A beautiful and haunting interview with Adam Cohen on the making of "Thanks for the Dance" and so much more - by Yehuda Nuriel in Israel's Yediot Aharonot.
http://www.yediot.co.il/articles/0,7340 ... 23,00.html
Google translate (mostly):
"The world believes that Leonard Cohen is dead, but he really isn't!"
Exactly three years after his father's death, Adam Cohen is unwilling to come to terms with the loss. He dreams about him at night, recalls their complex relationship and learns more and more of him. For example, about that time he bought a plane ticket to a fan who was left with no money, or about the random people in the cafe who had heard of unknown Hallelujah verses from him. Now the son is releasing Leonard Cohen's definite final album, with brand new songs, and telling what it's like to work with a father who's dying before your eyes.
Leonard Cohen died, exactly yesterday, three years ago. It's been three years, and only three years. His immense presence, the mythology that he was still in his life, sounds better day by day. 'Bird on a Wire', a Man of Women - 'I'm Your Man', 'Susan' and 'Marianne', a poet who gives competition to Dylan and not sure who won there, the Jew of “Hallelujah” and “Who By Fire”, the nostalgia of youth for the famous blue raincoat, to the Chelsea Hotel and old age that springs with one last waltz ... This list can't end, because each of us, cynical as we may be, surely has in his private soundtrack one moment of Leonard Cohen for himself.
And suddenly, almost out of nowhere, with all this deja vu - a new album is coming. Of Leonard Cohen. Deja-ho? In our mother’s name, and we are not just swearing: it's Cohen's paternal baritone, it's his lyrics, this is the timeless, old-fashioned-but-why-to-replace music. Really: Leonard Cohen has a new one! And this news happened thanks to Adam Cohen, son of. Who worked together with his father on the last recordings he left, composed and produced his most define final album, the father’s after-death album. Thanks for the dance, which will see soon, on November 22.
A person, first of all, must ask you: Are you crazy? To go and do your dad's latest album, after his death? I'm already guessing what the reviews will say, if he fails: "Leonard Cohen turns in his grave. Well, what could we expect? The son never got close to the father's ankles."
"Oh, we know that long ago."
Really, why do you have that risk?
"Great question. A bit awkward, the truth ... You're trying to put me in an uncomfortable place, and its nine in the morning in Montreal ...
"Listen, when I was working on my last album with Dad, I realized I had a huge advantage over the whole world. It's not just the love and dedication and loyalty to him. Throughout my life, I've heard over and over and realized exactly what Dad loves and what he doesn't. Big producers, like Rick Robin, Daniel Lanoa or Don Woz, all knocked on Dad's door to get the producer job and he said, "No."
"My advantage is greater than any professional experience. Not at all, I'm the one who made the album. It's just the continuation of one long conversation with Dad. So close friendships have developed between us that I could continue his sentences. So much so, I know how he thinks. So, it's not my record, it's not my choice. The whole idea is to try to complete Dad's sentences - for him. And I'm convinced this is a record that resembles him. It's not my reflection, but a desire to bring Dad back to us, without bowing. I resurrected it, yes? "
Sounds a bit mystical. Looking to resurrect, do you keep talking to Dad? Dreaming of him? To me it sometimes happens, he admits. In perfectly ordinary dreams. Nice conversation. A quality time that unexpectedly lands. And hop, wake up.
"It's hard for me to talk about it (his voice trembling), but I'm going to say something that may sound strange. I want to confess what only those who lost their parents can understand and play in our secret club. The truth is: we live with them. Six to seven months after I wanted to stay with Dad. Of course, I see him in my dreams. And these are not comforting dreams. You actually fall into a terrible ruse here: The world believes that Leonard Cohen is dead, but he really wasn't! With him, and that's what happens to you, when you open the device and its voice covers you, thick and warm, like a blanket. "
How hard was it to see him in his twilight? Dad's dying. Finished in front of my eyes. He is always going. This is our deepest fear, a moment we do not want to imagine. Working on it took a lot of courage?
"No. It was not a courageous act. My central job at the end of his life was to work with him intimately. For a year, every day, I spent with an old, vulnerable person to complete the work on his vocals, and the last album. Dad gave me instructions on how Finish the job.
"When I found out that Dad was sick, I moved near his home, the best decision of my life. In the morning, I walk on the cold street and enter his house. I find an old, very old man, already seated, in a flawless suit, in the center of the living room. The smell of burning incense and pages upon pages upon pages of words everywhere. On the kitchen coffee table. On the couch in the office. I once looked for ice cream and found pages in the freezer. Swear!
"Then we would record. So that Dad didn't have to move, we set up a recording studio in his bedroom. I installed a medical chair so he could be comfortable and he could sleep, too. Dad suffered severe spinal pressure fractures. That's how we used to work, until we just didn't have it left Energy, until his power was over (gasping). Sometimes we would continue the session later, and sometimes just a few intense hours, until it was just over. It was the closest, most intimate and intense: working with your dad, until the last moment, toward death. ".
Will there be more albums?
"No, that's all. That's all that's left. There's no more. It's not another death album, when usually someone tries to make a few pennies from the death of a great artist and scrapes up every sketch and b-side or other nonsense to sell to people. Usually there will be more of these after-death albums. This is exactly the opposite, the last one, there will be no more."
The conversation with Adam Cohen is on the phone. Cohen, 47, the eldest son of Leonard Cohen and Susan Elrod, lives in AL. He grew up coast-to-coast, in the turbulent years of his legendary father, including a particularly non-aesthetic divorce fight between his parents. "My parents harnessed their creativity for a very ugly farewell," he told Yedioth Ahronoth in the past. A musically creamy boy, with quite a few miles of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, also inspired by the liberal-greenhouse he grew up in. At 26, even before he even composed a single character, he became the golden boy that big record companies chased. God willing, too, what is to be said. He failed twice, not necessarily his fault. Precisely because of his impossible name and name. He released original music, totally not bad, which remained largely hipster's, and also appeared in Barbie, Tel Aviv, a city he fondly remembers.
Until personal circumstances put him back in the right place, for him, for Dad, for all of us: home. Cohen Jr. produced You Want It Darker, an album of his father that was published 19 days before his death, and received rave reviews across the globe. With us especially. Partly thanks to the theme song, the anthem that immediately qualified for the top of Cohen's classics, which means a lot. "Magnified, sanctified, be your holy name" or in less sexy Hebrew: "Shmya Raba will grow up," whispered to this beloved baritone in the song, accompanied by the poetry of Gideon Zellermeyer, cantor of the Shaar HaShemim Synagogue, and minister of "Hanani, Hanani" in Hebrew . So what to do in a cemetery? New Prayer.
Are you aware of how "Hinneni Hinneni" is received in Israel? This song, or even the work on that album, has somehow deepened your Jewish identity? Because in the interviews you used to say, "I don't feel very Jewish."
"Yes, I am aware of the power of the song, but no. Neither the song nor the album changed my Jewish identity. When we dropped Dad to a grave in Montreal, and people sang some songs from that album, I burst into tears of private pain, and deeper reasons for the death of the Jewish ambassador. In the world, Judaism which is not religious, but spiritual, faith and way of life, which is not of Judaism, nor of Zionism, nor of Israel, nor of secularism, nor of religiosity, but of something - without insult - that is greater than any of it. The Jewish identity I have always embraced.
"Besides, my name is Adam Cohen, Leonard Cohen's son. Adam Cohen (laughs), you can't think of a name and a guy more Jewish than that. So no one should give me a Jewish kosher stamp or try to make me To a 'more' Jew. That's not what I'm looking for. "
The new album contains Leonard Cohen's vocals, on melodies composed by the son for his father's words, and in his spirit. The result, if not glancing at the credits, chilling episodes, and worth a look: For the project, the son invited some of the best people who worked with his father over the years, and also some big names, who came to donate, because who - rightly - would refuse, like Beck, Damian Rice and Daniel Lanoa. All of these together yielded the musical mantle most akin to Leonard Cohen's songs, really it is sometimes hard to believe it was done without it. The album fits easily into the familiar canon. Mythical and personal, romantic and cynical, cold and sober, and warm and paternal. And it is unmistakable to recognize it from the first character.
"In all modesty, a lot of people who heard the album said, 'Wow! It sounds like Leonard Cohen's best-of-the-best - only with new material,'" says the son. "The reason is simple: Dad just couldn't complete the music, so I tried to leave his definite musical seal on. To ensure that the archetypal Leonard Cohen, all the characters who are Leonard Cohen, will remain. He will remain with us now."
On first listen, one song immediately stands up, searing, harsh, black even in Cohen's color palette. It is called "Puppets", in which Leonard Cohen returns to the bottom of the abyss, the most painful place of the Jews, and from there to the present evil world, who basically learned nothing from the processes that happened in Europe only 80 years ago. "Dolls of Germans, burned the Jews. Dolls of Jews, did not choose such life"
Cohen: "I never heard a song like 'Puppets', like I never heard a song like 'Who's on Fire' or 'Hallelujah.' Dad has some songs that almost created his own genre, mythological-romantic, because of the use of language and music. Facing the world and saying a great metaphysical thing: We are all just actors in the play. It is not just a song about Jews and Germans, but about all of us, actors on the same page of a terrible play. An amazing song, which tells of all the 'Jews' of the world. "
Meanwhile, Cohen's legacy - and here the meaning of the word "legacy" certainly - continues to grow and deepen. The junior discovers that for the past three years, he has been exposed on an almost daily basis to more and more faces from the thousand complex faces he is, Hanani, Leonard Cohen.
"I keep hearing stories about Dad all the time. Stories that confirm things I knew, and sometimes there are surprises. For example, last night, one night. Knocking on the door. A very elderly man is standing in the doorway." Hello, are you a Cohen person? I knew your father. A story about him. "Okay, come on in the kitchen. Drink tea and he tells me two stories. One of them is about the time he worked as a Dad's assistant for his archive. Once, they came to my grandmother's house to take all kinds of things. , Got in the car and tried to start the car, and the car didn't move. Once again, another, and nothing. Dad asked, what's up, this is a new car from a rental. And this man tells me: 'I told him, you forgot to tell your mother goodbye Out. "So Dad came back to Grandma's house, said goodbye, and the car started. Now, that might sound a little, you know ... But for us, having lost our parents - this is the way to stay in touch with those who are not. Dad always wanted to stay in touch with them. , Always, and now I hear stories about him and relive him.
The other thing is his generosity. Dad's hobby was to give someone something he needed, even before he asked for it. When he was still sick, a woman I did not know came to me, too, by surprise, knocking on the door, "I heard it was home. Can I come in? ', And tells me how she used to come from Montreal to Winnipeg, she just didn't have a cent. So she turned to Dad. He took her to the airport, bought her a plane ticket and left her $ 200. I did not come here to tell about the righteous or holy. It was just the man. A very, very extraordinary man. And also, my dad. "
Any other things we don't know?
"There are many. People probably don't know that Dad would play his songs to anyone who met him, and only to him. Whether you met him at Starbucks in the corner or spontaneously invited him to the kitchen. He would read a song especially for the human being. And only you, hear a song from Leonard Cohen, a song that you will only hear, in a version no one will ever hear again. "Hallelujah," for example. You know he has 17 more houses? Everyone's amazing. Like, he'd just tell people, That I'm working on? " And reads the words.
"That's how the last section of the album was created. There were only eight songs in it. I called his record label, 'Give me the last recording of Dad in front of an audience and put it in place,' and the song that seals the album was born." Listen to the hummingbird. Not me. "
You had the ups and downs with your dad. A stormy, sometimes impossible man. Is there still a need for a closure?
"Our relationship seemed like every fine movie, ups and downs, depending on the day. Among us, nobody really likes some simplistic Disney movie with PI, it's nothing like real life. Real life is complex. There's also grief, anger, disappointment , Detachment, exhilaration, happiness, passionate love.The most nourishing relationships are the ones that make you look back, at the different moods, that change like the weather.
"Since Dad's death, my relationship with him continues to deepen. There is Dad, flesh and blood. There is his appreciation for him as a man who gave himself a life full of possibilities, a living and eager person. And there is also the great, sealed memory he left for the entire world. From Israel to South Africa, to Australia , Poland - People learn his words, sing his songs, he has university courses, paintings and sculptures. And it's just a man who put his pen on paper and wrote words! Leonard Cohen is the most famous rabbi in the world outside of Israel. Enough to leave his name, and not change it. He did not relive 'Lauren' Lipshitz, he did not flee Rabinowitz or Zimmerman, and did not become Lenny Smith (c. Haq). What can I tell you, I just got lucky, it was part of his life.
"The last time Dad ever spoke in public was three weeks before his death, at a press conference for the last album he released. He was dizzying, witchcraft, mastering every nuance of the language, saying there: 'In an interview with the New York Times, I said I was ready to die. I exaggerated, the truth is I intend to live forever. "An ironic, bitter statement - but also an understanding, that he has managed to achieve something that will remain eternal."
That's what is so beautiful about music and art. In the end, you too will leave the world, but at least leave a gift that will live forever. A gift that you do not know to whom it will come and when. In fact, it's magic.
"Wow. I like what you said. That's the magic. It's Leonard Cohen's magic. You know, at the end of his performances, Dad would take off his hat and look at the audience with gratitude and astonishment. It wasn't a show, Dad was never in showbiz, and he would say, 'Thank you for keeping my songs alive.' So that's what we did. "