Secret co-writer of "Chelsea Hotel"?

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
User avatar
Kjelling
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Trondheim, Norway

Secret co-writer of "Chelsea Hotel"?

Postby Kjelling » Mon Nov 28, 2005 12:38 am

In the liner notes to his Greatest Hits album Cohen says:
I wrote this for an American singer who died a while ago. She used to stay at the Chelsea, too. I began it at a bar in a Polynesian restaurant in Miami in 1971 and finished it in Asmara, Ethiopia just before the throne was overturned. Ron Cornelius helped me with a chord change in an earlier version.
Cohen's former bandleader and guitarist Ron Cornelius said this to the Songfacts website:
He claims that I helped him with a chord change in writing an earlier version of this song. The truth is that I co-wrote the song with him on an airplane (8 hrs) from New York to Shannon, Ireland. The reason it has a No. 2 behind it is that he tried to cheat me out of my share by recopyrighting it that way (he changed nothing) – it was just "Chelsea Hotel." Anyone can check out the writer credits by contacting BMI to get the truthful writer credits. I ran his band for a long time (worldwide), played on his records, and have nothing but honest input to look back on – Leonard can't say that!!!
I checked with BMI, and Ronald Dean Cornelius is listed as co-writer alongside Cohen. His name is not, however, listed with the U.S. Copyright Office, and not on any Cohen record.

What is the story here? Doesn't Leonard have the grace to share songwriting credit, or is Cornelius mistaken?
User avatar
tomsakic
Posts: 5246
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2002 2:12 pm
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Contact:

Postby tomsakic » Mon Nov 28, 2005 11:03 am

Ron Cornelius helped me with a chord change in an earlier version.
That's the credit, isn't it? Ron Cornelius is co-credited for "Chelsea Hotel", and Leonard Cohen is credited solemny for "Chelsea Hotel #2". Now, Cornelius does claim on the Songfacts' site that Leonard titled 2nd version "#2" only to avoid sharing credits with him, but anyone who listened to the both versions will hear that the chords are different and that Cornelius is obviously and totally mistaken ("he changed nothing" - I am musically untrained, but even I hear the difference. That's obvious lye.). Only Leonard's mistake was maybe that he wrote "Cornelius helped me with chord change in first version", instead of maybe "There was a first version in which Cornelius helped me [to compose]". But also, he didn't have to credit Cornelius at all in liner notes for 2nd version, as he did. And the fact that Cornelius is not co-credited is simple, as I said - he is co-credited for Chelsea Hotel [#1], and credits on Cohen records refer to "Chelsea Hotel #2". If version #1 will ever be released on some bonus or box-set or live 1972 show, I presume he will be credited.

PS. Now I recalled something private, Kjelling, - did you ever got the CD with Everybody Child?
User avatar
Kjelling
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Trondheim, Norway

Postby Kjelling » Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:03 pm

Hi, Tom!

I'f afraid that BMI credits Ron Cornelius with "Chelsea Hotel #2". And while the lyric and melody to #1 are different, they are not completely so.

And yes, I got the CDs; thank you!
Young dr. Freud
Posts: 667
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2002 2:41 am

Postby Young dr. Freud » Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:23 pm

So, the Man has feet of clay after all. Not giving credit where credit's due. For shame!

I've only heard #1 once...watching it on a horrible copy of Bird on A Wire video. The only thing I could hear different was the chorus where JJ runs naked down a rail-road track....I think she gets run over in this version. Leonard was milking it for all he was worth. It just went on and on until I thought the tape was stuck. And those sunglasses he wore all the time to hide his dilated pupils was fooling nobody.


YdF
User avatar
tomsakic
Posts: 5246
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2002 2:12 pm
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Contact:

Postby tomsakic » Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:43 pm

Well, that's why he did say "Check BMI credits", he knows what's written there. On the other side, I am not sure that Sony would print wrong credits for decades, and this is probably something to do with titles (No. 1 and No. 2).

I'm glad you got the CDs - namely, I was sure I forgot about it because I was in hurry about apartment and summer vacation, and I reccaled it only few weeks ago! :roll:


@YDF - ah, that version, indeed :lol: ... and those glasses.
User avatar
lightning
Posts: 1349
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2002 4:54 am
Location: New York City
Contact:

Postby lightning » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:14 pm

Since the story is such a personal confession of one man, you can see that it would detract from its believability to give credit to another author. I'm amazed to hear it was co-written.
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25340
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Postby lizzytysh » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:32 pm

Well, what some might consider "co-written" would certainly vary, too....as in, "Which do you think would work best here ~ this word or that one?" Perhaps, Leonard was being extraordinarily generous regarding Ron's input.
Young dr. Freud
Posts: 667
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2002 2:41 am

Postby Young dr. Freud » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:35 pm

Well, Ron seems to be in a snit about it...so it looks as though more than one chord change was involved.

YdF
User avatar
Kjelling
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Trondheim, Norway

Postby Kjelling » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:58 pm

Why would he mention such a minor thing as a chord change in the liner notes anyway – and even in a different version of the song – if he didn't feel a tick of guilty conscience for not crediting Cornelius with something? It doesn't sound "extraordinarily generous" to me.

In the liner notes to Recent Songs he thanks John Lissauer for working on earlier versions of some of the songs. Those who have heard for instance the Bryn Mawr concert may notice that portions of Lissauer's tunes remain in the finished recordings. Perhaps Cohen wasn't always as round-handed with songwriting credits as on Ten New Songs.
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25340
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Postby lizzytysh » Tue Nov 29, 2005 6:26 pm

Perhaps, in that position, some aspiring songwriters [who watch the ultimate success of something] ascribe more value to their own input than is actually warranted. Perhaps, a minor chord change is all it came down to ~ even to the extent of, "What do you think? This chord...or this one?" Even a suggestion of, "I think this chord might work better there" doesn't constitute co-writing. I think we've all witnessed people getting into a snit about something that didn't really warrant snittiness :) . The snit is not the proof of the pudding :wink: .

~ Lizzy
User avatar
tomsakic
Posts: 5246
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2002 2:12 pm
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Contact:

Postby tomsakic » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:08 am

Lissauer point is very good actually. Many did remark that (I recall JD in his book In Every Style of Passion), and I agree - he did get the credits for Came So Far For Beauty, but he did not for, let's say, The Traitor, but just thanks, although the Bryn Mawr versions from 1975 are the same.
But I think we don't know what actually way co-writed for Songs for Rebecca. I always wondered hot it came thta Leonard suddenly co-wrote an album with Lissauer in 1975 - he never was doing that, and Lissauer just produced New Skin... but he didn't co-write a single song on it. Actually, only source for the info they were "co-writers" of Songs for Rebecca comes from Golden Mine magazine (1993), where William Ruhlman quotes Leonard for saying that he and Lissauer worked together, co-wrote another album in 1975, which remained unissued and only one side was recorded. Question is - and we musk ask - whether he was co-writer of he wasn't, and in which extension he was when he got cretids for Came So Far For Beauty, and he did not fo The Traitor. I don't know did Dick ask him this question, in announced interview for Anjani's site, but I am sure we will hear many things about Songs for Rebecca, and the (unfortunate) destiny of its only original studio tape.
Lissauer came very gladly back to Leonard in 1984 for Various Positions (again, he didn't co-write any of the songs, while Sharon did /it remained out-taked/), and he works now again with Leonard and Anjani. So, obviously, he don't feel anything close like Cornelius was (or is). Leonard also shared credits not only in 1985 for unissued Sharon's song, but again with Sharon in 1988 and 1993, and on The Future he shared credits with many. Not speaking about TNS (duet album by two co-writers) and DH.

For Cornelius, I think he helped/added few chord changes, or notes, to the first version. Is this is huge input that he deserves the credirs on 2nd, recorded version it's another question.
User avatar
lightning
Posts: 1349
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2002 4:54 am
Location: New York City
Contact:

Postby lightning » Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:59 pm

Now I'm wondering if this allegedly co-written story was based on a real incident or only took place in the author's head ( or fist). Is it two males having a go at poor dead Janis? There is no mention of any liason with Cohen in any of Janis' biographies ( Myra Firedman, David Dalton, Peggy Caserta) that I remember.
User avatar
Kjelling
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Trondheim, Norway

Postby Kjelling » Wed Nov 30, 2005 8:30 pm

As you mention, Tom, Cohen himself stated that Lissauer co-wrote some songs that ended up on Recent Songs in the liner notes: "I owe my thanks [...] to John Lissauer with whom I worked on earlier versions of The Traitor and The Smokey Life". I think the changes Leonard made are improvements but they're not in any way a complete rewrite.

As for "Came So Far for Beauty" (which was not rewritten), I believe the tune is atypical of Cohen and I don't doubt that Lissauer wrote the music – which is wonderful, by the way. The copyright registration only states that words and music are by LC and JL but our friend is known for writing all the words himself, isn't he? (At least that was the case with Death of a Ladies' Man.)
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25340
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Postby lizzytysh » Wed Nov 30, 2005 8:45 pm

Is the music of "Came So Far for Beauty" only suspected as being [mostly] written by Lissauer? I'm not a musician, but the feel of it is floating and 'lyrical' like "Hallelujah" [albeit "Hallelujah" definitely soars] and "Take This Waltz" [and "Take This Waltz" has obvious differences, too] are [still], for me. Perhaps, that's a 'trained ear' issue, where a musician can see the obvious, label-able distinctions ~ patterns of chord changes, or whatever.
muddy
Posts: 131
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 7:05 am
Location: Buenos Aires

Janis- Leonard

Postby muddy » Thu Dec 01, 2005 7:21 am

I'm sure you know that it was written for Janis. I've got a Janis Joplin's biograph and it's true, it doesn't say a thing about Cohen, but in a interview that I read two or three years ago he confessed that it was like that.
Well, I just say this to introduce myslef 'cause I'm new here. It's so good to meet people that like Leonard Cohen as much as myself.
So Good Luck Everybody.... We'll see each other very often I think....

Return to “Leonard Cohen's music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests