My Night With Leonard Cohen

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Dem
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My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by Dem » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:38 am

A story by Roz Warren in today's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/18/boomi ... .html?_r=0

The New York Times

July 18, 2013
My Night With Leonard Cohen
By ROZ WARREN

It was 1975. My pal Anne and I were waiting in line outside a Chicago club where Leonard Cohen would perform that night, when Mr. Cohen himself came around the corner, smiled at the two of us, then continued inside.

“Did you see that?” I said. “He noticed us!”

“We must be his type,” Anne said. “Or one of them, anyway.”

I was a nice Jewish girl from suburban Detroit. Anne was a minister’s daughter from Ohio. We were both juniors at the University of Chicago. My guitar-playing boyfriends had been courting me with “Sisters of Mercy" and “Famous Blue Raincoat” since high school, and I was eager to check out the real deal. Anne was a sometimes folksinger who often performed Mr. Cohen’s songs herself, her lovely soprano accompanied with somewhat haphazard guitar playing.

The club was packed and the show was terrific. Pulling into traffic afterward, we realized that Mr. Cohen was riding in the car ahead of us. It was a big old station wagon, and Mr. Cohen and the drummer were in the back seat, facing us.

Giddy, we waved at them and mouthed the words, “Great show!”

At the next light, Mr. Cohen rolled down the window and called, “Follow us!”

“Are we really going to do this?” Anne asked as I steered through the dark city streets, zipping around corners and trying not to run stop signs.

“Why not?” I asked. Sure, it was past midnight and we were bone tired. But what an adventure!

And meeting Mr. Cohen would certainly be something cool to tell my folk-singing boyfriends about.

At a downtown diner, we all crowded into a large corner booth, and the drummer told us we had caught the singer’s eye because Anne was the spitting image of the chick who inspired “So Long, Marianne.”

We were so young and innocent that it didn’t even occur to us that he might be feeding us a line.

The rest of the band took off, leaving me and Anne with Mr. Cohen and the drummer. They griped about life on the road for a while, then Mr. Cohen drew us out, asking about our lives and the university.

The fact that teenage boys in suburban Detroit were using his music to try to seduce girls clearly amused him.

During one lull in the conversation, he turned to me, shook his head, and said, “You are so young."

I didn’t argue. He seemed ancient to me, although at 41, he was considerably younger than I am now.

Mr. Cohen ordered a root beer float with chocolate ice cream, which struck me as a ghastly combination. When he offered me a sip, I tried it, then made a face and pronounced it “appalling.”

The food was awful but Anne and I were having a wonderful time. After a great show, we were hanging out with the star! But we began to suspect there was a plan afoot to divvy us up, one for Mr. Cohen and one for the drummer, so we headed to the ladies room for a powwow.

We thought about saying, “So Long, Leonard Cohen” and leaving after the midnight nosh, but we were having too much fun. We wanted the adventure to continue, but we agreed we would stick together. If Mr. Cohen didn’t like that, too bad for him. We’d be out of there.

We weren’t groupies. We were feminists. We intended to take control of the situation. And neither of us was up for trading in our friendship for a little solo time with Mr. Cohen.

As we left the diner, I took Mr. Cohen aside and told him Anne and I were sticking together. Maybe the drummer was a great guy, but neither of us was interested in him.

Mr. Cohen seemed untroubled by this news.

Driving behind the station wagon again, we agreed that Mr. Cohen was a mensch. He had treated us respectfully. He had taken us seriously. We liked him. And he seemed to like us, too.

It turned out he was staying at the Playboy Towers, which we thought deeply ironic. While you could associate plenty of singers with the term “playboy," Leonard Cohen, surely, wasn’t among them.

We accompanied him to a drab hotel room that was dominated by a mammoth bed, covered with the ugliest bedspread I had ever seen. By now it was after two. He turned on the TV and we stood around for a few moments chatting about how ugly the bedspread was. Then we took turns using the bathroom, stripped down to our undies, and the three of us dove into that great big bed and … went right to sleep.

We were all exhausted. And Anne and I clearly weren’t groupie material. We snuggled up to him, one on either side, and everyone went to dreamland.

Anne says she woke up once, because he was snoring. She reached over, gently closed his mouth, and went back to sleep.

When I awoke the next morning, Mr. Cohen was singing in the shower.

I nudged Anne and we beamed at each other. How amazing was this?

Soon he was moving around the dark room, getting dressed and packing up. As he left, he said: “I have the room till noon. You can sleep in.”

After the door closed behind him, Anne and I immediately started joking around. “Who on earth was that?” “He looked pretty darn familiar.” “Say … that wasn‘t Leonard Cohen, was it?”

Then we got out of bed and searched the room for souvenirs.

We found an almost full bottle of Herbal Essence in the shower. Leonard Cohen’s shampoo! Ours now. Emptying the waste basket, we were rewarded with crumbled scraps of paper containing song lyrics. There were also mash notes from eager groupies trying to entice him into a romp, including one who claimed to give the best “backrub” north of Tallahassee.

I give Mr. Cohen credit. Given a choice between a night of groupie debauchery and a snuggle with two feminists, he’d gone with us.

Of course, the man was a Buddhist. He was probably just taking what the universe had to offer. Had we turned into a pair of depraved trollops the moment we had him in that room alone, he might have gone with that, too.

When Mr. Cohen’s next record came out, the cover photo was of him with two women. Coincidence? Sure, but we got a kick out of thinking it was a secret message for us. He had called the album “Death of a Ladies Man.” To us, he was a perfect gentleman.

Does Mr. Cohen still remember that night? Probably not. But that’s O.K. What matters is that Anne and I, still fast friends, have never forgotten it.

I tried to contact Mr. Cohen after writing this article. His manager, Robert B. Kory, was kind enough to write back to tell me it was a “great story” that he would “forward to Leonard,” but that “regrettably, we must decline the request for a comment, as Leonard is on tour.”
Athens 2008, Prague 2009, Paris 2012
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martali
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by martali » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:35 am

love this:
Written by Roz Warren, who is a mild-mannered librarian who almost never sleeps with famous people.
:lol:
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mutti
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by mutti » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:59 pm

I love this too...great story
thanks
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HelenOE
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by HelenOE » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:42 pm

And does anybody else want to know what the song lyrics were? :D
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sturgess66
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by sturgess66 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:59 pm

HelenOE wrote:And does anybody else want to know what the song lyrics were? :D
Maybe something like ...

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on.
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lightning
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by lightning » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:49 pm

They seem like groupies to me, and not very interesting ones besides. Poor Leonard. Read Sylvie Simmons book for much better stories of Close Encounters.
HelenOE
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by HelenOE » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:12 pm

They weren't groupies in the sense of "I want to have sex with someone famous." That was kind of the whole point of the story. They went off the groupie script and had a lovely night involving nothing more than an ice cream soda, a collective snuggle and a little bit of snoring.
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sturgess66
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by sturgess66 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:25 pm

lightning wrote:They seem like groupies to me, and not very interesting ones besides. Poor Leonard. Read Sylvie Simmons book for much better stories of Close Encounters.
Doesn't seem like Leonard suffered from the encounter? And no "heavy work" involved. :)
And hey - along came a great song!
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lizzytysh
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by lizzytysh » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:01 pm

Ohhhh... I think it's a LOVELY encounter 8) .
Loved the onset, the progress, and the outcome... as well as the telling.

Thanks, Roz, and Dem.
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
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lightning
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by lightning » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:26 pm

It seems like froth writing to me, more like 16 Magazine than the New York Times. People I talk to are surprised they printed it. Kind of galling the names non-sexual women call sexual women. Very square.
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by holydove » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:28 pm

I find this to be a fascinating story!! I love it.

I hope they saved those little scraps of paper (whatever the lyrics were). . .if it was me, & I hadn't saved them, I would surely regret it forever. And if they did save them, I would love to see a scan. . .

Thank you for posting this, Dem; & thank you to Roz for sharing it.
Fu Ling Yoo
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by Fu Ling Yoo » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:49 pm

:lol:
"including one who claimed to give the best “backrub” north of Tallahassee."
So she had personal knowledge of someone even better, and was ceding her the territory from Tallahassee down...

"There once was a girl from Pinellas.
She gave backrubs to all of the fellas
But due to probation
She can't roam the nation
Now of my action she is very jealous. "
Perhaps Canada's leading Chinese Leonard Cohen fan.
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lizzytysh
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Re: My Night With Leonard Cohen

Post by lizzytysh » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:20 pm

And for me, lightning, the way the details are written and related is suited to the light, rather frothy nature of the experience.

She's obviously much older now and could take a more literary approach to it, but she admitted to being young at the time, with boyfriends trying to ply her with Leonard's songs since high school; Leonard commented on her/their being so young; and I just got the [perhaps, skewed] impression that he handled this situation with these young girls much the same as [per his promise to her father] he did with Perla when she went on the road with him.

They were fans, and maybe in that "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" stage of feminism, maybe even wannabe feminism, but they didn't try to seduce or lure him; but when invited, did follow... and to breakfast... and they were aware enough to recognize the, perhaps, plan of being divvied up, with their friendship with each other was more well considered than just trying to get Leonard, one over the other. Disrobing down to their underwear, they could surely have seduced Leonard had they set about to, it would seem. Remember that woman on film trying to get Leonard to go with her and he demured, perhaps because it was all so public. There likely was a certain 'satisfaction' for these young girls [and, women in general] seeing those discarded notes, and that two who hadn't even tried to get with Leonard were invited to breakfast and his room for the night. And, perhaps, it was a relief to him that they weren't going to just go for the one-night stand. Not that Leonard's memory is all that terrific [per Leonard], times like that would seem to be all the more memorable. He said he can't keep track of each fallen robin... so, maybe he does better with those still on the branch ;-) .

She was quite honest regarding what they did after Leonard left the room in the morning, and there are scores of well-grown women who would do the same now. They would also swoon [as these girls did in their way] of cuddling with Leonard for the night, and then listening to him sing in the shower. [I recall having a dream of sleeping in a bed alongside Leonard, both of us fully clothed, and my dream felt light, tender, and sweet, and I'm afraid the only way I could relay it would be in simplistic fashion.] For me, this was a sweet encounter and its writing of it underscored that sweetness.

Thanks to Tchocolatl for this [inserted in the midst here because it reminded me of this piece]...
I like this 1969 comment by Leonard Cohen which seems to fit with the art works : "(...) it's really wonderful not to have to sleep with everybody".
And I know that Sylvie's focus was on the A-List people, and Roz certainly doesn't pretend that they were in that category. And laughs at herself now that they may have missed the more obvious pick-up line regarding resemblance to Marianne. I'm glad the NY Times printed it, or I'd not have been able to read it. Too much heaviness in life right now, from personal up to worldwide. It would be fun to listen to and laugh over this story with a glass of wine or iced tea and a girlfriend who had experienced it. Maybe because it's summer, I enjoy a light, summer, short story, too ;-) .


xoxox
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
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