By Harvey Kubernik © 2019
April 7, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s second Columbia Records album, Songs From A Room in 1969. It reached No.
63 on the US Billboard Top LPs and No. 2 on the UK charts.
“Initially, Songs From A Room felt like a trespass,” suggested writer Marina Muhlfriedel. “How dare Leonard Cohen dilute the sacred incursion his first album, forged into my being? For some reason, I never considered the possibility of a follow-up. Songs of Leonard Cohen was so personal, so monolithic, I assumed it to be a singular event.
“It took a friend planting me on a couch, cranking up the speakers and demanding I listen. Before ‘Bird On the Wire’ was over, tears flowed. It was so damn beautiful — a hymn, a confession, a deep bow of humility striking a nearly unbearable nerve. Leonard seemed a bit older, wearier, less embellished, but once again that trickster sunk right into my soul.”
“Leonard wrote songs because he had to, and because he wanted to get laid,” observed author, record producer and deejay Andrew Loog Oldham in a 2014 interview we conducted. “Later he wrote songs because he wanted to get paid. That’s when I decided he had something to say.”
I was on the UCLA campus in Westwood, California when Cohen debuted in 1970 at Royce Hall. Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas was one of Leonard’s singers that evening. Mama Cass Elliot had already covered “You Know Who I Am” from Cohen’s Songs From A Room on her 1968 album Dream a Little Dream. Continue reading
By Harvey Kubernik © 2017
Leonard Cohen, the Canadian songwriter/ poet/novelist and performer waived a physical goodbye at age 82 on November 7, 2016, just after the release of his 14th album, the uncompromising and urgent You Want It Darker.
In December 2016 I was invited to guest deejay on Los Angeles radio station The Sound 100.3 FM Classic Rock KWSD My Turn program. KWSD is Southern California’s classic rock station with over 1.3 million listeners.
The broadcast aired in January 2017. The studio overlooked the street in the mid-Wilshire district area where Leonard lived in a duplex. I dedicated “Hallelujah” to him.
It was my audio service of sitting shiva for Leonard.
November 7, 2017 will be the one year yahrzeit of his death.
My 2014 critically acclaimed book on Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows, is now published in America, England, Russia, France, Germany, China and two different editions in Canada. It’s now out in paperback in the UK from Omnibus Press. Continue reading
By Harvey Kubernik © 2017
Joni Mitchell Live Scheduled for 2018 release is a Murray Lerner documentary about Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now: Joni Mitchell Live at the Isle of Wight 1970.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Murray Lerner passed away on September 2nd in New York City at age 90.
Born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on May 8, 1927, raised in New York City, and a graduate of Harvard University English major in 1948, Lerner’s award-winning and trend-setting musical documentaries include examinations of Isaac Stern, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, the Newport Folk Festival, the Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Jethro Tull, the Who and Leonard Cohen.
Scheduled for 2018 release is a Lerner’s documentary about Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now: Joni Mitchell Live at the Isle of Wight 1970.
Also allegedly readied for February 2018 is Lerner’s complete one-hour film of the Doors’ set at the 1970 Isle of Wight.
On September 12th, Criterion will release a director-approved special edition of Festival! It’s a new reconstruction and remastering of the monaural soundtrack utilizing the original concert and field recordings and presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray DVD.
The disc will also feature When We Played Newport, a new program incorporating archival interviews with Lerner, music festival producer George Wein, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pete Seeger, and Peter Yarrow. In addition, there’s also a new feature Editing Festival, with Lerner, associate editor Alan Heim, and assistant editor Gordon Quinn.
There’s also a selection of complete outtake performances, including Clarence Ashley, Horton Barker, Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, and Odetta. Package booklet text has an essay by critic Amanda Petrusich and artist bios by folk music expert Mary Katherine Aldin.
Over the years I interviewed Lerner a few times. Continue reading
CaveMania tribute to Leonard Cohen
Insights on Leonard Cohen, and the making of the album, “Death of a Ladies Man” with legendary producer, Phil Spector.
David and Dan Kessel were heavily involved during the entire process of the making of this album, from pre-production to post production, as musicians and background vocalists, and as production assistants to Phil Spector.