SONGS FROM THE ROAD SHOWCASES MOST OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES FROM ONGOING WORLD TOUR
n 1999, after an extended break from the spotlight, 64-year old Leonard Cohen returned to the recording studio and world stage with a passion. From then until now, his albums, concerts and DVD releases have informed a new generation. At the same time, Cohen has heroically fulfilled the dreams of his first generation of fans that have been following his career at Columbia Records since his debut LP in 1967.
Following the celebration of his 40th year as a Columbia artist in 2007 and coinciding with his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in March 2008, Cohen thrilled his fans by announcing his first tour dates in 15 years. He’s gone on to play the most prestigious and beautiful venues in virtually every corner of the globe, mesmerizing and charming audiences with performances that were hailed as some of the best of his career. “When legend Cohen takes to the stage,” raved Ireland’s The Independent (June 2008), “it’s no less than a cultural event of Biblical dimensions.”
One dozen of Leonard Cohen’s most famous songs from those recent world tour performances – at auditorium halls, festivals, arenas, and stadiums from Tel Aviv to London, from across Europe to the California desert and his native Canada – are now collected on SONGS FROM THE ROAD. The 12-song program filmed in high def and recorded in 5.1 surround sound will be issued in two separate packages: The DVD+CD package will be an oversized 2-disc softpak, identical to last year’s Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970. The Blu-ray will be in a standard amray case. Both will be available at all retail outlets starting September 14th through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. A gatefold, 180 gram vinyl LP of the 12 audio tracks will also be released the same date.
As a bonus, the DVD and Blu-ray configurations will include a 20-minute “behind the scenes” backstage interview with the individual band members. The interviews were conducted by Leonard’s daughter, Lorca Cohen.
The sets also feature two different sets of annotations. One is a rare album liner notes essay written by Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic. The other is a detailed track-by-track insider’s commentary written by Ed Sanders, who served as producer of the sound recording and editing, and producer and director of the video recording and editing. “I was there for every rehearsal,” he begins. “I was at every sound check. I was present at every show.”
Sanders’ notes provides precious insight into the selection process for the twelve outstanding performances captured on SONGS FROM THE ROAD. For “Chelsea Hotel” (Royal Albert Hall, London, 11/17/2008), Sanders writes “Between sound check and show time Leonard would often play his guitar in the dressing room. In the early stages of this leg I would find him practicing ‘Chelsea Hotel’. It came as a surprise to everyone (especially those on stage!) when at Rotterdam he launched into it solo after ‘Tower of Song’. He continued to rehearse it with the band until the arrangement was ready. The version presented here is the second full-band performance. At the time I thought it was exceptionally compelling and I told Leonard so during intermission. He replied that he thought it went well; that he could feel the presence of a certain ‘someone’ as he sang it.”
SONGS FROM THE ROAD is not only a tribute to Cohen’s consummate artistry as a concert performer, it is also a tribute to his enduring worldwide popularity at this time in his career. The program complements his 2-disc DVD release of last year, Live In London, recorded on July 17, 2008, at London’s 02 Arena, one of Europe’s largest indoor venues. Live In London marked his first concert collection to be released since the 2001 CD, Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979. (Note: The O2 Arena selections on SONGS FROM THE ROAD are from November 2008.)
It is ultimately Cohen’s ageless songs that draw faithful audiences – new fans and old – to his advance sold-out concerts. (The 2008 tour dates sold over 700,000 tickets alone, across 84 shows worldwide.) SONGS FROM THE ROAD represents every decade of his life as a recording artist, from the 1960s (“Suzanne” from his 1967 debut, Songs Of Leonard Cohen; “Bird on the Wire” and his interpretation of “The Partisan” both from his second album, 1969’s Songs From a Room) – to the ’00s (“That Don’t Make it Junk” from 2001’s Ten New Songs).
Along the way, SONGS FROM THE ROAD revisits Cohen’s ‘greatest hits’ from the 1970s (“Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Avalanche” both from 1971’s Songs Of Love and Hate; “Chelsea Hotel” from 1974’s New Skin For the Old Ceremony, and “Lover, Lover, Lover” from the 1979 Field Commander Cohen recordings) – the 1980s (“Hallelujah” and “Heart With No Companion” from 1984’s Various Positions) – and the 1990s (“Waiting for the Miracle” and “Closing Time” from 1992’s The Future.)
“Throughout the show,” Wieseltier concludes in his essay, “it was never clear whose gratitude was greater, Cohen’s or the audience’s. He seemed to find at every stop the sisters of mercy whom he immortalized in one of his oldest and most tender songs…. And now, wherever this precious man wanders, the famous blue raincoat notwithstand¬ing, people sing ‘hallelujah!’ The Psalmist himself could not have asked for more.”
Tracklisting identical for all formats: 1. Lover, Lover, Lover (Ramat Gan Stadium, Tel Aviv, Israel, September 24, 2009) 2. Bird On the Wire (Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Scotland, November 6, 2008) 3. Chelsea Hotel (Royal Albert Hall, London, England, November 17, 2008) 4. Heart With No Companion (Oberhausen King Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany, November 2, 2008) 5. That Don’t Make it Junk (O2 Arena, London, England, November 13, 2008) 6. Waiting for the Miracle (HP Pavilion, San Jose, California, November 13, 2009) 7. Avalanche (Gothenburg Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden, October 12, 2008) 8. Suzanne (MENA Arena, Manchester, England, November 30, 2008) 9. The Partisan (Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland, October 10, 2008) 10. Famous Blue Raincoat (O2 Arena, London, England, November 13, 2008) 11. Hallelujah (Coachella Music Festival, Indio, California, April 17, 2009) 12. Closing Time (John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario, May 24, 2009)
Anthony Reynolds, author of the forthcoming biography, Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life (available 10/1/10 - final title TBD), reveals his inspiration behind the book, thoughts on how Mr. Cohen's work has changed over time, his three favorite LC songs and live performance, and much more here.
Leonard Cohen Talks About First New Album of the Decade "One song was written on tour, the rest were written before" RollingStone.com
By Patrick Doyle
Leonard Cohen has spent the last two years globetrotting through a marathon tour, but when Rolling Stone caught up with the poet last night in New York — where he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame — he revealed he's working on a new album, his first disc of fresh material since 2004's Dear Heather. "God willing it will be finished next spring," he said.
"I'm producing it," he said, wearing his typical dapper black suit and fedora. The 75-year-old added that the disc will contain "10 or 11 songs," mostly composed before he hit the road in May 2008 for the first time in 15 years. "One song was written on tour, the rest were written before," he said, noting that he wrote some tracks with longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson and with his longtime companion Anjani. What will it sound like? "Something good, I hope."
Cohen said not much has changed on his playlist in recent years and rattled off a list of his favorite artists with long breathy pauses between names: "The same people — Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins."
Last year, Cohen debuted one new song live, the slow, moonlit blues "Feels So Good." This summer, Cohen embarks another leg of his tour, and in November he'll play Cambodia's Olympic Stadium with proceeds going to charitable groups like the Cambodian Red Cross. "That's a long story," he said. "But if we can help there I'm very happy to be able to do it." Cohen's tour grossed $21 million in 2009 and earned stellar reviews. "I don't examine these things too closely," he said about his success on the road. "Otherwise they may evaporate."
At the ceremony, Cohen made a brief-but-spellbinding speech, said he was "overwhelmed" and then recited a stanza from his staple "Hallelujah." After the ceremony, fellow icons Paul Simon and Billy Joel made an early exit, but Cohen hung around his table, posing for photos and accepting accolades. When a couple forced electric guitar pickguards in his face, Cohen calmly told them, "You know I don't like signing these," but then signed them anyway.