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Cohen, Leonard - Hey that's no way to say goodbye

Identifier

003553

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

 Leonard Cohen - Hey that's no way to say goodbye

 The New Yorker – extracted from the article in the October 17, 2016 Issue   Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker By David Remnick


The same set of ears that first tuned in to Bob Dylan, in 1961, discovered Leonard Cohen, in 1966. This was John Hammond, a patrician related to the Vanderbilts, and by far the most perceptive scout and producer in the business. He was instrumental in the first recordings of Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, Benny Goodman, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holiday. Tipped off by friends who were following the folk scene downtown, Hammond called Cohen and asked if he would play for him.

Cohen was thirty-two, a published poet and novelist, but, though a year older than Elvis Presley, a musical novice. He had turned to songwriting largely because he wasn’t making a living as a writer. He was staying on the fourth floor of the Chelsea Hotel, on West Twenty-third Street, and filled notebooks during the day. At night, he sang his songs in clubs and met people on the scene: Patti Smith, Lou Reed (who admired Cohen’s novel “Beautiful Losers”), Jimi Hendrix (who jammed with him on, of all things, “Suzanne”), and, if just for a night, Janis Joplin (“giving me head on the unmade bed / while the limousines wait in the street”).

After taking Cohen to lunch one day, Hammond suggested that they go to Cohen’s room, and, sitting on his bed, Cohen played

“Suzanne,”

“Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,”

“The Stranger Song,” and a few others.

When Cohen finished, Hammond grinned and said, “You’ve got it.”

A few months after his audition, Cohen put on a suit and went to the Columbia recording studios in midtown to begin work on his first album. Hammond was encouraging after every take. And after one he said, “Watch out, Dylan!”

 

The source of the experience

Cohen, Leonard

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