Ten years ago Leonard took to the stage at the outdoor festival of music known as Coachella. Spinner, the Los Angeles Times, NME, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, LA Weekly, and Spin magazine all raved about his performance. Paste Magazine wrote: "In what soon coalesced into the finest performance of the day, legendary singer Leonard Cohen began his marathon set with "Dance Me to the End of Love," a track filled with layered, cascading waves of lovely background vocals and gypsy folk, his weathered baritone providing a solemn soundtrack as the sun-bloodied sky behind him dramatically slipped into a darkness... By the time his age-ravaged voice led all through a floodlit singalong of the cold and broken "Hallelujah," Cohen had single-handedly guided his audience through what may have been the most emotionally cathartic performance of the entire weekend." Listen to Leonard and his band perform "Hallelujah" at Coachella from Songs from the Road.
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything opens today at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan. The exhibition (which features new contemporary works by 12 artists and 18 musicians inspired by Leonard from 10 countries) offers a deep and rich exploration of Leonard's style and the recurring themes in his work through the lens of contemporary art. Originally premiering at Montreal's Musée d’art contemporain in 2017, Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, is open through September 8. The New York Times writes about the exhibition: "Taken together, the layered work on display in "A Crack in Everything" has a lot to offer on Cohen, but even more to say about how we respond to music, bring it into our lives, and use it as both a balm and an agent for transformation." AM New York simply concludes: "...an unusual and deeply moving experience." Here are some links to reviews and interviews about the exhibition: The New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/11/arts/music/music-exhibitions-leonard-cohen-instruments-punk.html WNYC interview with Ruth Beesch, the senior deputy director of programs and strategic initiatives at The Jewish Museum, John Zeppetelli, director and chief curator at MAC, and George Fok, a participating artist whose work is the largest in the exhibition and features an immersive multi-channel video installation, on “All of it with Alison Stewart”: https://www.wnyc.org/story/leonard-cohen-crack-everything/ WNYC review: https://www.wnyc.org/story/review-leonard-cohen-music-being-honored-jewish-museum/ AM New York review: https://www.amny.com/things-to-do/leonard-cohen-jewish-museum-1.29639848 Pitchfork review: https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/an-inventive-leonard-cohen-museum-exhibition-lives-up-to-his-legacy-mostly/ Billboard review and interview with John Zeppetelli, director and chief curator at MAC: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/8506811/leonard-cohen-exhibit-nyc-jewish-museum Brooklyn Vegan article: http://www.brooklynvegan.com/leonard-cohen-a-crack-in-everything-at-the-jewish-museum-a-preview/ Hadassah Magazine article: http://www.hadassahmagazine.org/2019/04/11/leonard-cohen-new-yor-exhibit/ Concordia University article and interview with John Zeppetelli, director and chief curator at MAC: https://www.concordia.ca/cunews/offices/vpaer/aar/2019/04/10/leonard-cohen-s-next-world-tour-starts-in-new-york-city-record-breaking-montreal-exhibition-co-curated-by-concordian.html Zeit Online (German) article: https://www.zeit.de/news/2019-04/10/new-yorker-museum-erinnert-an-leonard-cohen-190410-99-757333 Ems Vecht Surfer (German) article: https://www.ems-vechte-surfer.de/nachrichten/new-yorker-museum-erinnert-an-leonard-cohen-291342.html Plásticos y Decibelios (Spain) article: https://www.plasticosydecibelios.com/leonard-cohen-su-ultima-exposicion-en-nueva-york/ Bet Magazine Mosaico (Italy) article: http://www.mosaico-cem.it/cultura-e-societa/eventi/a-crack-in-everything-il-jewish-museum-di-new-york-racconta-leonard-cohen New York Latin Culture Magazine article: https://www.newyorklatinculture.com/leonard-cohen-a-crack-in-everything/ Arts Summary article: https://artssummary.com/2019/04/09/leonard-cohen-a-crack-in-everything-at-the-jewish-museum-april-12-september-8-2019/ Vogue article: https://www.vogue.com/article/leonard-cohen-a-crack-in-everything-jewish-museum
On April 8, 1958, Leonard debuted his poetry at Dunn's Jazz Parlour in Montreal. Sylvie Simmons, author of I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, describes the night: "Perched on a stool in the middle of the stage, flanked on one side by Maury Kay on piano,... Leonard Cohen, 23, gave his first professional performance. "...'I was invited to read, but I never really enjoyed them. The idea -- the influence of the universities -- was to read with a slightly English inflection, which was meant to dignify the poem. But I liked singing, chanting my lyrics to this jazz group. It felt a lot easier. And I liked the environment better. You could drink.'" Leonard recited The Gift (which would later appear in The Spice-Box of Earth) and introduced the poem by telling the audience that it was "written for a girl for whom I had given too many poems and she asked me to refrain. So I wrote her this poem." This audio recording transports you back to that night.
Fifty years ago today Columbia Records released Leonard's Songs from a Room. The album was produced by Bob Johnston, who previously worked with Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Simon and Garfunkel. Leonard insisted on giving Johnston his due. "He created a hospitable atmosphere in the studio," Cohen notes. "He is a very forceful and very hospitable man... He found very good musicians... I mean, you were being accompanied by Charlie Daniels and other great players. He knew the scene very, very well." Although the record has been called emotionally claustrophobic and austere, here is Leonard on the cover of the single from the album looking quite amused. Songs from a Room is available in all formats here: http://smarturl.it/LCSongsFromaRoom
April 7 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Leonard's Songs from a Room. Back in 1969 Columbia Records produced this poetic promo to get the word out. Songs from a Room is available in all formats here: http://smarturl.it/LCSongsFromaRoom
Forty-six years ago this week, Leonard's Live Songs hit the store shelves. Some critics were not impressed. One wrote: "Oh Lenny. What ails you? Sing a sad song, maybe, but this is just too low to be believed. I think we guessed a while back that you lost your appetite for music and it was all a silly accident that you became a Rock-n-Roll star... Now the record company says you must write more tunes. More love songs and songs of despair. But this will probably be your last album..." We think not. Enjoy Leonard's epic improvisation of "Please Don't Pass Me By."
Live in London captures Leonard's concert at the O2 Dome in London on July 17, 2008 and represents his first arena performance. Prior to the show, management and crew worried whether the concert, designed for a 3,000-seat theatre, would work in the cavernous 20,000-seat indoor arena. Roscoe Beck, the musical director, admitted that walking onto the stage both Leonard and the band were nervous. Then, just before the second song, Leonard told the audience, "It's wonderful to be gathered here, on just the other side of intimacy." The audience roared with approval, the ice was broken and for the rest of the show, Leonard held the entire crowd spellbound. Critics, too, had their doubts about whether Leonard could conquer one of Europe's largest indoor venues. Their reviews prove there was nothing to worry about. "Cohen is possessed of a rare and remarkable ability to make colossal venues...shrink to about the size of a police-box — or, more appropriately, a suburban boudoir... [He] makes the act of singing for thousands seem like pillow-talk for one's ears alone." - The Independent (UK) "Even though Lenny sings to 20,000 people about love and death, the arena is doused in shadow and intimacy - it could be a tiny bar in Paris, New York or even Buenos Aires back in the Sixties." - New Statesman "Venues like the O2 might often be the most dispiriting of places, cattle sheds stinking of chips and cheap cologne. But tonight raises the possibility that when enormodome experiences go awry, you ought blame the preacher, not the church, for a man with the gravitas and humble, simple power of Cohen captures souls with ease." - The Quietus Watch the full concert, as Leonard captivates the audience : Live in London is available in all formats here: http://smarturl.it/LCLiveInLondon
This week marks the ten year anniversary of the release of Live in London. In 2008 Leonard embarked on his first tour in 15 years. Fans and critics alike hailed the show as a once in a lifetime experience.The 29 dates originally scheduled sold out immediately. By the end of that year, the tour had reached 84 markets worldwide. Live In London fully captured and recreated the extraordinary show from that early period of the tour. Recorded live on July 17, 2008 at London's 02 Arena, one of Europe's largest indoor venues with 18,000 in attendance, the concert marked Leonard's first large arena show. Live In London earned Cohen critical acclaim and more than 80 five-star reviews for his performances. Check out this video promoting the record and DVD. Live in London is available in all formats here: http://smarturl.it/LCLiveInLondon
Folk Alliance International awarded its Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Award to Leonard, as a memorial recipient, at their 2019 Folk Alliance International Conference in Montreal last month. The award honours the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures. To commemorate Leonard, the Alliance prepared this perceptive and poignant short-documentary. Visit folk.org/LAA to access the full archive of short documentary films featuring past honorees.
This week marks the 18th anniversary of the release of Leonard's live album Field Commander Cohen. The album commemorates Leonard's concerts in December 1979 in London and Brighton. We all know Leonard's rigorous songwriting process often involves writing many verses and discarding all but the best. Here's an alternative verse for the song "Field Commander Cohen" from Leonard's notebook pages.
Ten years ago tonight, Leonard brought his world tour to the US at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Over 200 members of the press attended and reacted much like Andy Greene of Rolling Stone, calling it one of the most magical concerts he'd ever seen. The positive press lead to the historic 2009 North American tour that included two sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall and Leonard's first sold out appearance at Madison Square Garden. Enjoy Leonard performing "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" from that night.