Musings on the byways of popular culture
11/11/2016 by Sitheref2409 86 Comments
Has passed away.
I’m a bit bummed by this
11/11/2016 at 02:00
Me too. Very very sad. Good innings and all that, but he’s been part of our lives for so long – mine, anyway.
Johnny Concheroo says
11/11/2016 at 02:29
I didn’t think Canadians played cricket? Sorry, it’s the obvious response.
I only saw him twice, with a 40 year gap between the shows. Isle of Wight 1970 and a stadium show in Perth in the naughties. The recent concert was by far the best.
Who wants to bet that the general tone of the obits will be “he was a better poet than Dylan” as if it was a contest.
11/11/2016 at 03:51
Sorry for the autocorrect, that’s “noughties” of course.
11/11/2016 at 05:44
I know you’re joking, JC, but actually Canadians do play cricket, if not as enthusiastically as other outposts of Empire. In fact the annual match between Canada and USA is the oldest cricket fixture in the world, going back to 1844.
11/11/2016 at 05:50
I did think something like that after I posted. I know there were a few unexpected names in the Cricket World Cup qualifiers, such as Scotland, Hong Kong, Canada, USA, Kenya, Nepal, UAE etc
11/11/2016 at 07:54
I believe it is also the oldest international sports fixture of any kind.
The engine Driver says
11/11/2016 at 11:05
dwightstrut, you’re correct, it is also the oldest rugby union international in the world
11/11/2016 at 12:52
Ah, that’s Scotland/England in Raeburn Place in 1871
11/11/2016 at 10:52
Not only that but when the West Indies joined the elite it the vote was between either them or the USA. Now that would have been interesting.
Junior Wells says
11/11/2016 at 02:12
I rarely listen to his stuff but regret not seeing those late period shows. People still talk about them. And if he hadn’t been ripped off by his advisers that renaissance would have never happened.
11/11/2016 at 02:17
11/11/2016 at 02:20
Like the Dame, he left us one last great album.
11/11/2016 at 02:26
He did. And this message to Marianne just before she passed away says it all:
“‘Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine”.
11/11/2016 at 02:33
11/11/2016 at 03:09
The “I think” in the last line is excellent.
Dodger Lane says
11/11/2016 at 07:37
Indeed so, that’s lovely.
count jim moriarty says
11/11/2016 at 15:59
It’s playing now.
It’s all Bowie’s fault of course. Ever the trendsetter, dying at the beginning of the year. Too many have followed his lead this year.
RIP Laughing Len.
hubert rawlinson says
11/11/2016 at 03:13
Very sad news indeed.
“There is a crack in everything … that’s how the light gets in.”
11/11/2016 at 03:16
If I was a Buddhist, like Leonard was, I’d say he he was a kind of bodhisattva who hung around in this world for so many years to enlighten us. But I’m not, so I can’t, even though I would like to. It’s a shame he’s passed on.
11/11/2016 at 05:27
Scarcely unexpected, but that is dreadfully sad news.
What a legacy of wonderful songs he gave to the world.
11/11/2016 at 19:19
All the vocal performances that Jennifer Warnes gives on “Famous Blue Raincoat” are superb.
But her singing on “Song of Bernadette” is just … supernatural.
11/11/2016 at 05:35
Very sad – saw two of his last shows and they were amongst the best gigs I ever saw. Obviously a good innings but shocked because I didn’t know he was ill and Adam had said recently he was half way through another album.
11/11/2016 at 15:58
Those recent interview snippets revealed his frailty, so I’m not terribly surprised, but I’m sad that I never got to any of his “renaissance” shows. And that he won’t be writing any more of those great, great songs.
11/11/2016 at 05:52
After his 60s/70s heyday Leonard had slipped from my radar, until I saw this in 1993. The love affair was duly rekindled
Makka Pakka says
11/11/2016 at 20:35
I remember watching this when it was first broadcast and what the clip doesn’t show is the camera backing away to see the other acts on that night (Aztec Camera and Jellyfish) all playing along at the end, always thought that was rather wonderful. I always thought there was something odd at play between Len and his backing singer in this clip, in the booklet notes to the later DVD that this track is on Jools says that he appears to tie her hands behind her back during the song !
Harry Tufnell says
11/11/2016 at 06:23
A singer must die…
11/11/2016 at 06:52
I hate 2016. Sail on Leonard.
11/11/2016 at 07:06
That’s how to do it, at a good age, having just released new and acclaimed work, and with one of the greatest catalogues of song ever written as a legacy. So long Leonard. I’ll raise a glass tonight and play the music as long as I live.
11/11/2016 at 21:06
Seconded. Couldn’t put it any better.
11/11/2016 at 07:12
Suddenly the night has grown colder.
11/11/2016 at 07:59
How very apt and his most poignant love song.
11/11/2016 at 07:33
Saw him down in Brighton in 2008 when he was a sprightly 75 year old crazy kid with a dream. Made a large hall feel like your front room.
Listening to the Live at the 02 album on the way into London today, what an incredible band cradling that voice just the other side of intimacy. Immaculate
11/11/2016 at 12:04
11/11/2016 at 07:47
If it be your will, that I speak no more…
A very sad day
11/11/2016 at 16:29
If it be your will introduced by Leonard, sung by the Webb Sisters is one of my very favourite songs – makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Been listening to his music all morning to/from London. But not just because he died – was listening to Old Ideas at the weekend. What a fine album that is.
He was perhaps the best lyricist in terms of invoking a spirituality that no-one else could ever reach yet humour too ‘I ache in the places where I used to play’.
12/11/2016 at 16:19
I hadn’t heard the Webb Sisters version. Thanks for referencing it. Always loved the juxtaposition of Cohen’s voice with Jennifer Warnes’ absurdly angelic voice on the original, but the Webb Sisters version is gorgeous too.
11/11/2016 at 07:57
Yikes, didn’t expect this news. Somehow a little more acceptable than Bowie, having graced the extra decade into a “normal” longevity, but just as tragic a loss, just as much a giant, if gentler. As so many have said, his comeback was a miracle of karma. The only performer who could make the ghastly ghastly NEC seem somehow intimate.
11/11/2016 at 07:58
You’ve got that sinking feeling, like your father or your dog just died?
11/11/2016 at 08:10
Please forgive a little self-indulgence. Here’s my review for the 2010 concert mentioned above. It appeared in a local newspaper.
LEONARD COHEN – nib Stadium, Perth – November 24, 2010
nib Stadium is the home of Perth Glory FC, which is where veteran footballer Robbie Fowler plies his trade these days. So it was somehow fitting that 10,000 Leonard Cohen fans, most of them the wrong side of 40, should gather here to welcome possibly the hippest 76 year-old still treading the boards.
Those who have seen any of Leonard’s recent live DVDs would have felt the warm glow of familiarity here. Constantly doffing his trilby between songs like an affable Edwardian grocer, Cohen mugged and quipped his way through a three hour set which gave the crowd exactly what they’d paid for and more besides.
The band was note-perfect throughout, while the UK-born Webb Sisters almost stole the show with a quite sublime version of If It Be Your Will.
Leonard’s betwixt-song patter was well worn, but hugely entertaining all the same, especially his convoluted band/crew introductions, including a shout out to “the custodian of the hats”.
This was the final date of the Australian tour and two extended encores dragged the show deep into an unseasonably cold Perth night prompting the Webb Sisters to don gloves and scarves for the final run-in.
Few surprises then, but with songs as good as this, who needs them?
How old is too old? Leonard seems to be having the time of his life out on tour and shows no sign of slowing down. Chrissie Hynde was in Perth on a double header with Debbie Harry and finished her set early across town so she could catch the end of Leonard’s show. Respect!
11/11/2016 at 09:36
“doffing his trilby between songs an affable Edwardian grocer”. What a wonderful description!
Glad you posted it.
11/11/2016 at 09:40
Vulpes Vulpes says
11/11/2016 at 08:18
He’s asleep for a moment on the road, let’s steer for him.
11/11/2016 at 09:35
I bought his last album in Fopp London about a fortnight ago and the very enthusiastic sales assistant told me that it was their bestselling item at the time, outselling the Kings of Leon for example. So he went out at a kind of peak.
11/11/2016 at 09:39
I’ve been waiting on the vinyl which keeps getting delayed but was going to pop into Fopp on way home today and get CD alongside a couple of new releases. Hope they have some left
And you know I’ll have to tell this to the assistant so they don’t think I’m a ghoulish civilian 🙂
11/11/2016 at 10:00
A long life well lived, a living legacy and, I assume, a satisfied mind long before the end. Buddhists would probably say that sadness for one’s own loss is indulgent here, rather we should feel joy for the soul released. But bollocks to that, I’ll miss the old goat.
With I’m Your Man and The Future Len showed that middle age can be cool and sexy, and then, impossibly, he pulled the same trick with old age with his recent tours.
Alexandra Leaving is the greatest song about love and loss ever
Suddenly the night has grown colder
The god of love preparing to depart
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart
Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine
It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost
11/11/2016 at 10:51
Deeply saddened by this.
What a body of work.
What a mensch.
Thanks for everything, laughing Len.
11/11/2016 at 12:03
Just heard a brief clip DONOVAN talking about Len on the Radio 2 news.
11/11/2016 at 12:41
Did he claim to have introduced Len to misery and depression?
Black Type says
11/11/2016 at 15:16
I feel that our own sense of grief and loss will be as nothing against that felt by DONOVAN.
11/11/2016 at 22:34
From DONOVAN”s Facebook page today:
Donovan Tribute to Leonard Cohen
I join the many tributes today for the passing on of the Great Poet Leonard Cohen.
Leonard once said he would be remembered only as a minor Poet of the Mid Twentieth Century. This is characteristic of Leonard’s understated humour. Leonard is a major Poet and we hail his body of work this day!
Last October just passed I was in Berkley California at the home studio of our friend Mandy Aftel, admiring a painting of Leonards, a recent gift to Mandy from Leonard. The gift in praise of Mandy’s Natural Fragrance blending, which Leonard loved to wear.
In the London of the Sixties, Leonards first album was ‘de rigueur’ in every young artistic girl and boys flat.
I stayed at Leonard’s Greek house on Hydra one summer and knew that Leonard was from the Classical Poetic Tradition, with a special love of the work of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
Thank you Leonard for being a champion of Poetry and encouraging all Poets to excel in this Dark Age of Unreason and Uncertainty!
Donovan & Linda Leitch
11/11/2016 at 23:08
Crikey, that was humble!
He Does Like His Capitals, doesn’t He? 😉
12/11/2016 at 00:17
You can see he’s aligning himself with Leonard as a POET though.
13/11/2016 at 09:45
Judging by that he certainly has no command of prose.
13/11/2016 at 03:18
‘I stayed at Leonard’s Greek house on Hydra one summer’ – yes, but was Leonard there, DON?
13/11/2016 at 03:42
For some reason I’m reminded of the Spike Milligan line (apologies if I’ve remembered it wrong):
Did you go to Oxford?
Yes, just to fix the drains mate.
Moose the Mooche says
13/11/2016 at 09:55
Eton, mmmmate, Eton!
See also Jeffrey Archole’s claims to have been to Winchester School, which turned out to mean that he’d, er, been to a school in Winchester.
13/11/2016 at 09:58
Do you have the actual quote? I couldn’t find it.
13/11/2016 at 11:15
You won’t do, because I got it wrong. From Wiki: “In 1951, Archer won a scholarship to Wellington School, in Somerset, not Wellington College in Berkshire, as he was inclined to claim in the past”
Similarly I went to a comprehensive secondary school called Toll Bar and am wont to précis this as “At the age of eleven I was called to the Bar”
11/11/2016 at 12:21
His demise is now confirmed, Dr. Death has just gave us his thoughts on Radio 2
Very, very sad day indeed. A man with a big heart asked if we want it darker and he delivered. Thank you for everything, Mr. Cohen, sir and bon voyage.
11/11/2016 at 16:24
BBC4 have altered their schedule tonight to accommodate some Len TV:
11/11/2016 at 23:20
For those shallow folk like me who are now moved/inspired to finally get around to buying the back catalogue, the Complete Studio Albums Box Set (11 discs up to 2004) is currently available at Amazon for the princely sum of £23.09!
When I say ‘currently available’, they don’t have it in stock at the moment, but it comes with a free mp3 version that you can download immediately, and you don’t get charged until the physical item is (eventually) dispatched. I’m sure the price will rise exponentially in the days to come.
12/11/2016 at 12:40
Worth noting to those who may be interested, all of the albums have been excellently remastered and (especially the early ones) have never sounded better.
12/11/2016 at 00:39
My first action today was to gasp aloud and leap out of bed. The clock radio said “6:58 AM” but the clock must be slow as I was awakened by the 7.00 AM news on Radio 4. My second and third actions were to clean the kitchen and go for a two hour walk. I told myself that I was doing what Leonard would do in some muddled Zen Buddhist way. Bollocks of course. I think I was in denial or shock. Leonard Cohen has been a major part of my life for 45 years (details below). It has taken me until this evening to compose myself. I wish I was able to articulate just what his music and personality mean to me but I am not adequate.
I was able to help bring some of his music to the world though. I have traded unofficial recordings by Leonard for many years, and even recorded his concerts myself. I played a part in finding, distributing and mastering many recordings over the years, including the BBC In Concert tape from 1968 and the Montreux soundboard recording from 1976. I think my minidisk recording of the Big Chill show in 2008 is the only one to exist. This is what I posted on my Facebook page earlier this evening:
I have John Peel to thank for introducing me to the cosmic glory that is – and will ever be – the music of Leonard Cohen. Peel played some tracks from Songs Of Love And Hate on Top Gear in 1971 and I bought a copy just as soon as I could afford to. I am listening to that very same copy right now.
I first saw Leonard at the Royal Albert Hall on the eve of the great man’s fortieth birthday. Now, that would have been September 20th 1974. I went in the company of my great friend Nigel if I remember correctly. Leonard was funny and moving in equal measures and joked about “getting old”. If only he knew?
Leonard Cohen supplied me with many unforgettable concert memories over the 20 or so times I saw him perform. Perhaps the most memorable was a cold snowy night at Birmingham Odeon just before Christmas 1979. It is the atmosphere that I remember most clearly – a heightened sense of perception shared by audience and performers alike and a sense of ardent fervour and spiritual reverence that I have never experienced since. That marathon show ended with Leonard, Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson singing a beautiful version of Silent Night. I am not a religious person but I was in some exalted state that night. Leonard was the greatest – and funniest – live performer that I ever saw.
The other memory that I would like to share came nearly 30 years later when Leonard performed at Glastonbury Festival in 2008. There was something unique in the ether that afternoon. Although the performance was similar to others I had seen at Manchester Opera House earlier that summer somehow or other Leonard sprinkled magic over the audience and held our hearts in thrall. It was during So Long Marianne that I looked around and realised that the entire audience at the front of the Pyramid Stage were all weeping, not with sadness or anything dark but simply overcome by a sense of something primal and quite wonderful to experience.
Thank you Leonard; you created magic.
12/11/2016 at 11:27
12/11/2016 at 12:41
Thanks for posting that, beautifully expressed.
13/11/2016 at 14:45
Beautiful, Artery. Multiple ups from me. Thank you.
12/11/2016 at 00:49
The TV news are referring to Leonard as “The Godfather of Gloom, whose most famous song was Hallelujah”.
I’ve never heard Leonard called that except as a joke, And Hallelujah is a 1984 track. Tim Buckley cover version notwithstanding, can it really be Len’s most famous song 20+ years into his career?
12/11/2016 at 01:32
Actually, it probably is the one that non-fans will be most aware of, as Rufus Wainwright’s version featured in Shrek, and it was the featured song performed by the finalists of X Factor 2008, subsequently becoming a No 1 for the winner Alexandra Burke.
12/11/2016 at 01:25
It certainly is. Blame X-Factor 2008 and the execrable Alexandra Burke version produced by Simon Cowell.
However, it is a great song. Leonard has many more great songs than anyone except Dylan. Here’s a few:
Last Year’s Man
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Joan Of Arc
So Long Marianne
Sisters Of Mercy
By the way, many of those jokey epithets are Leonard’s own. “Grocer of Despair” certainly is – it’s a song lyric.
12/11/2016 at 11:25
“produced by Simon Cowell”, are you sure? The impression I get is that he’s never set foot in a recording studio in his life.
12/11/2016 at 14:29
Well, it was his idea to use the song in X-Factor. Doesn’t he have some interest in the royalties? All Leonard’s copyrights were sold off by his crooked manager Kelly Lynch while Leo was in the monastery. She trousered the proceeds. Wonder how she feels about his passing? Mortified by guilt I hope.
12/11/2016 at 03:04
I know it’s been covered by every man and his dog, but is it really better than all those 60s songs? Or is that just the civilian vote speaking?
Arthur Cowslip says
12/11/2016 at 10:39
I’m not a huge LC fan. Just never found the time or inclination to get into him. And, even though I don’t like X Factor or Shrek, I would say Hallelujah is the song of his I’m most familiar with. I’ve even performed it a couple of times with a singer I used to play with.
And yes I do think it jumps out at me far more than his other stuff. I’ve heard Suzanne, Last Year’s Man, First We Take Manhattan…. but as a non fan I’d say Hallelujah stands out as timeless.
I suppose if you have a knowledge of his stuff and consider Hallelujah only a minor 80s track that might sound weird. Similarly as a Bowie fan I find it incomprehensible when people like, say, Just Dance, and don’t know the deeper stuff.
12/11/2016 at 11:02
Just Dance? That must be a really deep cut…never heard it 😉
12/11/2016 at 11:07
Leonard himself believed Anthem to be his best song. Trying to be impartial and disregard “favourites” I do think that Hallelujah is up there with any song ever written by anyone. It was so even in 1984 when it sneaked out on the New Positions LP. The problem was that Hallelujah did not receive a definitive recording at that time as the LP was a victim of 1980s shit production values. It was a tour de force live production on Leonard’s 1985 world tour and Dylan performed it live in 1988. Because it had become a standard in 2008 Leonard himself played a slightly muted arrangement live, not wanting to seem arrogant.
Take This Waltz is another song that achieves greatness.
Thanks for those two thoughtful contributions, Artery.
Take away “Jazz Police” (of course), and I’d say that the standard of songwriting on “I’m Your Man” is at a stratospheric level from start to finish (although admittedly “Take This Waltz” wasn’t quite a 100% Cohen original, as it was based on a Garcia Lorca poem). The production now sounds a little dated, but the songs are uniformly brilliant. Just incredible.
13/11/2016 at 11:26
Anthem is basically reprised on the current album’s Treaty.
David Kendal says
12/11/2016 at 13:39
Wasn’t it John Cale’s cover version on a 1991 Leonard Cohen tribute album that started the song’s rise? With just a piano accompaniment he highlighted the beautiful simplicity of the tune, which got lost in the Casio backing on the original, and others like Jeff Buckley picked up on it.
12/11/2016 at 14:09
Kathryn Williams paid tribute last night in Nottingham.
14/11/2016 at 23:01
She also wrote a lovely piece as tribute
12/11/2016 at 18:06
There are some cracking Hallelujahs out there, as well as some stinkers. Here are the ones I like. Bonio’s abomination, of course, I won’t allow in the house.
The Blue Eyed Shark Experience, Jeff Buckley, Kathryn Williams,Keren Ann, LeAnn Rimes, Lucky Jim, Michael McDonald, Rufus Wainwright, Sara Gazarek, Sheryl Crow, Mary Coughlan, Brandi Carlile & the Settle, The Waterboys, Willie Nelson, Yasmin Levy.
Strangely I don’t take to the Cale version, but that may just be prejudice.
Cohen never really did it justice until he started performing it almost as a cover this last decade of touring.
13/11/2016 at 14:31
1. To my shame, I came to Leonard Cohen rather late. I blame the NME.
For 10 years, from 1977 onwards, Cohen had been the butt of jokes and sarcasm in Britain’s hippest music paper. Whenever they wanted to mention an artist who was hopelessly boring and unhip, they’d somehow pick on Len. And, foolish me, I bought it.
I have Jennifer Warnes to thank for taking the blinkers off me. I loved and bought her version of “First We Take Manhattan” as a 7″ single. I then taped the “Famous Blue Raincoat” album from soneone, and my mind was blown. I only needed one listen to songs like Coming Back to You and I came so Far for Beauty to realise that I’d been missing a very special artist indeed.
2. The two one-hour interviews that Leonard gave to Swedish television’s Stina Dabrowski in 1997 and 2001 remain the best TV interviews I’ve ever seen with a person from the world of popular music. They’re both viewable on Youtube. Cohen’s responses are warm, witty, thoughtful – just as you’d expect.
3. Ironically, we have much to thank Kelley Lynch for. If she hadn’t swindled Cohen out of all that cash, the great man probably wouldn’t have got back on the road to play those hundreds of concerts between 2008 and 2013. It meant that I was finally able to see Leonard live – twice, in fact. Both times in Stockholm. My expectations were high, but they were surpassed, both times.
4. As a number of people have already said, Cohen seemed to be in a good place before his death. He was ready. So rest easy, Leanord. Thanks for the music, and – even more so – thanks for the words.
This is a clip of him doing “The Partisan” in Warsaw in 1985. It’s not the greatest quality video of all time, but it is a fine performance. And it’s clear from Cohen’s opening remarks that Poland was a special place from him to perform in…
13/11/2016 at 14:37
Was there ever a musician who surrounded himself more with beautiful women than Leonard Cohen?
I mean, REALLY beautiful women.
Dark hair, educated, glasses, minimal make-up….all, mercifully, tattoo and body piercing-free zones.
Even on the relatively short 3 minute clip on the BBC News on Friday, there was footage of Leonard at a book signing (black and white, pre-Songs of Leonard Cohen? 66/67-ish, New York?) with two stunningly attractive, ‘bookish’, Claire Bloom-esque, admirers.
I honestly don’t think there’s an equivalent in 2016…..either Leonard Cohen (obviously) or, for that matter, young women who look THAT attractive.
They’re extinct…..you have to go back to the mid-60s to find them!
OOAA…..they’d be wrong, but they are available.
13/11/2016 at 19:38
14/11/2016 at 23:54
If anyone captured the rebroadcast of the Omnibus: Songs From A Life off \BBC4 t’other night that they could burn onto DVD then I’d be most grateful
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