An Evening with Leonard Cohen in Nashville

Leonard Cohen
photo credit: Nashville Scene

Years ago, a young, bright eyed high school senior watched Pump up the Volume and heard Leonard Cohen’s deep, husky voice for the first time. That young teenager was me. Since then I have followed his music and writings more than any other artist. Only a few short months ago, I listed Leonard as one of my all time favorites. I had garnered hope of seeing this 75 year old singer/songwriter/poet/philosopher last year when he began his first tour in 15 years. I didn’t make it to Austin or Chicago though. But I nearly jumped through the ceiling when I learned he added a date in Nashville to his Fall 2009 schedule. I turned back flips when I got tickets for the 8th row of TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall.

Leonard was gracious both to the audience and to his band members. He frequently started his songs during the first set singing on his knees to the audience. He became a member of the audience by focusing intently on each of his band member’s solos. And honestly, someone could write a thesis on this world class band performance.

My heart pounded through Everybody Knows, Hallelujah, So Long Marianne, I’m Your Man, Bird on a Wire, If It Be Your Will, and In My Secret Life. I dare say, after a 3 hour performance including 3 encores, no one left unhappy.

Others who wrote more eloquently than I
Leonard Cohen the sage, better than ever (and Dylan) at 75 Steve Haruch, Nashville Scene
Leonard Cohen at TPAC’s Jackson Hall, 11/5/09 The Spin, Nashville Cream, Nashville Scene
Updated: Leonard Cohen shares smiles, lessons and music at TPAC Peter Cooper, TuneInMusicCity, The Tennessean
Leonard Cohen TPAC 2009 Margaret Elizabeth Review Thread

My personal favorite was from the Haruch advance piece

His songs sound like works of great labor, and even as a relatively young man, he sang in a voice that was knowing and a little forlorn—an old soul trying to get laid and figure out who God is at the same time.

Mr. Cohen recounted that he lived here in Tennessee in the 1970s, renting a cabin on 1,500 acres near Franklin for $75/month from songwriter Boudleaux Bryant. What a magical place I live in.

Honestly, I don’t know how Mr. Cohen and his band of world class musicians exceeded my already monumental expectations. I must say this was the best concert I have ever heard. I’m still floating. Did I dream this?

If you’ve never listened to or heard of him, allow me to recommend a few songs:

In My Secret Life
If It Be Your Will

and to acknowledge the Red Headed Stranger whose voice was warming the Ryman Auditorium at the same time a mere 4 blocks away (and to which I also bought tickets and had to choose)
Willie Nelson covering Cohen’s Bird on a Wire