The Legacy of Music
De 20 essentiële van: Leonard Cohen

De 20 essentiële van: Leonard Cohen

8, May 2015

Zijn 20 essentiële tracks, het meest genoemd door de Facebook volgers van The Legacy of Music op 19 maart 2015. Leonard Cohen legt uit hoe 10 van deze nummers tot stand kwamen….

 

Dance Me To The End of Love: “That came from just hearing or reading or knowing that in the death camps, beside the crematoria, in certain of the death camps, a string quartet was pressed into performance while this horror was going on, those were the people whose fate was this horror also. And they would be playing classical music while their fellow prisoners were being killed and burnt.”

 

So Long, Marianne: “Marianne” in this song is Marianne Jensen (now Ihlen) who met and lived together with me and her son on the Greek Island Hydra. Later we all 3 moved to Montreal.”

 

I’m Your Man: “I sweated over that one. I really sweated over it. I can show you the notebook for that. It started off as a song called ‘I Cried Enough For You.’ It was related to a version of ‘Waiting For The Miracle’ that I recorded. The rhyme scheme was developed by toeing the line with that musical version that I put down. But it didn’t work.”

 

Suzanne:  “I wrote this in 1966, Suzanne had a room on a waterfront sheet in the port of Montreal. Everything happened just as it was put down. She was the wife of a man I knew. Her hospitality was immaculate. Some months later, I sang it to Judy Collins over the telephone. The publishing rights pilfered in New York City but it is probably appropriate that I don’t own this song. Just the other day I heard some people singing it on a ship in the Caspian Sea.”

 

Bird On The Wire: “It was begun in Greece because there were no wires on the island where I was living to a certain moment. There were no telephone wires. There were no telephones. So at a certain point they put in these telephone poles. Then, of course, I noticed that birds came to the wires and that was how that song began. ‘Like a drunk in a midnight choir,’ that’s also set on the island. Where drinkers, me included, would come up the stairs. There was great tolerance among the people for that because it could be in the middle of the night. You’d see three guys with their arms around each other, stumbling up the stairs and singing these impeccable thirds. So that image came from the island: ‘Like a drunk in a midnight choir.'”

 

First We Take Manhattan: “I felt for sometime that the motivating energy, or the captivating energy, or the engrossing energy available to us today is the energy coming from the extremes. That’s why we have Malcolm X. And somehow it’s only these extremist positions that can compel our attention. And I find in my own mind that I have to resist these extremist positions when I find myself drifting into a mystical fascism in regards to myself. [Laughs]”

 

Chelsea Hotel #2: “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 heeft inmiddels toegegeven dat dit liedje over een affaire tussen hem en Janis Joplin gaat)

 

Slow: “I’ve said it before – being a songwriter is like being a nun: you’re married to a mystery. My methods are obscure and not to be replicated. A song will yield itself if you stick with it long enough. But you’ve got to stick with it for a very long time.”

 

Famous Blue Raincoat: “The problem with that song is that I’ve forgotten the actual triangle. Whether it was my own – of course, I always felt that there was an invisible male seducing the woman I was with, now whether this one was incarnate or merely imaginary I don’t remember, I’ve always had the sense that either I’ve been that figure in relation to another couple or there’d been a figure like that in relation to my marriage. I don’t quite remember but I did have this feeling that there was always a third party, sometimes me, sometimes another man, sometimes another woman. It was a song I’ve never been satisfied with. It’s not that I’ve resisted an impressionistic approach to songwriting, but I’ve never felt that this one, that I really nailed the lyric. I’m ready to concede something to the mystery, but secretly I’ve always felt that there was something about the song that was unclear. So I’ve been very happy with some of the imagery, but a lot of the imagery.”

 

Sisters Of Mercy: “I was in Edmonton, which is one of our largest northern cities, and there was a snowstorm and I found myself in a vestibule with two young hitch-hiking women who didn’t have a place to stay. I invited them back to my little hotel room and there was a big double bed and they went to sleep in it immediately. They were exhausted by the storm and cold. And I sat in this stuffed chair inside the window beside the Saskatchewan River. And while they were sleeping I wrote the lyrics. And that never happened to me before. And I think it must be wonderful to be that kind of writer. It must be wonderful. Because I just wrote the lines with a few revisions and when they awakened I sang it to them. And it has never happened to me like that before. Or since.”