Some time ago, I came across Billy Mernit’s Clouds in My Coffee #9: Rebirth of a Ladies’ Man, his June 2006 concise, insightful assessment of Leonard Cohen’s career as a poet, novelist, and singer-songwriter. This excerpt is indicative of the style and content of this highly recommended piece:
Even as a young man, Leonard Cohen was old. Listen to his voice on the very first album, which opens with the instantly unforgettable strains of Suzanne, and you hear a world-weariness, the eternal sigh of elder sages, that would seem unbecoming in a young singer-songwriter poet were it not for the level of insight evidenced in his lyrics.
It is, however, a comment on this post that most intrigued me. The author, I finally discovered, is Emily Bindiger, a Leonard Cohen backup singer during the 1974 and 1975 Tours.
Leonard Cohen – One of the funniest people I’ve ever met
The comment is self-explanatory and revelatory.
… I was a Leonard Cohen fan from the time I was twelve; I had an older, hipper sister who brought home all his records and books and I fell in love with the man and the music, learned all his guitar chords and all his songs, which served me well when I ended up, at age 18, in a show called “Sisters of Mercy”, based on Leonard’s music, first at the Shaw Festival in Canada then off-Broadway in New York. The following year I got a call to sing background vocals on his album, “New [Skin] For The Old Ceremony” (and one of the songs, “Who By Fire?” is a duet with the man – one of my top ten studio experiences), then toured with him in Europe and North America. To this day I remember every minute of that tour, it was the best gig I ever had, and there is something very interesting about Leonard that not too many people know, or would expect. He’s hilarious! One of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He did everything possible to crack up the band at any given opportunity. He stood on his head to get motorists’ attention when our tour bus broke down in Europe. He read comic books1 aloud to us (and in that deeply serious voice, we were dying from laughing so hard), and would raid the hotel kitchen at night and cook for us. He bought me an extremely silly cuckoo clock in Switzerland. When we played The Troubadour in LA, someone outside the club kept yelling up to his dressing room window, “Leonard, I need to talk to you about death!”. Leonard calmly went to the window and said, “Friend, can this wait until after my gig? Death is so final.” [Emphasis mine]
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 Feb 3, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.