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Leonard Cohen bio and Leonard Cohen/Jeff buckley sing Hallelujah

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Leonard Cohen

THE BEST OF LEONARD COHEN

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Leonard Cohen Biography

Poet, Songwriter, Singer (1934–)
Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is known for his poetic lyrics and baritone voice. He’s received acclaim for such songs as “Hallelujah” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.”

Synopsis

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934. An early writer and guitarist, Cohen began to compose and release folk-rock and pop songs by the mid-1960s. One of his most famous compositions is “Hallelujah,” a song released on 1984’s Various Positions. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and he received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010.

Early Life

Leonard Norman Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As a teenager, Cohen learned to play guitar, and around the same time, he began writing poetry and novels. Not long after graduating from McGill University, in 1955, Cohen decided to move to New York City.

By the mid-1960s, Cohen had become intrigued by the Greenwich Village folk scene and, with his background in music and writing, music composition was a natural step. He soon began to compose and release folk-rock and pop songs, and in 1967, made his musical debut at the Newport Folk Festival. The event spurred Cohen’s fame, and he continued to perform publicly, at concerts in New York City, as well as on the television program Camera Three, a cultural affairs program that aired weekly on CBS at the time.

Musical Career

Also in the mid-1960s, Cohen began receiving praise for songs made popular by other singers. In 1966, folk singer Judy Collins released her album In My Life, which included two singles that were written by Cohen: “Suzanne” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” In 1967, Noel Harrison released his own, pop rendition of Cohen’s “Suzanne.” By the end of that year, Cohen had released his first album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, which included his version of the song “Suzanne.” The album also included the popular songs “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” and “Master Song,” among others.

Two years later, Cohen released Songs from a Room (1969), featuring the now-famous single “Bird on a Wire.” That album was followed by 1971’sSongs of Love and Hate, which included the singles “Avalanche” and “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Cohen produced three other albums before the end of the decade.

After co-writing the soundtrack to the musical film Night Magic, with fellow songwriter Lewis Furey, Cohen released 1984’s Various Positions. The album included one of Cohen’s most popular songs to date: “Hallelujah.” The song has been covered countless times, including by John Cale and Jeff Buckley, whose renditions—both considered to be smoother, vocally, than Cohen’s—received wide acclaim.

From the late 1980s to 2012, Cohen released a handful of albums, includingI’m Your Man (1988), The Future (1992), Ten New Songs (2001) and Dear Heather (2004). In 2010, Sony Music released Songs from the Road, an album of songs that were performed live by Cohen in 2008 and 2009.

In January 2012, at the age of 77, Cohen released Old Ideas. In his late 70s, Cohen continues to write music and tour, most recently with a 2012 concert series.

Legacy

Leonard Cohen—whose musical style has been deemed straightforward, prophetic and, at times, seemingly expressionless—has been compared to folk-rock musician Bob Dylan. Though some listeners have strayed away from Cohen’s baritone voice and deadpan delivery, he has enjoyed wide critical and commercial acclaim. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. He received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010.

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Leonard Cohen: ‘I have no appetite for retirement’

As Leonard Cohen returns to play London’s O2 Arena, his biographer Sylvie Simmons reveals how the former recluse fell back in love with touring – and how wants to take up smoking again on his 80th birthday.

The singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen

The singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen Photo: AP
 By Sylvie Simmons

Who else could this be but Leonard Cohen, at a recent concert in Kentucky, confiding with a large audience his plan to resume smoking on his 80th birthday. I first heard him talk about it – before it became honed and polished into one of his droll, Rat Pack-rabbi lines – a year and a half ago in the kitchen of his Los Angeles home – a remarkably modest duplex in an unremarkable neighbourhood that he shares with his daughter Lorca and her daughter (by the musician Rufus Wainwright) Viva. Cohen, dressed off stage as on in a dark suit and fedora, was rustling up a couple of lattes on an espresso machine, which he served, in the most elegant manner, in two of those cheap, promotional coffee mugs that companies give out – in this case promoting Cohen’s 1993 album The Future.

He had just finished work on a new album – Old Ideas, which was released in January 2012. And I was close to completing his biography – I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, published last November. I had assumed, as many did, that my book would have ended in Las Vegas, with the last triumphant concert of Cohen’s 2008-10 tour. But Cohen had moved the goalposts, and I was there to interview him for the final chapter. He was on a roll – midway through writing and recording another album in the studio above his garage. Nearly three years solid of three-hour plus concerts had clearly had an effect.

Cohen’s own theory – the same theory he had to explain how he was finally cured of a lifetime’s depression – was that it all came down to age. He was in the latter half of his seventies and on the “homeward stretch” and, when it came to his work, his writing, he had no time to waste. This was plausible enough, except that Cohen was saying the same thing about mortality and knuckling down in his late fifties – not long before deciding to quit the music business and LA and live in a hut on Mount Baldy as a servant to his old Rinzai Buddhist teacher Roshi Joshu Sasaki. In truth, Cohen the septuagenarian seemed in much better shape than he was then. Certainly in better shape emotionally. And one major cause was this tour that he had begun, with the deepest reluctance, having been forced back on the boards after finding himself broke, his savings having been famously, and ironically, misappropriated while he was living as an ordained Zen monk.

Cohen hadn’t toured in 15 years – which was fine with him; he’d had never much liked touring. A creature of habits and a shy man, he also worried for his songs, afraid their purity would be soiled by being dragged before a paying crowd every night. He was also concerned that if he did tour, there might not be an audience – crazy though that sounds now after Cohen notched up one of the biggest-grossing tours of the new millennium. His return was greeted with a tidal wave of love that he’s been riding ever since, circling the world several times over, playing to the biggest audiences of his career.

Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell (Photo: copywright of David Gahr 2012)

Not only did he restore his missing funds, he’s added to them, considerably. He has no need to get on a plane and play another concert ever again, and no-one could have blamed him if he’d taken a final bow and slipped back into a life of stillness and (give or take the occasional female companion) solitude. Instead, Cohen decided – much as Dylan did – to play out his life on a never-ending tour.

When I asked him why, he sat at the little wooden kitchen table and thought about it, as if the question hadn’t occurred to him before. Quite possibly it hadn’t; he had previously told me that he didn’t examine his motivations much. “Before the pesky little problem of losing everything I had,” he said finally, “I had the feeling that I was treading water – kind of between jobs; a bit at loose ends. When the money problem arose, what bothered me most was that I was spending all my time with lawyers, accountants, forensic accountants… I thought, if God wants to bore me to death I guess I have to accept it.” It was a full-time job and “an enormous distraction”, spending day after day going through old emails and mountains of paperwork. Now and again he would, as he put it, remember he had had been a singer once. This long succession of concerts re-established Cohen as a singer and as “a worker in the world”.
Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah on MUZU.TV.

Although he had gone on the road because he didn’t have the money to retire, he found that he had “no sense of or appetite for retirement”. And though he’d spent a good deal of his life craving solitude, he had grown to love and miss the band and the crew, this community of fellow travellers. When the tour ended, they had all stayed in touch; and with very few exceptions, they eagerly signed up again when Cohen decided that the new album was a fine excuse for another tour.

“I like the life on the road, because it’s so regulated and deliberate,” Leonard said. “Everything funnels down to the concert. You know exactly what to do during the day and you don’t have to improvise” – as you would if you were at home, composing or recording. He thrived on the strict regime of tour; he had always been drawn to an almost military discipline. Even as a young boy he had asked his parents to send him to military academy (his mother said no), and he’d named his first touring band – the one he played with at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival – The Army. Not without pride does he describe Rinzai monks as “the marines of the spiritual world”.

The road reminded him of the monastic life sometimes. “Once you get the hang of it,” he said, “you go into ninth gear and kind of float through it all.” You can tell he’s floating now by the way he skips on stage and jokes and flirts with the fans. As for the falling to his knees and the bowing – to the musicians who do him the honour of delivering his words, and to the audience who do him the honour of accepting them – they seem to satisfy an equally deep need in him of service and ritual. More than one reviewer likened Cohen’s concerts to religious gatherings, with a few going so far as to compare them to papal visits.

One thing conspicuous by its absence since 2008 has been the sacramental wine. Nowadays, Cohen rarely drinks. After a show, he goes back to his hotel room alone; he still has that need for solitude and quiet. As for drugs, the strongest substance I could find backstage on his US tour was a suitcase full of PG Tips – and his touring partners the Webb Sisters may have been to blame for that. But it’s nice to imagine Cohen backstage at the 02 Arena, sitting cross-legged under a pyramid tea bag, meditating on how that pack of cigarettes is only one year and three months away.

Leonard Cohen returns to the 02 Arena on June 21st. I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons is out now in paperback (Vintage), £9.99

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I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons

 

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ABOUT DAVID CROSBY AND INTERVIEW

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crosby2CROSBY 
#David Crosby: The Dramatic Story of the Artists and Causes that Changed America (2000) 
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David Crosby – If Only I Could Remember My Name (Album, February 22, 1971)
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Stories and Songs from David Crosby
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David Crosby Interview: MOJO Magazine 

Interview by Sylvie Simmons – Portrait by Piper Ferguson – Courtesy of MOJO

The voice of cosmic America has lived the hippy dream and drunk from the well of seIf-destruction. His first solo album for 20 years sees him looking back while moving forward. “I want the magic!”

He’s still recognizable as the man on the front porch on the cover of the 1969 Crosby, Stills & Nash album. His long hair is silver and wispy now but still qualifies as a mane and frames a moon face with laugh lines, sideburns, bushy brows and a thick, white, groomed mustache. (“If you keep it clean, he recently told an American men’s magazine, “girls love it.”) There’s something of the sultan about David Crosby, even when wearing a checked flannel shirt — in tribute, perhaps, to Seattle, where CSN have come to be feted with a Founders Award gala at the EMP Museum of Music, Sci Fi and Pop Culture. He’s an imposing man though there’s four stone less of him than the last time we talked.

“I go to the gym three days a week and work out, and I feel terrific but, you know, it’s a very odd situation to be in. I’m 72 and I have three fatal diseases. Hep C, which there’s no cure for and which is currently dormant — I had the transplant (a liver in 1994) and it saved my life. Heart disease — I’ve had two heart attacks and I have five stents in my heart. And diabetes, which is a real killer, and a disease of paying attention, which is very difficult for someone as scatterbrained as me. But,” he says, his eyes twinkling, “I’m managing to stay alive. The truth is I’ll probably have several more years of being able to make music and having a strong enough voice to sing it.”

As if proof were required, Crosby recently completed a European tour with Crosby, Stills & Nash, and is now also set to release his first solo album in 20 years. Simply titled CROZ, it will see him take to the road once again and draw on what has been a lifetime of remarkable music and sanguine experiences. Saving his period in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for a later date, it is Crosby’s personal story that we focus on during what is an engaging and typically candid conversion. . .

You were born in Los Angeles in 1941. With a cinematographer as a father, were you more into movies than music as a kid?

Film was fascinating to me. I went with my dad to the set a number of times and I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to be an actor. But there was a lot of music in the house.

What are your earliest musical memories?

Classical first, then folk. There was a Philharmonic radio show that was on every Sunday morning of my life, and they had records, albums – l’m talking big, thick books of 78s. Then when LP records, which were 1O-inch then, came out, I encountered folk music: The Weavers, Josh White, Odetta. My brother [Ethan], four years older, was a musician and, when I was around 16, he gave me my first guitar – his old guitar, when he got a better one. And that’s what started me off playing and singing. Folk songs first. I would learn two chords and go back and forth between them. What took it to the next level was my brother started listening to 1950s jazz – Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, people like that. That caught my ear pretty strongly; listening to jazz really widens your world. I didn’t really like any of the pop music on the radio until The Everly Brothers, and they were fantastically good.

Was there an epiphany that made you choose music over acting?

Yes, and it had to do with the other haIf of the species. Movies took a very long time to come out, and in order to get the attention of a girl by being in a movie, you had to have actually been in a movie which the girl in question had actually seen. So it was a very long and iffy process to winding up with what you had in mind. Whereas if you went down to the coffee house and sang really well, it could happen tonight, and that was very appealing to me! (Laughs) But as soon as I started being able to sing a song to somebody and have it affect them, that was it. I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing. There was never any maybe or any “Should I have a real job?”, it was directly to music. I always felt bad that my brother, his whole life, never did find his path, not as a musician and not in life. I always felt a little guilty for having it fall so completely dead-center on me. (Ethan Crosby committed suicide in 1997.)

Did you perform with your brother?

Yes, for a long time – he played bass, I played guitar and we both sang. But you know how it is with brothers. I wound up off on my own very quickly – from Los Angeles to Phoenix to Colorado to Florida to New York, the Village – anywhere there were coffee houses, which meant I could get a job and eat, and eating is good. Then I went back to Los Angeles where I encountered Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark.

What were your first songs like?

The first one was called Across The Plains – l’ve always been fascinated with wagon trains and the movement of people west. It wasn’t a very good song. I think the first song I wrote that was any good was Everybody’s Been Burned, which I did when l was with The Byrds (and was released on 1967’s Younger Than Yesterday).

What’s the most important thing you took with you from Greenwich Village?

The Village was rich territory. There were two really good mentors, Bob Gibson and Fred Neil. Freddy taught me a very great deal – among other things that there was music all around me and I had to widen my perception of it. You could be in an old elevator car and the cables would be going “bomchicka-chicka-chika- ching-ching” and he’d whisper, “See man, music.” Yes, we were herbally enhanced. One time in Florida we were sitting outside smoking one and listening to a bamboo thicket singing in the wind. He made me conscious of that, and he taught me things about how to play the guitar and how to sing. He was a great singer. A hero.

Did you meet Bob Dylan then?

I didn’t get to meet him until much later, but he changed my head the way he changed everybody’s head, because he elevated the dialogue. lt wasn’t, “Ooh baby”, it was, “It’s all right ma, l’m only bleeding”. It was the important stuff, and that stuck with me. When we had a chance to do Mr.Tambourine Man later (with The Byrds), I was all for it.

Was Dylan all for it?

When Dylan came to the studio in LA to hear what we were doing with his song, he heard that there was something going on. When he listened to it you could hear the gears whirring in there. He was strongly impressed. I mean, Roger McGuinn is enormously talented; he took Mr. Tambourine Man and turned it into a great record. I did a good harmony but he’s the one that made that record what it was. And it was the first time that I know about that anybody put good poetry on the radio. Shortly thereafter, possibly within days, Bob had an electric band and was offending people at the Newport Folk Festival. He knew exactly what he’d heard and I think he was pleased by it and I think his reaction was, “Give me an electric guitar.”

The Byrds were also big Beatles fans.

I remember Roger and Gene (Clark) and I going to see A Hard Day’s Night – that was our first time seeing them – and, man, we came out of that movie completely gobsmacked. We didn’t know what to think. We knew one thing: that we wanted to be them. They blew us right out of the water. They changed everything.

You’ve told MOJO about several escapades with The Beatles in the past. Are there any untold stories that you’ve hidden from us?

(Rubs his chin and hesitates) Hmm… I used to go to the press conferences to watch how they did it. There’s actually footage of me doing it. John [Lennon] particularly got really put off by stardom and the press, but they made an attitude up to deal with the idiots. I did that with Dylan too, to watch how he dealt with the dumb questions… And I also remember a night at George Harrison’s house where everyone had dinner and Ali Akbar Khan played. He blew our minds. George told somebody, l’m not sure who, that l’d turned him onto Ravi Shankar. I know lwas carrying one of [Ravi’s] albums around and turning people onto him whatever chance I got. “You ain’t heard nothing, try this.” The only person I heard that could move a melody around as well as Ravi Shankar was John Coltrane.

On the road with The Byrds in the summer of ’65, you’d be rolling big ones and playing Coltrane and Shankar cassettes.

Yes, and another album: the first album of the Bulgarian National Folk Choir under the direction of Philip Koutev. These little Bulgarian women could sing better than anybody I d ever heard. lt affected me in terms of harmony because they did things that were so daring I couldn’t believe it, working with dissonance in a way that was musically advanced. lt was like listening to Bach and then encountering Stravinsky. All of a sudden the chords got a bit more dense.

In October 1962 the tension within The Byrds came to a head. Was it a blow when Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman fired you?

My strongest feeling was, “You guys are going to regret this.” I wasn’t happy about it but I didn’t feel like my life was over, not at all. I was already singing with Stephen Stills and I was already writing my own songs. And I went off and got a sailboat and started sailing, and that was a joy. I was a young, egotistical, talented but feisty guy. I can understand why they did that! They were advised to do so by a manager I had brought to the party, and they were tired of me. I was not easy to deal with. I wanted a bigger piece of the pie. I wanted to be one of the people writing the songs, I wanted to sing lead on something, because I was a pretty good singer.

I miss (that band) now. It’s not until much later that you realize the value of some things in your life. I would do a Byrds tour or a Byrds record in a minute, and l’ve tried to convince Roger over and over to do it but he’s not interested, and music isn’t something you can legislate into being. When they were walking out the door they said to me, “We’ll do better without you” – which is an unfortunate line, I think more for them than me. I think that may still be stuck in his craw a little bit.

On Henry Diltz’s 1969 cover photo of Crosby, Stills & Nash you looked like the archetypal hippy, living the dream.

I was. Being a hippy was the most natural thing in the world for me. I liked having long hair. I liked smoking pot, and hippies treasured music, so that put me in a good place. And it was fun. It was not the ’50s, Pat Boone and [radio/TV drama] Father Knows Best, it was a new place to go. But it had a precursor, the beatniks. I had already read Kerouac and Ginsberg and encountered thought- streams that were breaking new ground and looking at things a different way.

CSN and CSNY remained engaged with counterculture politics, much more so than many of your peers.

Yes. That sort of happened along the way. It’s not that we started out being political, they politicized us; it smacked us in the face. We didn’t like it that they shot Kennedy and we really didn’t like it when they went into Vietnam, and that the black people in the South could not vote in their own country. Dr Martin Luther King – man, if you encountered his words you were not the same human being. He would change your life. And we certainly didn’t trust the government. The old line was never trust anybody over 30. We thought we’d never be over 30.

By the end of the ’60s you’d found all sorts of ways to threaten your life. How did having an arsenal of guns and being coked out of your brain gel with being a hippy?

It’s a fair question. And it’s two separate things, not really connected, until later. When I was , growing up, we had a house in Carpinteria where we were growing lemons and avocados and my dad would go down to Hollywood to work, and out in the country, when you’re 12, it’s just part of the deal: you get a .22 – a very small calibre rifle – and you learn to shoot. So I’d encountered guns before and I didn’t really have any interest in them until later when these horrific murders took place at our producer Terry Melcher’s house. (The Manson murders of August 9, 1969, which occurred at Melcher’s former home on Cielo Drive.)

I thought about that and went out and got a 12-gauge, which is a shotgun, the biggest home defense weapon. So I don’t feel the same as most of my compatriots. I do shoot, I maintain a level of competency at it and I try to be responsible about it. I don’t think the problem’s in the gun, I think it’s in the people.

But guns and cocaine?

Terrible mix. Again, I never shot anybody though, even when I was really, really on cocaine. Cocaine, separate issue. When we encountered cocaine, the people who brought it around – we had to go to a criminal to get our weed – said, with a straight face, “Here, try this. It’s not addictive.” We didn’t know it would destroy you. We knew heroin was big daddy evil. All we knew is it gave you energy for days and made you feel like you were on top of the world. lt was a very seductive drug, easy to get and very easy to get strung out on very fast. That was a very destructive thing in my life. When I encountered it, which was towards the end of The Byrds and the beginning of the CSN era, I misused it massively and it really got its hooks into me. Seriously; 20 years. It’s probably the most evil drug on the planet and worse if you’re freebasing, which I got into later on.

Coke is notorious for its adverse effect on music, and yet in the wake of CSNY’s debut Deja Vu you released an exquisite album, your solo debut, If I Could Only Remember My Name in 1971.

I wasn’t doing much coke; that’s when I started doing heroin. I was in a very strange state, I had songs, good songs, and we had just finished Deja Vu, and my girIfriend [Christine Hinton] had been killed. I didn’t have an instruction booklet on how to deal with that one, and heroin, of course, is an anaesthetic. lt doesn’t really do anything but make you suppress the pain and you don’t really deal with it, which of course is not a good idea. If you stuff it, and I stuffed it, you stay there for longer.

But… there’s a lot of joy on that record, because that’s where I needed desperately to go. Graham Nash came a lot, Jerry Garcia came even more, almost every night – he was a good friend and he liked it that I was as open to the accident of music as he was. Phil [Lesh] came very often, Jorma [Kaukonen], Grace lSlick] Paul lKantner], Joni lMitchell]. They were all friends. lt saved me. Because I could dive into making that music and spend a whole night stacking harmonies on myseIf, being the Mormon Tabernacle me, and it would elevate me out of the hole that I was in.

Fast-forwarding: in the mid’80s, in Texas, you were sentenced to five years on handgun and freebase cocaine charges. Nash read a plea to the judge saying confinement in prison will possibly kill him. I actually wrote a thank you letter to the judge saying, “You saved my life. You may not know it but you did.” I tried to quit and slipped a number of times, and it took me going to prison to make it stick.

How in hell does someone whose life personified freedom, travelling and doing whatever you wanted, cope with being locked up?

You see that (flat screen) TV? Make it about four times that big. I lived in that space for a year – nine months in prison and about three months in jail.

l’d have lost my mind.

Well I didn’t, I found it. I woke up. It’s a tough place to wake up.

Were you able to make any music while you were in there?

Yes. And it was funny, because we used to tell ourselves that getting high was where we’d get all these ideas for making great music but l, at the very end, had stopped writing completely. The last decent song I wrote was Delta, and then there was probably two years of nothing as the drug use went up.

When I was in prison I would write letters to my wife Uanl, and every once in a while I would write a line in the letter where l’d think, “That was a good line.” I started writing a song and I realized then that “No, I didn’t lose it, it’s coming back”, which was a huge boost for me. We had a band in the prison – there were guitars that had been donated – and once a week we got to go out to a little cinder-block building and play music. I was the only professional but the other guys were pretty good. The lead guitar player, Billy Jones, had shot a cop so he was never going to get out, ever, and he was a pretty good player. The drummer, a black kid, he was quite good. lt was fun and it was something to do – and something to do in there was a big deal. And when I got out I was no longer addicted and I was able, with the aid of 12-step stuff, to make it all the way out.

Do you ever have the drug-taker’s equivalent of wet dreams?

Yes. They’re called slip dreams. If you’re trying to quit from hard drugs everybody has the exact same dream where you did it, you have the pipe in your hand and you’re using again. You don’t feel the high; you wake up absolutely panic-stricken – “Oh my God, oh my God!” – because you know how close to death you came and you’re trying so hard not to slip. lt took years, literally. l’m not worried about hard drugs at all now. They haven’t been snapping at my heels for 25 years now but if you lay down a line of coke on that computer right now there’d be a David-shaped hole in the wall. l’d run that fast.

To move onto the third part of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, you had quite a reputation with the ladies. ln your song Triad you urged two of your girIfriends to share you.

I did. And I did that a number of times. It’s not actually something that you can do in real life and sustain. Somebody always feels that they’re the low man on the totem pole. lt can be the guy feeling that the girls are ganging up on him or one of the girls. But it was a good song. We’ve changed it totally now – we play it in a completely different way that’s a lot of fun.

You have a new solo album, CROZ. 

Yes. I wrote it with my son.

James Raymond, with whom you had CPR?

CPR was fun and we made some good music, but it didn’t make any money so we couldn’t continue. I don’t have any money to make an album. You know, I Googled myseIf the other day and it said I was the richest guy in show business and worth $250 million. Such complete utter bullshit… l can’t even afford to buy a new car; l’ve a 2004 Ford truck.

Finally, of all the bands you’ve played in – The Byrds, CSN, CSNY, Crosby & Nash, CPR and solo – if you could work with only one of them from now on, which would it be?

I’m tempted to say solo. And singing with Graham is just a joy. It’s like two old fighter pilots who know where the other guy’s wing is and you can literally fly six feet apart, no problem, and do it all, upside down, no problem. But if I had to pick one band it would be CSNY. Because that’s the one that would push me the most to really go for the peaks. And that’s because of Neil. The thing I love about Neil is that he is never, ever satisfied. He wants the magic and I love that. I want the magic.

COOL PEOPLE – JOHNNY CASH

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Johnny Cash Biography

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TOP TEN JOHNNY CASH SONGS

https://youtu.be/-m4ZAUQQ0J0

He’s the Man in Black. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 Johnny Cash songs. Special thanks to our users Sam Ricketts, ramondo elderli, Charlie Rainger, happychaosofthenorth, Philip Folta, Charlie Rainger, Justin Kennon, Al Bebak and Jack Morris for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.com/suggest!

Johnny Cash’s last interview final ‘I Expect My Life To End Soon’

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Guitarist, Songwriter, Singer (1932–2003)

QUICK FACTS

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Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, was a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose music innovatively mixed country, rock, blues and gospel influences.

Synopsis

Born on February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, Johnny Cash joined the Air Force in 1950 and trained in Texas where he met his first wife. After his service and discharge, he formed a band and landed a record deal. By the early 1960s, he was a musical superstar, known for his innovative hit songs with gospel undertones, such as with hit songs like. In 1967, he married June Carter. He recorded his last track of his final album a week before his death in 2003.

Early Life

Singer and songwriter Johnny Cash was born John R. Cash on February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas. The son of poor Southern Baptist sharecroppers, Cash, one of seven children born to Ray and Carrie Rivers Cash, moved with his family at the age of 3 to Dyess, Arkansas, so that his father could take advantage of the New Deal farming programs instituted by President Roosevelt. There, the Cash clan lived in a five-room house and farmed 20 acres of cotton and other seasonal crops.

John, or J.R. as he was known to those close to him, spent the bulk of the next 15 years out in the fields, working alongside his parents and brothers and sisters. It wasn’t always an easy life, Cash would later recall. At the age of 10 he was hauling water for a road gang and at 12 years old he moving large sacks of cotton.

“The entire family, my parents, two brothers and two sisters spent the first night in the truck under a tarpaulin” Cash once said about his family’s move to Dyess. “The last thing I remember before going to sleep was my mother beating time on the old Sears-Roebuck guitar, singing ‘What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul.”

Music was indeed one of the ways the Cash family found escape from some of the hardship. Songs surrounded the young Johnny Cash, be it his mother’s folk and hymn ballads, or the working music people sang out in the fields.

From an early age Cash, who first picked up the guitar at the age of 12, showed a love for the music that enveloped his life. Perhaps sensing that her boy had a gift for song, Carrie Rivers Cash scraped together enough money so that Johnny could take singing lessons. Cash was only in his early teens and didn’t have much in the way of formal musical training, but after just three lessons his teacher, enthralled with Cash’s already unique singing style, told him to stop taking lessons and to never deviate from his natural voice.

Religion, too, had a strong impact on Cash’s childhood. His mother was a devout member of the Pentacostal Church of God, and his older brother Jack seemed committed to joining the priesthood. Chances are John’s own faith would have always exerted itself to some degree on his own life, but Jack’s tragic death in 1944 at the age of 14 in a farming accident solidified Cash’s own faith in God.

These things, his farming life and his family’s religion, were never strayed too far from in Cash’s career. The evidence of this can be seen in songs like “Pickin’ Time” and “Five Feet High,” a film he made about his visit to Israel and his close relationship with evangelist Billy Graham.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two

In 1950, Cash graduated high school and left Arkansas for Pontiac, Michigan, where he found work sweeping floors at an auto plant. The employment and Cash’s time in Michigan were short lived, however, and about a month after taking the job, he bolted for the U.S. Air Force. As a military man, Cash did his basic training in Texas, where met Vivian Liberto, whom he’d eventually marry and father four daughters with. For the bulk of his four years in the Air Force, Cash was stationed in Landsberg, West Germany, where he worked as a radio intercept officer, eavesdropping on Soviet radio traffic.

It was also in Germany that Cash began to turn more of his attention toward music. With a few of his Air Force buddies he formed the Landsberg Barbarians, giving Johnny a chance to play live shows, teach himself more of the guitar, and also take a shot at songwriting. “We were terrible,” he said later, “but that Lowenbrau beer will make you feel like you’re great. We’d take our instruments to these honky-tonks and play until they threw us out or a fight started. I wrote ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ in Germany in 1953.”

After his discharge in 1954, Cash settled in Memphis, Tennessee, where he married Vivian and worked, as best he could, as an appliance salesman. Pursuing music on the side, Cash teamed up with a couple of mechanics, Marshall Grant and Luther Perkins, who worked with Johnny’s older brother Roy. The young musicians soon formed a tight bond, with the crew and their wives often heading over to Luther’s house on Friday nights to play music, much of it gospel.

Cash, who banged away on an old $5 guitar he’d purchased in Germany, was the front-man for what became known as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. Their sound was a synthesis of blues and country-and-western music, which was coined “rockabilly” by those in the record industry. (In 1960, with the addition of drummer W.S. Holland, the group was later named Tennessee Three.) “He was a decent singer, not a great one,” wrote Marshall Grant, in his 2006 autobiography, I Was There When it Happened: My Life with Johnny Cash. “But there was power and presence in his voice.”

The Million Dollar Quartet

In July 1954, another Memphis musician, Elvis Presley, cut his first record, sparking a wave of not only Elvis-mania but an interest in the local producer, Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, who had issued the record. Later that same year Cash, Grant and Perkins made an unannounced visit to Sun to ask Phillips for an audition. The Sun Records owner gave in and Cash and the boys returned to Sun in late 1954. At the audition Phillips liked their sound but not their gospel driven song choices, which he felt would have a limited market.

Phillips was looking for new material and encouraged the group to return with an original song. In early 1955, Cash and his group did just that, recording the song “Hey Porter,” which Cash wrote just a week after that first Sun session. While met with mediocre reviews, Cash’s second release, “Cry, Cry, Cry” later that year peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard charts. Other hits soon followed, including a pair of Top 10 singles in “So Doggone Lonesome” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” But true fame arrived in 1956, when Cash wrote and released “I Walk The Line,” which catapulted to No. 1 and sold 2 million copies.

The success and his association with Phillips allowed Cash to join an elite group of artists that included Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis—they were known as “The Million Dollar Quartet.” In 1957 Cash, now the father of two young daughters (Roseanne and Kathy) released his debut album, Johnny Cash with His Hot & Blue Guitar.

Drugs and Divorce

By the early 1960s, Johnny Cash, who had relocated his family to Ventura, California, and left Sun for Columbia Records in 1958, was a musical superstar. With an unrelenting tour schedule, Cash was on the road 300 nights a year, barnstorming the country with a barrage of popular hits including Ring of Fire (1963) and Understand Your Man (1964). He also appeared regularly on the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts.

But the schedule and the pressures that faced him took a toll on his personal life. Drugs and alcohol were frequent tour companions while Vivian, left home to take care of their young family, which now included Cindy (b. 1959) and Tara (b. 1961) grew increasingly frustrated with her husband’s absence.

In 1966 Vivian finally filed for divorce. Cash returned to Memphis, where his life continued to spiral out of control. The following year, after a serious drug binge, Cash was discovered in a near-death state by a policeman in a small village in Georgia. There were other incidents, too, including an arrest for smuggling amphetamines into the US across the Mexican border, and accidently starting a forest fire in Tennessee, which resulted in a near six-figure fine for the singer. “I took all the drugs there are to take, and I drank,” Cash recalled. “Everybody said that Johnny Cash was through ’cause I was walkin’ around town 150 pounds. I looked like walking death.”

June Carter and Rehab

The turning point came in 1967, when he met singer-songwriter June Carter, a member of the founding family of country music. Carter, who first befriended and then, in 1968, married Cash, stepped in and helped him clean up his life. With Carter’s support, Cash kicked his drug habit and became a devout Christian fundamentalist.With his new wife, Cash embarked on a remarkable turn around. In 1969, he began hosting The Johnny Cash Show, a TV variety series that showcased contemporary musicians ranging from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong. It also provided a forum for Cash to explore a number of social issues, too, tackling discussions that ranged from the war in Vietnam to prison reform to the rights of Native Americans.

The same year his show debuted, Cash also took home two Grammy Awards for the live album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968). The album was a critical and commercial success and reached Gold record status by December 1969. Four months later Cash and Carter celebrated the birth of their first and only child, John Carter Cash, in March 1970.

The ensuing decade offered up more success for the artist, with Cash’s music career flourishing with the release of the hit singles “A Thing Called Love” (1972) and “One Piece at a Time” (1976). He crossed over into a new medium in 1972, when he made an acclaimed appearance with Kirk Douglas in the movie, A Gunfight. In addition, he wrote the scores for the feature Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970) and the TV movie The Pride of Jesse Hallam(1980). In 1975, he published a bestselling autobiography Man in Black.

For the rest of the 1970s and through the 1980s and the early 1990s, while not producing the frequent run of hits that he once had, Cash continued to maintain a busy schedule. In 1980, Cash was accepted as the youngest member of the Country Music Association Hall of Fame.

Increasingly, Cash also teamed up with other musicians. In 1987, Cash banded with former Sun Records’ artists Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison to record the widely popular compilation The Class Of ’55. For the album The Highwayman (1985), Cash collaborated with Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. Billed as the Highwaymen, the quartet consistently toured throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, releasing two more records, The Highwayman 2 (1990) and The Road Goes on Forever (1995). In the early part of the 1990s, Cash stepped into the studio with U2 to record The Wanderer, a track that would appear on the group’s 1993 release, Zooropa.

Throughout this time, though, Cash’s health problems and his continued battles with addiction, were nearby. In 1983, he underwent abdominal surgery in Nashville to correct the problems caused by his years of amphetamine use. Following the operation, he checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic. In 1987, Cash again went under the knife, this time for heart surgery following his collapse on tour in Iowa.

But like always Cash pushed on. Not long after his induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, the singer took the stage for the Lollapalooza alternative rock tour and then teamed up with music producer Rick Rubin. The latter move proved to be instrumental in forging a Johnny Cash renaissance.

Under Rubin, Cash released American Recordings in 1994, a 13-track acoustic album that mixed traditional ballads with modern compositions. The album earned Cash a new audience and a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Cash’s next compilation was a three-disc set appropriately titled Love, God, Murder (2000).

Final YearsIn 2002 Cash released American IV: The Man Comes Around, a mix of originals and covers including songs from Beatles to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The album, recorded in cabin on the singer’s Nashville estate, was the fourth Cash-Rubin compilation. More significantly, it came five years after the singer had announced he’d been diagnosed with a rare nervous-system disorder called Shy-Drager Syndrome.

Over the next year, Cash’s health continued to decline. He rarely made public appearances. Then in May 2003, June Carter died. Cash, though, continued to work. With Rubin at his side, the singer sat down to record what would be known as American V: A Hundred Highways. Just week before his death on September 12, 2003, from complications associated with diabetes, Cash wrapped up his final track. “Once June passed, he had the will to live long enough to record, but that was pretty much all,” Rubin recalled around the album’s release on July 4, 2004. “A day after June passed, he said, ‘I need to have something to do every day. Otherwise, there’s no reason for me to be here.'”

Starkly arranged and sometimes mournful, the songs highlighted Cash’s older and rougher sounding voice, which resonated with a raw honesty. Cash earned a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video forGod’s Gonna Cut You Down. He was also posthumously honored at the CMA annual awards in late 2003, winning best album for American IV, best single, and best video.

Not surprisingly, Cash’s life and music continues to resonate. In 2005, the story of his love affair with June Cash was made into a feature film, Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. In 2006, a two-CD collection of unearthed songs from an obscure recording session Cash did in 1973 was released. And the following year the community of Starkville, Mississippi, paid honor to the performer and his arrest there in 1965 for picking flowers with the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival. Cash was also issued an official pardon.

“I think he’ll be remembered for the way he grew as a person and an artist,” wrote Kris Kristofferson in 2004, upon Cash’s selection by Rolling Stonemagazine as the 31st greatest artist of all time. “He went from being this guy who was as wild as Hank Williams to being almost as respected as one of the fathers of our country. He was friends with presidents and with Billy Graham. You felt like he should’ve had his face on Mount Rushmore.”

In December 2013, it was revealed that a new album from Cash had been found. The album, Out Among the Stars, was discovered by John Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s son. Billy Sherrill produced the album, which was recorded in 1981 and 1984 and was never released by Columbia Records, Cash’s label at the time. The album was stored by Johnny Cash and his wife June Cash. The album received a release date of March 24, 2014.

Johnny Cash - The Man in Black
Johnny Cash – The Man in Black(TV-14; 1:11)

Johnny Cash - Bond with Bob Dylan
Johnny Cash – Bond with Bob Dylan(TV-14; 3:21)

Johnny Cash - Meeting Rick Rubin
Johnny Cash – Meeting Rick Rubin(TV-14; 3:48)

Johnny Cash - Growing Up on the Land
Johnny Cash – Growing Up on the Land(TV-14; 3:23)

Johnny Cash - Hurt
Johnny Cash – Hurt(TV-14; 3:32)

Johnny Cash - The Man in Black
Johnny Cash – The Man in Black(TV-14; 2:52)

Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues
Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues(TV-14; 3:17)

Johnny Cash - Freedom in Memphis
Johnny Cash – Freedom in Memphis(TV-14; 2:52)

Marty Stuart - Johnny Cash's Biggest Fan
Marty Stuart – Johnny Cash’s Biggest Fan(TV-PG; 2:17)

 Johnny Cash – Ghost Riders In The Sky

https://youtu.be/lxn48wSiCzg

COOL PEOPLE -JOHN PRINE SINGER SONG WRITER, HIS MUSIC, AN ANA CHRISTY POEM

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COOL PEOPLE -JOHN PRINE SINGER SONG WRITER, HIS MUSIC, AN ANA CHRISTY POEM

John Prine Biography
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John Prine  is one of my favorite singers. He was a favorite of Dave’s too.

Saturday night was our party night. We’d sit at our fifties kitchen table with candles lit, incense going and the cd player playing. The scene was set as we settled in for a long night. We shared a bottle of vodka and Dave drank beer  and I drank wine. We would record our weekly internet radio show “The Can Man Says Goodnight show on luver.com. We had a great time getting really blasted and high doing the occasional snort here and there. Yes we were hippies, boozers I suppose and potheads, and good at it. I am not ashamed, we did exactly what we wanted to the fullest extent. It was, we agreed the best time of our lives, and the most productive years.

A short poem of mine

 

WALLS

these walls sometimes scream with frustration

Other times heave with the passion of love

Sometimes these walls become glacier white

With the distortion of drugs

These walls hold our existence-books and

Manuscripts piled into pyramidal corners

Balancing on cardboard boxes and metal shelves

These walls with it’s controversial posters

And flyers with cryptic messages make others

Curious

These walls would embarrass our children

And parents-

They do not understand the expressiveness

Of filled space and open minds.

Ana Christy “Beatnik Blues”

 

John Prine Biography

JOHN PRINE AND IRIS DEMENT-IN SPITE OF OURSELVES

JOHN PRINE-ANGEL FROM MONTGOMERY

JOHN PRINE -THAT’S THE WAY THE WORLD GOES ROUND

Singer, Guitarist (1946–)

Quick Facts
Name John Prine Occupation Singer, Guitarist Birth Date October 10, 1946 (age 67) Place of Birth Maywood, Illinois Full Name John Prine Zodiac Sign Libra
Synopsis
Early Years
Recording Career
Cancer Scare
John Prine is an American singer-songwriter who has issued a prodigious number of albums. His work has been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash and George Strait.

Synopsis

Singer-songwriter John Prine was born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood, Illinois. Born into a music-making family, Prine began playing guitar at age 14. By his early 20s, he was living in Chicago and entrenched in the city’s folk music scene. In 1971, Prine put out his self-titled debut album, which earned critical praise and helped pave the way for a career that has spanned more than four decades.

Early Years

The grandson of a musician, singer-songwriter John Prine was born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood, Illinois. His grandfather was a guitar player for country-western star Merle Travis. His grandfather’s talents were evidently passed down to Prine, who began playing guitar at the age of 14.

Following a two-year stint in the Army, Prine moved to Chicago, where he immersed himself in the city’s folk music scene. His sound and style eventually caught the attention of Kris Kristofferson, who helped his new friend land a record contract.

Recording Career

In 1971, Prine released his self-titled debut album, which features the critically lauded song “Sam Stone,” an account of a drug-infused Vietnam. The album was adored by critics, but never enjoyed much commercial success. The same held true for his follow-up albums, Diamonds in the Rough (1972) and Sweet Revenge (1973).

In 1975, Prine released Common Sense, which offered his fans a heavier sound than they were accustomed to with his music. Backed by the popular song “Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard,” the record cracked the Billboard 100 chart. In the years since, Prine’s career has continued on a similar trajectory. His albums haven’t been overwhelming sellers, but they’ve managed to attract a dedicated following of fans who adore his music and songwriting.

Along the way, Prine has shown an ability to adapt and change. In the early 1980s, after getting dropped from his label, Asylum Records, Prine picked up the pieces and started his own recording company, Oh Boy Records. In 1991, he released the Grammy-winning LP The Missing Years, with guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bonnie Raitt, among others. The album went on to sell more than 250,000 copies.

In recent years, Prine has maintained a steady recording career. His 2005 album of new material, Fair and Square, earned Prine a Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album. Prine’s 2007 release, Standard Songs for Average People, recorded with guitarist Mac Wiseman, offers his fans a collection of country and folk classics. In 2010, Prine put out In Person and On Stage, an album of live performances of his songs.

Cancer Scare

In 1998, Prine received a serious health scare—he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that had formed on the side of his neck. Surgery and radiation treatment soon followed. Prine made a full recovery and was able to complete his 1999 album, In Spite of Ourselves.

John Prine resides in Nashville with his wife, Fiona Whelan.

John Prine. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 01:39, May 21, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/john-prine-20871737.

John Prine. [Internet]. 2014. The Biography.com website. Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/john-prine-20871737 [Accessed 21 May 2014].

“John Prine.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 21 May 2014.

SPOT LIGHT ON:LEONARD COHEN,HIS LIFE AND MUSIC VIDEO

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Leonard Norman Cohen was born in 1934. He is a winning singer songwriter and excellent poet. He has Been inducted into The American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Hall of Fame.He also received an award for literature. He, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon have been recognized as one of the most influential musical persons. He is a poet, writer, and song writer and is considered a Renaissance man who pushes all boundaries.

Check out this video on YouTube:http://youtu.be/DmEsfsUoUys