Leonard Cohen’s your man

My wife went to see “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” last week. She came back raving about it, so I’ll be looking out for it when it comes out on DVD. My appetite for the DVD was whetted by watching highlights posted on YouTube by a user whose industry and dedication is matched only by his insouciant disregard for copyright laws.

These highlights are taken from the in-concert performances of Cohen songs by other artists, which make up a large part of the film. Here are some of the best ones. Watch them quick before Cohen’s lawyers catch up with MrDuaneBarry:

  • Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson, singing Tonight Will be Fine. As E pointed out, Thompson’s version is significantly better than Cohen’s original; she also conceded that it’s not his fault he looks a bit like Mick Hucknall.
  • The ever-awesome Nick Cave singing I’m Your Man. E is not generally a Nick Cave fan, but she commented in particular on his stage presence. This version also suggests that Cave has missed his vocation as a showband singer.
  • The equally awesome Jarvis Cocker singing I Can’t Forget. An inspired choice, because it sounds like a Jarvis Cocker song in the first place (“I stumbled out of bed/I got ready for the struggle…”). Great arm movements, too. (While we’re on the subject of Jarvis, his cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “I Just Came To Tell You That I’m Going” from a French TV special is worth watching, too.)

One particularly enjoyable feature of the videos is the notice that occasionally appears across the screen: “PROPERTY OF LIONSGATE ENTERTAINMENT”. I’m disappointed that MrDuaneBarry didn’t have the presence of mind to insert the word “STOLEN” at the beginning of the line…

But the real discovery of the evening was Rufus Wainwright. Somehow he has previously passed us by, though I’d been meaning to check him out at some point, not least because I enjoyed the debut album by his sister, Martha Wainwright, so much. Rufus Wainwright contributes a number of songs to the Cohen film, of which the best is Chelsea Hotel No.2 (essential viewing, even if you’ve not bothered to click through to the previous links; though be warned some of the lyrics are probably at least a “PG-13”).

I now have a couple of Rufus Wainwright CDs on order, including the double CD set of Want One/Want Two, which (hoorah!) includes a recording of “Chelsea Hotel No.2” as a bonus track.

Wainwright really is phenomenally talented, both as a songwriter and as an interpreter of other people’s songs. I’m very rarely impressed with cover versions of Beatles songs, but he does a cracking version of “Across The Universe” (found on this page; note that this page includes an image that is NSFW). And he is currently getting rave reviews for his recreation of a 1951 Judy Garland concert.

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2 Responses to Leonard Cohen’s your man

  1. Daniel says:

    Speaking of Judy Garland, There is an exciting and popular new group on Yahoo called THE JUDY GARLAND EXPERIENCE. They feature dozens of ultra rare and unrleased audio files, great photo’s, lively discussions, and the most remarkable, distinquished, and eclectic group of Judy fans anywhere! Stop by and check out our little Judyville, you may never want to leave.

  2. “You were Marlon Brando, I was Steve McQueen, you were K-Y Jelly, I was Vaseline”

    My favourite Cohen song.

    And then there’s this line from Neil in The Young Ones.

    “Oh no! If the vampire gets us we’ll be dead and yet still alive… like Leonard Cohen!”

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