Leonard Cohen Headlines Radio Program "Rock 'n' Roll Times With Robert Hilburn" Sept 11, 2011

Robert Hilburn

California Highway Heaven - Irvine to Sherman Oaks

A confluence of coincidence.

I had been at the Irvine Hyatt for a Bridge Tournament and was driving back home on the fierce Interstate 405 (think Autobahn) to Sherman Oaks/Los Angeles.  When I switched on the car radio, I didn't care for the first station's offering, so I changed to another station. I heard a "male singer",  his song was quite touching, so I stayed with that station but didn't pay too much attention to the host.

However, when I was approaching the LAX area,  I heard the host announce:

Now, lets move to the show's headliner...Leonard Cohen

Now that got my attention.

I shrieked with joy, had a big smile on my face and immediately ramped up the volume.
(But I still had to be careful to focus on the savage traffic)

The Leonard Cohen segment, which closed the program, ran for about a half hour.  (When listening to the podcast the next day, I learned that the host also introduced the program with Leonard Cohen.)

The Host - Robert Hilburn 

 As pop music critic of the Los Angeles Times from 1970 to 2005, Robert Hilburn was one of the most widely read pop writers of the rock ‘n’ roll era. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination committee, Bob has interviewed and written about virtually every significant musical artist of our times, including John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, the Clash, Prince, Michael Jackson, U2, Sinead O’Connor, Eminem and Jack White.
For some of his Leonard Cohen background comments, Hilburn drew from his own interview with Leonard Cohen at the Mt Baldy Zen Center published in the Los Angeles Times on September 24, 1995 and posted on Carter's Tribute Pages archived by Mod Marie's Speaking Cohen.  
The Program Theme

Hilburn was showcasing singer songwriters from the '60s and chose to pair Leonard Cohen and Tim Hardin.
It is fitting to include Tim in the same show as Leonard because the best of Tim's work reflects both the confessional anguish of Hank Williams and the artful intimacy of Cohen .
He played some of their own songs and some cover versions of those tunes.

The "male singer" - Tim Hardin

Cover of "The Best Of Tim Hardin, 1969"
I was not familiar with Tim Hardin, but I instantly was taken with his singing which was expressive and stirring.  The song I heard was composed for him by Bobby Darin, "Simple Song of Freedom".  You will hear it on the podcast. (link below)   Alas, Tim Hardin had a sad troubled life with drugs and died of an overdose at the age of 39.

Tim Hardin (Dec 23, 1941-Dec 29, 1980) bio on Wikipedia (click here)

Play list:
Tim Hardin: Don't Make Promises, Reason To Believe, If I Were A Carpenter
Covers:  Reason To Believe (Rod Stewart), If I Were A Carpenter (Bobby Darin)
Demo: Tim Hardin, written by Bobby Darin: Simple Song of Freedom

The Leonard Cohen segment

"Leonard's songs do matter and they have for a half century"

"This gracious, gentle man"
Hilburn's background comments and anecdotes were superb. He played three songs with Leonard Cohen (one "young voice" and two "mature voice") and five covers.

The one cover that took me by surprise was Aretha Franklin's "Suzanne".

Cover of " Rare & Unreleased Recordings...2007

I had never heard Aretha Franklin's 1972 cover of Suzanne. At first, I was not receptive.  But after listening to it two more times at home, I am quite taken with it.  Her interpretation is very compelling.

A commanding version... it's pretty stunning (Hilburn)

Play list:
Leonard Cohen:  Bird On The Wire, Suzanne, Dance Me To The End OF Love
Covers:  No Way To Say Goodbye (Judy Collins), Bird On The Wire (Joe Cocker), Aretha Franklin (Suzanne), Famous Blue Raincoat (Jennifer Warnes),  Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley)

KCSN 88.5  California State University Northridge (Los Angeles)  
click here  and select link 2011-09-11

I am unsure how long the podcast will remain up.  So, I recorded the audio off my laptop with a Sony stick.
  • California Interstate 405 is mentioned in Leonard Cohen's poem, A Life Of Errands
  • Photo of Robert Hilburn (Google Images) and Tim Hardin album cover (Wikipedia)
  • Photo of Aretha Franklin album cover (Amazon.com)

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