Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

All hyperbole and bullshit aside, Leonard Cohen (now 73) is one cool, dapper dude. The documentary I'm Your Man (2005) captures that almost entirely through interview sections with the man himself -- and in spite of a tribute concert in his honor that is interspersed throughout.

As for the tributes -- why not cut straight to the original, why filter through often disgustingly lame covers by Rufus Yawnright or snoozefests from Bono and The Edge? The overall feel of the tribute concert is too sensitive, too whitebread Canadian for my tastes. I'd have much rather seen Joan Jett and AC/DC do the covers -- or hear the undistilled originals. Thank God for jump cuts forward. Even Nick Cave comes off as too intimidated on this one. That said, the footage with Leonard Cohen is worth seeing.

Cohen is pensive, a gentleman with a charming sense of style and duty -- what the Hindus call dharma. He's also witty, funny, smart, gracious, even wise, so thank God the DVD version includes "A Conversation With Leonard Cohen" as a much-needed if all too brief bonus.

Cohen provides a glimpse of his development as an artist in Montreal, followed by his relocation to Manhattan in the 1960s. "Then I moved into the Chelsea Hotel," he notes. "That was a lot of fun. Everybody was there." As for his dalliance with Janis Joplin there and his "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," he says: "I don't know why I was so ungallant as to admit it was about Joplin. . . She wouldn't have cared, but my mother." The difficulties of working with Phil Spector on Death of a Ladies' Man (1977) are alluded to, but not spelled out.

Cohen has learned from Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and more. Paraphrasing Krishna, he says: "You'll never unentangle the circumstances that have brought you to this moment; so, arise."

Today's Rune: Defense.



Charles Gramlich said...

I learn alot about music from reading your blog, Erik.

Johnny Yen said...

I'm with you on the Cohen covers-- they just make you want to hear the original. His voice is perfect for the the mix of the spiritual and the carnal that his music covers.

I do really like one cover-- Don Henley's cover of Everybody Knows-- I suspect Henley got the irony of him, the former king of Southern California mellow singing "From the bloody cross at Calvary/To the beach of Malibu."

He does quite well with the ladies, I understand. He and Rebecca DeMornay were an item for some time.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Leonard Cohen is definitely unique. Love his music.

Danny Tagalog said...

Cohen is a god. How dare that schill Bono spill his schtick on the movie.

The Jesus and Mary Chain do a good cover of "Tower of Song" I seem to remember.