CND Song 2

Leonard Cohen - Take this Waltz, 1988 (Montreal, Quebec)

"Look, Leonard, we know you're great, but we don't know if you're any good." - Walter Yetnikoff, president of Columbia Records

Leonard Cohen, first-rank poet and unlikely pop star. In the 80s he was regularly mobbed in the streets by his European fans, but back in Canada and the U.S., we tended to focus more on the 'unlikely' part of the description. The songs were beautiful. It was Leonard's singing that was seen as the stumbling block, and nobody knew how to sell him - the quote at the beginning was alledgedly a reaction to Cohen's 1984 album Various Positions (the track list contains a nice little song called 'Hallelujah') which Columbia refused to release. I remember Cohen didn't get serious radio attention in North America until Jennifer Warnes' 1987 cover album Famous Blue Raincoat. But the album was a hit, people started to take notice, and now we can't get enough of him. I could have chosen anything from I'm Your Man (1988) or Various Positions, but this is my favourite of Leonard Cohen's 80s-released songs, a translation of Federico Garcia Lorca's Little Viennese Waltz. The video consists mainly of Leonard staring disconcertingly into the camera and lip synching in front of postcard backdrops of Grenada, so I decided to go for concert footage from 1988 instead. Apologies that we're cut off abruptly in mid 'la, la, la'.

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