Culturespill » Blog Archive » Leonard Cohen: “I’ve Seen the future, baby. It is murder.”

Leonard Cohen: “I’ve Seen the future, baby. It is murder.”

29th March 2008

 

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When Leonard growled those lines with what Elton John referred to as his “non-voice” on 1992’s classic album The Future, I wonder whether he had himself in mind? Cohen’s prophecy came true in a painfully personal way when he returned from his five-year seclusion at L.A.’s Mount Baldy Zen monastery to find his retirement fund of $5 million reduced to 150 grand. Apparently, while Cohen plucked daisies and cooked for his Roshi in the mountains, his long-time manager Kelley Lynch plucked millions from his coffers, directly linking her American Express bill to Cohen’s bank account and withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars at a time for personal use.

Now things have turned ugly, with Lynch subsequently losing her child in a custody battle with her ex-husband who fears she’s become suicidal, partly on account of the many insanely rambling emails she has sent to Cohen and others, one of which invited Michael Greenberg, Cohen’s former investment adviser, to an evening of “tantric sex” (Where are these women in my life?). Now Greenberg’s suing Cohen for conspiracy and extortion, accusing the reclusive Zen Buddhist of squandering his millions on some kind of “celebrity” lifestyle and threats of using an upcoming tour to spread slander about him. Lynch herself is AWOL, failing to respond to subpoena orders and disconnecting her phone, and it seems that Cohen’s successful fight in the courts to recover the cash has one little problem: it does not help him recover the cash. Woops.

Enter Macklam/Feldman Management, a Blue Alert, and some Hawaiian chanteuse called Anjani. Cohen’s partnership with Macklam/Feldman following the Kelley Lynch catastrophe initiated persuasive rumors of a world tour—which would be Cohen’s first in 13 years—prompting Greenberg’s contention that Cohen was using tour rumors to intimidate his former advisor by threatening to make Greenberg’s alleged improprieties very public during interviews (though Cohen’s tame conversation with Terry Gross that spring did not come even remotely close to suggesting any such intention). At 71 at the time of his new partnership with Mcklam/Feldman, it seemed more likely that the daunting demands of touring were simply too overwhelming for Cohen to seriously consider in the twilight of his career. But then he got inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame alongside, uh-hem, Madonna. Disappointingly, there was no Brittney Spears tongue kiss between them, but the occasion does seem to have lent Cohen the mojo he needed to actually do this thing: now 73, he’s announced plans to embark on a world tour beginning in July (dates below), and there are bound to be lots of interviews. If you are Michael Greenberg, you may commence the soiling of your pants at this time. Thank you.

Aside from rumored work on an upcoming album of his own, Cohen also produced the recently released Blue Alert for Hawaiian jazz crooner and current girlfriend, Anjani Thomas. Cohen may be broke, but a single glance at Anjani makes clear once again that he’s still got his mojo workin’—at 73, it’s workin’ overtime—and who could blame the guy? Cohen’s financial straits may suggest that when he emerges from seclusion to declare that Blue Alert is “the best album I’ve ever heard,” he is doing his duty as a salesman. But that would be an unfair and cold appraisal; the album is actually a hard-hitting and sexy collection of gorgeously spare, underproduced ballads. Anjani’s seductive whisper expertly compliments Blue Alert’s consistent delivery of raw, jazz-drenched piano ballads, commanding the sensuousness of an evening breeze washing over lovers splitting a bottle of Chablis at the beach. If Cohen’s follow-up to the disastrously unfocused—if mildly fascinating—Dear Heather explores the same aesthetic he navigates with Anjani on Blue Alert, it is certain to be one of his finest hours.

The new solo album appears certain to accompany the recently announced tour. Cohen angered some fans with the unfocused gaiety of Dear Heather, and defended himself by saying that it was meant as a “playful” album to be followed by a collection of more characteristic material—you know, the stuff that makes you want to kill yourself. The album may make it to stores later this year, most likely the fall (2008).

Here are Leonard Cohen’s tour dates:

June 6-7: Toronto (Sony Centre)
June 14: Dublin (IMMA)
June 17-20: Manchester, England (Manchester International Festival)
June 23-26: Montreal (Place des Arts)
June 29: Glastonbury, England (Glastonbury Festival)
July 1: Oslo (Aliset Stadium)
July 3: Helsingborg, Sweden (Open Air)
July 5: Copenhagen (Rosenborg Castle)
July 6: Arhuus, Denmark (Raadhus Parken)
July 8: Montreux, Switzerland (Jazz Festival)
July 9: Lyon, France (Lyon Festival)
July 10: Bruges, Belgium (Cactus)
July 12: Amsterdam (Westerdam)
July 16: Edinburgh (Castle)
July 17: London (O2 Arena)
July 19: Lisbon (Passeio Maritimo)
July 20: Bennicasim, Spain (Bennicasim Festival)
July 22: Nice, France (Jazz Festival)
July 25: Lorrach, Germany (Stimmen De Welt)
July 27: Lucca, Italy (Summer Festival)
July 29: Athens (Lykabettus Theatre)
Aug. 3: Ledbury, England (Big Chill)
Aug. 5-6: Istanbul (Arena)
Aug. 10: Prague (Castle)
Aug. 12: Budapest (Sziget)
Aug. 14-15: Girona, Spain (Cap Roig)
Aug. 28-29: Vienna (Opera House)

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