The next month or so will bring many an opportunity to honor the late, great Leonard Cohen. You’re already aware that Film Forum is screening the tour documentary Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire. And you may have heard about “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” the tribute concert scheduled for January 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets went on sale today). That show will feature Joan as Policewoman, Richard Thompson, Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith Group, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick, and Hannah Cohen (no relation), among others. To top it all off, Anthology Film Archives has announced a film program that will pay tribute to the Canadian crooner, who died in November.
If you’re still mourning the loss of Leonard Cohen last month, this may help: Film Forum is screening Tony Palmer’s classic documentary Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire for two weeks starting January 18. A lovely antidote to all those “Hallelujah” covers, the doc follows Cohen on a month-long tour of Europe in the spring of 1972, after his salad days in New York City. While it starts off with the obligatory footage of the band boarding planes and signing autographs (Cohen was already a big deal at the time, having released his first three albums), it soon takes a far more pensive turn.
We remember him well in the Chelsea Hotel, but Leonard Cohen’s New York City existence spanned beyond just the hotel where a makeshift memorial sprung up on Thursday after his death at the age of 82. Cohen came to New York City in 1966, just a year before the Summer of Love, and his breakthrough years there brought him into the orbit of Warhol and the Velvet Underground, the Beats, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Jimi Hendrix. He wrote songs for Nico and penned “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” after a night with Janis Joplin.