the next show.

Available at Amazon

Sound Check at the Paramount Theater – Oakland 2013

Reviews

Leonard Cohen, Up Close: Collaborator Sharon Robinson on Her New Photos of the Enigmatic Musician by Amy Ephron (Vogue: Dec 9, 2014) Excerpt:

Her publisher calls it “impressionistic.” It is a book of photographs, 92 percent of which were shot on an iPhone, which gives them a curious sense of intimacy, spontaneity, and complicity, echoing, in a way, the particular closeness of Ms. Robinson and Mr. Cohen’s relationship. Some of the images are haunting: the selfie that the book opens with; the image of Cohen’s hats (of course, he would have multiple) laid out on the lit makeup counter of a dressing room, the hats reflected in the mirror, the many hats of Leonard Cohen; the amazingly humble and hilarious shot of Cohen at a Laundromat that Robinson calls Clean Clothes; and an image of Cohen walking away, his image framed by a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture in Manhattan.

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Photos: Leonard Cohen & Lewis Furey

Leonard Cohen Offers Typewriter To Lewis Furey

In the brand new issue of @LQ_Mag, Lewis Furey tells me about the typewriter his mentor Leonard Cohen once offered him, “because he could not decipher my little hand-scribbled poems. [Translated by Google]