Musician and poet, Leonard Cohen, has died at age 82. In celebration of his 80th birthday back in 2014, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows by Harvey Kubernick was published. The book is a celebration of the life, music, and poetry of the unique artist and music legend. Kubernick sat down with Talk Radio Europe when the book was released to discuss the book and life of Cohen. Take a listen below.
Cohen arrived at the 1960s pop-music party fashionably late, releasing his debut album – Songs of Leonard Cohen – in 1967. At the age of 33, he was the adult in the room, a room brimming, then as now, with literary pretension and artistic self-importance. But Cohen, already established as a respected poet and novelist, was the real deal. In the decades since, he has battled with drugs, love, and bankruptcy; become a Buddhist monk while simultaneously reaffirming his Jewish faith; and recorded 11 more albums of unfailingly affecting beauty.
The interview with Talk Radio Europe discussed the evolution and mastermind of Leonard Cohen. From his song ‘Suzanne’ to the infamous ‘Hallelujah,’ Harvey Kubernik gave Talk Radio Europe listeners a snapshot into it all. In addition to the art of Cohen, Kubernick discussed their countless encounters providing further insight into Cohen’s personality and legacy.
I think the songs continue because they can be done by rock bands and they can be done instrumentally. They can be done by female and male vocalists. I think almost superseding the legacy of music. I know things started on the printed page and he started as a writer, but I also know people that buy Hallelujah, or see it, or want to sing along with it; not all of them in the audience have Leonard’s books or anthologies. So there’s something about what he’s offering on stage.
With an insider’s knowledge, author Harvey Kubernik reviews Cohen’s unique achievements, beginning as a young poet in Montreal through his 2012 album, Old Ideas, and his acclaimed worldwide concert tour. Illustrated with 200 rare photographs and items of memorabilia and featuring the recollections and comments of those who have worked with him and are close to him.
The man. The music. The poet. The visionary.
Leonard Cohen turns 80 years old today! In celebration, we chose a special excerpt from the new publication, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows. Here, American poet, teacher and DJ James Cushing shares his views on the conception of Cohen’s style.
“I have to insist that the first Cohen LP is one of the absolute best, most effective boy-girl make-out records of the very late sixties, totally equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On from a few years later. As a radio DJ for over a third of a century, I still get lovers requesting cuts from those two albums.” – James Cushing, 2013
By the summer of 1967, some of Cohen’s poetry collections had made their way to book and underground head shops in America, and hipper university professors assigned Beautiful Losers in modern literature classes. By early 1968, with Songs of Leonard Cohen, we could hear him sing some of his poems, like “Suzanne,” or lyrics that were crafted for songs.
Remember, he did not make this LP until he was thirty-three years old. Like Howlin’ Wolf, who first recorded at age forty-one, Leonard Cohen was not an adult offering supervision, but an adult giving us permission.
Willie Ruff’s bass provides a chamber-jazz aspect to the production of the album. Ruff, as one half of the Mitchell Ruff Duo [with Dwike Mitchell,] was used to the idea of crafting a whole presentation with very sparse instrumentation – bass and piano. The players must listen to each other’s every gesture and play together to serve the music. The first Cohen album exemplifies non-egocentric collaboration. The whole group creates a single organic sound, not a hierarchy with the singer being “backed up” by other musicians.
At the same time, this quiet and revealing record lands in the middle of the psychedelic world, in post – “Summer of Love” culture. Members of the Kaleidoscope perform on several tracks. So we have psychedelic roots-based folk-rockers joining with a jazz master to enhance the intimate vision Cohen was seeking. Or the vision that found him.