Leonard in the Aussie limelight

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
bee
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Postby bee » Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:00 pm

really, don't pick on me, these are the last days for me in australia, on sunday we'll have the last show, tommorow my big work day- got to put up the stage and check the light. Was today in some little dorfchen- hadsdorf to check on the jewerly, than there was some bike rice going on and the irish band plying, was lovely weather, i bought a australian leather hat, a very fancy, good quality.
Before that i visited the mount macedon, and than I visited a couple in a superbeautiful country estate- with the guest house and such and the main house, good lord, such richies beyond my imagination, and the english gent who owns it all was as english as one could possible be. Was very polite and made superb dinner and tea for me, but my mood changed conciderably, and at the end of the night i behaved as proper as i've never done in my life.
so, that is how it goes in australia for me so far. love to you all
bee
dar
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Postby dar » Fri Jan 21, 2005 7:58 pm

That's what I'm talking about. Glad to hear you are now on your best behavior and that you are having some good times down under.

I don't even know why you are there bee, but it sounds like you might be in the music business? My 20 year old daughter, Gina, has a company in Sacramento and does lots of shows there. Maybe you can stop by her site and give her some info on the Bay Area. http://www.supergiantproductions.com.

Hope your work wraps up smoothly, you have a safe flight home, and that you leave Australia with a new found fondness for the country and they have a new found fondness for you too!
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In love with Leonard - Sydney Morning Herald feature

Postby Adrian » Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:09 am

In today's edition of the Sydney Morning Herald (or yesterday's issue, depending on your time zone), the paper's dean of arts coverage, Bruce Elder, had these very interesting observations:

In love with Leonard
January 26, 2005

Bruce Elder explores why so many musicians want to put their spin on the
words of the melancholy troubadour.

Australia has an intriguing connection with Leonard Cohen. "In the
summer of 1960, visitors to Hydra included a poor young Canadian poet
and folk guitarist named Leonard Cohen, who gave his first formal
concert at Katsikas's grocery store. Concerned about his poverty, the
Johnstons had him to stay for some time in the spare room; later, when
he managed to find a cheap house to rent, Charmian and George gave him a large work table, a bed, and pots and pans for his new home" wrote Nadia Wheatley in The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift.

The importance of this coda in any attempt to understand the influence
of Leonard Cohen is simple. In 1960, when Bob Dylan was only 19, and
nearly two years before Dylan would get his first record deal, Cohen was
already carving out his niche in a grocery store on a Greek island. He
was 25. He was a poet and writer first and a folk singer second. He was
not a product of the 1960s. He was an older singer/songwriter removed
from the fashions of his time.

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Cohen turned 70 last year. His career has been complex and unusual. He
is widely known by the not-entirely-jokey description as "the man who
writes music to slit your wrists to". He has never had a hit single. He
was 34 before he released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. His
greatest commercial successes have occurred when women, notably Judy
Collins with Suzanne and Jennifer Warnes with First We Take Manhattan,
have taken his songs, liberated them from Cohen's sandpaper-rough
vocals, and found in their poetry and melodies works of beauty.

So what is it about Leonard Cohen? What makes him so special that he is
loved by musicians, even those who would never claim him as an
influence, and some of the greatest singers and singer/songwriters are
happy to bend their talents to the great man's songs?

Think about it. Suzanne - that most exquisite of all the Cohen songs,
with its mesmerising, surreal images of a girl who feeds you tea and
oranges which come all the way from China, who wears rags and feathers,
and who takes your hand and shows you a world where the sun pours down
like honey on the lady of the harbour. Over the years it has been
recorded by people as diverse as Tom Rapp's Pearls Before Swine, Peter
Gabriel (who rarely ventures anywhere near other people's songs), Neil
Diamond, Joan Baez, Nina Simone and Nancy Wilson.

Why? What makes it so special? Cohen achieves that most elusive of all
literary conceits. He uses language so successfully he creates images
that are at once believable but never rooted in the real world.

In this sense he is a myth maker, an illusionist, a timeless gypsy
troubadour who wanders into town and sings songs that evoke a world
which exists beyond the horizon in the land of plausible dreams. He
belongs in Carnivale rather than The Grapes of Wrath. How magical is the
image of a girl who takes your hand and leads you into a wonderland
where you realise that "you've always been her lover" while she touches
your "perfect body / with her mind"? It certainly is far removed from
Britney, Beyonce and Baby Spice.

Cohen is a great writer of love songs. He is also a great writer about
religion, sex and death. In other words the great poetic themes are
dealt with in Cohen's songs and they are written about in a fresh and
original way.

But there are two other reasons for Cohen's appeal. Every budding
singer/songwriter will blather about how Dylan has been a great
influence. Only the most discriminating, and the most left-field, of
songwriters - Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, Suzanne Vega,
Peter Gabriel - cite Cohen as an influence. He doesn't appeal to
everyone. His vision is restricted to a deeply introspective, overtly
literary and melancholy cognoscenti.

And there is a very special secret embedded in his songs. Like the great
Cole Porter and Irving Berlin classics, Cohen's songs can be endlessly
reinterpreted without losing their special magic. There is always an
element of Cohen in every interpretation but every singer can come to
the Cohen canon and place their own, unique vocal stylings on his songs.

In 1995 a truly remarkable album, Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard
Cohen, was released. Apart from having an impressive line-up of
artists - Elton John, Don Henley, Bono, Billy Joel, Sting, Peter
Gabriel, Aaron Neville, Suzanne Vega, Willie Nelson, Tori Amos, Trisha
Yearwood - its great distinctiveness lay in the fact that every musician
took a Cohen song and turned it into something they could have written.
Perhaps the most original of all the versions was Sting's reading of
Sisters of Mercy which, with the help of the Chieftains, he turned into
an Irish dance number. Willie Nelson turned Bird on a Wire into a dusty
country number, Don Henley made Everybody Knows sound as though it was
an outtake from Hotel California, Bono found an electronic rap and
metallic dance rhythms inside Hallelujah, Tori Amos turned Famous Blue
Raincoat into, well, a Tori Amos song, and Peter Gabriel offered a
fiercely emotional and beautiful version of Suzanne which sounded as
though he had written it himself.

Against such a background it is not surprising that a diverse range of
musicians - Rufus Wainwright, Teddy and Linda Thompson, the Handsome
Family, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Nick Cave (and, in the English and US
versions, Laurie Anderson) - have formed an informal company to sing 31
Cohen songs in Came So Far For Beauty.

As Kate McGarrigle explains: "It started two years ago in New York City
to celebrate Canada Day. There have been three performances so far. The
other two were in England. You can cover Leonard Cohen's songs in lots
of different ways. I think part of the attraction was that they were
looking for a Canadian and it's easier to cover Leonard Cohen songs than
it is to cover Joni Mitchell songs."

She adds with suitably wry wit: "In the actual execution of the song you
don't have to have a great vocal range. All you have to have is a memory
for all the lyrics."

It may actually be impossible for a great musician to do a bad version
of a Cohen song. They are songs which reach out and invite talented
musicians to find their own meaning and to imbue them with new and
personal levels of nuance and subtlety.

Came So Far For Beauty - An Evening of Leonard Cohen Songs, part of the Sydney Festival, is at the Opera House on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"Why music?" "Why breathing?"
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Postby bee » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:32 am

tom.d.stiller wrote:
bee wrote:...but even the young people are dressed here like in late 80th or early 90th, no sense of fashion whatsoever.
Oh bee...

Fashion, according to the American Heritage Dictionary is " The prevailing style or custom, as in dress or behavior". So just take it that what you consider "like in late 80th or early 90th" is fashion there. I can imagine the Aussies you're looking down as having "no sense of fashion whatsoever" talking behind your back:

"Look at that relicate! What a bum! I'd be ashamed to run around like that."

But most probably they'll know better than you.

They'll simply recognize you as what you are.

Tom
Oh Tom....
I am always dressed with elegance and style, nobody could ever say about me "running around like that" EVER!
What I was referring to- was the young people, who don't have any black kids around there to show them what is "in" and what is "out" and what is "kool" and what is not. That sort of stuff. I was tottaly astonished not having them kool stuff around, just only the hill-billies trying to be kool in their own provicial way.
bee
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Postby tom.d.stiller » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:43 am

bee..

I don't care what's "in" or "out" - but I care for what's you and what's not you. Fashion, for me,. is long out of fashion.

With a large welcome back to the US smile

Tom
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Postby bee » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:47 am

Dear Dar, I am back in SF, so happy thank you Jesus, Mary , Josef, soo good to be home.
Dar, I don't work for the music industry, but for a small Theater company, doing stage sets, lights and music/sound.
It is quite challenging every time on unfamiliar stage and whatever is there one has to deal with, while on tour. Sometimes I am even an actor if needed, 8) Feels like a Shakespeare time minstrel. At the end of this year perhaps we'll go to canada, still not clear.
Thank you for wishing well, was a good time there, having my last night in australia I had a chance to swim in the ocean, gorgeous- the stars and all. beauty all around, great memories, great times, god bless australia.
bee
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Postby bee » Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:28 am

Tom, thank you for welcoming back- is really good, even if from summer to winter. :cry:
Don't say you don't care about fashion, perhaps not fashion, than may be style?
When you look at the great paintings, don't you see the style and fashion and how it defines the times and history? Imagine Leonardo da Vici in a basball cap? is not so simple and cheap, it has more depth to it.
When I look at the photos of my mama when she was 18, where she is wearing that adorable hat and the gloves, it breaks my heart how beautiful she looks and what she was wearing- it tells a story. It is a very serious part of culture and please don't dismiss it as it would not count. Because it does, in a big way.
Look at LC in that latest photo with the hat- jeez, doesn't that tell you so much? mucho grande 8)
bee
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Came So far For Beauty - Sydney, last night

Postby lisa » Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:42 am

What a wonderful, wonderful show.

Antony, an artist I had not heard of before, completely stole the show. He has the voice of an angel. He brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.

The Handsome Family was also a new discovery for me and I will have to dig up some of their CDs.

Jarvis Cocker and Beth Orton were also fantastic. Nick Cave a little disappoining...he preceded his performance of Suzanne by asking for the words. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but having to stick close to lyric sheets all night took away from his usual stage presence and performance.

Chris Spedding an extra nice surprise as he had not been promoted in the line-up.

Overall, an amazing show and a wonderful tribute.
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tom.d.stiller
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Postby tom.d.stiller » Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:44 am

Style, dear bee, is what you create, while fashion is what an industry tries to implant in your mind.

I can very well imagine Leonardo with a baseball cap, but I can't imagine GWB, or WJC, with George Washington's hair...

But my original remark referred to being fashion a regional phenomenon. What's fashionable here might be out of fashion elsewhere.

Since I don't even know how you look, or what your "fashion" is: wear what you feel is comfortable, and ignore my remarks...

Tom
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Postby bee » Sun Jan 30, 2005 11:16 am

Dear Tom, I would wear things even if they are very uncomfortable, just to be in style :lol:
Fashion is not regional- it is universal, if it is regional- it is called provincial- which means - very bad :lol:
bee
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Re: Came So far For Beauty - Sydney, last night

Postby April Vallis » Sun Jan 30, 2005 11:38 am

Yes, Lisa. I loved the show and agree with all your comments. It was a pity about Nick Cave - apparently he also needed the words in the New York concert. I thought Antony was wonderful.

Kind regards
lisa wrote:What a wonderful, wonderful show.

Antony, an artist I had not heard of before, completely stole the show. He has the voice of an angel. He brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.

The Handsome Family was also a new discovery for me and I will have to dig up some of their CDs.

Jarvis Cocker and Beth Orton were also fantastic. Nick Cave a little disappoining...he preceded his performance of Suzanne by asking for the words. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but having to stick close to lyric sheets all night took away from his usual stage presence and performance.

Chris Spedding an extra nice surprise as he had not been promoted in the line-up.

Overall, an amazing show and a wonderful tribute.
April Vallis
lisa
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apples and oranges

Postby lisa » Sun Jan 30, 2005 11:38 am

don't compare mount bloody macedon with downtown l.a.

I'm sure I could find some rural us town in the back of B*ttf**k nowhere and compare it with inner city melbourne or sydney and your cowpoke mates would come out looking pretty sad.
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Postby linda_lakeside » Sun Jan 30, 2005 6:30 pm

witty_owl wrote:
Opal is merely fossilised silicates that refract light.
But what beautiful refracted light from mere fossilised silicates!
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Postby jarkko » Sun Jan 30, 2005 7:00 pm

(From Dick)
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2005/ ... 56057.html


Came So Far For Beuaty
Reviewer Patrick Donovan
January 31, 2005

Image
They came so far for him: from left, Jarvis Cocker, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Orton, Nick Cave and Teddy Thompson at rehearsal for the Leonard Cohen show in Sydney.
Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Sydney Festival
Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
January 28

These types of nights aren't supposed to happen until you're dead. Came So Far for Beauty, which runs for three nights as part of the Sydney Festival, feels like a wake for a respected songwriter or band - only they are celebrating the living treasure Leonard Cohen, for only the third time after performances in Brooklyn's Prospect Park and the English seaside town of Brighton.

One can't help thinking upon arrival that this is a Clayton's event - surely it would be better witnessing the Poet Laureate of Pessimism in the flesh. He's still making pretty cool albums, retains his chocolate velvet baritone, and after a stint in a Zen Buddhist temple, he seems to have found what was eluding him and driving many of his melancholy songs - no, not the perfect woman, but peace.

But hang on a minute - this band on stage is pretty darn good, offering understated orchestral and country arrangements of Cohen's songbook of love and sorrow. Even Cohen's original backing singers, Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, are there to give an authentic touch to the songs. Nick Cave's there, of course - he's learnt a few things about the love song from the master.

He's dressed in black, singing a sublime version of Suzanne, a slow funky take on I'm Your Man and one of Cohen's nasty ones, Diamonds in the Mine. Cohen would never dance this well on stage.

Also backing Cave are Kate and Anna McGarrigle, who provided back-up vocals on Cave's Nocturama album. And Kate's kids, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, who all sing together in harmony. Sunday afternoon must have been a hoot at their place.

And there's Beth Orton, singing Sisters of Mercy in denim shorts and with legs up to here. Now Orton's singing Death of a Ladies Man with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. He can dance, and they ham it up, tapping into Cohen's dark sense of humour and sexual mischievousness, breaking the generally downbeat tone of the evening.

Here comes husband and wife duo Rennie and Brett Sparks, the Handsome Family. They plug into Cohen's gothic storytelling on the most contemporary song of the night, A Thousands Kisses Deep, a song that Rennie says took place at the bottom of the sea. Rufus Wainwright camps it up for a cabaret version of Everybody Knows, but sticks to the script for Chelsea Hotel and Famous Blue Raincoat.

Teddy Thompson's sardonic take on The Future is pretty good, as is Martha Wainwright's sassy honky tonk reading of Tower of Song.

Many of Cohen's songs deal with love, so they can be sung by either gender, but the best moments come when male and female voices intertwine, as if making love. The last-minute ring-in for the night, a man who goes simply by the name of Anton, was last heard in Australia singing Nico's Velvet Underground parts on Lou Reed's tour.

He uses his quivering, angelic voice to great effect in a superb duet with Cave on the rollicking all-in finale, Don't Go Home With a Hard On.

But it is Cohen's signature song, Bird on a Wire, that really floors the crowd. It's his confession, his My Way, and is sung by Batalla, who says the song is very important to her. "I have tried in my way to be free," she sings with great empathy and understanding.

We really hope you are, Leonard.
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Postby jarkko » Sun Jan 30, 2005 8:17 pm

and another, also from Dick!


http://www.smh.com.au/news/Review/Came- ... 57859.html

Sydney Herald
Came So Far For Beauty
By Bernard Zuel
January 31, 2005

Concert Hall, Opera House, January 28
In Leonard Cohen's 1973 song A Singer Must Die, presenting himself before a panel of stern judges he declares: "I'm sorry for smudging the air with my song." Some smudge. Some song.

That smudge's lasting imprint on several generations of singers and fellow songwriters is the subtext of what simplistically would be called a tribute show but in effect was a celebration of song. Spread across nearly four hours it was as strong on interpretation as it was light on unnecessary reverence; as steeped in Jacques Brel and country music as German cabaret and folk; as joyous as it was moving.

You could see that with a cocked-hip Jarvis Cocker wholly inhabiting Death of a Ladies Man (in duet with Beth Orton) and bringing a self-mocking playboy touch to I Can't Forget. And certainly it was there in Nick Cave, who made us re-evaluate one of Cohen's more contentious songs, Diamonds In The Mine - "a nasty Leonard Cohen song" he cheerfully declared - by playing up some Vegas sleaze while the always impressive and flexible backing group briefly turned into Elvis Presley's TCB band.

Not that the evening's stars were only the best-known faces. The Handsome Family took and gave great delight by relocating A Heart With No Companion to the Kentucky hills, while Teddy Thompson (whose mother Linda Thompson earlier had hushed the room with The Story of Isaac) found a bruised centre to lines such as "I choose the rooms that I live in with care/the windows are small and the walls almost bare".

And in the category of "where the hell has he been hiding?" was the hulking, shambling figure of New York singer Antony, who left open mouths on and off the stage with his heart-piercing explorations of The Guests and the prayer-like If It Be Your Will. (He's playing tonight at the Vanguard and must be seen.)

What was staggering was how each time you thought the night had just had its peak someone else would stroll on stage and give you another one. And then another. For example, Rufus Wainwright's version of Hallelujah, which escaped from the shadow of Jeff Buckley's seemingly definitive interpretation with an elegant but effortlessly transporting take, is the kind of song that would climax any regular show, but here was presented early in the first set. Three songs later a former Cohen backing vocalist, Julie Christiansen, beautifully balanced The Singer Must Die between pathos and humour and upped the ante again.

Martha Wainwright's bared-to-the-bone Tower of Song was matched by her appearance with her mother and aunt, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, on a spare but riveting You Know Who I Am. But soon after that came Perla Batalla, the other of Cohen's long-term backing vocalists, delivering a rich, passionate exploration of Bird On a Wire.

It was a wondrous night. A long, winding, rich and constantly rewarding evening brought to us by the musical equivalent of a fantasy football team whose dedication was to the work and not the ego.

Somewhere in California you imagine the droll Mr Cohen hearing this and saying to them, "I thank you, I thank you for doing your duty/you keepers of truth, you guardians of beauty".

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