Leonard Cohen

Tracing Leonard Cohen’s Relationship History Through Song

Tracing Leonard Cohen’s Relationship History Through Song

Few artists have written songs as fiercely personal as Leonard Cohen, the legendary folk artist whose discography includes stunning lyrical themes that touch on love, depression, and political tyranny. Considering that Cohen has been releasing music for about 46 years, most of his life has been chronicled by songs that range in clarity from subtle metaphors to obvious references. In the press, Cohen is reputed for being soft-spoken and secretive regarding his personal life. That hasn’t stopped fans from getting at least some grasp on the nature of his relationships throughout the years. Yet rather than the contemporary method of relying on tabloids, some details of Cohen’s relationships can be discovered using song details. His propensity for interweaving various themes into his lyrics leaves plenty of room for interpretation, but the loves of Cohen’s life can generally summed up by four women:

Marianne C. Stang Jensen Ihlen
Marianne Ihlen is one of Cohen’s earliest confirmed serious relationships. Well, it was serious enough that he wrote a song, “So Long, Marianne”, about her. What is known of the relationship is that Cohen met Ihlen on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960. She had been recently left by her husband, and was alone with her six-month-old son on Hydra. Cohen and Ihlen (formerly Jensen, since she was married to Norwegian writer Axel Jensen) hit it off immediately, and they spent the next decade together between New York, Montreal, and Hydra. John Cale, Beck, and Bill Callahan are just a few artists who have covered “So Long, Marianne”, the list of its cover artists even including Cohen’s son Adam. Reflecting positively of her relationship with Cohen, Ihlen remarked in a 2005 interview: “We often stood in front of the mirror before going out and wondered who we were today and stuff like that. Oh god, how strange we human beings are, you know…”

Suzanne Elrod
The mother of Cohen’s two children, Suzanne Elrod was an artist based in Los Angeles. Cohen blames never marrying her on “cowardice” and “fear”, though acknowledges he cares for her deeply. Cohen’s relationship with his two children, Adam and Lorca, appear strong as well. Adam is a songwriter himself, with his daughter Lorca taking a part in Cohen’s 2008-2010 tour as a videographer and photographer. The couple split in 1979, two years after Elrod was one of two women on the cover of Cohen’s Deat of a Ladies’ Man album. Many mistakenly believe that “Suzanne” was written about her, but it was actually about Suzanne Verdal, the ex-wife of Cohen’s sculptor friend Armand Vaillancourt.

Dominique Issermann
Issermann was one of the most integrative relationships for Cohen, as she was also an accomplished photographer who assisted Cohen in the shooting for his music videos, “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “First We Take Manhattan”. Issermann later went on to recognition for her collaboration with Carla Bruni, and work for several fashion publications. The relationship never appeared to go very sour, as Issermann and Cohen remain on good terms, with Issermann serving as the official photographer of his 2010 world tour. Cohen dedicated his 1988 album I’m Your Man to Issermann, with the words “All these songs are for you, D.I.”.

Rebecca De Mornay
Cohen and actress Rebecca De Mornay were engaged briefly, but despite a lasting friendship their romantic pursuits fizzled out quickly. “When I met Rebecca, all kinds of thoughts came into my mind, as how could they not when faced with a woman of such beauty? And they got crisscrossed in my mind. But she didn’t let it go further than that: my mind,” Cohen said. “Except it did. And finally she saw I was a guy who just couldn’t come across, in the sense of being a husband and having more children and the rest.” While Cohen may not have been the most conventional partner, his character is shown by the fact that all his exes remain on good and respectable terms with him. There were no high-profile spats, just a difference in life ideology and artistic temperament. Even as Cohen’s lifestyle may encourage isolation, it’s comforting to know that his presence will always be supported by friends.

Carly Rae Jepsen, Leonard Cohen Steal Spotlight at Juno Awards

Carly Rae Jepsen, Leonard Cohen Steal Spotlight at Juno Awards

Carly Rae Jepsen and Leonard Cohen were the big winners at last night’s Juno Awards.

The awards, of course, are essentially Canada’s answer to the Grammys, and Jepsen took home a total of three awards. Cohen took home one, but it was one of the night’s biggest: songwriter of the year.

This year marks the 42nd incarnation of the award ceremony, and most of the awards were handed out at a private gala dinner on Saturday night. However, the biggest seven awards were presented on the Sunday televised show that relied more on live performances, skits and entertainment from host Michael Buble than the quantity of awards presented.

Jepsen won the Single of the Year category, which was no surprise with the widespread play of her massive hit “Call Me Maybe.” She also won Album of the Year for Kiss.

“Wow, I feel so blessed,” she said during an acceptance speech. “It’s crazy how one song can change your life.”

While speaking to the Toronto Star backstage, she said that she’s not just a one-and-done artist.

“It’s a gift to have a song like that, but it’s also an enormous challenge to prove that you’ve got more than just that one song,” she told the newspaper. “And I think I do. And I’m going to do whatever I can to prove that.”

Cohen’s award comes on the back of his latest album, Old Ideas, which was released in 2012.

Also during the ceremony, k.d. lang was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by Anne Murray. lang praised her home country for letting her be who she is.

“Only in Canada could there be such a freak as k.d. lang receiving this award,” she said during her speech at the ceremony. “It is okay to be you. Let your freak flag fly.”


Leonard Cohen Books Additional Dates on North American Tour

Leonard Cohen Books Additional Dates on North American Tour

Leonard Cohen spent much of 2012 on the road supporting his most recent album, Old Ideas, and it looks like he doesn’t plan to slow down for 2013 as he releases a new North American tour leg scheduled for this spring.

The new trek will kick off March 2 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California, and is scheduled to continue through an April 20 date at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Other cities he will visit include Winnipeg, Chicago, Milwaukee, Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Old Ideas was released in January 2012, and was the singer’s first new album since 2004’s Dear Heather. The album reached number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and prompted a new tour, which the 78-year-old told Rolling Stone was something he didn’t know if he’d ever do again.

“I never through I’d tour again, although I did have dreams,” Cohen told the magazine before the original leg of the “Old Ideas World Tour. “Sometimes my dreams would entail me being up on stage and not remembering the words or the chords. It had a nightmarish quality, which did not invite me to pursue the enterprise.”

Cohen was absent from the road throughout most of the 1990s and 2000s, but returned in 2008 after having much of his life savings wiped out during a dispute with a former manager. He talked openly at the time that the tour was a means to make that money back.

“I was able to restore my tiny fortune within a year or so,” he told Rolling Stone. “But I kept on touring.”

And it looks like he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, regardless of whether he’s approaching octogenarian status. Perhaps this is his own version of Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour.”

Leonard Cohen Brings World Tour to North America

Leonard Cohen Brings World Tour to North America

Earlier this year, Leonard Cohen announced the first dates of his upcoming world tour, though they included no North American dates. The native Canadian singer/songwriter has now changed that, announcing an extensive tour around the continent for this fall.

The tour will kick off on Halloween night at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas, and is expected to run through December 20 when the troubadour arrives at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In between, Cohen will visit cities including Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto and Boston.

The North American tour will follow previously announced European dates that will take place this summer. Throughout his journeys around the world, Cohen will be supporting his most recent album, Old Ideas.

The album, which is his 12th studio album, was released in January, and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 albums charts. This placement marks the highest position of any of Cohen’s albums throughout his long career.

Cohen had been conspicuously absent from the touring circuit from the mid-1990s until he returned to the stage for an extensive world tour in 2008. That tour lasted until 2010, and Cohen attributes his return to financial obligations.

After having most of his life savings depleted during a dispute with a former manager, Cohen was forced to return to the touring world. Earlier this year, the 77-year-old spoke to Rolling Stone about the situation.

“I was able to restore my tiny fortune within a year or so,” he said in the interview. “But I kept on touring.”

If his current tour is any indications, he seems to be enjoying being back in the spotlight, which is great for his legion of fans. Cohen released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, back in 1967. That album included now legendary songs like “So Long, Marianne,” “Suzanne” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” The latter two were recorded by Judy Collins around the same time, bringing wider exposure to Cohen.

Leonard Cohen Reveals First Dates of 2012 World Tour

Leonard Cohen Reveals First Dates of 2012 World Tour

Leonard Cohen has announced the first dates of an upcoming Old Ideas World Tour 2012.

The initial slew of dates are exclusively in Europe, but a press release posted to Cohen’s official website promises “Leonard will return to North America this Fall, details to be announced soon.”

Cohen will kick things off with two performances in Ghent, Belguim on August 12 and August 14, and the European leg is currently scheduled to run through October 7 when the singer visits Lisbon, Portugal.

The legendary singer-songwriter abstained from touring for 15 years in the 1990s and 2000s, but made his return to the stage in May of 2008 and played almost 250 shows around the world over the next year and a half.

After that widely acclaimed tour concluded in December 2010, Cohen went to work with producer Patrick Leonard in the studio. Those sessions turned into Cohen’s most recent album, Old Ideas, which was released in January of this year. The set of songs debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and marked the highest position of any album of Cohen’s long career.

The 77-year-old-Cohen has acknowledged that part of the reason for his return to touring was that most of his savings were wiped out during a dispute with a former manager. Early this year, he spoke to Rolling Stone about that incident, as well as his overall thoughts on touring.

“I was able to restore my tiny fortune within a year or so,” he told the magazine. “But I kept on touring.”

Elsewhere in the interviewed his previewed this tour, through he seemed to have doubts at the time.

“A tour is being booked,” he said, “I haven’t signed up for it yet. I have two minds [about touring]. I don’t like to do a small tour, so whether I’m going to sign up for another couple of years… is that really where I want to be? Touring is like taking the first step on a walk to China.”


Album Review: Leonard Cohen ‘Old Ideas’

Album Review: Leonard Cohen ‘Old Ideas’

It has been eight years since Leonard Cohen’s previous album, and 45 years since his first release back in 1967. In all of that time not a whole lot has changed for the herald of hardship, and Old Ideas sounds a lot like Songs of Leonard Cohen, apart from a voice deepened by age. The expectation here is not so much musical innovation as it is a chance to catch up with an old friend and see what he has to say.

The opener, “Going Home,” begins with the words “I love to speak with Leonard.” While Cohen himself appears to be giving voice to the word of God, insisting that he is but a humble messenger, the sentiment suits his fans just as well. In either case it’s a one-way conversation, and many would value Leonard’s opinion above that of any deity.

Wherever Cohen gets his material–be it cribbed from a place on high, or hard-earned through his own experiences–he remains a man with many a profound word on suffering. The songs on Old Ideas speak of death as much as love, but even the love songs are put into the past tense. Leonard Cohen has always been an extremely introspective man, but it’s different here, and he makes no bones about the reason why. He speaks very openly about the end of his life drawing near. “I ain’t got no future. I know my days are few,” he says on Darkness, “I thought the past would last me, but the darkness got that too.”

Which is not to say that it’s a depressing album by an old guy lamenting lost time. He doesn’t seem to have a great many regrets about the past–no more than usual–or a want to do it all over, he’s just open about the fact that he is in the final phase of his life. He’s not done living, as evidenced by the playful attitude on “Anyhow,” but he’s aware that he may be on the next train out of here.

Old though he may be, when you are Leonard Cohen you don’t really have to worry about aging gracefully. He started his career with the mind and the maturity of an 80-year-old man, and considering that, he’s still not even reached his peak at just 77. Even his voice, now very deep, may only better suit his sexy, dark music.

The album seems somewhat dated musically, but that is neither unexpected nor a particularly bad thing. Organ solos still have their place in our sonic lexicon, and coming from an older bloke the sounds of another era fit in very well.

The music is all quite safe and predictable, but again, you are probably not going to this guy for a fresh new sound, but a perspective. Let me say though that Old Ideas is at least a good record on the merits of its musical prowess, and by and large, Leonard Cohen’s sound is as timeless as his poetry–even if not particularly innovative at this stage.

The title Old Ideas seems to have a number of potential meanings. It could be a tongue-in-cheek joke about Leonard’s age. It could simply be that some of these songs have been kicking around a while, and he wanted to get around to recording them. It may also be about the subject matter, as he looks back on a long life full of love and loss.

It’s definitely not an album to be overlooked, as many releases from living legends can unfortunately be. He hasn’t lost a thing to age, but remarkably, he has gained quite a lot. What’s more, he’s not done sharing his wisdom with the world, and hopefully there is more to come.

Leonard Cohen Queues Up Last Four US Dates of Two Year Tour

Canadian folk-pop legend Leonard Cohen will finally wrap up his world tour which has been going on for more than two years now, this year in Sin City.

According to AEG Live, promoter of the lengthy Cohen tour, the 76-year old musician will go back to the studio after his two-night engagement the Caesars Palace’s Colosseum in Las Vegas on December 10 and 11, to gather new material for a new studio set and his follow-up to “Dear Heather”, which came out in 2004.  But expect this new set to come out years from now as Cohen is known to invest so much time – and we mean “so much” – in writing a single track, more so an entire album.

The singer/songwriter is currently in Europe making up for lost time with a string of shows after a back injury sidelined him in the early part of the year.  His next stop will be New Zealand, Australia and Cambodia for the next two months, and by December, he is slated to wrap up his world tour with a string of US shows – Hawaii on December 4, Portland, OR on December 8 and finishing up with two nights in Las Vegas.

AEG Live announced that the tickets for Cohen’s last four shows for this year will be available to the public starting on September 24, Friday.

2010 Leonard Cohen Concert Tour
October 2010
1 – Stuttgart, Germany – Schleyerhalle
4 – Katowice, Poland – Spodek
7 – Moscow, Russia – Kremlin Palace
12 – Ljubljana, Slovenia – Arena Stozice
13 – Bratislava, Slovakia – Incheba Expo Arena
29 – Auckland, New Zealand – Vector Arena
31 – Wellington, New Zealand – TSB Arena

November 2010
1 – Wellington, New Zealand – TSB Arena
3 – Christchurch, New Zealand – Westpac Arena
6 – Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
8, 9 – Sydney, Australia – Acer Arena
12, 13 – Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena
15 – Hobart, Australia – Derwent Entertainment Centre
24 – Perth, Australia – ME Bank Stadium
27 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium

December 2010
2 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Rogers Arena
5-6 – Oakland, CA – Paramount Theatre
8 – Portland, OR – Rose Quarter Theatre of the Clouds
10, 11 – Las Vegas, NV – The Colosseum at Caesars Palace

Leonard Cohen Fuels Tour for Another US Leg

Its been 15 long years since Leonard Cohen toured the US and evidently now that he’s gotten a taste for it, he can’t stop. Cohen will set out on a second leg of shows starting with Sunrise, Florida on October 17 and concluding November 13 in San Jose, California. Leonard Cohen tour dates look to touch down in the markets he neglected before — Atlanta, Florida, Ohio.

Leonard Cohen broke his long touring silence earlier this year when he played New York’s Beacon Theatre. Cohen is currently touring Europe supporting his new album “Live in London” before he sets his course stateside. Those New Yorkers who missed Cohen at the Beacon can breathe easier as he will be coming to Madison Square Garden on October 23.

Tickets go onsale August 3 through Ticketmaster. Be sure to catch the 74-year old crooner because it may be the last time he performs signature tunes like “Hallelujah” and “Take Me to the End of Love.”

Leonard Cohen 2009 Tour Dates
Oct. 17 – Sunrise, FL @ BankAtlantic Center
Oct. 19 – Tampa, FL @ St. Pete Times Forum
Oct. 20 ? Atlanta, GA @ Fox Theatre
Oct. 22 ? Philadelphia, PA @ The Wachovia Spectrum
Oct. 23 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
Oct. 25 ? Cleveland, OH @ Allen Theatre
Oct. 27 – Columbus, OH @ Palace Theatre
Oct. 29 ? Chicago, IL @ Rosemont Theatre
Nov. 1 – Asheville, NC @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
Nov. 3 – Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center
Nov. 5 ? Nashville, TN @ Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Nov. 7 – St. Louis, MO @ Fox Theatre
Nov. 9 – Kansas City, MO @ The Midland by AMC
Nov. 12 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Nov. 13 – San Jose, CA @ HP Pavilion