“You need this love to be grounded, until there is no difference between you and your love, or what you love or what you are. It’s just the one thing.” Leonard Cohen

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My old teacher told me that the older you get and the lonelier you get, the deeper is your need for love. Like everyone else, I have looked for such deep love. And as you get older, you need this love to be grounded, until there is no difference between you and your love, or what you love or what you are. It’s just the one thing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen als Zen-Mönch, a video shot during one of the several visits Leonard Cohen and Roshi made to a Zen Center in Austria from 1990 to 1996. Quotation interpreted and, in part, translated by Rike.

Note: “My old teacher” is Roshi. The words quoted are from a videotaped interview that is overdubbed in German. This quotation as represented comprises Leonard Cohen’s words in English except portions obscured by the overdubbing, in which case a translation of the German overdubbing is used.  In this quotation, for example, the phrase “be grounded” is an English translation of the German narration.

A similar Leonard Cohen quotation can be viewed at Leonard Cohen on being asked “What is the best advice you have ever received?”

“Save The Last Dance For Me,” Doc Pomus, & Leonard Cohen

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Doc Pomus 1947

Poignant Origins Of “Save The Last Dance For Me”

“Save The Last Dance For Me,” a song Leonard Cohen has frequently covered in concerts since the 2012 Ghent shows, was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and was  first recorded and popularized in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters. In the lyrics, the narrator tells his lover she is free to dance and even flirt with another man throughout the evening.

You can dance
Ev’ry dance with the guy
Who gives you the eye
Let him hold you tight
You can smile
Ev’ry smile for the man who held your hand
‘Neath the pale moonlight

He goes on, however, to insist that she save him the final dance at the end of the night.

But don’t forget who’s taking you home
And in whose arms you’re gonna be
So darlin’, save the last dance for me

This excerpt from the New  York Times1 describes how Doc Pomus, who had contracted polio as a child and spent the rest of his life on crutches or confined to a wheelchair, came to pen the lyrics to  “Save The Last Dance For Me:”

The crowning achievement was the Drifters’ sublime “Save The Last Dance For Me.” In a story straight out of Hollywood, Pomus actually wrote the lyrics on the back of an invitation to his own wedding, remembering how it felt to watch his bride dance with his brother, knowing that he himself was unable to navigate a dance floor. “Under his pen,” Halberstadt writes, “the simple declaration of love he set out to write wavered, giving way to vulnerability and fear.”2

Willi Burke, the woman who married Doc Pomus, was a Broadway actress and dancer.

Possible Cohen Connections

Continue Reading →

  1. This Magic Moment by Alan Light. New York Times, March 25, 2007 []
  2. Unsurprisingly, there are several versions of this story. During an interview on Elvis Costello’s show Spectacle, Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus’ wedding while the wheelchair-bound groom watched his bride dancing with their guests. In his biography of Pomus, Alex Halberstadt reports that some time after the wedding, Pomus found the wedding invitation in a hatbox, which brought back his most vivid memory from his wedding: watching his brother Raoul dance with his new wife while Doc, who had polio, sat in his wheelchair. Inspired, he stayed up all night writing the words to this song on the back of the invitation. []

Neil Larsen – The Impeccable & Nearly Invisible Leonard Cohen World Tour Keyboardist, Part 1

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Neil Larsen - Oakland 2010

Neil Larsen – Oakland 2010

Those Rare, Unconfirmed Sightings Of Neil Larsen During The Leonard Cohen World Tour

While membership in any backup band dooms all but the most flamboyant to semi-invisibility for the duration of the gig, Neil Larsen, who played keyboards throughout the Leonard Cohen World Tour, must be in the running for Best Camouflaged Musician.

Some portion of this obscurity can legitimately be laid at the legs of his musical instruments of choice.

After all, when one is, as per Leonard Cohen’s introduction, “today’s foremost exponent of the Hammond B-3 Organ,” one’s value as a musician depends on remaining within reach of an instrument that, even in its (relatively) lightweight keyboard version1 does not lend itself to, for example, sprinting the length of the stage in emulation of Bruce Springsteen. And since the bulky instruments are typically positioned in the rear of the stage off to one side, the musicians playing them are also delegated to the periphery of the performance area.

Neil Larsen’s existence in (literally) the shadows on stage was, in fact, the inspiration for

The Where’s Neil Larsen? Game

where-neil Continue Reading →

  1. A full sized model, including bench and pedalboard, weighs in at  425 pounds/193 kg. (Wikipedia) []

Video: 1993 Leonard Cohen Interview – Songwriting, Life, Death, Sex, Religion, & A Wine That Lends Special Resonance To His Music

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In this December 3, 1993 interview with Laurie Brown on CBC, Leonard Cohen talks about poetry, writing and singing songs, dealing with the absurdity and pain of life, sex & religion as healing activities, significance & solitude in the cosmos, and his discovery of a vintage of wine that produced a “special resonance” in his musical performance.

Singular Photos From Jennifer Warnes: Leonard Cohen Soundcheck – Israel 1972

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Jennifer Warnes Contributes Rare Images

These singular photos1 from Jennifer Warnes’ private stash were taken by Sherry Suris at either the April 19, 1972 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv soundcheck or the April 20, 1972 Jerusalem soundcheck.

3-12Musicians: 1972 Leonard Cohen Tour

  • Leonard Cohen: Guitar, Vocals
  • Ron Cornelius: Guitar
  • Bob Johnston: Keyboards
  • Peter Marshall: Bass
  • David O’Connor Guitar
  • Jennifer Warnes: Vocals
  • Donna Washburn: Vocals

Source: Is This What You Wanted? by Jim Devlin

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2-1`2Credit Due Department: These photos are posted here exclusively through the generosity of Jennifer Warnes. Special thanks go to David Rubin, without whose assistance this posting would not have taken place.

Note: Originally posted Oct 3, 2013 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. OK, in this case, “singular” means “I don’t recall seeing, these photos previously []

First Professional Appearance Of Leonard & Adam Cohen Together In A Music Video – Montreal 1985

termsunxOK, we think it’s Adam in the video (when asked, Adam responded “Looks like me but I really don’t remember!”). And, OK, the duration of the Cohen duo on screen is a bit less than 3 seconds. And, yes, the professional fee was one cool pair of sunglasses. Still, …

The video in which the Cohens appear showcases a band called Terminal Sunglasses performing Psycho Rail. Terminal Sunglasses, according to the group’s web site,

were part of the Montreal punk/new wave/alternative music scene from 1983 to 1985. Labelled an “avant-garage” band, they updated 60’s garage band influences and Velvet Underground avant-guard tendencies with 1980’s punk sensibilities.

That site is administered by Lawrence Joseph, a band member whose musical role is described as “twisted lead and spastic rhythm guitars, background mumbles and Latin percussion.” From his account., the video was filmed on Montreal’s St Laurent Blvd, “near the old location of the Montreal Pool Room, a bit north of Dorchester on the west side of St Laurent.”

To my query asking if Leonard Cohen materializing in the middle of the Terminal Sunglasses video was serendipitous, Lawrence replied

Yes, Cohen was just walking by and we were kind of taking up a lot of space on the sidewalk and drawing a crowd of weirdo gawkers. He stopped to ask us what was going on. His girlfriend saw we were all wearing cool sunglasses, so we made a deal with him: We would give his girlfriend a free pair of cool sunglasses, and in exchange he would appear in the video. So it was with his permission and we sort of paid him a “fee,”1 but it was otherwise just lucky that he was walking by that day. At the very least he was with his girlfriend, and quite possibly his son was there too, but I do not have a specific memory of that. His son did not come to speak to us, and many people were crowding around.

I did ask Lawrence if he knew the identity of the girlfriend:

Unfortunately, after 30 years, no and no. Maybe longish brown hair, I have a vague recollection about that, but I would not swear to it. Not very helpful, sorry.

The Michael Jackson Cameo

By the way, Michael Jackson also appears at the end of the video. Again, Lawrence provides some detail:

Same thing with Michael Jackson at the end of the video. He just happened to be out driving around the corn fields of Ste Anne-de-Bellevue where we were filming that day. Unlike Cohen he did not stop to talk with us, and instead littered the roadway with a Pepsi can. Two completely different personalities.

The Video: Terminal Sunglasses – Psycho Rail

The Cohens arrive at 2:15

Credit Due Department: Esther Park alerted me to this Cohen cameo and was the one who contacted Adam Cohen to ask if he recalled the incident. Esther found out about the video from a LeonardCohenForum post by Helen Ketcham.

Note: Originally posted Sept 28, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. DrHGuy Note: Given the loss of song rights, the lackluster promotion by record companies, and the fiscal problems that marked all but the last five years of Leonard Cohen’s career, a strong argument can be made that scoring a pair of sunglasses for a mini-cameo was one of the better deals the Canadian singer-songwriter struck at that point.On the other hand, he didn’t get to keep the sunglasses himself, so … []

Video: Leonard Cohen Featuring Javier Mas – Who By Fire, Brussels 2013

And who by fire, who by water,
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
Who in your merry merry month of may,
Who by very slow decay,
And who shall I say is calling?

Leonard Cohen, featuring Javier Mas – Who By Fire
Brussels: June 30, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

Note: Originally posted July 6, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I even danced and sang with the Hare Krishnas” Leonard Cohen On His Spiritual Investigations

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I participated in all these investigations that engaged the imagination of my generation at that time. I even danced and sang with the Hare Krishnas—no robe, I didn’t join them, but I was trying everything.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016)

For the record, Leonard could dance while wearing a robe; check out Jikan Gets Jiggy

Recommended Reading: El Montreal de Leonard Cohen [Leonard Cohen’s Montreal]

Suzanne Cohen alerts us to El Montreal de Leonard Cohen [Leonard Cohen’s Montreal] by José Manuel Abad Liñán (El Pais: July 14, 2017), an article that integrates Montreal’s geography with pertinent portions of Leonard’s biography. The following excerpt offers a sense of the piece as well as its ability to be read in Google Translate English:

Although many of his own or adapted lyrics distill political dyes (The Partisan, Democracy, First We Take Manhattan), Cohen always flew over the political conflict between communities that has shaken Québec life in the last decades, even in the hardest years , With the attacks of the Liberation Front of Quebec. When a French-speaking journalist urged her to say why she had not supported the region’s struggle for independence in the late 1970s, he replied: “I am in favor of the Free State of Montreal. I do not live in a country, I live in a neighborhood, in a universe apart from the rest. I am neither Canadian nor Quebec. I am, and always will be, from Montreal. ” His political stances were like his fashion, elegant. He tiptoed through all the fashions because he always knew that even if they gave prominence at the beginning, then they could weigh him down.

Cohencentric posts on Leonard’s hometown are collected at

Credit Due Department: Photo by Sally Hunter