Sunday, December 03, 2006

All your praises they shall ring

A while back I saw "I'm Your Man", a recent doc about Leonard Cohen. The movie is based on various singers doing covers of Cohen's music, which turns out to be a recipe for general mediocrity, since only Leonard Cohen can really do Leonard Cohen.

There are a couple of nice exceptions, which are available on YouTube.

First, Antony doing a cover of "If It Be Your Will". (At first I was actually a little unsettled by how very weird-looking he is. But he has a great voice, so I got over it.)

Second, the final performance from the movie, with Leonard doing the singing, at last. When I saw this in the theatre, there were audible gasps when the camera zooms out after the first verse (you'll see what I mean; it's a nice touch).


Anonymous said...

'only Leonard Cohen can really do Leonard Cohen' ??

I really can't let this claim pass without comment. If this is supposed to be anything other than a tautology, it mean that there are no good covers of Leonard Cohen songs. I would have thought that the argument could be made that Cohen's versions of his own songs are often worse than other people's covers of them.

Exhibits A through D
A) Ron Sexsmith's version of 'Heart with no Companion'
B) Hayden's version of 'Famous Blue Raincoat'
C) Jeff Buckely's version of 'Hallelujah'
D) Kris Kristofferson's version of 'Bird on a Wire'

I leave further examples as an excercise for the reader.

Canadianly yours,


Toby said...

Greetings, "Canadian".

The quoted phrase was meant to be taken as meaning that no cover of Leonard Cohen does full justice to Leonard Cohen. It doesn't follow from this that there are no good covers, if by that you mean not-good-at-all.

That being said, it's fair to say that I was over-generalizing (I suspect I might like the Antony cover better than the original), though not by much.

I'm not familiar enough with most of your exhibits to judge properly (not sure I've heard them all). With respect to (C), though, "Hallelujah" covers were the ones that particularly came to mind when I made the quoted statement. People love to cover that song, but I feel I've never heard a cover (including Buckley's) as good as LC's own.