My friend and fellow blogger Colin and I have seriously differing views about Leonard Cohen. He has never been able to understand how I can even listen to Leonard Cohen at all while I just love all his songs. Anyway, reading Colin's blog the other day I followed a link to an article about the old lady who decided to do some drastic restoration work on a fresco in her local church. At the bottom of the article was a further link to this article about my hero:
"Those familiar with Cohen’s work will know how he was influenced by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca - even naming his daughter Lorca - and that many of his songs included flamenco style refrains.
But the full extent of Spain’s role in shaping his music was only revealed when he came to Spain five years ago to accept the nation’s most important literature prize.
In 2011, when Cohen visited Oviedo to collect the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, he explained how, if it wasn’t for a chance meeting with a Spanish flamenco guitarist in his home town of Montreal as a young man, his music and career may have been very different.
He went on to recount how after coming across the guitarist in the local park he persuaded the Spaniard to give him a few lessons. After the guitarist failed one day to turn up to the class, Cohen discovered that he had taken his own life.
"I knew nothing about the man. I -- I did not know what part of Spain he came from. I did not know why he came to Montreal. I did not know why he stayed there. I did not know why he he appeared there in that tennis court. I did not know why he took his life. I -- I was deeply saddened, of course."
That flamenco guitarist taught Cohen six chords. "It was that guitar pattern that has been the basis of all my songs and all my music,” he explained to the audience in Oviedo adding: “So, now you will begin to understand the dimensions of the gratitude I have for this country.""
Here are a couple of other facts. One of Leonard Cohen's most beautiful songs, "Take this waltz", is in fact a kind of translation/reworking of a Lorca poem. Here is a link to Leonard Cohen singing it.
And here is a link to one of my favourite Spanish singers, Ana Belén, singing the Spanish version.
My other Leonard Cohen fact is a connection to another hero of mine, Loudon Wainwright III. His son Rufus is the father of Lorca Cohen's child. Small world.
And finally, in today's Guardian Q&A they featured the singer Suzi Quattro, now 66 - even pop singers grow older. Asked when she had last cried and why, she replied, "Watching Gone with the Wind for the 100th time". So I am not the only one who watches that film again and again!