Sunday, September 21, 2014

Leonard Cohen

[Leonard Cohen and Allen Ginsberg - "An encounter with Leonard Cohen after a poetry reading at the Wiltern Theater  in Los Angeles. c.1988 - " Cohen was in the audience and Allen was in the lobby signing books after the show.  They couldn't stop talking" - Photograph courtesy Frank Beacham]

It's Leonard Cohen's birthday today. He's 80 years old.

Robert Sward: You once said that "the angels of mercy are other people". What does that mean? And what is the relationship between angels and language?

Leonard Cohen: I don't know. One of the things I always liked about the early Beatnik poetry - Ginsberg and Kerouac and Corso - was the use of the word "angel". I never knew what they meant, except it was a designation for a human being and that it affirmed the light in an individual. I don't know how I used the word "angel". I've forgotten exactly, but I don't think I ever got better than the way Ginsberg and Kerouac used the word in the early 'fifties. I always loved reading their poems where they talked about angels. 

 (Leonard Cohen, 1984 - from an interview with Robert Sward)

Here's some early Leonard Cohen, a CBC interview (with Adrienne Clarkson) from the mid '60's

and more early - very early -  Cohen - Donald Brittain's 1965 documentary - Ladies and Gentlemen...Mr. Leonard Cohen,

While we're at it, here's links to some other Cohen documentaries - Leonard Cohen in 1970 at the Isle of Wight and Tony Palmer's 1974 Bird On A Wire  (revealing documentation from the 'Seventies)
and, more recently (but only the trailer, unfortunately) Lian Lunson's 2005 over-view,  I'm Your Man

One documentary that's riveting and should on no account be missed is this -  Spring 1996, Leonard Cohen as a monk - about his time spent in the mid 'Nineties at the Mount Baldy Zen Center, forty miles east of Los Angeles

Here's a 1988 BBC interview, and here (in two parts, here and here ), Cohen, from that same year, on French tv.

Speaking of French tv, here's an over-view made four years later

and here's  Peter Gzowsky's 1994 CBC radio interview. There's a part two, three, and four here, here and here

And there's more…

There's something utterly  delightful in the dynamics between him and his pretty Scandinavian interviewer - from 2006 - (allowing him to flirtatiously open up) - see here, here and here

and from Pierre Tétrault's documentary film of the same year, (about his  (Tétrault's) schizophrenic brother, Philip), "This Beggar's Description"

Philip Tétrault:  Do you know, if you ever quit as a Zen Buddhist, you could be a Professor at McGill in English.
Leonard Cohen:  Yeah, I really look forward to that! 

 -  sitting in the park, shooting the breeze with Leonard!

Allen and Bob Dylan, believe it or not, are a part of the backing-track of this (the title track to the 1977 Phil Spector-produced Death of A Ladies" Man) - and this (how could we forget this!) - Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On

There's a brand new Leonard Cohen record out (out this very day, in fact!)  - Popular Problems - Here's a cut from it - "Almost Like The Blues"

More poems from Leonard Cohen -  here, here, herehere and here 
- and a reading from his novel, Beautiful Losers ("God is Alive, Magic is Afoot") - here

Here's two contrasting renditions of "Suzanne" (one early, one late)

His astonishing speech  in October 2011 at the Spanish  Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony - "Poetry comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. So I feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command. In other words, if I knew where the good songs came from I would go there more often."

More Leonard Cohen resources here - here - and here

Happy 80th Birthday, Leonard!

    [Leonard Cohen meets Allen Ginsberg, Los Angeles, 1988 - Photograph by Frank Beacham