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Leonard Cohen / musicians on first album

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Will Dockery

Dec 2, 2016, 11:26:21 AM12/2/16
I've been listening to the first album a lot, and simultaneously reading of
the drama and struggle Cohen had getting it recorded back in 1967, in the
biography by Sylvie Simmons.

Producer John Simon was really pushy, adding loads of strings and other
backing tracks to Cohen's recordings of voice and Spanish guitar, which
Cohen hated and constantly argued with Simon over.

Eventually John Simon gave up and left Cohen to finish the tracks.

Cohen removed most of the heavy music, left some, and then brought in the
folk rock band Kaleidoscope to add backing tracks more in line with Cohen's
vision of how the songs should sound.

The first record by Leonard Cohen was said at the time to be the most
expensive album ever recorded at Columbia up to that time, December 1967 or
it might have been 1968, I need to look that up again.

And so it went.


Some details on the musicians on the first LC album

Jim Williams wrote:
Here's the full text of Nancy Piddy's letter:

A friend of mine saw an Ask Fred question concerning the voices behind
Leonard Cohen on his first three albums. Well I don't know about the second
or third but I certainly do about the first, which contained Hey, That's No
Way To Say Goddbye, Suzanne and So Long, Marianne.

At that time I was writing with John Simon, the album's producer, who was a
very good friend. When Columbia informed him that they would put no futher
money into the project, John told me we'd have to finish the album together.
I was delighted to do that - so I provided the female voice on the record. I
believe John song with me on So Long, Marianne, but I certainly did Suzanne
and Hey, That's No Way To Say Goddbye.

John and I loved Leonard's songs, and when we played our additional vocals
to him he seemed to love our work in return. I often think about the first
time John played Leonard's work for me in that darkish studio, late night in
New York. Little did any of us know what would happen with those songs -
especially the record label!

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