What recordings did you make with Leonard Cohen??
I have worked in some capacity on every Leonard Cohen record since “Dear Heather” up to and including “You Want it Darker”. I also produced and engineered Anjani’s “Blue Alert” with Leonard and Anjani as well as recording Leonard reciting Joni Mitchell's “The River”, Paul Simon’s “Sounds of Silence” just to name a few. While on tour I supervised and collected the screen/video footage which was used to make up the tour DVD/CDs that I produced and directed.
Did you ever discuss songwriting with Leonard??
Yes- quite often we would play pieces of songs and go over them. I spent a lot of time (mostly before the tour) at Leonard’s house and we would both play guitar. He always wanted me to play and sing Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe”. I have loved that song since I heard it by Rod Stewart on the “Every Picture Tells a Story” album so I was quite familiar with it. Eventually after our sessions had ended for the day I began playing Leonard some of my recordings- he was always very, very supportive and complimentary. I vividly recall playing him something (from a collection of Buddy Holly/Everly Brothers influenced songs) that I knew the lyric was not quite right. He listened closely and then said something to the effect of- “that is a very nice song ED but there is some ambiguity in the second verse- it’s not clear what the thought is you are trying to convey”. I was busted- he was of course completely correct. I spent some time finding the proper lyrics, re-sang them, and then played it for Leonard. He said- “now it’s perfect”! I learned what I have since heard Leonard say many times- you can’t give up on the lyrics- it may take a while but it is in there. By the way the title of that song of mine- “Words in a Song”- (I kid you not!) One of the last times I saw Leonard he asked me if I had any new songs recorded. I said I had an interesting new song in the “Cole Porter” vein (“Something to Smile About”)- but it was not recorded yet. We went out into the studio and I sat at my old piano, the same one Anjani is sitting at in the picture on back cover of Leonard’s “Book of Longing” and I played and sang it. When I was done he said something like- “that was really nice- I had no idea you were such an accomplished piano player!” Of course I said- “No, no- I’m not a piano player at all! It’s just practice- I must have played this 1000 times by now!” As I put him into his cab he said to me “ED you have got to get your music out there”. So that is what I am doing- what he always wanted me to do- I miss him greatly.