I was always a huge Leonard Cohen fan both as an author (especially Beautiful Losers), songwriter and performer. Leonard’s songwriting highlights what is quintessentially good about great songwriters–they write songs that are the constants that echo through generations and upheavals, and great ones find their way into the groundwater. It’s an achievement to write one great song–Leonard did that over and over again.
The first time I met Leonard Cohen was backstage at Montreaux when I played there with Jesse Winchester. Leonard, Jesse and Gordon Lightfoot were all playing the show and the artists and bands got together for a drink after the gig. That was a pretty etherial experience. I also used to run into Leonard at Oscar’s Wine Bar near the old Chateau Marmont when I lived there for a while. I didn’t know him well, but he was a cool guy to hang with, unselfconscious with a kind of casual genius. I always thought there was something going on behind those eyes that washed into a pure pool of genuine genius from which reservoir he would quench his thirst down the line.
Many years later, A&M distributed the inspired Famous Blue Raincoat album duet with Jennifer Warnes on the Cypress label, and later still released Tower of Song, the tribute album that was the inspiration of David Anderle, the great A&R man. Tower of Song is an overlooked gem with a stellar lineup including Peter Gabriel, Don Henley, Bono, Billy Joel, Aaron Neville, Tori Amos and Willie Nelson. (Which I don’t believe has ever been released on vinyl and should be.) I’d also recommend that the next time you go to a Janita show that you ask her to perform her electrifying rendition of Hallelujah.
Leonard was an extraordinary talent as an author, songwriter and artist who inspired us all.