Leonard Cohen at the Orpheum 

"I'm junk, but I'm still holding up this wild little bouquet." — Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen is nothing if not direct. There's a moment in Tony Palmer's 1972 Bird on a Wire documentary when the poet and songwriter, then 37, is asked to define success. After a brief pause, he answers, "Success is survival," with just a hint of weariness and indignation in his voice.

By his own modest terms, Cohen, who has never released a platinum-selling record in the United States, in spite of the fact that his song "Hallelujah" has traveled the long road from obscurity to cliché to become a staple of performance-based reality television, is wildly successful. More than 40 years after Bird on a Wire, he's still touring hard and has finally achieved a level of name recognition that, in spite of his reputation as the ultimate songwriter's songwriter, eluded him for so long.

The question now is whether or not Cohen would have achieved so much late-career success, or ever embarked on another tour, if it weren't for the need to survive. In 2004, he was all but retired and living the life of a monk at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, when he received word that a longtime friend and business manager had been steadily depleting his bank accounts. Tours and new recordings followed.

Cohen, who has since replenished his retirement accounts, continues to tour and make music, suggesting that there may be more to his late-career resurgence than mere survival. Whatever it is that keeps the growling singer on the road and accessible to his legion of fans, hallelujah.

Leonard Cohen plays the Orpheum on Sunday, March 24th. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

News Blog

Public Picks Zoo Parking Lot Plan

Politics Beat Blog

Left Activists Intrude on Meeting of Shelby County Democrats

Politics Beat Blog

GOP Figure Bill Giannini Killed in Car Crash

Politics Beat Blog

Mackler Out of Senate Race, Yields to Bredesen

Beyond the Arc

The Hustle Dispatch: Week 6

News Blog

Cooper-Young Nears Historical Landmark Status

Intermission Impossible

Bad Santa: Tennessee Shakespeare turns Godot into a Holiday Hellscape

Hungry Memphis

New Central BBQ to open

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Chris Davis

Readers also liked…

  • Pezz: Hardcore Survivors

    In the age of Trump, the only Memphis band that matters.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • A New Booker in Town

    John Miller on being director of events at Lafayette’s.
    • May 12, 2016
  • Snowglobe Returns

    Brad Postlethwaite on his band’s first show in four years.
    • Jul 28, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation