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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 364 - Leonard Cohen

Songs of Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen
Produced by John Simon
Released 27th December 1967
US Chart #83 
UK Chart #13
Dutch Chart #4

Songs With Leonard Cohen
With two Bonus Tracks*

*2007 CD Reissue contained Store Room and Blessed Is The Memory.

Side 1

Side 2
(None are credited on the Album Sleeve)

    Leonard Cohen: vocals, acoustic guitar
    Jimmy Lovelace – drums ("So Long, Marianne")
    Nancy Priddy – vocals ("Suzanne", "So Long, Marianne", "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye")
    Willy Ruff – bass ("So Long, Marianne", "Stories of the Street")
    Chester Crill, Chris Darrow, Solomon Feldthouse, David Lindley – flute, mandolin, Jew's harp, violin, various Middle Eastern instruments ("Master Song", "Winter Lady", "Sisters of Mercy", "So Long, Marianne", "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye", "Stories of the Street", "Teachers")

Single On Songs of Leonard Cohen
A-Side: Suzanne    
B-Side: Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
US Release January 1968

Did Not Chart in US or Canada

(Dutch PictureSleeve)

A-Side: Suzanne    
So Long, Marianne

UK Release March 1968
French Release May 1968 #3
Dutch Release April 1969 #28
On 21st October 2016 Leonard Cohen released what turned out to be his final album, You Want It Darker, at aged 82 and quite ill it is a remarkable piece of art. A couple of weeks later on 7th November 2016 Cohen passed out of this world leaving to us a fascinating legacy of music and poetry.

Today's choice we rewind back the years to the very start of his musical journey. By 1966 he was already a published Poet and Novelist but as he said somewhere he was discouraged by the lack of financial success as a writer and moved from Canada to the USA in the hopes of becoming a Songwriter and Musician. The plan had been to go to Nashville to become a Country Singer (I must admit I cannot even get my head around the picture that conjours up!) but instead he got caught up in the Folk scene of New York City.

He got a break when Judy Collins released his song Suzanne (Cohen himself at first didn't actually think it was much of a song such were his levels of confidence in his abilities) on her November 1966 album In My Life. This brought him to the attention of John Hammond at Columbia Records.

Hammond had intended to produce Leonard Cohen's Debut album but had became ill at the time and so John Simon took charge and created a few disagreements between Producer and Artist. Where Cohen had wanted a more sparse sounding record, Simon felt the songs should be bolstered with Strings and Horns (there were even drums despite Cohen insisting there be no durms!). Whilst some things were changed in the mixing by Cohen, there were many things he couldn't change.

The album didn't fare well in the USA or even his homeland of Canada but in Europe it was a very different story. In the UK the album would spend almost a year and a half on the chart peaking at #13. In Holland it peaked at #4. A release of the single Suzanne went unnoticed in the USA but again Europe it was a bit of smash finding its highest placing of #3 in France.

The album received mixed reviews at the time of its release, with Arthur Schmidt of Rolling Stone writing, "There are three brilliant songs, one good one, three qualified bummers, and three flaming shits." Reviewers have been much kinder to it since its release. Tim Nelson of BBC Music called the collection "the absolute must-have classic."

"Stranger Song", "Sisters of Mercy", and "Winter Lady" were included on the soundtrack of Robert Altman's 1971 film McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

The album does contain a number of what would be classed as Essential Leonard Cohen Songs: "Suzanne", "Master Song", "Stranger Song", "So Long, Marriane" and "Sisters of Mercy".

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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