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Everybody Knows Sharon Loves Her Work
SIMON COLLINS, The West Australian
August 27, 2010, 1:00 pm
She co-wrote the classic Everybody Knows with Leonard Cohen but LA-based singer-songwriter Sharon Robinson says nobody knows whether the Canadian giant's current world tour will be his last.
"I don't think anybody knows at this point," laughs Robinson, who tours with Cohen as a backing singer. "Leonard is enjoying it so much that I don't think anyone's willing to speculate about that."
Like many fans, she thought the previous world tour - which included a stunning show at Sandalford Estate in February last year - was Cohen's swan song. "We're taking it as it comes and very much appreciating the fact that it's still going," the Grammy award-winning songwriter says.
"We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Australia last time and everybody is really looking forward to coming back. I do remember the audience being enthusiastic and warm and fantastic."
Robinson's association with Cohen dates back to 1979 when she was rescued from performing as a dancer for Ann-Margret in Las Vegas to join his Field Commander Cohen tour.
Even back then the singer was a notoriously private man - yet Robinson took "a stab in the dark" and approached Cohen with the melody to what would become their first collaboration, Summertime. Diana Ross originally recorded the song for her 1987 album, Red Hot Rhythm and Blues.
"We had been on the road for a little while and we were all getting very comfortable around each other and I took the risk or the chance that Leonard might want to hear a melody that I had written," Robinson recalls. "I was very happy that he did and he immediately started working on the lyrics."
The pair have enjoyed a fruitful relationship ever since, with their best known collaboration Everybody Knows first appearing on Cohen's 1988 album I'm Your Man.
"That song came about much in the same way as most of our collaborations have, where we start with the lyrics and we flesh it out together," says Robinson, who is happy to hear that the NSW government used the song for their 2008 anti-smoking campaign.
The peak of their creative career together came in 2001 when Robinson co-wrote, produced and arranged Ten New Songs. The album, recorded in her LA studio, was Cohen's first after five years of seclusion at the Mt Baldy Zen Center.
"It was just a wonderful experience," she says. "I can't even find the words to describe making the record and how well it was received was really wonderful. People really seemed to like it and I was thrilled."
While the likes of Aaron Neville, Patti LaBelle, Don Henley and Roberta Flack have covered her songs, Robinson has only just unveiled her debut album, Everybody Knows. The collection includes her take on the title track and two other songs co-written with Cohen (Summertime and Alexandra Leaving) and should be available at his Australian concerts.
Robinson has no regrets that it's not her name on those big hits or touring posters. She wouldn't swap singing alongside Cohen for the world.