29/11/06

[added later] This post mentions Leonard Cohen. I’ve just discovered an interesting site which features the introductions he’s given to the songs in concert over the years.

For example – First We Take Manhattan (London 1988)

Thank you so much, comrades. I do not concede the
word "comrades" to the communists. I use it freely.Yes, why should
they have special parts of the English language? And the extreme right too, why
should they have blood and soil, honor, integrity, family? I like those words. I
intend to use them freely. You’re very kind and it’s true, you are kind and very
warm and it’s not for me to stand up here and judge the people who come to see
me. But I want to tell you that even though your hospitality is profound it will
not deter me from my appointed task which is to take Manhattan, then Berlin and
several other cities…

Just back from a Caledonian Sleeper trip to London for a meeting with my manager. Constructive and friendly as always but dire stories of people leaving and about-to-leave, mainly because of the way they feel they’ve been treated by management. My manager generously and habitually stops the bullshit before it gets to my level, taking a lot of it on his shoulders, so I was unaware of a lot of what was going on. If he were to go, everyone would be worse off, but do the rest of them realise it?

While there, met friends A and D to see the Leonard Cohen film, I’m Your Man. It features a tribute concert in Sydney featuring the Wainwright/McGarrigle brood,  Nick Cave, the Handsome Family, Antony (of the Johnstons) and others, cut with an autobiographical interview with Cohen. It was nice hearing his speaking voice rumble the floor in the cinema, but I didn’t enjoy most of the performances, because many of the singers felt the need to ‘express themselves’ all over the songs. Antony was the worst offender, especially as he began If It Be Your Will so humbly and sensitively, but by the end it had turned into a relative of Joe Cocker’s version of A Little Help From My Friends. The best performance, we all agreed, was Cohen’s backing singers Christiansen and Battala doing Anthem, a song that didn’t much interest me until this performance. The Handsome Family and Linda Thompson started a good version of A Thousand Kisses Deep but it was cut short.  The film closed with Cohen singing Tower of Song with U2, lipsynched in a New York nightclub for some reason. The film is flawed but threw me back to these compelling and beguiling songs, which always reveal new depth.