Courtney Barnett is great. Leonard Cohen is great. What’s not to love?
Like many of Cohen’s best songs, “So Long, Marianne” makes longing feel palpable. And Barnett gets to the heart of that.
Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now
Then why do I feel alone?
I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
Is fastening my ankle to a stone.
Marianne, of course, was a real person. Cohen met her on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960 after her husband had abandoned her and her infant son. She and Cohen stayed together throughout much of the decade and she inspired many of his songs.
On her deathbed in 2016 Cohen sent her a note that went viral after he died a few months later. “I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand,” he wrote. “I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that.”
Issue #6 had a cover date of February 24, 1968. 24 pages. 25 cents. It contained a five-page spread called “It Happened in 1967” wherein Wenner was already mythologizing the year his magazine would spend the next 50 years celebrating. It was presented as an annual news wrap-up/mock election/awards presentation. The “awards” given out:
• Southern Comfort Award: Janis Joplin
• Turn, Turn, Turn Award: The Byrds
• Great Moment Award: The Gathering of the Tribes
• Newcomer of the Year Award: The Doors
• Memories Are Made of This Award: Jim Morrison
• Truth in Advertising Award: Not Donovan
• Rock and Roll Group of the Year Award: The Who
• Crystal Set Award: Program Director Tom Donahue
• Big Things Comes in Little Packages Award: Cream
• Doing the Thing Award: Country Joe and the Fish
• Buy Now Pay Later Medal: Bob Dylan
• The Rolling Stone Rolling Stone Award: The Rolling Stones
• Up Creeque Alley without a Paddle Award: The Mamas and the Papas
• Jefferson Airplane Award: The Jefferson Airplane
• Livin’ Is Easy Award: The Grateful Dead
• The Woman of the Year Award: Aretha Franklin
• Double Barrel Shotgun Award: Michael Bloomfield
• Scene for a Season Award: San Francisco
• Great Moments Award (#2): Monterey International Pop Festival
• Great Balls of Fire Award: Jimi Hendrix
• The 1967 Soul Award: Otis Redding
• Plus, unawarded items about the Lovin’ Spoonful, dope busts, the Beatles, Eric Burdon, Motown, Stevie Winwood, and movies.
It’s pretty obvious that Wenner’s idea of the rock and roll canon was already established. For the next 50 years nothing could possibly compare to the greatness of 1967. Wenner would soon grow cynical about music, preferring to put celebrities on the cover over artists. But for the time being, he was still earnest and idealistic. And that’s what makes these early issues of the Stone so fascinating. It’s a snapshot of the moment in time when Rolling Stone was an underground newspaper, fighting against the mainstream…before it eventually became the mainstream.
Like the majority of people do, Wenner stopped giving a shit about new music after his early twenties; unlike the majority of people, Wenner created a platform with which he could celebrate his favorite era for the next 50 years and convince future generations that the music of their youth was not as important or meaningful as the music of his youth.
From You Want It Darker, out now on Columbia Records.
I should’ve gone and seen Leonard Cohen when he started touring again in 2008. A dear friend of mine saw him at the Chicago Theatre in 2009 and wept when Cohen, a 75 year old man, fell down to his knees during an emotional part of a song. I immediately regretted whatever stupid excuse I had for not going. And I’ve regretted it even more since he died last year, the day before the election. What a shitty couple of years it’s been.
I first heard Leonard Cohen on a tape that a girl in Scotland made for me when I spent a semester abroad. A Nick Drake mix on one side, and The Best of Leonard Cohen on the flip. She liked guys to put their cigarette butts out on her skin, and she lost interest in me pretty quickly after she realized I wasn’t into that. I hope she’s okay. That was over 25 years ago and I still worry about her a little whenever I hear those songs.
Leonard Cohen was a gentleman. And he knew how to make a graceful exit.
I don’t need a reason
For what I became
I’ve got these excuses
They’re tired and they’re lame
I don’t need a pardon
There’s no one left to blame
I’m leaving the table
I’m out of the game
The world is a worse place without him. His biographer Sylvie Simmons told a story about going to his little house to interview him and he offered her a popsicle. That casual, generous elegance sums him up to me. We should all hand out popsicles to visitors.
Who would’ve guessed? I can only thinkf of a handful of good musicians whose parents were famous artists. The Nelson twins? Nope. Wilson Phillips? Nope. Arguments could certainly be made for Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainright, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Maybe even Jacob Dylan. But it’s rare enough that when the apple falls fairly close to the tree, we notice.
Based on “What Other Guy” Adam Cohen seems to have inherited his dad’s deadpan delivery of wickedly honest lyrics. “I can draw you with my eyes closed / See you with nothing on but the radio / I know how many years of French you took / Your favorite movies, your favorite books.” He’s even got the senior Cohen’s knack for subtle arrangements featuring acoustic guitars, tasteful strings, and delicate female background vocals.
The album was released back in October in Europe and Canada but has been held up for a US release until this April. I’m looking forward to hearing the whole thing.
The story goes that Leonard Cohen’s manager, Marty Machat, commissioned director Tony Palmer to follow Leonard around on a 20-date European tour with the intention of capturing a bit of the creative muse on celluloid.
The film Bird On A Wire sat in Machat’s storage until he passed away, at which time Cohen took over possession and kept the film in hiding. Recently, Cohen returned the footage to the son of his former manager, who immediately set about tracking down Tony Palmer to complete the project that had started four decades earlier.
We were somewhere on Henry Ridge Mountainway when the car finally broke down. It wheezed to a stop right in the middle of an already narrow part of the road. Stuart slammed his fists on the steering wheel and screamed.
“Don’t hit the car,” Hal said. It was his car. He bought it sophomore year of high school with 1300 one dollar bills he’d saved up for months. To say it was his pride and joy would be a bit much since he barely knew how to check the oil, never mind change it. But it was his car and he didn’t like Stuart pounding on it.
“What?” Stuart finally asked after staring at Hal for a bit. “What did you just say?”
“Don’t hit the car. It’s not going to fix anything.”
“Shut up, Hal. You’re an idiot.”
That was how we generally talked to Hal back then and he generally took it. I doubt any of us are proud of that fact now but it’s what you do when you’re 20 years old and there’s someone who will take that kind of abuse. You abuse them.
Portland is thick with singer-songwriter types. It’s like Leonard Cohen himself gave birth to a commune of slightly weird, slightly malnourished but very well-read troubadours. I imagine they have secret dinner parties somewhere in the Hawthorne District where they talk about Denis Johnson and eat exotic couscous while smoking flavored tobacco and drinking organic beer. I’m sad I haven’t been invited yet, but I’m glad they have each other.
Shoeshine Blue is clearly an outcome of Cohen’s planting. Lovely melodies, sometimes in the form of ballads that present both sides of a less than perfect union. Led by Michael Apinyakul, Shoeshine Blue started out as a solo, one-man lo-fi bedroom recording project, delivering haunting indie-blues with spine-tingling melodies and have developed into a lush production of painstakingly crafted songwriting and loose, but perfect playing.
Their one-sheet describes Shoeshine Blue as “an indie-folk act, which melds elements of classical, blues, folk, gospel, old-time, and pop, all with an indie twist.” Yep, and I love it.
The band celebrates the release of their latest full-length, Howl At The Wooden Moon on May 24.
Leonard Cohen’s Seven Immutable Laws of Business: “There’s nothing you can do behind your desk that can’t be more effectively accomplished with a beautiful, long-haired, chain-smoking woman lying naked next to you in bed.” Truer words have never been said. Via lhb.