FreeWheelin' Music Safari

Today in Music – September 24, 1934 – Leonard Cohen is born!

Leonard CohenBack in May of this year, Leonard Cohen one the award for Songwriter of the Year along with the Artist of the Year at the Juno Awards Gala Dinner and Awards, Today, we celebrate the 79th birthday of this music legend!!

“[Cohen is] one of the most fascinating and enigmatic … singer/songwriters of the late ’60s [and] has retained an audience across four decades of music-making … Second only to Bob Dylan (and perhaps Paul Simon) [in terms of influence], he commands the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the 1960s who is still working at the outset of the 21st century.”[3]   – critic Bruce Eder  at AllMusic

I guess that sums it up pretty well! The man has had one amazing career! From Wikipedia:

Cohen was born on 21 September 1934 in Westmount, an English-speaking area of Montreal, Quebec, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, Marsha (Masha) Klonitsky,[5] was the daughter of a Talmudic writer, Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry.[6][7] His paternal grandfather, whose family had emigrated from Poland, was Lyon Cohen, founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial clothing store, died when Cohen was nine years old. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that, “I had a very Messianic childhood.” He told Richard Goldstein in 1967, “I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest.”[8] Read a lot More

Songs of Leonard CohenLeonard’s music entered my library way back either 1967 or 68, after I first heard “Suzanne” and it’s been there ever since then!! I’ve written before that the first date my wife and I went on was to see the movie McCabe and Mrs. Miller  In my opinion in the movie  director Robert Altman uses the songs of Leonard so well, that you’d swear that the songs were written for the movie all the while knowing that the movie was released four years after the release of The Songs of Leonard Cohen!  The screenplay is based on Edmund Naughton’s novel McCabe.[2] The director called it an “anti-western film” because the film ignores or subverts a number of Western conventions.[3] The film has been selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the United State

 The music for the film was mainly by Leonard Cohen. Altman had liked Cohen’s debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), immensely, buying additional copies of it after wearing each one out. He had then forgotten about the LP. A few years later, Altman visited Paris, just after finishing shooting McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and rediscovered Cohen’s album; he had it transferred and used the music to maintain a rhythm for the film (in effect using it as a “temp” track). Altman didn’t expect to be able to procure rights for Cohen’s music since McCabe was a Warner Brothers film and Cohen’s album was released through Columbia Records. He called Cohen, expecting to trade off his recent success with M*A*S*H, but found that Cohen had no knowledge of it. Instead, Cohen had loved Altman’s less popular follow-up film Brewster McCloud. Cohen arranged for his record company to license the music cheaply, even writing into the contract that sales of that album after the release of McCabe would turn some of the royalties to Altman (an arrangement which at the time was quite unusual). Later, on watching McCabe to come up with a guitar riff for one scene, Cohen decided he didn’t like the film. Nonetheless, he honored his contract and recorded the music for it. A year later he called Altman to apologize, saying he had seen the film again and loved it. More 

We also attended one of his concerts at The University of Pennsylvania and I still can conjure up images of the night!!

McCabe and Mrs MillerHere’s the opening scene from McCabe & Mrs.Miller with Leonard’s great “Stranger Song” which firs the movie perfectly. If you wanted to be depressed on Lenny’s birthday watch the final scene of the movie!

So Happy Birthday Leonard and we’re hoping you have many,many more!!