DVD: Leonard Cohen’s Lonesome Heroes

Leonard Cohen’s Lonesome Heroes
(Chrome Dreams)

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Leonard Cohen’s Lonesome Heroes is a different sort of music DVD. Instead of focusing on the details of Cohen’s life and work, the film looks at Cohen’s life-long influences, which inevitably affected his music career.

Says music journalist Nigel Williamson of Cohen, “He’s a worldly man… that brings with him influences that were unusual, if not unique, to rock and roll at that time.” Indeed, when Cohen immerged on the scene in the late 1960s, his introspective work was so original that there seemed to be no one before him; his work seemed all his own. But through the words of several academics, journalists and friends, and previous concerts and dialogues from Cohen himself, Lonesome Heroes taps into whom and what Cohen drew inspiration from, and how these inspirations translated into his music.

Before his music career, Cohen was very much a part of the world of poetry and literature. Some of his favorite poets were Irving Layton, F. R. Scott and Federico Garcia Lorca (whose influences are seen in Cohen’s 1988 album, I’m Your Man.) He was also highly influenced by beat generation writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, as Cohen wrote his own free-form, experimental novel in 1966 called Beautiful Losers.  Musicians like Ray Charles, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Judy Collins were also highly influential as well. Cohen was also a big fan of Jacques Brel, as religion/spirituality (especially Buddhism) would have a profound affect on his music career.

The DVD runs at 110 minutes, features lots of live footage and rare photographs, and includes extras such as the biographies of panel members like Judy Collins, Leslie Stainton, Ira Nadel and others.

Overall, this is a very informative DVD for anyone who’s a Cohen fan, let alone anyone who’s interested in international culture during the late 60’s and early 70’s.

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