Even the airport tipped its hat

LC mural ssMontreal, November 4th-10th 2017

mural 2

It’s hard to describe the whirlwind of emotions that came from being in Leonard Cohen’s birthplace on the first anniversary of his death. The city certainly went all-out with its tribute. Even the airport added a sculpted fedora on top of the “O” of Montreal. Down at the old port, a place where Leonard loved to wander as a child,  his poems were projected on the walls of the monumental Silo #5. There were other murals on the sides of buildings around the city. Adam Cohen, Leonard’s son, and Hal Willner, who curated the tribute concerts that formed the basis of the film “I’m Your Man”, organised a concert at the Bell Centre with a host of stars to raise money for arts charities. But chief among the homages was the vast and impressive art exhibition commissioned by MAC – the Musee d’Art Contemporain. The exhibition had actually planned to open while fedora montrealLeonard was still alive – the curator John Zeppetelli came to San Francisco to talk about it with me a couple of years back. Leonard, who gave his blessing,  would surely have appreciated the highly original art he inspired. Much of it was digital, but at the same time very human, and  largely created by younger artists. I joined some of IMG_20171109_154007_resized_20171110_021131907those artists onstage at a panel discussion of Leonard and art at MAC – George Fok, Kara Blake and Clara Furey. They were fascinating. That week I also did two  one-hour interviews onstage at MAC. Here’s a link to the one in English with CBC host Eleanor Wachtel. http://tinyurl.com/y7qnaeg7.  The other onstage interview was in French with Montreal poet and author Chantal Ringuet – if museum crackI find a link I’ll post it later.   A number of Leonard Cohen fans came from Europe to participate in the tribute. I was really happy to get to sing a few Cohen songs for them with Montreal musician L’il Andy  at the beautifulChapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, whose statue of Mary, “Our Lady of the Harbour”, is referenced in Leonard’s song”Suzanne.” I also sang at the French-language bookshop Librairie Gallimard, just a few steps from Leonard’s old house, where the translators and publishers and I launched the new edition of the first French version of my book, I’m Your Man: La Vie de Leonard Cohen. That same night the first snowfall came, the snow started falling – fat clusters of white  like tiny crumpled napkins. It was very hard to say goodbye to Montreal – and Leonard.

Museum: http://macm.org/en/exhibitions/leonard-cohen/

Music: http://youtu.be/811cY7Fwl4k 

 


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