Thursday, August 02, 2007
Last night while browsing around the TV channels, I found a documentary I've been wanting to watch but could never locate at the movie rental store. Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man is a fairly recent homage to Cohen the songwriter, and to a lesser degree Cohen the poet. Cohen has been a figure that has fascinated me since the middle 1970's. The film centers around a concert honoring Cohen where various other artists perform his material. Interspersed between the concert footage are snippets of interviews with Cohen and some of his admirers in the music industry. I must confess I had not heard of any of the concerts artists before and after listening to a couple of their versions of Cohen's songs, it was hard to listen to any more. There were no transcending performances like Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah," where the artist equaled or exceeded the master himself. I quickly learned to use the fast forward feature to get to the meat of the documentary-- Cohen himself. Anyone who has read a book of Cohen's poetry will quickly notice the incessant drone of I, I, I, I on every page. But what this documentary needed was more Cohen, more interviews, more Cohen performances, more friends and admires speaking about Cohen, and less concert footage. The undisputed highlight of the documentary was the end where Cohen sang "Tower of Song" backed up by U2. That was certainly a mind-blowing moment. The film is definitely worth watching. My disappointment had nothing to do with Cohen, or the quality of his songwriting, but how the concert versions of the songs paled in comparison to the originals, which I have listen to repeatedly over the years.