Leonard Cohen

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So I just discovered Leonard Cohen thanks to a great documentary on Amazon Prime. Well, I’ve known about Cohen since I was in high school back in the sixties, but never really got him. To me back then, he was just another dreary folkie intellectual guy. Boring. Well, I was wrong.

To kick this off, here’s a trailer of the documentary on YouTube.

And if you have Amazon Prime Video, here’s the full show.

I’m not going to attempt to tell the whole story here, that’s what the video is for. But here’s a little story that offers a taste of what makes Cohen interesting to me. It seems he was a very soulful guy. Not just another stuffy intellectual, but a man of heart.

When Cohen was on tour he would often give a free concert at a local mental institution.

So one night they’re doing a show in an institution and some guy in the back starts trying to interrupt the concert. At first the band ignores this guy because they’re pros and have out lasted many a heckler before. But this guy won’t take no for an answer, and keeps raising his volume, demanding attention.

Finally Cohen stops the show and addresses the guy and says something like, “Ok, it’s your turn now, what would you like to say?”

The guy in the audience says, “Never mind about all your fancy guitars and stuff, I wanna know what you think about ME!”

So Cohen puts down his guitar, walks out in to the audience, and gives the guy a big 5 minute hug. Apparently that’s the answer the guy was looking for, so he’s happy now and the show can go on.

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then he gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover

And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind

Now, Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river
She’s wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they wil lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror

And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind

I love his songs. One of the places where I wish I had been was at his concert in Helsinki, held in a theater that seats 750 people. It was a little before he started to perform on stadiums for mega-audiences.

I can’t even figure how a Cohen show in a stadium actually worked, but I guess it did somehow.

Nice to hear someone exploring Cohen’s work. I became a fan in the 60’s and went a little deeper, getting a book of his poetry, learning to play some of his songs. There’s a lot of material about him now. I saw a great film in a theater-- “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”. Not this one. And there’s a great tribute concert video.

His music (and inspiration) was picked up by a lot of other artists. Bird on a Wire by Joe Cocker is just one of the great covers that comes to mind.

This was good. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-37971848

I know, huh? He played at (THE) Isle of Wight festival, so that might give an idea. On YouTube or somewhere, I’m pretty sure.

And it only took me over 50 years to get it. :slight_smile: