Monday, December 11, 2006

Look Who Discovered Leonard Cohen

I vividly remember my family's teasing when someone at the dining table (often but not always me) announced with fresh awe and delight something everyone else already knew: "Look who discovered America!" they would jibe, and I sensed great affection and pride underlying the ridicule. Well Savtadotty has just discovered Leonard Cohen.

It's not as though I'd never heard of him, mind you. Just that his material in his own voice seemed too dark for me to enjoy before. Then I heard Rufus Wainwright's version of Hallelujah on Want Two, and I had a revelation: either Cohen's songs were getting more cheerful or I was growing ready for him. So yesterday, browsing at the Third Ear, I took home the DVD of a tribute concert produced by the venerable Hal Willner, and performed by some pretty cool cats: the Wainwrights (all except Loudon), one of my new favorites Joan Wasser, Bono (forgive me for mixing him up with Sonny Bono, 'cause that's just how old I am), Nick Cave, Anthony, Leonard Cohen himself, and talented others I had never heard before. They called the concert Came So Far For Beauty, most appropriately because it was performed in the Sydney (Australia) Opera House, but for me it meant a distance travelled in time as well.

Leonard Cohen appears as usual in a suit, and that just tickles me, because he looks to me like a college professor, a surgeon, Philip Roth, or a guest at a funeral. I didn't even know he was still alive. Excuse me while I go immerse myself in fandom. Look who discovered Canada!


Sage said...

Oh, my. Just now discovering Leonard Cohen? I've been there since about 1970. Have you seen the movie (documentary) just released on DVD, "I'm Your Man." A great tribute and beautifully done.

It starts off with someone else singing one of his songs (bad) and finishes with him doing the same song (magnificent)

What a great poet. You'll love the movie.


Savtadotty said...

Sage, That's the DVD I just watched, the one that inspired this post! You were right: I did love the movie.

Udge said...

Leonard (we Canadians can use his first name :-P ) is one of the greats.

I too was put off by his voice and delivery, and only learned to love the songs by hearing them sung by others. Let me recommend the CD "Famous Blue Raincoat" sung by Jennifer Warnes (Cypress Records 258418-222).

Sage said...

Udge, if you haven't seen the DVD we are talking about, the Leonard singing, particularly in the last song, is really great... unlike the early days when his singing was almost as bad as Bob Dylan trying to sing Bob Dylan.

The DVD is mostly a lot of other people singing Leonard, but being a Canadian I know you know that.

Thanks for the tip on Raincoat.

Anonymous said...

FYI -- Rufus' version of "Hallelujah" is not on his album "Want Two" and it is not on the soundtrack for the film "Leonard Cohen" I'm your man. It can be found on the soundtrack for Shrek and also on YouTube. Thought you might want to know.

Savtadotty said...

Anonymous - You're right. I first heard Rufus's version of "Hallelujah" on the DVD that came packaged with "Want Two," of a live concert he performed at the Fillmore in San Francisco.