In 1966, Martin began managing Leonard Cohen, a successful poet in Canada who wanted make records. She helped Cohen create a demo tape by having him sing in the empty bathtub of her home, making use of the natural acoustics, with a tape recorder in the room with him. Martin helped Cohen sign with Columbia Records, and also introduced him to Judy Collins, the first singer to have success recording with Cohen’s tunes. As an example of how fiercely protective Martin could be of Cohen’s songs, she recalled a story about hearing that Joan Baez had been performing “Suzanne,” a song first recorded by Collins. Only Baez changed some of the lyrics when she performed the song. Martin sent her a terse letter demanding she stop changing the song, explaining, “I don’t think you would take another brush to Andrew Wyeth and his paintings. Therefore, do not alter Leonard Cohen’s poetry.” [See Leonard Cohen “Couldn’t Care Less” That Joan Baez “Brutally Violated” His Song Suzanne]
From Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum: Mary Martin by Michael McCall ( Country Music Hall of Fame: November 17, 2009)
Martin’s career is impressive, as noted in Country’s Comeback Player of the Year by Robert Hilburn (Los Angeles Times: Feb 26, 2002):
Besides helping singer-songwriter Cohen get his first record contract and then introducing Bob Dylan to the Band in the ’60s, she managed Morrison briefly and signed Emmylou Harris to Warner Bros. Records in the ’70s. She also worked closely with Clint Black and Lorrie Morgan at RCA Nashville in the late ’80s. Other acts she’s managed or worked with along the way range from Vince Gill to cult favorite Rodney Crowell.
Mary Martin Speaks About Leonard Cohen
Credit Due Department: Video courtesy of The Country Music Hall Of Fame’s program “The Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum, November 17th, 2009.” I was alerted to this video by Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner.
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Nov 7, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.