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Brush with Leonard Cohen

This week, we had a pair of Leonard Cohen concert tickets to give away. To win the coveted pair we asked listeners to email us your brush with Leonard stories. The emails started to roll in as soon after we announced the contest. It was a challenge picking the winner.  We received so many marvelous, amusing, touching testimonials. Here's some of the stories we received....

JONI AND LEONARD.JPGI met Leonard Cohen on my 28th birthday, in June of 2008 during his run of Jazz Fest concerts in Montreal.
I waited outside Place des Arts in the afternoon prior to one of his concerts. By amazing luck, he showed up after only 5 minutes and there was nobody else there. He autographed my copy of his 'Book of Longing' and I gave him a piece of my birthday cake, at which point he removed his fedora and held it to his chest, as he does often on stage during applause.
I explained that my father intended to name me Leonard, after him, had I been a boy, but instead settled for naming me after Joni Mitchell, and he laughed and remarked i'd had a lucky escape. He was such a gentleman.
His concert was by far the best i have ever been to and a truly unforgettable experience. He played for hours, sang 28 songs, and jogged onto the stage for his 3 encores. Not bad for a 73 year old. There was standing ovation after standing ovation. Should this seem too good to be true, i am attaching photographic evidence.

- Joni Ward

I was in Chinatown for the August Moon celebrations in 2001 and I noticed Leonard Cohen walking around, checking things out.
Later, I was at a stand where they were selling old-fashioned tin wind-up toys. I was reaching for a chicken, when someone else took it and I yelped "hey that's my chicken!"
My mum dug her elbow hard into my ribs and whispered my name whilst motioning with her head as it was Leonard Cohen who had picked up the chicken.
She was mortified as she is a huge fan and was in awe. I just looked at him and he looked at me with the toy in his hands and said "I'm sorry" and all I could muster was "that's okay, you can have my chicken'.
My mum's comment "I have heard the voice of God" followed by "Zara, I can't believe you gave out to Leonard Cohen!"
- Zara Myles

As a business traveler, I regularly find myself on airplanes flying all over the world. One such trip had me on a flight to LA. In response to your immediate thoughts, no, I did not meet Mr. Cohen on the plane and have the enviable opportunity to spend five or so hours hearing about his childhood, his major influences in life or where his thoughts were leading him today. Instead, upon leaving the plane, I had to make, well let's say, a pit stop.
Being of the male persuasion, I lined up and was doing my spring maple tree imitation, when I turned to the right and did a double take. Yes, this time, you guessed right..Mr. Cohen was right beside me, engaged in the same form of "relief" as me. Momentarily at a loss for words, and not believing extending my hand for a customary handshake was quite "the right thing to do", I succinctly stated: "Mr. Cohen" to which he replied "yes".
Now I have spoken in front of hundreds of people at conferences before, but never have I felt at such a loss of words as I knew I had but 10 seconds to make 'an impression', but could not use any gestures, for the obvious reasons. Thus, I kept it simple and merely stated " I am a great fan and admirer of your work". To which he replied "well thank-you".
And with that, we washed our hands and parted ways, and that was the end of my encounter with Mr. Cohen.
- Mark Wasserman

And the winning entry...
It should be said that this contestant didn't meet Leonard Cohen himself. It was more of a family connection...
My late father told a story from his time at high school with Leonard Cohen.
In those days, my dad, a recent immigrant to Canada from Hungary via Antwerp, then London during the war, was a self-confessed nerd with a funny accent.
Not super popular in school, he was thrilled to make a friend in the young Cohen who one day brought him to the Cohen household.
Up in his room, Leonard pulled out a bottle of Pernod for a sophisticated tipple. They had a glass of the drink on the sly. My father found it completely disgusting but did not want to let on that he was such a boor. When Leonard left the room for a moment (called away by his mother, imagine that) my dad took the opportunity to throw open the window and pitch out the remaining liquid from his glass. No one would be the wiser, he thought.
But what he did not count on was the fact that the storm windows were still installed, and the Pernod splattered against the outer glass sliding down leaving my father with some explaining to do. He was forced to fess up to being the nerd that he truly was.
- Katherine Kasirer