Looking back on Leonard

Leonard Cohen in Dublin 2013
Leonard Cohen in Dublin 2013

I can’t definitely say that I’d never heard of Leonard Cohen until 1980. I’ve seen YouTube clips of him on TV series that I know were required family viewing in the 1960s, but if he ever made an impression I quickly forgot him. However, when a new boyfriend introduced me to Songs of Leonard Cohen and Songs of love and hate I was hooked. Thirty six years later, I can’t say John (for it was he) and I have embraced all of each other’s musical tastes. I have never reconciled myself to Captain Beefheart, and he can’t understand why I find Abba so entrancing, but we share a good solid core and Leonard was the first. And the best.

Neither of us had ever seen him perform, so you can imagine our joy when he started touring again in 2008 – and then our sorrow when we realised that his only UK dates were when we were on holiday in the US. Not to worry – he would be performing in Dublin before we left. I still class that weekend as one of the most special in my life.

My weekend in Dublin with Leonard Cohen (I wish)

While we were away, we got an excited message from a friend, another Cohen fan. Good news! New dates! Leonard was coming to Glasgow in November. We immediately ordered tickets. I remember the concert was the day after the US election in which Obama got in for the first time. There was a sense of elation from both band and audience at the line Democracy is coming to the USA. That’s quite poignant to look back on too.

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Leonard Cohen and band in Berlin 2012

In 2012, we travelled to Berlin where the stand-out line in terms of audience participation was First we take Manhattan – then we take Berlin. This left me with the ambition, sadly unfulfilled, to belt out the same line in Manhattan some day.

Berlin: Leonard Cohen at the Waldbühne 05/09/12

However, we did get one more chance at a Cohen concert towards the end of his touring days when we travelled to Dublin again in 2013.

Dublin Diary: Day 1

Leonard was still in such good shape then. He skipped and danced, bent down on his knees – and got back up again without a struggle! When his former lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen, was dying earlier this year it worried me that he told her that he wouldn’t be far behind her, then I heard that he had said in an interview that he was ready to die. He recanted this in his final interview at the launch of his last album just a few weeks ago, but he looked terribly frail and, from comments made by his son Adam, was in a lot of pain and not very mobile. I was shocked at the decline in just three years, but I suppose that’s old age and we all have to face it.

I’ll leave you, not with my favourite Leonard Cohen song which would be far too hard, but with this little gem that I discovered a few years ago via the wonderful site, Cohencentric: I love Leonard Cohen.

Leonard – you might, or might not, have been ready to die, but we certainly weren’t ready to lose you. So long, and thanks for all the memories.

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41 thoughts on “Looking back on Leonard

  1. nomad, interrupted November 16, 2016 / 12:58

    What wonderful memories you have of Leonard Cohen; it seems his music has woven itself through many special moments in your life. 🙂 I had never even heard of him until 2011 when I was in Oman and some of my British friends introduced me to him. I couldn’t believe I’d missed out on him most of my life. Such a sad loss for all of us.

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 13:36

      Oh no, you were deprived for so many years! Still time to catch up, but no more new ones 😦 Yes, we have many special memories.

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      • nomad, interrupted November 16, 2016 / 13:39

        I know! I don’t know what kind of bubble I was living in!! Yes, and sadly, no more new songs, but there will be lots of covers of his old ones.

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        • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 13:41

          I used to have an iTunes playlist called Cohen Covers but it got lost in some upgrade or other. There are many fine covers but I always liked the original best!

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  2. Heyjude November 16, 2016 / 13:24

    You are so lucky to have seen him perform live so many times! And I love the song you included. Indeed, we love Leonard Cohen. And his songs will live on.

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 13:37

      Lucky – and determined! Glad you liked the song, I thought it was a lovely tribute, even more so now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heyjude November 16, 2016 / 13:59

        Determined – yes! We almost went to see Clapton in London (always wanted to see him perform live) until we saw the price of a ticket (£250) for a seat that might not even have a view! We decided then to buy the album and use the £500 on a holiday 🙂

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        • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 14:42

          Ouch! I think we paid c £90 for Cohen, but for 3.5 hour concerts with a large band I think that wasn’t too bad.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. lilyandardbeg November 16, 2016 / 13:32

    Thank you for sharing you memories, it’s a great loss. I think many people have very personal reasons to mourn his death, his music and poetry touched so many of us. Thank you for the links, too 🙂

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 13:40

      Thank you. It is a great loss. I’ve been surprised at how many blogging friends have included tributes over the last week – so many of us were fans.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jackie November 16, 2016 / 14:11

    I grew up in Montreal in the late 60s and was a huge folk fan so I knew Leonard Cohen. Was thrilled to see him twice in Toronto during in 2008/09 tour. But the concert I would have loved to see was his Dublin show, my birthplace.

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 14:44

      You knew him! Deeply impressed. Dublin was great, both times, but especially the first at Kilmainham.

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  5. Suzanne et Pierre November 16, 2016 / 14:20

    You are so lucky to have seen him in concerts so many times. We never did manage to see him live but we have most of his CDs and have been listening to them one after the other the last few days. He was truly a wonderful poet. He is now buried in a cemetery not far from where we live and one day I will go pay my respect. We haven’t been yet to his house in Montreal where lots of people have been paying tributes but we have seen it on TV. As he was born in Montreal and was very attached to the city, he is particularly revered here…Thanks for the lovely tribute. (Suzanne)

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 14:46

      Thanks Suzanne. Yes, we are working our way through his back catalogue too! I have seen pictures of the family grave and will add that to my list of sights if we ever get back to Montreal. I also saw pictures of the flowers outside his house too. Montreal will mourn him greatly I’m sure.

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  6. Liesbet November 16, 2016 / 15:20

    Nice tribute, Anabel. Lots of losses this year… 😦

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 15:43

      Yes, 2016 has not had much to recommend it in many ways!

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  7. VioletSky November 16, 2016 / 17:18

    I was shocked to learn that he had come out with a new album, so his death a couple of weeks later becomes even more poignant.

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 20:48

      It does. And the album definitely has an “I’m ready” feel about it.

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      • VioletSky November 16, 2016 / 22:57

        yes. I think it’s one of the saddest albums I’ve listened to.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Retirementallychallenged.com November 16, 2016 / 17:38

    He was such a great poet. I love that you really have to listen to the words… then listen again. He will be missed.

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  9. maristravels November 16, 2016 / 20:58

    Thanks for the Memories, indeed. I never saw the great man perform but I’ve loved his music since the day I first heard it in a tiny attic in Paris (thanks for that memory, too, of the time when we could pretend to be bohemian for the weekend before returning to our bourgeois jobs on Monday morning). He was a wonder, a one-off, a great poet and a giver. As one of the comments above said, at least he was spared Trump, but oh the joy we have missed of hearing him cover that ‘victory’ in words and music.

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    • Anabel Marsh November 16, 2016 / 21:25

      A one-off indeed. Will be truly missed: I’m sure you’re right, he’d have had something profound to say about present times.

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  10. Blue Sky Scotland November 16, 2016 / 21:05

    Liked him and Neil Young. Only owned three earlier albums out the 14 studio ones he made so the first time I heard Hallelujah was on Grace by Jeff Buckley and some more of his later songs by various artists, including Tower of Song sung by Martha Wainwright. He definitely had the power to make good singers even better as well as delivering them in his own unique style. A floor/room next to Hank Williams would be fitting.

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  11. restlessjo November 17, 2016 / 08:09

    Another great departed. Glad you have such good memories, Anabel. 🙂

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  12. hilarymb November 17, 2016 / 08:58

    Hi Anabel – I’ll be back to listen and re-read … as I feel much the same. Amazing poet and wordsmith, let alone musician … thanks for writing this up … it’ll be an emotional listen and read … cheers Hilary

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    • Anabel Marsh November 17, 2016 / 09:44

      Thanks Hilary, glad this helped you share some memories.

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  13. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor November 17, 2016 / 12:36

    Nice tribute to Leonard Cohen. I have to confess, I don’t know many of his songs. Seeing how much you and so many others enjoyed his music, I may have to remedy that and check out his work.

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  14. Birgit November 22, 2016 / 05:51

    Great memories of this troubadour. That’s how I like to think of him.

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  15. cassam101 November 23, 2016 / 08:52

    Lovely tribute and so sad at the same time.

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  16. inesephoto November 26, 2016 / 00:57

    Beautiful tribute. So sad to see them go, the legends. 2016 is a sad year.

    Liked by 1 person

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