UK 1988

BBC video documentary

On the soundtrack:

First We Take Manhattan
Chelsea hotel # 2
Take this waltz
Who by fire
Bird on a wire
Red river valley
So long Marianne
Famous blue raincoat
The partisan
Joan of Arc
Ain’t no cure for love
Tower of song
Dance me to the end of love

The film, originally produced by the BBC in 1988, is a full-length concert intervowen with interview footage shot in Athens, Hydra and New York plus rare and rarely seen documentary footage of Leonard’s childhood and early career. The music comes from Cohen's I'm Your Man tour of 1988.

Running time: 70 minutes. Produced by the BBC and CMV Enterprises. The video was released in VHS PAL and NTSC formats as well as on laser-disc but unfortunately has been sold out for years.

"Discovering a classic: Leonard Cohen video is like a primer for new fans"
by Barry Gutman, Pulse! (Tower Records), July 1993, p. 24

"Songs From the Life of Leonard Cohen was also originally shown on TV--British TV, that is. More a biographical documentary than a concert, the 70-minute program combines live performances--some complete, many abridged--mainly from Cohen's 1988 show at Carnegie Hall, in support of his then-current album, I'm Your Man, with interviews with Cohen himself, his original musical patron Judy Collins and protege Jennifer Warnes. There's also fascinating film footage of Cohen as a young poet in the '60s, and, back again in 1988, revisiting old haunts such as New York's Chelsea Hotel, where he met Janis Joplin, and the Greek island of Hydra, where he wrote such classics as "Bird on a Wire" and met the love of his life and inspiration of his classic "So Long, Marianne."

Though he's had years of success in Europe, Cohen seems to be enjoying a rediscovery here, thanks to the all-star tribute album, I'm Your Fan, and Cohen's excellent new disc, The Future. So the belated domestic availability of this BBC production turns out to be a well-timed primer for new Cohen fans. And the program will certainly fascinate longtime devotees".