Everyone's got a Leonard Cohen story. It's hard to argue with that fact, especially when you live in Montreal. Leading up to the classic-album concert series, we wanted to know more about the special relationship each contributing artist has with Cohen, the importance he holds in their lives and their music and what lead them to wanting to be a part of it all.
When I was 14 a boy sent me a pirated cassette tape of the Leonard Cohen cover album called “I’m Your Fan”. The boy was handsome, loved poetry, and had a father who was in prison for gauging a woman’s eye out in a bar. The songs were all about lust, longing and loss — a mature soundtrack for our quaint teenage romance.
I stopped seeing that boy, but I never stopped listening to Leonard. As my collection of his work grew, the world I imagined around his songs exploded into rich narratives. I would spend countless hours listening and envisioning myself as the song's protagonists— always as the seeker, not the sought. I was the one ‘burning up the road, heading down to Phoenix’, the one with my ankle fastened to a stone by someone’s fine spider web. Over time, his work birthed a sense of duty within me to author a life for myself that would somehow live up to the passion, romance, and richness of his songs. It is a life long work in progress.
Few artists have had such an intense and enduring impact on me. Having a small part to play in tribute to Leonard Cohen will always mean a great deal to me.
I remember taking a train from San Sebastian to Bilbao and making a mistake. Having taken the one that made stops continuously, taking four hours instead of one. I had listened to Songs from a Room from the beginning to the end, on repeat. That was 10 years ago.
I remember, before putting out my first album, when people would ask me what my style of music was, I would say it sounded a bit like Leonard Cohen, but in french and with a higher pitched voice. I don't think it was true, but it certainly was a goal, and it looked good.
I remember singing Nancy's Song at Arts Café on Fairmount during an open mic. I was sad at that time. It allowed me to meet people that I liked a lot.
I don't remember when Leonard Cohen died. I never knew him, he just kind of always existed, and I think he will always exist.