Songs from a Room
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|Songs from a Room|
|Studio album by Leonard Cohen|
|Released||April 7, 1969|
|Recorded||October 1968 at Columbia Studio A, Nashville|
|Leonard Cohen chronology|
Cohen reportedly said he chose producer Bob Johnston to achieve the spartan sound he considered appropriate for his songs, after the disputes he had with John Simon during the mixing sessions of Songs of Leonard Cohen. The album also features some prominent (if strictly ornamental) jaw harp.
This project was first begun in Hollywood in May, 1968 with David Crosby as producer. That didn't work out, and the album was eventually produced in Nashville with Bob Johnston. Two of the tracks from the Crosby sessions are included as bonus tracks on the 2007 remaster version.
Among uncredited sessions musicians it is known that Ron Cornelius played acoustic and electric guitar, Charlie Daniels played bass, fiddle and acoustic guitar, Elkin "Bubba" Fowler participated on banjo, bass and acoustic guitar, while producer Bob Johnston played keyboards. Johnston toured with Cohen in 1970 and 1972, playing keyboards, harmonica and guitar.
In sheet music for the album, a song titled "Priests" was included, and although reportedly recorded, it didn't appear on the LP or on any subsequent Cohen record. The song was recorded by Judy Collins on her 1967 album Wildflowers, and by Richie Havens on his 1969 album Richard P. Havens, 1983.
|Pitchfork Media||(8.8/10) link|
|Rolling Stone||April 2007|
- "Bird on the Wire" - 3:28
- "Story of Isaac" - 3:38
- "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" - 3:18
- "The Partisan" - 3:29
- "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" - 3:41
- "The Old Revolution" - 4:50
- "The Butcher" - 3:22
- "You Know Who I Am" - 3:32
- "Lady Midnight" - 3:01
- "Tonight Will Be Fine" - 3:53
- "Like a Bird (Bird on the Wire)" - 3:21
- "Nothing to One (You Know Who I Am)" - 2:17
- Ron Cornelius - acoustic and electric guitar
- Bubba Fowler - banjo, bass guitar, violin, acoustic guitar
- Charlie Daniels - bass guitar, violin, acoustic guitar
- Bob Johnston - production (original album), keyboards
- David Crosby - production (bonus tracks)
- Neil Wilburn - engineer
Original Songs and their Covers
"Bird on the Wire", described by Cohen as a simple country song, has been covered by many musicians including Jennifer Warnes (his one-time backup singer), The Neville Brothers, Willie Nelson, The Lilac Time, and Johnny Cash.
"Story of Isaac," based on the Old Testament story of God's demand that Isaac be sacrificed by his father Abraham, has also been covered by a handful of musicians including Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega, Linda Thompson, The Johnstons, and Roy Buchanan.
"The Partisan" is Cohen's cover of the French song "La Complainte du Partisan" by Emmanuel D'Astier and Anna Marly, which is about the French resistance during World War II. The English translation was written by Hy Zaret. The rock journalist Tim Nordberg notes, "[Cohen] is often incorrectly credited as the composer of the song –although he is certainly responsible for its survival." Nordberg also notes that the English translation that Cohen recorded differs from the French in that it excludes the direct references that D'Astier and Marly made in the original lyric to the occupation of France by Nazi Germany.