Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died at the age of 82. Cohen’s label, Sony Music Canada, confirmed his death on the singer’s Facebook page.
“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” the statement read. “We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.” A cause of death and exact date of death was not given.
After an epic tour, the singer fell into poor health. But he dug deep and came up with a powerful new album
“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Cohen’s son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”
“Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” his manager Robert Kory wrote in a statement. “I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand, was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come.” (by Richard Gehr, Rolling Stone)
Leonard Cohen, 1960
To honor this great poet … here´s a rare album with early BBC recordings:
While Dylan was the transition point for protest music to move towards singer-songwriter, there were others too championing to focus on songs not politics. Canadian Leonard Cohen, with his brooding monotonous voice, was a talented poet who would never have won American Idol. But where he lacked a sweet voice, he made up for it with the intensity of his songs.
Together with younger artists Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Paul Simon, singer-songwriters moved to make songwriting an art form. Their efforts were recognised when mainstream acts covered their songs. All this happened in the whirlpool that rock music was creating.
These well-preserved sessions at the BBC in 1968 offer a fly-on-the-wall experience to witness a young Cohen singing practically the entire first album. The voice is fresh and deep, pushing the songs outside the Tin Pan Alley perimeter, and delving into poetry with a richness of words and subject. Today, they still have that raw appeal of a young artist at the peak of his powers.
Suzanne, So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye are beautiful love songs without catchy hooks. They got your attention with words and the emotions in the song.
Tagged to this 1968 session are three songs from a Top Gear show hosted by John Peel. The final track is a duet with British folk singer Julie Felix on Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye. The quality on these four tracks are still very good.
The origin of this BBC session began when bootleg label Yellow Cat released Leonard Cohen – At The Beeb [YC 018] to a wider audience as a silver-disc bootleg. It ran slow and was a few generations from the master. Then Cohen fan “briggY” shared his much improved version on the Dime site.
Another music fan, JWB, took a copy and improved on the sound. He said: “I’ve remastered this torrent… removed all the pops and clicks (there were several per song and in between tracks)… restored the sound to true mono… and improved the EQ which really cleared up the sound… I did not use any compression or noise reduction tricks… I reduced hiss with some deft EQ moves while still maintaining clarity.”
But the original source was from a fan called “Artery”. This is how he came upon a copy: “This is most probably my transfer from Jim D’s cassette. I did it about 6 years ago. Jim wrote to a man at the BBC who sent him the cassette. He’d made a cassette audio copy for his own use I believe and indicated the videotape had been wiped.”
So for all who wanted to know, the video of this BBC show has been “destroyed”. Artwork for this comes from “luckburz”. Many thanks to all who had a part in preserving this show and improving upon it. By your actions, many others who were not there in ‘68 can now share the experience.
Leonard Cohen with Julie Felix, 1968
Leonard Cohen (vocals, guitar)
Julie Felix (guitar, vocals on 17.)
Dave Cousins (banjo)
01. You Know Who I Am 3.48
02. Bird On The Wire 4.23
03. The Stranger Song 6.19
04. So Long Marianne 7.56
05. Master Song 8.03
06. There’s No Reason Why You Should Remember Me [improvisation] 1.42
07. Sisters Of Mercy 3.56
08. Teachers 3.59
09. Dress Rehearsal Rag 5.54
10. Suzanne 5.24
11. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye 3.48
12. Story Of Isaac 4.12
13. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong 3.58
14. Bird On The Wire 3.37
15. So Long Marianne 5.55
16. You Know Who I Am 3.10
17. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye 3.12
All songs written by Leonard Cohen
Tracks 1-13 Recorded Spring 1968 at Paris Theatre, London
Tracks 1-5 Broadcast August 31, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
Tracks 6-13 Broadcast September 7, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
Tracks 14-16 Recorded August 11, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC Radio 1 (”Top Gear with John Peel”)
Track 17 Recorded January 27, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC2 TV (”Once More With Felix”)
Rest In Peace