Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Ask and answer questions about Leonard Cohen, his work, this forum and the websites!
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horo1984
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Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby horo1984 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:42 pm

Dear friends,

Given that LC's songs get very limited airplay (at least that's the case over here), how did you get to know about the songs of LC?
(Assuming you can recall that far back) :D

I'll begin...

Mine's a long story. I 'discovered' LC quite by accident about a year back. Here's how:

1. I am a pseudo audiophile (have been since I was 14!), and own a decent enough integrated amplifier / CD player / bookshelf loudspeakers stereo

2. One classic audiophile CD is "The Hunter" by Jennifer Warnes. The songs "Somewhere, Somebody", "Big Noise, New York" and "Way Down Deep" are fantastic hi-fi test tracks. It was produced together with (surprise, surprise) Roscoe Beck and Elliot Scheiner. I purchased that CD in 1998.

3. "The Hunter" was one of my favourite CDs, but believe it or not, I did not listen to "Famous Blue Raincoat" until 12 years later! In fact, it was my father who bought it one fine day.

4. I was impressed by the sonic excellence of the recording (more so since it was released years before "The Hunter"). "Joan of Arc" immediately caught my attention - Cohen's already-raspy voice coupled together with Warnes' smooth and powerful vocals make for a treat on any stereo.

5. But it was the lyrics of "Famous Blue Raincoat" (the song) that blew me away and made me realise that hey, I'd better find out more about this Leonard Cohen guy whom Jennifer Warnes holds in such high regard :D The rest, of course, is history...

Thanks for reading. I wonder how many people have this "Jenny before Lenny" experience :)


Lester
I needed so much / To have nothing to touch / I've always been greedy that way
Sydney, Australia - 9 November 2010
John Etherington
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby John Etherington » Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:17 am

Hi horo1984,

That's a very interesting story. Ironically, I picked-up "The Hunter" years ago, when it was very cheap in a sale, but I've hardly listened to it (After reading your post, I must play it again!). Since no-one has responded to your post in over a day, I'll tell my story again - in a slightly different way, because there is a similar thread to this, somewhere else on the board. I became an instant Leonard devotee after hearing "Sisters of Mercy" on the CBS underground sampler "The Rock Machine Turns You On" in December 1968. Since then, I've bought every Leonard album, book, CD/DVD, usually on the day of release, and have attended every UK tour (sometimes four times). Ironically, I believe that the very first time I heard Leonard sing was on the Julie Felix BBC TV show earlier that year, when he sang "Stranger Song". My initial reaction was "who is odd-looking guy singing this dreary, monotonous song?". I completely forgot about him until after I had bought the "Rock Machine" album. As fate would have it, I got to know Julie Felix some 20 odd years ago when we were attending a seminar together. In 2007, I took Julie as my guest to Leonard's art exhibition in Manchester, and re-connected her with him.

All good things, John E
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby LisaLCFan » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:06 am

Hi Lester! I'll play!

I was listening to the radio one night back in 1988, and First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen's own version) came on. I was blown away, I thought that it was the most incredible thing I had ever heard: the VOICE, the lyrics, the music, it was unlike anything I'd ever encountered, and I loved it! I was glued to the radio as it played (and played...it was one of the longest songs I'd ever heard, but I didn't want it to end!). Then, when it was over, the announcer said, "That was Leonard Cohen's new song." I had heard of Leonard Cohen, but up till then, I don't think I'd ever heard him sing. I immediately rushed out and bought I'm Your Man, and the only other CD at the shop, Best of Leonard Cohen. When I listened to the latter, I was further blown away (I had NOT expected folk!). But I loved both albums, and within the next while I managed to collect all the rest (and I bought all of his books, too). Since then, I have never stopped listening to Cohen's amazing and incredibly varied catalogue. I never get tired of it, he is truly amazing. 8)

Lisa

p.s. I never listen to covers of Cohen's songs.
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horo1984
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby horo1984 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:51 pm

Dear John and Lisa,

My sincere thanks for your interesting and insightful sharing! I suspected there was a similar thread, but couldn't locate it... anyway, (to everyone else) do share your thoughts here! :)

To John:
John Etherington wrote:Ironically, I picked-up "The Hunter" years ago, when it was very cheap in a sale, but I've hardly listened to it (After reading your post, I must play it again!).
You should! The three tracks I mentioned are fantastic hi-fi test tracks, but my favourite on the album happens to be her cover of Todd Rundgren's "Pretending to Care". Soulfully sad but so darn good.
John Etherington wrote:My initial reaction was "who is odd-looking guy singing this dreary, monotonous song?".
:lol: I have a friend who pretends to stab himself every time "Famous Blue Raincoat" emanates from my loudspeakers :lol:

To Lisa:
LisaLCFan wrote: I thought that it was the most incredible thing I had ever heard: the VOICE, the lyrics, the music, it was unlike anything I'd ever encountered
Yes, there's something about that song, isn't there? So charged with energy whenever LC performs it live. In a recent concert review, one critic simply said of the song, "its narrator is insane" 8) How nice it must be to hear LC's songs on the radio. They NEVER fill the airwaves over here. Hmmm... time for me to make a dedication :)
LisaLCFan wrote:Since then, I have never stopped listening to Cohen's amazing and incredibly varied catalogue.


Nicely put. The wonderful thing about LC is that I think he is so prolific. There's enough material for me to savour over the next decade, at least. There's always something new... first we take the CDs, then the poetry, then the artwork... :lol:


Lester
I needed so much / To have nothing to touch / I've always been greedy that way
Sydney, Australia - 9 November 2010
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lightasabreeze
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby lightasabreeze » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:30 pm

40 years ago, about 1970, my daughter was 14 years old, and she came in with a record of Leonards. She played this record over and over and over almost non-stop.
I asked who this was she so liked, and was more than surprised that it was the very same Leonard that had written a book I was reading.
Maybe if she had not walked in with that record it would have taken me longer to 'come round to him' But I have my young daughter to thank for the many years I have been enjoying Leonard's books and sounds. Now we worship him together, and still get to see him whenever it is possible. Not nearly as much as we would like, especially this year.
Somebody must have died for you
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London 02 x 3..... Radio city New York... Wet Weybridge..... Wembley Arena... Brighton..
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby LisaLCFan » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:46 pm

Hi Lester,

I think that it would be nice to hear LC's songs on the radio, too! Bear in mind that my experience was 22 years ago, so it's not like it is a regular occurrence (I'm just glad that I happened to be listening on one of those rare moments!). I think I heard The Future on the radio once, too, when it was new. There should definitely be more LC on the airwaves! Of course, LC is always playing on MY airwaves, so who needs the radio?

Cheers!
Lisa

p.s. I know another person who "met" LC the way you did, through Jennifer Warnes' FBR album, so you're not alone!
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lorcamaria
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby lorcamaria » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:15 pm

You know, I cannot actually remember when Leonard Cohen claimed my full admiration.
It was like a dawn breaking gently over a rough sea.

Of course I heard "Suzanne" many many moons ago and liked it well enough. Then there was "So Long Marianne" which I also liked.

I guess the turning point for me was when I heard "Avalanche". It meant something deep and meaningful to me and then I started to listen to more and more. I was sooo impressed with "Live in London".

I have put 6 of his albums on my Christmas list and left it in a very prominent place where my husband knows that it is a screaming hint lol.

All I know is there is no turning back when you have found true love! :oops: :D
Maria

Ring the bell that still can ring, forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything, that's how the Light gets in.
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby sophi » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:25 pm

Well..let me see...
I've heard randomly "First we take Manhattan" when I was a teenager and later "Famous blue raincoat", but I didn't know Mr.Cohen's universe of songs.
Last year, I heard on the radio the song "I'm your man" and I was astonished by his voice! When I came home I searched it on the internet...and here I am! :)
I can't stop listening to him ever since...
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horo1984
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby horo1984 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:03 pm

Thanks for your comments... it's always heartening to have people respond to a thread you started. Keep the stories coming, please! :D

lightasabreeze - I think your experience is slowly playing itself out in my life... my father may well have been the one who bought me Warnes' "Famous Blue Raincoat", but now it's my copy of "The Essential Leonard Cohen" that's in his CD player :)

Lisa - You're right about LC dominating our personal "airwaves"! But it's somehow different if his song comes on over the radio. I can just see myself running a red light and cranking the volume to drown out all road noise (horns and sirens included) the moment I hear "Now I heard there was a secret chord..." :lol:

lorcamaria - "Avalanche" has very powerful lyrics, much like the "Stranger Song". However, just like the "Stranger Song", it takes some time to sink in (in my honest opinion) and is easily overlooked. So I find it intriguing that that was the song that triggered your love affair with LC. Each to his (or her, in this case) own, I guess :)

sophi - Welcome, welcome (cries a voice) to the forum! I'm a relatively new member too, but the people here are so warm and friendly I feel like I've been here for much longer than three months. "I'm Your Man" is one of my favourites too - I especially like the live versions with Dino's intro and Roesco's impassioned "Please!!" :lol:

"Good night, friends."


Lester
I needed so much / To have nothing to touch / I've always been greedy that way
Sydney, Australia - 9 November 2010
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lorcamaria
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby lorcamaria » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:47 pm

Hello Lester,

I didnt want to get religious because this is not a religious forum, its for Leonard and fans.

However, on this little occasion, I hope you will excuse me.

The reason Avalanche made such an impression on me was the words resounded the sufferings of Christ. I felt as though he encountered an avalanche when he came into the world and met a cold blanket of hostility.

I was newly converted when I heard it and it made me cry to be honest and really seared through my souI was particularly moved by

"The crumbs of love that you offer me, they're the crumbs Ive left behind"

Hope you all didnt mind me putting this in, it was just that you couldn't understand my going over to Leonard on this song.
It is a very powerful and potent song and I still value it most.

Maria :D
Maria

Ring the bell that still can ring, forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything, that's how the Light gets in.
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby Rain » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:02 am

Way back in the cobwebs of my brain, I remember either hearing or reading an interview with Bob Dylan. He said something to the effect of admiring a poet/singer named Leonard Cohen and I thought "Well, if this guy impressed DYLAN, I've GOT to find out who he is!" That was so long ago.........just one more thing I can thank Mr. Dylan for.......... :D

--Rain
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horo1984
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby horo1984 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:13 pm

Hello again,

And thanks for the engaging replies! :D More stories, please! All this makes for very pleasant reading after a hard day's work :)

To Maria:
lorcamaria wrote:Hope you all didnt mind me putting this in, it was just that you couldn't understand my going over to Leonard on this song.
Don't get me wrong - it's a song with sterling lyrics. "Your pain is no credential here, it's just the shadow, shadow of my wound." has always struck a raw nerve with me. Those are very encouraging words, actually, when taken in the religious context. :) I was simply curious, as I feel that the musical element in the song isn't quite as catchy as others. That's why I likened it to the "Stranger Song" - unassuming melody coupled with mind-blowing lyrics :)

To Rain:
Rain wrote:I thought "Well, if this guy impressed DYLAN
Thanks for sharing too. It's true that (all the men you knew) if you're a big fan of someone and that person admires another, you're bound to check out that other person he admires. Case in point: I'll be flying to Sydney in November to catch LC. He has hand-picked Clare Bowditch to support him. Now I have to admit that I have never heard of her, but since LC hand-picked her, you bet I'll be checking out her songs! :)


Lester
I needed so much / To have nothing to touch / I've always been greedy that way
Sydney, Australia - 9 November 2010
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby lizfromcambridgema » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:35 am

Hello all,

The first time I heard a Leonard Cohen song was the summer after my senior yr in high school. I had been just dumped by my first ever boyfriend (ah the melodrama) and a few friends in a last ditch effort to save me from lying in bed all summer, dragged me to a Ben Folds/Rufus Wainwright concert. I had never really listened to either one of them before. Rufus closed his show with "Hallelujah." I remember sitting mouth agape, motionless, completely stunned. The song hit me to the very core.

I thought Rufus had written it, so I downloaded his version, and that would have been it, if I hadn't watched the movie Secretary the previous week. Secretary, which I am sure many of you know features his song "I'm Your Man" At the time I thought that was the sexiest song I had ever heard. At 17, I wasn't much exposed to sophisticated lyrics about sex and relationships and it completely blew my mind.

At some point during that summer I made the connection that Hallelujah was also written by Leonard and I have been a convert ever since. I listened to Leonard all through college, much to the befuddlement of many of my friends. I attended school in NYC and I always got a kick out of hearing "Clinton Street" mentioned in Famous Blue Raincoat (I lived just around the block).

I am finally taking the plunge and seeing Leonard in Portland. I am beyond excited. I have never traveled cross country before to see a show but I can not wait!

Cheers,
Liz
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horo1984
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby horo1984 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:45 pm

Dear Liz,

Thanks for sharing! Haven't posted for a fortnight - been swamped (and still swamped) with work :(
lizfromcambridgema wrote:I attended school in NYC and I always got a kick out of hearing "Clinton Street" mentioned in Famous Blue Raincoat (I lived just around the block).
I understand that completely - I get a kick each time I hear "Boogie Street" (or "A Thousand Kisses Deep", for that matter), since Bugis Street (that's the actual spelling) is a mere two train stops from my office :lol: I posted an earlier thread on Bugis Street here:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=22859

On a separate note, I purchased a special bundle of The Future / Ten New Songs, packaged together as part of a Leonard Cohen x2 series by Columbia. I am well pleased with this purchase because:

1. I have never seen it before, and I doubt I'll see it again in Singapore.
2. It was sold at a knock-down price (one of the few advantages of not many people being familiar with LC over here).

Yay! A good ending to an extremely hectic week!

Thanks for reading this rather self-indulgent post :)


Lester
I needed so much / To have nothing to touch / I've always been greedy that way
Sydney, Australia - 9 November 2010
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Shella
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Re: Who (or what) introduced you to Leonard Cohen?

Postby Shella » Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:29 am

Well, I've heard his song Hallelujah in three different films: Barfuss, House M.D. and Shrek. One day I discovered that author of this song is Leonard Cohen, and I decided to get to know his music better. The second song I've fallen in love with was Dance Me To The End of Love. I've found chords of this song and now I play it on the guitar. I downloaded the full discography of LC and listen his songs every day.

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