LEONARD COHEN: BIRD ON A WIRE

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First show: March 24

 

“Nowhere has Cohen’s inner turmoil been better illuminated than in Tony Palmer’s, never released theatrically, lost-and-found 1974 documentary BIRD ON A WIRE. We see the singer embark on an emotionally draining world tour in 1972, when handfuls of devoted fans in Europe and Israel were clamoring to hear even a few breathed words of “Chelsea Hotel,” “Suzanne,” “Who by Fire,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” or “So Long Marianne.” Onstage, Cohen never had the swagger or bravado of a Bob Dylan. He hated touring and rarely did so in the early years. He says he saw his songs as intimate love letters, that he never listened to his own recordings and that the idea of nightly embodying all the passion and hurt he had put into them filled him with panic. Yet he was forced to tour, and people close to him thought this one would be his last. Palmer’s camera is intimate with Cohen’s face and his deer-in-the-headlights eyes; you can see his crumbling psyche behind. Night after night, beautiful women approach him backstage, coyly asking if he’d like to “spend time” with them after the show. He politely refuses them all. The women look around, embarrassed and rejected. But sometimes he tells them why: He’s afraid he’s going to “disgrace” himself onstage and wants to be in the company of his bandmates for the fallout. Palmer smartly lets performances of select songs run almost all the way through” – Village Voice

Directed and Written by Tony Palmer. Documentary. 1972. 106min, digital.

 

 

LEONARD COHEN: BIRD ON A WIRE: Upcoming Showtimes