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Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen. Does this name still ring a bell with young people today? Most of them will have heard one of the cover versions of “Hallelujah”. But have they heard of and listened to “Suzanne” … this international anthem of dreamy and somehow romantically-minded teenagers? I wonder. Look here for “Suzanne” on YouTube.
The poetic quality of the lyrics is due to the fact that … Leonard Cohen is a poet. Here’s the first half of the third stanza as an appetizer:

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed

[full text: Leonard Cohen Files]

The poet part of his personality is at the centre of a 1965 portrait on Canadian TV, which is embedded below. I found it at the site of the National Film Board of Canada:
Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen by Donald Brittain, Don Owen, – NFB. Thanks a lot, DarrenBarefoot, for drawing my attention to it. The 44-minute film is not only a good portrait, but also a fascinating look back – 44 years into the past (when I was eight years old …).

P.S.: On Cohen’s official web site, the publication of his latest record is announced. “Live in London” came out on 31 March 2009:

Today, Leonard Cohen released ‘Live In London’, a collection of 25 songs from his 2008 performance at London’s O2 Arena, a concert that left 20 000 fans enchanted. Available on DVD or 2-CD set, ‘Live In London’ is Cohen’s first concert collection since 2001′s Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979, and takes us on a journey through Cohen’s 40-year career. From “Suzanne” to “Dance Me To The End of Love” to “Hallelujah”, ‘Live in London’ contains the songs that have earned Cohen the legendary reputation that he has today.

Having only been released earlier today, ‘Live In London’ has already been met with a passionate response. It is the Toronto Star’s Pick of the Week and has received an impressive 3.5 out of 4 stars from Greg Quill, who calls Live In London “a timeless and priceless portrait of the artist as an older man, and better than ever”.

The collection serves as “a reminder that Cohen is as gifted a performer as he is a songwriter”, says Jason Adams at Entertainment Weekly, who gave the DVD an A-.

His 2008 world tour was a landmark in not only his career but music history. His first in 15 years, the tour sold 700, 000 tickets worldwide and received over 80 five-star reviews. It “has yielded one of the finest live albums to come our way in a long while”, according to Adrien Bergrand of Pop Matters, who also calls ‘Live in London’ “spellbinding, seductive [and] pristine”.

1 comment to Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen

  • Thanks for reminding me. I hadn’t listened to Leonard Cohen since my vinyl days. But I did listen to my share of Suzanne, or probably more than my share.