The Arty Semite

Leonard Cohen Wins Two Junos

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Music legend Leonard Cohen was a double winner at this past weekend’s JUNO Awards held in Regina, Saskatchewan. The JUNOs, presented by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys.

Getty Images

Cohen was named Artist of the Year, and he also received the JUNO Award for Songwriter of the Year for three songs on his “Old Ideas” album. Cohen was not in attendance at the various JUNO ceremonies and galas to personally receive the honors.

While newcomer Carly Rae Jepsen bested Cohen by winning three awards, the 78-year-old icon beat out both the “Call Me Maybe” singer and pop star Justin Bieber for Artist of the Year. Cohen has now won five JUNOs over the course of his career.

Jewish performers Drake, Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen’s son), and Toronto group Jaffa Road were among the JUNO nominees this year.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Leonard Cohen, Juno Awards, Awards, Music

Leonard Cohen: The Musical

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images

“Leonard Cohen: The Musical.” What would such a creation possibly look like? I don’t know, but I’m curious to find out.

According to the CBC, Canadian playwright Tracey Power, who also wrote “Back To You: The Life and Music of Lucille Starr,” is working on just such a production.

“Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen” premiered in February at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver and will appear at the Prairie Theater Exchange in my own hometown of Winnipeg from January 22 to February 9, 2014.

The CBC reports that the play “tells the story of a writer haunted by his characters as he works in the Chelsea Hotel — but more importantly, it’ll feature Cohen hits like ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Hallelujah.’”

It had also better include “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” Cohen’s song about Janis Joplin and the things they got up to “on the unmade bed / while the limousines wait in the street.” I wonder how that’ll go down onstage.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Tracey Power, Theater, Leonard Cohen, Music

Leonard Cohen Day Proclaimed in Milwaukee

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

We’re not sure if he’s going to be presented with the keys to the city, but we do know that March 15 has been officially declared Leonard Cohen Day in Milwaukee by Mayor Tom Barrett.

It’s not every day…or every year…or every decade that the legendary singer-songwriter plays Wisconsin’s largest city. So, his first performance there in 38 years is indeed a reason to celebrate.

Friday’s show at the Milwaukee Theatre is part of his “Old Ideas” 2012-2013 tour. Cohen, 78, is doing gigs in 12 cities in March alone, with the Milwaukee stop squeezed in between Chicago and Tampa.

Fans may refer to Cohen by one of his 156 (and counting) nicknames, like Lord Byron of Rock ‘n Roll, Poet of Holy Sinners, Troubadour of Travail and Maestro of Melancholy, but we can tell the people running Milwaukee know who he really is. He’s the guy who was “born to Nathan Cohen and Marsha Klonitsky” of Montreal, according to the second paragraph of the official Leonard Cohen proclamation:

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Leonard Cohen, Renee Ghert-Zand

Jews Scoop Up Juno Nominations

By Renee Ghert-Zand

The nominees for the 2013 Juno Awards have been announced, and among them are Jewish musicians Drake, Leonard Cohen, Adam Cohen and Toronto group Jaffa Road, which was nominated for Best World Music Album for “Where The Light Gets In.”

Getty Images

The Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys, will be given out on April 21 in a ceremony broadcasted from Regina, Saskatchewan hosted by vocalist Michael Bublé. It is sure to be a big night for all the nominated artists — some familiar to American music fans, and some less known outside Canada. The former include international sensations like Carly Rae Jepsen of “Call Me Maybe” fame and teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber. Pop and country singer-songwriter k.d. lang will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Toronto-born-and-bred hip-hop artist Drake, 26, recently scooped up his first Grammy for best Best Rap Album for “Take Care.” He is nominated for the Juno Fan Choice Award. Director X (aka Julien Christian Lutz) is nominated for Video of the Year for Drake’s HYFR video.

Leonard Cohen, the legendary 78-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist is being recognized in a number of categories. The Montreal native is nominated for the Juno Fan Choice Award, Artist of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year (for three songs on his “Old Ideas” album).

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Music, Leonard Cohen, Juno Awards, Drake, Awards, Adam Cohen, Renee Ghert-Zand

He Was Blind, But Now Can See

By Renee Ghert-Zand

The tracks on Max Layton’s new album, “2 The Max,” are more stories than songs. Influenced by two of Canada’s greatest poets, his father Irving Layton and his close family friend Leonard Cohen, as well as his own interesting 66 years of existence, the singer-songwriter shares some hard-earned lessons on life and love set to a musical backdrop.

Eric G. McBride

In this year, the centennial of his father’s birth, the Ontario-based Layton looks to the past and the future as he celebrates restored eyesight. It was a sudden onset of legal blindness a few years ago that prompted Layton to retreat into a private darkness to write his first album, “Heartbeat of Time.” His new album is a response to the restoration of his sight, thanks to “the miracles of modern medicine” as he writes in the CD’s liner notes.

Layton was taught as a young child to play guitar by Cohen, and has been playing and singing his whole life.

“My one constant was the guitar. I learned new songs wherever I went and played in coffee houses and on street corners whenever I got the chance,” he writes on his website.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Renee Ghert-Zand, Folk Music, Leonard Cohen, Max Layton, Poetry, Canada, Blindness

Leonard Cohen's Altneu Song

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images

“Old Ideas,” Leonard Cohen’s first album of new material since 2004’s “Dear Heather,” is set for a January 31 release. Cohen, now 77, is planning another tour to support the record.

Given the subpar quality of “Dear Heather” (as explicated in this review by John Jeremiah Sullivan), and the dodgy quality of Cohen’s later studio work, I admit to being skeptical about “Old Ideas,” despite the great title and my overall admiration for Cohen’s music.

Now one of the tracks from the album, “Show Me the Place,” is streaming online. Although it doesn’t reintroduce the instrumental minimalism of Cohen’s early recordings (as I had secretly been hoping it would), the arrangement is tasteful. Cohen’s voice, reaching towards an ever-lower register, sounds a bit rough, as befits his age. As for the words and melody, this doesn’t seem like a classic, but it’s certainly worth a listen. More promising is “The Darkness,” another track from the forthcoming album, not yet released in its studio version, but which Cohen has performed live. Listen to “Show Me the Place” and “The Darkness” below.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Darkness, Show Me the Place, Music, Old Ideas, Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen's Yiddish Song

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images

We were remiss in not wishing Leonard Cohen a happy birthday yesterday, but the 77-year-old Montreal poet, novelist and singer-songwriter has other consolations.

On October 11, Legacy Recordings will re-release 17 discs of Cohen’s back catalogue as a box set, including all of his studio albums and a few live ones, as well. The “Complete Albums Collection” will also include a 36-page booklet containing a 1,300 word essay by Pico Iyer.

As a personal tribute, though, I’d like to quote my favorite Leonard Cohen anecdote, about the 1972 “Songs of Love and Hate” tour, which comes from Ira Nadel’s 1998 biography, “Various Positions”:

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yiddish, Pico Iyer, Leonard Cohen, Birthdays, Music, Ira Nadel

Out and About: A Triptych for Today; Music of the Holocaust, Online

By Ezra Glinter

Simon Dinnerstein, detail from ‘The Fulbright Triptych, 1971-74.
  • A new website on music and the Holocaust has been launched in Berlin.

  • Simon Dinnerstein discusses his monumental 1970s artwork, “The Fulbright Triptych.”

  • Russian novelist Ludmila Ulitskaya’s “Daniel Stein, Interpreter,” a book that takes its inspiration from the real life Polish Jewish Partisan Oswald Rufeisen, is now available in English.

  • Dutch Jewish novelist and Holocaust survivor Hans Keilson has died. Read the Forward’s review of two of his novels here.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Simon Dinnerstein, Robert A. Heinlein, The Fulbright Triptych, Philip K. Dick, Peter Israel, Out and About, Neetzan Zimmerman, Leonard Cohen, Le Mood, Jerry Seinfeld, Hans Keilson

The Voice of Ladino

By Mordechai Shinefield

Courtesy Yasmin Levy

Ladino, the language of the Judeo-Spanish Diaspora, has unfairly languished behind Yiddish in the Jewish language popularity sweepstakes. With the release of her 2009 U.K. album “Sentir” in the United States and an accompanying tour, including upcoming shows in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Israeli singer Yasmin Levy joins a bevy of artists trying to change that. Alongside artists like Sarah Aroeste, Judith Cohen and Flory Jagoda, Levy tries to channel a rich, transnational, historical genre for modern audiences. Like those artists, she has succeeded in evoking something distant and foreign. She has failed in similar ways too, producing another Ladino project trapped as a token of the past without bringing anything exciting and new to the table.

“Sentir,” Levy’s fifth album combining Ladino music with Andalucian Flamenco, is a far better exhibition of Levy’s voice that it is of the Judeo-Spanish musical history it weaves through over 12 tracks. Even when the songs blend into each other, melodies failing to distinguish themselves, Levy’s voice is commanding. On the opening track, “Mi Korason,” her voice quivers, slipping elusively behind and under and through the lyrics. On “Londje De Mi” she shows off her vocal mastery, flashily trilling or halting breathily, unfortunately illuminating how lackluster her musicians are by comparison.

Listen to ‘Mi Korason’:

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yasmin Levy, Sentir, Music, Sarah Aroeste, Mordechai Shinefield, Leonard Cohen, Ladino, Judith Cohen, Hallelujah, Flory Jagoda

Koch vs. Cohen

By Ezra Glinter

Septuagenarian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen recently wrapped up a triumphant world tour (though he’ll be back on the road in March,) including a much-praised show in Tel Aviv in September. But apparently not everyone is a fan.

In a recent review of “Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight” for The Atlantic, former New York mayor and Forward advice columnist Ed Koch recalls going to see Cohen, whom he had never heard of before, play a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden:

“I did not particularly enjoy that concert and wondered if I would feel differently about Cohen and his talents if I didn’t have to pay such a hefty price to see him perform,” Koch writes.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Film, Ed Koch, Haiti, Hallelujah, Hope for Haiti, Isle of Wight, Justin Timberlake, Leonard Cohen, Music




Find us on Facebook!
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.