I first heard the words "My friends are gone and my hair is grey/I ache in the places where I used to play" when I was sixteen and, at that age, I assumed it was some sort of sorrowful commentary on the failings of the flesh. Now that I am older and all of those things are happening to me I realize that it is a rueful acknowledgment of how even the spaces which memory marks as the scenes of your happiest occasions are freighted with accumulations of sadness and regret. But also the thing about the body breaking down, because what doesn't hurt at this point, right? Anyway, [...]
This made me smile. I hope it does the same for you.
Did you see the 12/12/12 show for the hurricane and stuff last night? I did not, but—thanks to all the wonderful people out there who alerted me to the performance of a song I used to enjoy—here is a thing that happened there. I'll tell you what, if this finally makes people pause for a second and think, "Hey, maybe we should give it a rest for a little while," it is probably all worth it. Anyway, who saw Paul McCartney with Nirvana? How'd that turn out? Did they do "Swap Meet"? I bet they did "Swap Meet."
Got an hour? Sure ya do! Put on the headphones and Leonard Cohen's 1988 "Austin City Limits" appearance.
"I'll start smoking again when I'm 80, I'm looking forward to that." —Leonard Cohen has plans.
Mr. Leonard Norman Cohen, an artist out of Montreal, turns 77 today. I suppose that's reason enough to make it through another grim box on the calendar. If I had 139 disposable dollars I would absolutely drop them on this, but I've got all the material anyway and until they start handing out bourbon for free on street corners I need to be responsible with how I spend what I've got. In any event, I am hopeful that the rumored new record comes to fruition, and I am wishing the man many, many, many happy returns on the day.
"The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show," said Leonard Cohen a few years back and it is something that resonates with me for all sorts of reasons, but especially because it is so difficult to deny. You will not find that particular quote in Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters but you will find so many other that are just as good that it would be silly for you not to own a copy. If we have to grow old—and if you know of an easy alternative please do not keep it to yourself—it is nice to [...]
"An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to Leonard Cohen. The well-known singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist is very much alive; it is not the case that he is 'the late Leonard Cohen.'"
Kids today. I remember when people thought it was crazy when Kriss Kross wore their jeans backwards. Currently there seems to be a new trend sweeping the hip-hop nation. As evidenced in a number of recent popular rap music videos, the new thing seems to be smoking two blunts at the same time. Or two joints. Two marijuana cigarettes. This would not be so remarkable [Ed.: it is actually not that remarkable], were it not for the fact that it flies in face of age-old conventional wisdom about pot smoking.
This absolutely terrific Greg Dulli take on Leonard Cohen's "Paper Thin Hotel" is marred only by the fact that it autoplays and forces you "to endure a Wal-Mart ad that features Korn." It is still worth it, I promise.
I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that a list of rock songs with the word "bird" in the title would be a list of great songs. After all, birds fly (or, well, they used to) and rock stars like to pretend to fly by using drugs and airplanes. Anyway, with the recent planetary news, birds are on the brain. It's not hard to connect the dots (though it is very hard to do so as wonderfully as some other people do): the world needs a soundtrack to end to. And, actually, we could do worse.
"Watching performances of 'Hallelujah' by people who aren't Cohen-whose original take has an archness that's wiped away by the clear-eyed sincerity offered up by his successors-you see one common thread: each singer really feels the song, closing their eyes at least once in every performance to properly communicate that what they are singing is Serious Business."
If I am still alive at 78 I hope I have cheap and easy access to a suicide machine. Barring the availability of that option I guess I hope I am neither as physically or mentally agile as Mr. Leonard Norman Cohen is at that age, because it is difficult enough to deal with the anguish and grief even now, while my faculties are still relatively intact; the idea that I could still be contending with them at anything close to 75% power is frightening. I'd just as soon not know. I mean, I'm glad Leonard is there to still turn them out, like this one, on which [...]
In news that will surely anger some people, Lana Del Rey has recorded a cover version of Leonard Cohen's classic song about Janis Joplin, "Chelsea Hotel #2." She made a video to accompany it, too, all dark and moody and full of close-ups of matchbooks and cigarettes and her plump, sculpted lips. Hahaha. You really do get the sense that she's taunting us, don't you? Well, despite myself, I really like it! (*ducks*) Here's to the quiver in that deep husky voice, here's to make-believe!
Of course, Lana Del Rey is far from the first artist to cover this song. So let's try to figure out: Where [...]
"The poetry has this sort of free-floating world view and I love his use of image and turns of phrase, the meaning and the paradoxes that go along with being alive. Of course, central to this, was his use of the first-person singular. It’s not egotistical. It’s plaintive — he’s always crying." —The Poet Laureate of Canada, and a bunch of other people from that country, have some thoughts about Leonard Cohen. Cohen's Old Ideas is out today.
So Pulp will be playing Radio City on April 11th. While you sit around waiting to buy tickets (they go on sale Friday), please enjoy a few live performances. Meanwhile, NPR is streaming Leonard Cohen's new album, Old Ideas. This day is actually shaping up a lot better than I thought it would when I woke this morning. I wonder what's going to happen to screw it up.
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has had a weird history. From the schmaltzy (but great!) original recording through John Cale’s lyrical rearrangement and Jeff Buckley’s radical reduction, it’s become an object of abstract emotional grammar, used less for its words than for its gestalt feeling and its ability to convey meaningfulness even in the absence of actual meaning. Its aesthetic beauty feels so timeless that it’s like being in the same room with the Mona Lisa: you just sense you’re in the presence of something important, and you should pay attention, even if you miss the point of the original object. I had always thought that this progression represented a kind [...]