I can recall the precise moment I discovered Leonard Cohen. It was the early days of the turn of the century and I was going through a phase of listening to morose, emotive music. It was those late adolescent days you have yet to discover who you are; the teenage years were slipping away. It was here I first began listening to artists like Bright Eyes and Hayden. It was the song “Famous Blue Raincoat” performed by the latter that did it for me.
I can remember when the longing for Cohen’s deep crooning came again. It was my friend Meags who introduced me to Pump Up The Volume, the quite cheesy early 90s flick staring Christian Slater as a shy high schooler with a pirate radio station. These were the days before my own radio time at KZUU, before the time I really understood the state of independent radio and how companies like ClearChannel have virtually destroyed it. Each of Slater’s shows began with “Everybody Knows”.
The third time I discovered Leonard Cohen was today.
I’m Your Man, a documentary on Leonard Cohen, is a lovely portrait of The Man himself. His voice is deep and soothing as always, though it does not sing. He recounts his life from growing up in Montreal to his time living in the Chelsea Hotel to his later stages of life. The performances during the film are all covers—Nick Cave, Antony Hegarty, Jarvis Cocker, and Rufus Wainwright all lend their unique voices to Cohen’s masterful writing, filmed at “Came So Far For Beauty” An Evening Of Leonard Cohen Songs.
Antony’s redition of “If It Be Your Will” is proof his quivering vibrato was set for greatness. Rufus Wainwright plays numerous songs, but the showstopper is “Hallelujah”, which he performs with his sister Martha and Joan Wasser. At the end, Cohen does perform a single song—“Tower of Song”. U2 is his backing band and the visuals may be somewhat cheesy, but the song itself, like The Man, is classic.
Check out I’m Your Man for yourself.
This review was originally published June 14, 2007 on the old version of FensePost.