The concept behind the extraordinarily rewarding The New York Nobody Sings, which I mentioned here a little while back, must be contagious: half the things I think about posting here lately seem to come in the TNYNS form of a YouTube clip with a little commentary.
Last week’s Bowery Boys podcast on the Hotel Chelsea, for instance, made me think of one of my favorite of Leonard Cohen’s New York songs, from the 1974 LP New Skin for the Old Ceremony. This clip comes from a 24-minute short film, I Am a Hotel (1983), co-written by Cohen and directed by Allan F. Nichols. It aired originally on a Toronto TV station, I believe, though this version seems to have subtitles in Dutch or some Scandinavian language I don’t recognize:
In addition to the best oral sex reference in any pop song I know of, “Chelsea Hotel No 2” boasts those endlessly quotable self-deprecating music snob lines:
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”
I could link to other great LC NYC songs — the awesomely epistolary “Famous Blue Raincoat,” or the synth driver “First We Take Manhattan” — but for now I’ll just offer video of Conspiracy of Beards, the San Francisco-based all-male Leonard Cohen cover chorus, singing “Chelsea Hotel” on the PATH train from NJ to NY. I was lucky enough to catch them at Bowery Poetry Club a couple years ago. If you ever have the chance, don’t miss it:
Thanks for the plug. And also for getting me to think about Leonard Cohen songs! Good idea…if & when I post any I’ll definitely give you a credit.
the acoustics on the PATH are better than i’d expect, the familiar screeching of the train gives it that little something extra
Thanks for the comment, Bridget. I also love that little bit right at the end of the clip where someone says something like “Did you hear me, guy? You can’t take pictures on the train …”
But you can sing about fellatio in a group of 30 men, a capella!
Hey Tim up there — no problemo. Would love to see what you write about LC.