Results for Leonard Cohen

interviews

Angel Olsen

From St. Louis, to Chicago to Asheville, NC, Angel Olsen is now a national figure in indie rock. Her first big break came after performing backup for Bonnie Prince Billy, but Olsen has grown into a confident artist in her own right. Her songwriting has been compared to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and her voice has been compared to that of the great Roy Orbison. For most of her career, Olsen has made sparse, introspective records, starting with her first EP, Strange Cactii, and then with her debut album, Half Way Home. Now with her latest record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, the critical acclaim has matched that of fans. During her studio visit, Angel Olsen played songs from this new record, talked to us about the challenge of playing with a full band, and how she views songwriting as an exercise in acting.

Go to episode 447

John Cale

John Cale is known for many things: co-founding The Velvet Underground, producing major albums for The Stooges and Patti Smith, and doing one of the best covers of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." So when John Cale was touring in support of his most recent album Black Acetate in 2006, Jim and Greg wanted him to stop by the Sound Opinions studio to be their first guest on public radio. Now almost 100 episodes later, we wanted to revisit that terrific conversation.

During Cale's visit, the three men covered everything from Brian Eno to Lou Reed to Snoop Dogg. And, Cale played two of his songs live: "Set Me Free" and "Gravel Drive," which he names as his favorite track on the record. He explains to Jim and Greg that this song was his way of talking to his daughter about some complicated issues, and why“Dad”sometimes wasn‘t around. Greg notes that despite Cale’s admitted anger, and his undeniable punk rock attitude, a number of the songs on Black Acetate are equally heartfelt and beautiful.

Go to episode 98
specials

Desert Island Jukebox

Frequently at the end of Sound Opinions, Jim and Greg add songs to the Desert Island Jukebox. This jukebox is filled with tracks that Jim and Greg would take with them if stranded on a desert island. They‘ve posed this same age-old rock question to many of their guests. In this episode you’ll hear the music that these artists say they can't live without:

  • Saul Williams: James Brown, Live at the Olympia
  • Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand: Leonard Cohen, The Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand: Neil Young, "Ohio"
  • Peaches: Prince, Purple Rain
  • Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix: Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson
  • Thomas Mars of Phoenix: D'Angelo, Voodoo
  • Craig Finn of The Hold Steady: The Replacements, "I Will Dare"
  • Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady: American Music Club, Mercury
  • Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
  • Grant Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: Bob Dylan, Planet Waves
  • Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips: John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"
Go to episode 213

Best Second Acts

Go ahead…"call it a comeback." This week Jim and Greg highlight some of rock and roll's best Second Acts. These artists either fell into obscurity or went down a bad path before reemerging successfully, perhaps better than before. Famous examples include Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Elvis Presley, who told the world he wasn‘t yet down for the count at his ’68 Comeback Special. There's also Santana, whose record Supernatural went 15 times platinum in 1999, decades after his heyday in the late ‘60s. And don’t forget about Cher, who at age 53 had the number one song "Believe." Here are Jim and Greg's favorite "Comeback Kids."

Go to episode 334
reviews
Popular ProblemsPopular Problems available on iTunes

Leonard Cohen Popular Problems

Leonard Cohen is one of the great names and voices in music, and now at 80, the Quebec has given us even more to love: his 13th studio album called Popular Problems. Cohen is primarly known as a poet and songwriter, with "Hallelujah" being a highlight. But don't discount his performance. Jim doesn't hear anything as good as "Hallelujah" on this album, but tthere are at least 9 songs on the album that are better than anything he has done in over a decade. Jim applauds the rawness of the production and Cohen's wicked sense of humor. He says Buy It. Greg agrees that the sense of humor is as sharp as it has ever been. No one writes songs about people who are marginalized quite like Cohen, says Greg. Go Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 461
You Want It DarkerYou Want it Darker available on iTunes

Leonard Cohen You Want it Darker

At the age of 82 singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen is the most prolific he has ever been. Unfortunately, this uptick in recording and touring is a necessity after a manager bilked him out of most of his savings. The upside is he continues to produce quality work and that is evident on his 14th studio album, You Want it Darker. Greg says the album finds the aging Cohen wrestling with mortality, god and religion. All with his patented dry-wit. The album is aided with a flattering production that often sounds like the songs could be set in a church while still emphasizing Cohen's baritone voice. That said, Greg says it is not the best album to introduce people to Leonard Cohen, but if you're a fan (as Greg is) this is a buy it. Jim agrees it is a buy it but disagrees about the accessibility of the album saying he's“never been funnier, nor has he been more talented…this is prime Cohen.” You Want it Darker is a double buy it.

JimGreg
Go to episode 569
Old IdeasOld Ideas available on iTunes

Leonard Cohen Old Ideas

Leonard Cohen is another music vet featured on today's show. But in his four plus decades career, he's only released 12 studio albums. This means his quality control is pretty good. The issue with some of his albums, Greg explains, is not with the songwriting, but with the production. On Old Ideas he has cleared away the clutter and allowed the poetic lyrics to be at the forefront. Greg is also impressed that despite being a man of a certain age, Cohen's songs are full of life and humor. Greg gives this tragicomedy of an album a Buy It. Jim is still put off by the production choices and can only give Old Ideas a Burn it rating. The record has a“yuppie cabaret vibe.”And rather than be an English major rock critic and parse each lyric, Jim will wait until the inevitable stream of Cohen covers present his songwriting in better form.

JimGreg
Go to episode 322
Live In LondonLive in London available on iTunes

Leonard Cohen Live in London

74 year-old rock poet Leonard Cohen has gone out on his first tour in 15 years. He's also released a concert album Live in London. Jim thinks the record is one of those rare live gems that's more than just a souvenir. He found most of his studio albums overdone and really appreciates hearing this authentic performance. Jim gives this live album an enthusiastic Buy It rating. Greg has a few reservations about this record, including some of the instrumentation and backing vocals. But, for one stop Leonard Cohen shopping, this is a great pick. He also gives Live in London a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 179
Burn Your Fire For No WitnessBurn Your Fire for No Witness available on iTunes

Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire for No Witness

From Missouri to Chicago and now Asheville, NC, singer/songwriter Angel Olsen has been quietly making a name for herself. Now, with her second full LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, she's being compared to Leonard Cohen and Patsy Cline. Jim and Greg agree that this release is a huge step forward, combining wan, contemplative lyrics with truly rock ‘n’ roll backing band. While she may not be a Leonard Cohen just yet, both Jim and Greg think that Olsen's lyricism alone deserves your cash: Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 429
dijs

Greg

“Sisters of Mercy”Leonard Cohen

This week Sound Opinions welcomed a new station: WHDD-FM, in Sharon, CT. Hotchkiss School in nearby Lakeville produced John Hammond, one of the most important music industry figures in the 20th century. So Greg decided to take his turn at the DIJ as an opportunity to honor the man who discovered Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, and even Bruce Springsteen. But it was his signing of Leonard Cohen at Columbia Records that Greg wants to highlight. It was brave of Hammond to bring the Canadian poet to the label. His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, never achieved much commercial success, but it served as inspiration for Robert Altman's 1971 film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Greg chooses to add that album's track "Sisters of Mercy" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 129
lists

Funeral Songs

The complete top five funeral songs, according to the Register:

  • James Blunt, "Goodbye My Lover"
  • Robbie Williams, "Angels"
  • Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley, "I've Had the Time of My Life"
  • Bette Midler, "Wind Beneath My Wings"
  • "Pie Jesu"

We asked our Sound Opinions listeners this same, morbid question. Here are some of the“swan songs”you told us about via email or message board:

  • Santo and Johnny, "Sleepwalk"
  • The Buzzcocks, "Everybody's Happy Nowadays"
  • Curtis Mayfield, "Freddie's Dead"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Corpus Christi Texas"
  • R.E.M., "Try Not to Breathe"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Satisfied Mind"
  • Tom Waits, "Come On Up To The House"
  • Peter Gabriel, "I Grieve"
  • Joy Division, "In a Lonely Place"
  • The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
  • Alice Cooper, "I Love the Dead"
  • Talking Heads, "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)"
  • Billy Bragg and Wilco, "Remember the Mountain Bed"

Greg

Jim and Greg were forced to think about their final day as well. Greg goes first (since Jim predicts he actually will). He decides he wants Sound Opinions guest John Cale's cover of "Hallelujah" to be played at his funeral. He calls it the 20th century version of "Amazing Grace". Although Cale's version strays from Leonard Cohen's original, Greg thinks the message remains intact: "I made a lot of mistakes, but it was all worthwhile."

Jim

Jim predicts that even at his funeral he won't be able to resist one last chance to be sarcastic. He chooses an irreverent version of Frank Sinatra's classic "My Way." Jim shares Hoboken roots with“Ol' Blue Eyes,”but he feels he shares a lot more with Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious. So all of you Sound Opinions listeners who plan to come out to mourn on that fateful day will get to enjoy this punk cover.

Go to episode 47

Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

Go to episode 79

The Best of 2009… So Far

Lists are just too much fun to do them only once a year. Here are Jim and Greg's mid-year best album lists.

Greg

  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • Amadou & Mariam, Welcome to Mali
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Maxwell, BLACKsummers'night
  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz

Jim

  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You
  • Morrissey, Years of Refusal
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
  • PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman a Man Walked By
  • Moby, Wait for Me
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz
  • Passion Pit, Manners
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Metric, Fantasies
  • K'Naan, Troubadour
  • Cursive, Mama, I'm Swollen
  • Bob Dylan, Together Through Life
  • Leonard Cohen, Live in London
  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Sonic Youth, The Eternal
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon
  • Wilco, Wilco
  • The Handsome Family, Honey Moon
  • Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
  • Peaches, I Feel Cream
  • Screaming Females, Power Move
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst

A message from Jim: The following, LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, is my tally of albums mid-year in 2009 that have all warranted 3.5 stars or more on the Chicago Sun-Times‘ 4-star ratings scale (making them all very enthusiastic“buy its”on the“Sound Opinions”scale). I will mention that these are in no particular order (sorry, but that’s reserved for the year-end list), that this list is not all-inclusive (I will no doubt catch up with quite a few discs released earlier in the year by the time I tally the year-end list) and, also, because this always confuses people, THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. Yet. But they're all really, really, really good albums.

Go to episode 190
news

Music News

2016 continues to be an awful year for musical deaths, and we've had four more in recent weeks. First, we lost Leon Russell, the famous session player and solo artist who recorded with a diverse roster of artists from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. The pianist and singer-songwriter Mose Allison also died recently at 89. Allison blended country blues and bebop and influenced rock musicians from Randy Newman to Pete Townshend. Though less of a household name, archivist Billy Miller also made great contributions to rock music. As co-founder of Norton Records, he brought much needed attention to neglected artists like Hasil Adkins, Link Wray, and The Sonics.

Leonard Cohen But the most significant loss was Leonard Cohen. The Canadian singer-songwriter established himself on the New York scene with his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. That record provided inspiration to filmmaker Robert Altman on his 1971 anti-western McCabe & Mrs. Miller, a collaboration that Greg feels is a key part of Cohen's career. Cohen's records, however, were often ill-served by overproduction, with his voice pushed to the rear. It took interpretations bu other artists to bring the songs to their full potential, most notably on the many covers of his most famous tune "Hallelujah," from John Cale to Jeff Buckley to Kate McKinnon on SNL. But remarkably, Cohen figured things out toward the end of his life. He played countless shows in the past decade and released some of the strongest albums of his career in his seventies and eighties. In fact, for the uninitiated listener, Jim and Greg recommend beginning with his 2009 Live in London album featuring his greatest songs in new, tighter arrangements.

Go to episode 573