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What a nice time to read this post... the universe is clearly all aligned. A good friend had a baby boy Friday night. His name is Cohen.


Dear Lady, Queen of Solitude
I thank you with my heart
For keeping me so close to thee
While so many, oh so many stood apart


Mernit - What an amazing encounter with him. Beautiful. And I'll buy the book in hardcover. Great post.


Jennica, how neat is that!

MaryAn, your song lyric acumen is getting downright spooky.

Thank you, Babs. Do you own "The Future" CD? That's the must-have.


Only when I take pain meds.


I loved this post. And I wasn't going to respond but Billy made me. I was a Leonard Cohen fan from the time I was twelve; I had an older, hipper sister who brought home all his records and books and I fell in love with the man and the music, learned all his guitar chords and all his songs, which served me well when I ended up, at age 18, in a show called "Sisters of Mercy", based on Leonard's music, first at the Shaw Festival in Canada then off-Broadway in New York. The following year I got a call to sing background vocals on his album, "New Songs For The Old Ceremony" (and one of the songs, "Who By Fire?" is a duet with the man - one of my top ten studio experiences), then toured with him in Europe and North America. To this day I remember every minute of that tour, it was the best gig I ever had, and there is something very interesting about Leonard that not too many people know, or would expect. He's hilarious! One of the funniest people I've ever met. He did everything possible to crack up the band at any given opportunity. He stood on his head to get motorists' attention when our tour bus broke down in Europe. He read comic books aloud to us (and in that deeply serious voice, we were dying from laughing so hard), and would raid the hotel kitchen at night and cook for us. He bought me an extremely silly cuckoo clock in Switzerland. When we played The Troubadour in LA, someone outside the club kept yelling up to his dressing room window, "Leonard, I need to talk to you about death!". Leonard calmly went to the window and said, "Friend, can this wait until after my gig? Death is so final."
Thanks for this gorgeous post, Billy.


OOPS! That's "New Skin For The Old Ceremony"... not "Songs"...

chesher cat

Growing up in Canada, I heard Leonard Cohen all the time...thanks to the Canadian content laws.

When I was fourteen, I met this really cute guy from Florida who had a summer job working the midway at the Stampede. One afternoon we sat on the banks of the Bow river and I sang "Suzanne" to him. My middle name is Suzanne. I always thought the song was about me.


Nice post. My only knowledge of Mr Cohen is my mum's admiration of him. As a hil-arious teenager I always teased her that the guy was so depressing sounding that his concerts must spark spontaneous wrist-slittings. I probably only ever heard 1 song to set me in this opinion of him, so maybe i should give the guy another chance huh?


bill you are on a tear! or is it a longing tear drop... and you have shaken even more Canadians out of the trees. I have to find a picture I have of Leonard C and Kelly the embezzler...sp? New Skin for an Old Ceremony really represents the beginning of Chapter the Future is the peak of Chapter 3. can I touch you binnie... another Angelino, the extraordinary Leanne Unger... produced and mixed most of the modern records...
great leonard music, that some don't know about because of pathetic distribution...

Recent Songs (contains Gypsy Wife, The Smokey Life and the Ballad of the Absent Mare)

Leonard Cohen Live (same era)
funky color xeroxy cover

Various Positions which has Dance Me to the End of Love and the song that everyone must do a cover of... to be taken seriously as an artiste, "Hallelujah".

Billy, I only disagree with the Leonard was always old notion. I understand... but before he was old.. he had the perpetual adolescent wonderment and mischief that has carried him to the land of zen and therefor maybe the weariness is a mask. Part of a never ending seduction.


Binnie, thank you for the reminiscences -- priceless stuff.

Chesher: And it IS about you, it is!

Well Anna, you're not alone in thinking of Leonard as a downer --one parent I know used to use "Suzanne" in repeat mode to put his daughter to sleep -- but if you check out the songs on "I'm Your Man" or "The Future" you can find the more Up side of Leonard.

Marken: I hear that. (Leanne is an old friend -- and largely responsible for those cited CDs sounding as good as they do...)

Graham Lester

Graham, thanks for the cool site -- there are all KINDS of goodies on there!


check out todays streaming from KCRW, "Bookworm",
silverblat's show or is its silverbladder... because he thinks his piss is precious.... anyway it was the LEONARD for a solid hour.. illuminating as always....

hey I dont know if cross blogification is permitted, but regarding Chesher's remarks that growing up in Canada she heard Leonard because of the Canadian Content Rules... Chesher, you may have been joking, but if not.. let me suggest... that in the long nights of the frosty north, we heard;

the quess who,
ann murray,
bachman turner overdrive,
and lighthouse (chest fever)

due to the remarkable content regulations, (for you yankees, just imagine a cultural dietary regulatory system imposed by the state):

but you heard: Leonard Cohen because he lived abroad, gained notoriety outside of Canada and therefor in our great Canadian fashion for acknowledging the obvious.... we embraced him and played his music.


I've been listening to and reading Leonard Cohen for years. Thanks to him, I read Lorca's poetry (Take This Waltz is Cohen's take on a Lorca poem). As others have said, living in Canada I've been perhaps more exposed to him than if I lived elsewhere.

He and the poet Irving Layton were great friends and I recall seeing an interview with the two of them - they were like two kids together.

Binnie mentioned it, but I'd also say one aspect of him I love is his humour. And it is so dry! He delivers lines with the straightest face ever. He received an award one year in Canada for vocals (Vocalist of the Year or something like that) and receiving the award he said somthing to the effect, "I'm grateful to be from a country where someone like myself can receive an award for singing."

(He, of course, was much funnier - and very dry.)

Anyway ... I've always loved his work, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his facility with language.


Bill: Yes, he's pretty amazing in just simple conversation -- the most eloquent sentences... I'm going to look into Mr. layton.


btw ... Book of Longing is dedicated to Irving Layton. I can't say I'm as familiar with him as I would like to be, but I do know he was a huge influence on Layton - both as a friend and, I believe, a kind of mentor.


Sorry ... typo. I meant, a "huge influence on Cohen."

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