Sunday, 21 November 2010

Listening to Lenny

The other night we wuz watching the Tony Palmer documentary of Leonard Cohen's 1972 World Tour on BBC4. The Old Man has a hankering to see this and is thinkin of the Leonard Cohen numbers he likes.

I am not so sure. There's no doubt Leonard Cohen's songs are a signature of the 1960s - 70s. And as such, I hear them through a veil of recall. A West Country flat inhabited by a crew of female art students who drift through the "mattress on the floor" rooms, whilst again and again Suzanne takes Lenny down by the river and feeds him ... "tea and oranges that come all the way from China..."

His moody good looks; sweaters, raincoats, and cigarette smoke.

But it has to be said that I grow increasingly impatient as I watch the documentary. The pontificating and poetising; clips of general "Hey let's be cool about this..." stuff; the chaos of letting it all hang out. And some truly awful pomposity. I grunt and shuffle as the documentary finishes. And the Old Man says:

"Perhaps you don't like Cohen as much as I do."

Then the next programme starts up which is a recording of Cohen's 2008-9 World Tour. And we say - well why not watch a little of this as well. On stage the lights go up. And out comes this 74 year old geezer in a sharp suit and a snap-brimmed fedora. He steps up to the microphone .... and nails it.

Drink, hard times, and five years or so in a Zen monastery have maybe contributed to the honing process. Same songs reworked, and smoking along with great musicians behind him. Yes. The old guy floors 'em. And... Bam!
He got me.

He might get you too. Try clicking here for a YouTube clip from the 2008-9 tour.

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