Songwriters’ Circle: Songs of Leonard Cohen is happening at The Ship Pub at 8:30pm on January 28th.
Performers include; Maggie Burton, Chris McGee, Allie Duff, Simon Alteen, Joanna Barker, Kathryn Burke, Hope Jamieson Baggs, Natasha Blackwood, Victoria Locke, Matthew Hornell, Alexander Evan Bridger, Philip Kromer, and Robert Mercer.
This Saturday, local musicians will be paying tribute to the late, great Leonard Cohen by covering some of the best-loved songs from his fifty-year career.
Maggie Burton says most of the performers have been listening to Cohen for their entire lives.They all feel an intense connection with his work and want to mark the folk icon’s death by celebrating his music with other fans.
“It’s going to be fairly informal, we’re going to take turns singing our favourite Leonard Cohen songs and back each other up where appropriate,” Burton explained.
Each performer chose a couple of songs for the tribute that either particularly resonate with them personally or seem fitting given the current political climate.
“I’m doing ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ because it’s such a perfect bit of sadness and has been with me for so long it feels like part of my DNA. Also ‘The Future’ because of its frightening prescience despite being 25 years old,” Hope Jamieson Baggs wrote.
Alexander Evan Bridger also chose a political song from Cohen’s late ‘80s / early 90s phase that feels ominously appropriate given Trump’s election.
“I’m doing ‘First We Take Manhattan’ because when we found out Cohen died, we had also just found out that fascists had taken control of the USA, and the lyrics of that song resonated so closely with the narrative of what had happened with the election that it suddenly felt like a strange psychic eulogy for mankind. ‘You loved me as a loser but now you’re worried that I just might win’,” Bridger wrote.
Bridger will also be playing ‘Take This Longing,’ a song he frequently covers at his own concerts.
“I read that it is about his relationship with Nico, who is a big musical hero of mine, and I try to sing it the way I think she would have sang it. I like to imagine what it would feel like from her perspective.” Bridger wrote.
Kathryn Burke will be singing ‘Bird On A Wire’ and ‘Tower of Song.’ She grew up listening Jennifer Warnes cover Leonard Cohen songs and always loved her version of ‘Bird On The Wire.’ When Burke discovered, ‘Tower of Song’ later in life, she was surprised and excited by how different it was from the Cohen songs she already knew.
Part of what Burke appreciates about Cohen is that the music on his albums is easy to learn and adapt. At the tribute show many of Cohen’s angrier ’80s songs will be slowed down to make them feel more intimate.
“The actual musical part is rarely very complicated, for him it was mostly about the lyrics and poetry. ” Burke wrote about Cohen’s discography.
Burton loves the poetry in Cohen’s lyrics and decided to sing ‘Chelsea Hotel #2,’ ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ and ‘Lover, Lover, Lover’ because of their meticulous, elegant lyrics.
“I’m excited to be a part of this because everyone who’s singing seems to genuinely love his music.When you’re a life-long fan in a room full of other life-long fans, it’s just a really good vibe.” Burton said.