Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images Kenny Chesney has joined a campaign to supply…
- Posted on Oct 21st 2009 4:00PM by Mike Ayers
Documentarian Murray Lerner -- who had been nominated for an Oscar for his documentary on the Newport Folk Festival in the 1967 film 'Festival' -- was there to capture the entire event and has recently extracted Cohen's performance in a DVD/CD combo entitled 'Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970.'
"I wanted to show that relationship to the crowd," Lerner tells Spinner, "and how that seemingly obscure poetry was so well received. He was surprisingly successful he was at such a tense moment."
At one point, Cohen tells the audience "we're too weak to have landed yet," which while seemingly is a reference to his band's name was also interpreted as a commentary on the youth movements in Britain at the time. "He's always had a social sense and was committed to social movements in a way," Lerner says. "I wanted to show the many sides of him and how unusual that was, the many faces of him."
Indeed, Lerner was able to capture a 35-year-old Cohen in his prime and with a backing band that consisted of Charlie Daniels and Bob Johnston as well as two female backup singers, which made songs such as 'So Long, Marianne' and 'Diamonds in the Mine' a fuller, richer sound.
Even 40 years later, Lerner recalls the moment that Cohen took the stage and how enraptured the audience became -- he had a calming effect that had yet to be seen all weekend. "I know it sounds contradictory, but I think they were trying to grapple with the meaning of his songs," Lerner says. "I thought the poetry was part of the process. I always have with him."