Poland 1983, 1985, 1988, 1994,
1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2019

Maciej Zembaty (Warsaw, Poland) has certainly the world
record of covering Leonard's songs. He recorded more than 60 cover songs,
all translated into Polish by himself.- Maciej also performed at
our Leonard Cohen Event in 2010 in Krakow. He died in 2011.
Photo by Henryk Kotowski (May 2009) from Wikipedia.

More here at Wikipedia.

Ballady Leonarda Cohena

This double album contains the following songs (all in Polish:):
1. Ptak na drucie. Bird on the wire. 4:10
2. Opowiadanie Izaaka. Story of Isaac. 3:40
3. Kim jestem, ty wiesz. You know who I am. 4:10
4. Dzis w nocy bedzie fajnie. Tonight will be fine. 2:30
5. Nauczyciele. Teachers. 4:20

6. Wydaje sie tak dawno, Nancy. Nancy. 5:25
7. Kto w plomieniach. Who by fire. 4:45
8. Lover, lover. Lover lover lover. 4:10
9. Siostry milosierdzia. Sisters of mercy. 4:50

10. Wspomienia. Memories. 6:25
11. Diamenty w kopalni. Diamonds in the mine. 2:50
12. Malenka, nie wolno sie zegnac w ten sposob. Hey, that's no way to say goodbye. 2:55
13. Slynny, niebieski prochowiec. Famous blue raincoat. 7:10

14. Zuzanna. Suzanne. 4:50
15. Czy to jest to czego chcialas? Is this what you wanted? 5:15
16. Jedno z nas nie moze sie mylic. One of us cannot be wrong. 5:10
17. Partyzant. The partisan. 2:55
Released in 1983/1984 by Pol-jazz, KPSJ-001/002.

Alleluja. Ballady Leonarda Cohena.

1. Tancz mnie po milosci kres. Dance me to the end of love. 4:55
2. Wciaz wojna trwa. There is a war. 2:45
3. Prawo. The law. 4:00
4. Zona cygana. Gypsy's wife. 5:15
5. Dzisiaj tu, jutro tam. Passin' thru. 3:40

6. Lawina. Avalanche. 3:55
7. Goscie. The guests. 4:55
8. Kolysanka mysliwego. Hunter's lullaby. 3:15
9. Jesli wola twa. If it be your will. 5:20
10. Alleluja. Hallelujah. 4:55
This vinyl LP was released by Pronit, Poland, in 1985. M-0022.
Songs were recorded in Krakow 27.05 - 7.06.1985 at The Theatre "STU"

There is also a 7' single with two songs from the album:
"Dance me to the end of love" and "The guests". Pronit SPP 0012.

CD reissue in 2001 with two extra songs:
11. Opowiadanie Izaaka (Story of Isaac)
12. Siostry milosierdzia (Sisters of mercy)

Ballady Cohena spiewaja Zembaty, Porter, Sojka:
First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Warsaw

Ten tracks recorded live on January 17, 1988:

1. Okno (The window)
2. Ballada o nieobecnej klaczy (Ballad of the absent mare)
3. Zamglone zycie (The smokey life)
4. Rzeznik (The butcher)
5. Najpierw Wziac Manhattan (First we take Manhattan)
6. Upokorzona miloscia (Humbled in love)
7. Joanna d'Arc (Joan of Arc)
8. Zdrajca (The traitor)
9. Za pieknem wedrowalem (Came so far for beauty)
10. Madonna Samotnosci (Our lady of solitude)Za pieknem wedrowalem (Came so far for beauty)

This is a live album issued on cassette by MTJ Agencja Artstyczna; no year given.

Another (earlier) version was issued in 1988, ZPR 1,
by Zjednoczone Przedsiebiorstwa Rozrywkowe (ZPR)
with eight songs (without songs #2 and #10).

First CD re-issue in 1998 (Canto/Poligram 02-053; ten songs)

Second CD re-issue in 2000 by Canto (SELL #0209; ten songs)

Alleluja. Ballady Leonarda Cohena.

Cassette reissue in 1994.

1. Tancz mnie po milosci kres. Dance me to the end of love. 4:55
2. Wciaz wojna trwa. There is a war. 2:47
3. Prawo. The law. 4:00
4. Zona cygana. Gypsy's wife. 5:16
5. Ptak na drucie. Bird on the wire. 4:15
6. Dzisiaj tu, jutro tam. Passin' thru. 3:42
7. Zblakany Kanadyczyk. The lost Canadian. 4:24

8. Chelsea Hotel #2. 4.48
9. Lawina. Avalanche. 3:38
10. Nauczyciele. Teachers. 3:04
11. Goscie. The guests. 4:55
12. Kolysanka mysliwego. Hunter's lullaby. 3:18
13. Jesli wola twa. If it be your will. 5:21
14. Alleluja. Hallelujah. 4:55

Quartet, Warsaw, 1994. QOO3MC.
Musicians: Maciej Zembaty, John Porter and Winicjusz Chrost.
Licensed by Pronit.

Zembaty STGS

New CD album, 1999

Kazdy o tym wie(Everybody knows)
Jestem twoj (I'm Your Man)
Wspomnienia (Memories)
Wieza Piesni (Tower of Song)
Czekajac na cud (Waiting for the miracle)

(other songs on the album not by Cohen)

Sila Niewolnikow
Ballady i wiersze Leonarda Cohena

New live CD album, 2000

Zamglone zycie (The smokey life)
Joanna d'Arc (Joan of Arc)
Jestem twoj (I'm Your Man)
Madonna Samotnosci (Our lady of solitude)
Wspomnienia (Memories)
Rzeznik (The butcher)
Czekajac na cud (Waiting for the miracle)

Video clip: Jestem twoj (I'm Your Man)

Also a CD size music magazine Sidi Poket Magazyn Muzyczny included,
it's a 34 page booklet on Zembaty and Cohen. The CD is not only an audio album
but also a CD Rom (the video clip and on-screen music magazine).

35 x Leonard Cohen
Spiewa Maciej Zembaty

Triple album, 2002


Ptak na drucie (Bird On The Wire) / Kim jestem Ty wiesz (You Know Who I Am) / Dzis w nocy bedzie fajnie (Tonight Will Be Fine) / Nauczyciele (Teachers) / Wydaje sie tak dawno, Nancy (It Seems So Long Ago, Nancy) / Kto w plomieniach? (Who By Fire?) / Lover, Lover (Lover, Lover) / Wspomnienia (Memories) / Diamenty w kopalni (Diamonds In The Mine) / Malenka, nie wolno sie zegnac w ten spos�b (Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye) / Slynny niebieski prochowiec (Famous Blue Raincoat) / Zuzanna (Suzanne) / Czy to jest to czego chcialas? (Is This What You Wanted) / Jedno z nas nie moze sie mylic (One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong) / Partyzant (Partisan) // Tancz mnie po milosci kres (Dance Me To The End Of Love) / Wciaz wojna trwa (There Is A War) / Prawo (The Law) / Zona Cygana (The Gypsy Wife/Gypsy's Wife) / Dzisiaj tu, jutro tam (Passin' Thru) / Lawina (Avalanche) / Goscie (The Guests) / Kolysanka mysliwego (Hunter's Lullaby) / Jesli wola twa (If It Be Your Will) / Alleluja (Hallelujah) / Opowiadanie Izaaka (Story Of Isaac) / Siostry milosierdzia (Sisters Of Mercy) // Zdrajca (The Traitor) / Joanna D'arc (Joan Of Arc) / Upokorzona miloscia (Humbled In Love) / Madonna samotnosci (Our Lady Of Solitude) / Manhattan (First We Take Manhattan) / Okno (The Window) / Zamglone zycie (The Smokey Life) / Rzeznik (The Butcher)

All songs have earlier been released on the following albums: "Cohen. Ballady" (1983), "Alleluja" (1985) and "First We Take Manhattan Then We Take Warsaw" (1988).

3CD CD 90035 Gra slow/ MTJ, Warsaw 2002.

In My Secret... Live
- Najpiekniejsze ballady Leonarda Cohena

New live record, 2002

These songs were recorded at
Festival of Four Cultures Dialog - Lodz 2002
(26 September - 6 October, 2002)

Dzisiaj tu, jutro tam (Passing thru) / Tancz mnie po milosci kres (Dance me to the end of love) / Slynny, niebieski prochowiec (Famous blue raincoat) / Siostry milosierdzia (Sisters of mercy) / Jesli wola twa (If it be your will) / Alleluja (Hallelujah) / Zuzanna (Suzanne) / Wspomnienia (Memories) / Goscie (The guests) / W tajnym zyciu mym (In my secret life?) / Prawo (The law) / Malenka, nie wolno zegnac sie w ten sposob (Hey, that's no way to say goodbye)

Maciej Zembaty: The Best
- Dzisiaj tu, jutro tam

New collection, 2019

1. Dzisiaj tu, jutro tam (Passing through) / 2. Ballada o Imogenie * / 3. Jak będziemy mieli małe * / 4. Goście (The Guests) / 5. Tańcz mnie po miłości kres (Dance Me To The End of Love) / 6. Siostry miłosierdzia (Sisters of Mercy) / 7. W prosektorium * / 8. Piosenka o Maruśce * / 9. Zuzanna (Suzanne) / 10. Manhattan (First we take Manhattan) / 11. Lawina (Avalanche) / 12. W tajnym życiu mym (In My Secret Life) / 13. Słynny niebieski prochowiec (Famous blue Raincoat) / 14. Jeśli wola Twa (if It Be Your Will) / 15. Alleluja (Hallelujah)

* - not a song by Cohen

Published in the CD series MTJ Best. All songs in Polish.

* * *


Jestem Twoj (I'm Your Man)

by Brett Grainger

Elm Street Magazine, Toronto, Canada (May 2001)

Polish musician Maciej Zembaty holds the record for Leonard Cohen covers, translating and recording at least 60 songs over 10 albums, one of which went gold. With a live album release, Zembaty spoke to us from Warsaw about Solidarity, Leonard's Eastern appeal and his own life as a ladies' man.

ELM STREET: How did you first get the idea to record Cohen's songs in Polish?

ZEMBATY: In 1972, I was working for the Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski on a screenplay, and among the records in his apartment, I found Leonard Cohen's first album, Songs. And, you know, I was really shocked. It was like an illumination. And I thought that I should try to give the songs to the Polish people. I started to work on translating them, and it was a very, very difficult task, because Polish and English are absolutely different. So it took nearly six months until I was ready.

ES: It took you six months to translate the first album?

MZ: The first song!

ES: You work almost as slowly as Cohen.

MZ: Yes, Leonard told me that it took him almost as long to write "Suzanne."

ES: So you've met?

MZ: I met him at the airport in Warsaw. After 1981, things changed in Poland, and Leonard Cohen's Polish tour in 1985 was a very important factor. Leonard was the first well-known artist who came to Poland. It helped us very much. We had lunch together, and I asked him to accept an invitation to a party for the Polish democratic opposition. He accepted, and we had a wonderful meeting at the Canadian embassy. [Solidarity movement leader] Lech Walesa himself couldn't come, because the authorities wouldn't let him.

ES: Did he sing any songs in Polish?

MZ: No, he didn't. He was so surprised. The audience knew all his lyrics by heart - in my Polish translation, of course. It was like coming home. And he didn't know he was a poet of Solidarity. You know his song "The Partisan"? It was one of the informal anthems of Solidarity. It was sung in prisons, in detention camps, everywhere. You know, my first album of Leonard Cohen songs was not that easy. I had my own radio program, and I had serious problems with censorship. I still remember, because they didn't like the middle part about Jesus [in "Suzanne"]. They thought it was very dangerous. I had to fight really hard. I told them that if they wouldn't let me do it, I'd stop working for Polish radio. And you know, I won. They let me record it.

ES: What song is most requested by your audiences?

MZ: "Dance Me to the End of Love." You know, the audience is the audience, and that song is definitely Leonard's biggest hit. But people take it very simply. In my opinion, it's a song about death.

ES: Well, that brings up another point. Some people find his music depressing. What do you say to them?

MZ: Yes, but, you know, in eastern Europe we are so depressed, Leonard Cohen doesn't bother us. And you know, he has a great sense of humour. In Warsaw, he sang in the Palace of Culture. It's a Russian skyscraper. It was Joseph Stalin's gift to Warsaw. And Leonard went to the stage and said, "I'm very grateful that the Russians built this building for me. My mother came from Russia, and she always spoke very highly of these people."

ES: Leonard Cohen is well known as a ladies' man. What about you?

MZ: Of course. Otherwise I couldn't translate his songs. But seriously, the translation of somebody's poetry is the art of identification. One must find in his life similar experiences. Otherwise, it's impossible.

(Reprinted with permission from the author)

Thanks to Ben Benaziza, Marcin S. Sadurski,
Tomasz Bielski, Brett Grainger,
Beata Woloszyn and Wojciech Wysocki for help.

Last revised on August 17, 2019