Leonard Cohen Under Review: 1934-1977

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Under Review: 1934-1977 engages a cadre of music jurors & legislators to pontificate about this provocative priest of the heart. It begins with Cohen’s birth in Montréal, Canada and follows the young epistemologist into the secret world of poetic wonderment, examining his passion for literature and his Jewish heritage, in particular the holocaust of WWII. This is followed by his immersion into the poetic works of Federico García Lorca, T.S. Eliot, and John Keats.

In 1955, Cohen migrates to NYC’s Greenwich Village and observes the frenzy of activity including the wild ravings of the beat poets. Archival footage of the young Canadian poet in a multitude of settings is cut between observations and musings by various Cohen biographers. Ever the restless wanderer, Cohen then discovers the Greek island of Hydra to further investigate the ever-growing matters of the heart. It was here that he completed two novels between the years 1960 and 1965.

By 1966, Cohen was back in Greenwich ensconced at the legendary Chelsea Hotel cavorting with the likes of Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. It was here that he met singer Judy Collins, whom upon hearing Cohen’s newly minted compositions, recorded three for her masterful album, Wildflowers. Shortly after this fortuitous connection with ms. Collins, he minted a deal of his own with Columbia Records and entered the studio with a young producer named John Simon. On the DVD, the producer recalls Cohen’s first sessions for the album Songs From Leonard Cohen.

In the next segment, we see Cohen moving to Franklin, Tennessee. Here he would solicit the talents of producer Bob Johnston whose credits include Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Simon and Garfunkel. This collaboration would produce Cohen’s next two releases: Songs From A Room and Songs Of Love And Hate. Cohen's band leader at the time was musician Ron Cornelius, who discusses the process of recording and touring with Cohen in the early 70s on the DVD.

John Lisauer, producer of 1974’s New Skin For The Old Ceremony, gives discourse on the inner workings of Cohen’s studio etiquette while back- up singer Ronnee Blakey and engineer Larry Levine discuss the making of Cohen’s strange concoction, Death Of A Ladies Man, his collaboration with the mad monk of sound Phil Spector in 1977. Leonard Cohen Under Review: 1934-1977 offers an insightful look at a compelling and enigmatic figure, well edited and respectfully adorned.

~ Lanny Cordola

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