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Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen (1965)

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Produced in 1965, this 45-minute promo for the then youthful looking Leonard Cohen functions now as a faded cinematic snapshot of the man who, in the forty years since the promo was made, has evolved into Planet Earth's greatest living poet and songwriter.

With a jazzy musical score, this B&W tape narrates a kind of "day in the life of" theme. It captures to some extent the man's personality which, surprisingly, exuded considerable humor, vis-a-vis the dire morbidity for which he has since become known. Of course, Western culture in the 1960s was friendlier to poets generally. In recent decades, particularly in the U.S., many people have become overtly hostile toward all things intellectual. In point of fact, Cohen's works have never been as popular in the U.S. as they have been in Europe and Canada. The U.S. aside, Cohen's worldwide popularity and longevity speak volumes about his talent, and remind me of the ongoing popularity of a similar 1960's talent: the Moody Blues.

Some comments that Cohen makes in the film may raise eyebrows or seem contradictory. But that speaks as much to our current day obsession with logic, rigid analysis, and materialism as it does to Cohen's remarks. Trying to "analyze" poets or poetry is useless, and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what poetry is all about.

I believe that it was Benjamin Disraeli who said "the poet is the painter of the soul". In our current arid and more or less "soul-less" culture, Leonard Cohen gives to us a wonderfully unique way of seeing the world, a loftier point of view, based on truth, sensitivity, an…

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