Monday, 1 April 2013

Van and Leonard Cohen

It's surprising how many people like both Van and Leonard Cohen.  Van Fans seem to favour the older singer songwriters who have endured over time.  People like Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen often feature on Van Morrison fans' lists of other musical interests.  Justin Beiber, Adam Lambert and Miley Cyrus usually don't. 
In the case of Leonard his recent global touring has won him a legion of new fans.  Sure, the touring has been forced on him through being ripped off by a former manager, but the shows have been really well-received.  Unlike Van he doesn't stick religiously to some 90 minutes contract.  Shows often extend to over three hours.  Even teenagers are being won over to Cohen's style through his stellar concert performances. 

Van and Cohen probably have more similarities than Van would care to name.  Both gained fame in the 60s but are still relevant today. Both like WB Yeats.  Both are poets, although Cohen could claim to have the edge on Van in that area since he's published a number of books of verse.  Both have been delivering great concerts by the fistful in their post-pensioner years.  Both also dress smartly in concert with expensive suits and and hats. 

Recently I've tried to track down any connection between the two.  Although the Internet is full of people declaring their love for both Van and Cohen, there seems to be a lack of any real connection between the two. 
Cohen in SAS training
The only connection found is the fact that they shared the same manager, Mary Martin.  Following her four-year apprenticeship with Grossman, Martin took on music as a permanent calling by managing and helping to launch the enduring careers of Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Rodney Crowell among others.
Van seems to have made no comment about Leonard Cohen and and one may assume Cohen isn't really a performer he rates highly.  Still it seems  like the two could get together sometime.  Although van admires blues performers he does work with people outside the blues pedigree - people like Chris Farlowe, Lonnie Donegan, Acker Bilk, Georgie Fame, etc. So maybe there's a chance for a collaboration, but Van better be quick since Cohen is approaching his 80th birthday.
While Van seems to ignore Cohen, the same can't be said of the urbane Jewish Canadian.  He has commented about Van on a number of occasions.   He's admitted to being a fan of Van Morrison. When asked to name those he admired back in 1975 on the “contemporary music scene” his response included Van.   He said, " I also like Van Morrison very much, including his superb ‘Veedon Fleece’ effort."

In a 2001 online chat with fans, Cohen declared, " As the Talmud says 'There’s good wine in every generation'. I love to hear what Dylan has to say and Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits and many others."

In a 1974 interview he was asked about Van and replied, "I’m very fond of his work. I don’t know him. I love his work as a matter of fact."
 In a recent online post one interviewer claimed he once asked Cohen if he had ever met or worked with Van. Cohen's reply was a disappointing, "I once phoned him  years ago about doing a project together but nothing came of it."

Van Vs Leonard: the Fans Speak

Amnesiac   -   They're both excellent songwriters, but I guess I prefer Leonard Cohen because I love just about every song he's released.  
Max   -   Definitely Van Morrison. Both are amazing songwriters, but Morrison has an edge in vocals for me. Favourite Leonard Cohen has to be Hallelujah, just because it is so influential, one of the greatest songs of all time. For Van Morrison, I have to say either Astral Weeks, Brown Eyed Girl, or Summertime in England.
Trickzta   -   prefer Van the Man but hat's off to Mr Cohen for being the individual genius that he is.

The Original TB Sheets
David V   -   I have to go with Cohen even through I'm a big fan of Van. But most people don't realise that Cohen was also a great poet. Two of my favourite poetry books by him are "The Spice-Box of Earth" 1961 and "Flowers for Hitler", 1964. Both I bought and still have when they were first released. Many of his poems have been anthologised in Canadian school books. And as one realises most of his lyrics are poetry. And being Canadian I have to go after Cohen on this one.
Wire and String   -   I feel like Cohen is the better lyricist. and Van Morrison is the more accessible of the pair. I also feel like Van Morrison's early years are maybe just a bit more consistently good quality, whereas Cohen tends to be hit or miss for me. but certainly through the years, both have been inconsistent. i think i am actually leaning Van Morrison.
Sssss S   -   Leonard Cohen is the better lyricist. Why? Cause I have no idea what he's saying, yet it opens up my imagination like someone opening a window in a stuffy room with smoke that's curling like a highway above my shoulder. I feel mentally stimulated when I hear him. As for Van Morrison, he seems like the better, ah what's that word... ore emotional guy. More passion in his music. "I'm nothing but a stranger in this world." Dang man, this guy's got depth. Alas, I've only heard Astral Weeks and Songs of Leonard Cohen (ie only one album from each).  I'll go with Songs of Leonard Cohen. I've listened to that more than Astral Weeks, though that album is still close to my heart.

vtd288   -   I am a huge fan of Van Morrison, but I like Leonard Cohen too.

Mike H  Music Man in New Orleans   -   I am so old that I remember both when they were just getting started. LOL I prefer Van Morrison but not for any other reason than his songs tend to be more upbeat for the most part. I do enjoy listening to Cohen as well though.
vambo number six   -   Van Morrison is my favourite artist after Dylan, and Leonard Cohen is right up there too. These are NOT my favourite tracks, because I don't feel like making that kind of decision. Just two right off the top of my head. There are plenty of them. Van's Wonderful Remark and Cohen's And The Future. 
Mr. Wildflowers   -   Leonard Cohen by far. I love Van Morrison, but Leonard Cohen's my favourite artist ever. His music means more to me than anyone else's, and seeing him in concert was one of the greatest nights of my life.

Lady Silver Rose    -  I have to go with Van Morrison, as I couldn't get into Leonard!

Sarrafze   -   Van Morrison. While he does just churn them out, he nevertheless has more talent and is a better songwriter.    Morrison -- Brown Eyed Girl (still great with the unmasked passion)    Cohen -- Suzanne.

Shane   -   yes, both are very good, but I prefer Van Morrison.

Greyhound   -   Van is much more accomplished and from his early sort of rock/blues days has pretty much covered all the musical genres.  Morrison – Gloria     Cohen - Sisters of Mercy.

Sits Vacant   -   both are ghastly boring depressing people.

David B   -   Van the Man!

Ford Prefect   -   Rave on Mr Yeats - I rate them both equally.

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