This is the first time Bob Dylan has played a Leonard Cohen song live since 1988, when he became the first major artist to cover ” Hallelujah “.
Sunday evening, the tour Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan stopped in Montreal, Leonard Cohen’s hometown, and he paid tribute to the late singer by performing his 1984 classic, ” Dance Me to the End of Love “, breathtaking. Watch a recording of the audience here.
“ Dance Me to the End of Love » was originally featured on the album Various Positions by Cohen, released in 1984. The second side of the album begins with “ Hallelujah “, but Cohen’s commercial career was in decline, and Columbia refused to release the album in the United States. “ Dance Me to the End of Love became Cohen’s standard concert opening for the rest of his career.
At first glance, ” Dance Me to the End of Love » seems to be a love song. But it’s actually a song about the Nazis playing classical music while they led Jews to the gas chambers. “ A string quartet was forced to play while this horror unfolded, Cohen said in 1995.They played classical music while their companions in misfortune were killed and burned. So, this music, ‘Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin’, means that beauty is the consummation of life, the end of this existence and of the passionate element in this consummation. »
This is only the second time in Dylan’s career that he has performed a Cohen song in concert. The first time was in 1988, when he took over “ Hallelujah » during concerts in Los Angeles and Montreal. This was before famous renditions of the song by John Cale, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley and countless others.
Cohen rarely plays covers in concert and never performed a Dylan song, but he was a big fan. In his last public appearance, Cohen spoke about winning Dylan the Nobel Prize: “ To me, it’s like pinning a medal on Mount Everest because it’s the highest mountain. » At the same event, he spoke about Dylan’s writing: ” I think Bob Dylan knows it better than all of us: we don’t write songs just any way. So if you’re lucky, you can keep the vehicle healthy and receptive over the years. If you’re lucky, your own intentions have little to do with it. You can keep the body as well oiled and responsive as possible, but it’s not up to you to decide whether you’ll be able to keep it up for the long haul. »
“ Dance Me to the End of Love ” is the most recent surprise cover Dylan has incorporated into his set over the past few weeks. He covered John Mellencamp in Indiana, Chuck Berry in St. Louis, and Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf in Chicago. When he goes to a city where he doesn’t know a local artist, like Rochester, New York, he tends to pull out a Grateful Dead cover like ” Stella Blue ” Or ” Brokedown Palace “.