The good news is: New Leonard Cohen! The bad news is (or rather, might be): Same as the last few Leonard Cohens. The patron saint of envy and the grocer of despair tellsRolling Stone that he'll be producing his new album (strike one), and that it will feature co-writes with longtime collaborators Sharon Robinson (two) and Anjani (and... yer OUT!). Following the success of last year's triumphant victory lap tours, Cohen seems poised to claim his rightful place at the forefront of the eminence grise factory. And long may he run, for real. No one is greater than Leonard Cohen in this blog's estimation. Not Dylan, not Lennon, not nobody, not nohow. Maybe the new record will even be good. Maaaaaaaaaaaybe.
Leonard Cohen has spent the last two years globetrotting through a marathon tour, but when Rolling Stone caught up with the poet last night in New York — where he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame — he revealed he's working on a new album, his first disc of fresh material since 2004's Dear Heather. "God willing it will be finished next spring," he said.
"I'm producing it," he said, wearing his typical dapper black suit and fedora. The 75-year-old added that the disc will contain "10 or 11 songs," mostly composed before he hit the road in May 2008 for the first time in 15 years. "One song was written on tour, the rest were written before," he said, noting that he wrote some tracks with longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson and with his longtime companion Anjani. What will it sound like? "Something good, I hope."
Cohen said not much has changed on his playlist in recent years and rattled off a list of his favorite artists with long breathy pauses between names: "The same people — Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins."
Last year, Cohen debuted one new song live, the slow, moonlit blues "Feels So Good." This summer, Cohen embarks another leg of his tour, and in November he'll play Cambodia's Olympic Stadium with proceeds going to chartiable groups like the Cambodian Red Cross. "That's a long story," he said. "But if we can help there I'm very happy to be able to do it." Cohen's tour grossed $21 million in 2009 and earned stellar reviews. "I don't examine these things too closely," he said about his success on the road. "Otherwise they may evaporate."
At the ceremony, Cohen made a brief-but-spellbinding speech, said he was "overwhelmed" and then recited a stanza from his staple "Hallelujah." After the ceremony, fellow icons Paul Simon and Billy Joel made an early exit, but Cohen hung around his table, posing for photos and accepting accolades. When a couple forced electric guitar pickguards in his face, Cohen calmly told them, "You know I don't like signing these," but then signed them anyway.
It goes against everything I have ever believed in to even acknowledge the existence of the loathsome Perez Hilton and his loathsome blog in this tranquil environment. HOWEVER, the Miley Cyrus maybe not wearing underwear photo scandalasaurus is hard to miss, and there was one observation in EW's reportage that made me laugh right out loud, so I felt it was fair game (plus, the week began with another EW-based item, so, symmetry). I will now hit "Post" and go wash my hands with acid. Happy weekend, friends.
Perez Hilton appeared on HLN’sThe Joy Behar Show tonight to tell his side of the Miley Cyrus photo scandal. Dressed in a suit he apparently borrowed from the Riddler, Hilton took the moral high ground. Behar asked him if he had purposefully pixelated the photo to suggest the absence of undergarments. “I did not pixelate anything, I did not photoshop anything,” said the gossipmonger. “I can’t help it, Joy, if America has a very dirty imagination.”
Hilton was unapologetic. He refuted child pornography charges, and in the process offered the most curious defense I have ever heard: “I think it’s insulting to children to accuse that of child pornography.” He also insisted that he would do it all over again: “If the photo agency that took that photo let me [post it], I would. It’s not showing anything inappropriate.”
Listen, this controversy has become overblown. Hilton is right that most people are overreacting, “upset over an image they didn’t see.” But to me, his basic defense is beyond disturbing. He claimed that the photo isn’t any more inappropriate than any of the pop star’s recent spate of un-Disneylike activity: “grinding up on her 40-something year old director, pole dancing, all the oversexualized things she’s been doing.”
So, basically, a teenaged girl is dancing inappropriately and pretending to be a grown-up. (Horrors!) And that gives actual grown-ups license to do pretty much anything they want to with her? That’s like saying “She was asking for it.” PopWatchers, that’s just bullplop. Bullplop! (It doesn’t help that Perez kept on finding new ways to imply that the whole controversy is Cyrus’ fault, couched in weirdly inappropriate language: “Miley has been around the block.”)
Did any of you watch the Hilton interview, PopWatchers? Are you on Team Perez, Team Miley, or Team Who Taught These Two To Dress? I never thought I’d say this, but I think I’m with Joy Behar: maybe it’s not an invasion of her privacy, but we can all agree that it’s definitely an invasion of her private parts.
Perhaps you've heard the name Drake recently? If not, you must not be reading music blogs, because the Toronto-born hip-pop artist is being credited with messianic potential just about everywhere. Whether or not he can save the music biz (why would anyone want to do that?) remains to be seen. What he most assuredly can't do is play a free show in NYC on the day his record made its debut, because too many people (about 10 times too many) came out to celebrate. And violently destroy property.
Tuesday night, a riot broke out at free Drake concert in New York City, where the Toronto rapper was set to celebrate the release of his debut album, Thank Me Later. The NYPD shut down the show and used Mace to stop fights between patrons, who threw bottles and chairs.
Thousands of people began congregating for the gig -- sponsored by Paper magazine and also featuring Hanson and Ninjasonik -- at 3 P.M. By the time the gig was scheduled to start, at 8 P.M., a crowd of around 25,000 packed the city blocks near South Street Seaport's Pier 17.
There were no regulated entrances to control fans, resulting in extreme congestion. Trying to find breathing room, concertgoers scaled various kiosks and overhangs, and crowded balconies above the shops and restaurants on the north side of the Seaport, to the left of the stage.
Local punk-rap outfit Ninjasonik tried to soundcheck, but, as member Jahjah tells SPIN.com, "the kids were too rowdy. You can't integrate a free show when a guy's album is dropping and have 15 security there." Soon after, the melee started with ballcap-sporting youths fighting near the stage; the scuffling quickly escalated into a massive brawl. Beer and water bottles flew, striking people in the crowd and up on the balconies. People on the balconies retaliated by tossing down metal chairs.
Police armed with batons stormed the area and used Mace on concertgoers who refused to disperse. Two police helicopters circled overhead with spotlights on the scene.
"This is fucking crazy. I was seriously scared for my life," said one fan, fleeing the scene. "We just wanted to see Drizzy perform. That's it."
Numerous patrons were seen seeking treatment in ambulances. CBS reported that two arrests were made. One officer was overheard advising a girl standing solo to "find and stick with your friends. This place is full of gang members. Don't be a victim."
Immediately after the fracas, Drake issued a statement: "I am humbled by the crowd that showed up in support of my performance and the release of Thank Me Later. I love performing for my fans but unfortunately the show was canceled by the NYPD due to over crowding, leaving me without the chance to give my fans a real show. I'm thankful for the support that the fans have been giving me... I thank you now."
Drake also tweeted, writing, "I'm disappointed. The police told me to turn around," and later, "To all the devoted fans that came out I wish you could have seen what I had planned! Until next time."
Apparently that man onstage this summer claiming to be Paul McCartney as he sings “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude and “Helter Skelter” is Billy Shears and/or William Campbell after all (controlled by mysterious secret agent “Maxwell,” according to the new conspiracy theory).
Yes, more than 40 years after the “Paul is dead” rumors were debunked by McCartney’s appearance on the cover of Life Magazine, the rumor is revived – by tapes allegedly recorded by George Harrison before his death. A new DVD, entitled “Paul McCartney Really Is Dead – The Last Testament of George Harrison,” and its website, www.PaulReallyIsDead.com, are both an attempt to rehash (and re-cash) the rumor.
Wondering what Bonnaroo was like (other than hot and wet and miserable, like most festivals)? You could do a lot worse than to catch up on intrepid Entertainment Weekly music blog correspondentWhitney Pastorek's dispatches from the mud-baked front lines. She didn't see it all (no one could have), but she saw a lot, and wrote about it with a sense of humor and commitment that are weirdly rare commodities among music writers these days.
It was hot at Bonnaroo yesterday. (How hot was it?) It was so hot, I could have poached an organic free-range egg in my Nalgene bottle. It was so hot, the mice crawled out of Jamey Johnson’s beard, hoping to catch a breeze. It was so hot, They Might Be Giants only got halfway through “Particle Man” before he evaporated. I’ve got a million of ‘em, folks. Try the veal.
Bonnaroo is frequently a land where time has no meaning, where an hour can pass in a blink or an eternity depending on what you’re listening to and the quality of your footwear. While Friday’s 14-hour marathon was an experience I’d not trade — until you’ve watched an entire Kings of Leon set while standing in mud so thick you have to move your rain boots every couple of songs to be sure they don’t get stuck, I believe you have not yet lived — it’s possible that my compact, musically-mindblowing Saturday is the day of this year’s ‘Roo I’ll remember most.
Though I only saw six artists, there were moments in each set that lifted me out of my post-apocalyptic surroundings, transporting me on a cloud of endorphins to a happy place where puppies and kittens roamed, and beer was non-caloric and free. The blisters on my feet stopped screaming. The pain in my back subsided. The worker bee who lives in my head and is constantly telling me to keep moving keep working you’re not doing enough they’re gonna yell at you was silenced, and I was able to enjoy every one of the six acts as a straight-up fan of music who felt very lucky to be standing in her rain boots in that Tennessee field in that humid moment.
Back in 2004, Rolling Stone published its list of the 500 greatest songs of the rock and roll era. Six years on, they've updated the list, and as many have pointed out, you wouldn't really know what decade you're in from reading the top 20.
The first half of the list is below, the rest can be found here.
(P.S. I'd put number 500 a lot closer to number one, not that anyone asked what I would do...)
1. "Like a Rolling Stone" – Bob Dylan
2. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" – The Rolling Stones
3. "Imagine" – John Lennon
4. "What's Going On" – Marvin Gaye
5. "Respect" – Aretha Franklin
6. "Good Vibrations" – The Beach Boys
7. "Johnny B. Goode" – Chuck Berry
8. "Hey Jude" – The Beatles
9. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" – Nirvana
10. "What'd I Say" – Ray Charles
11. "My Generation" – The Who
12. "A Change Is Gonna Come" – Sam Cooke
13. "Yesterday" – The Beatles
14. "Blowin' in the Wind" – Bob Dylan
15. "London Calling" – The Clash
16. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" – The Beatles
17. "Purple Haze" – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
18. "Maybellene" – Chuck Berry
19. "Hound Dog" – Elvis Presley
20. "Let It Be" – The Beatles
21. "Born to Run" –Bruce Springsteen
22. "Be My Baby" – The Ronettes
23. "In My Life" – The Beatles
24. "People Get Ready" – The Impressions
25. "God Only Knows" – The Beach Boys
26. "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" – Otis Redding
27. "Layla" – Derek and The Dominos
28. "A Day in the Life" – The Beatles
29. "Help!" – The Beatles
30. "I Walk the Line" – Johnny Cash
31. "Stairway to Heaven" – Led Zeppelin
32. "Sympathy for the Devil" – The Rolling Stones
33. "River Deep – Mountain High" – Ike and Tina Turner
34. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" – The Righteous Brothers
35. "Light My Fire" – The Doors
36. "One" – U2
37. "No Woman, No Cry" – Bob Marley and The Wailers
38. "Gimme Shelter" – The Rolling Stones
39. "That'll Be the Day" – Buddy Holly and The Crickets
40. "Dancing in the Street" – Martha and The Vandellas
41. "The Weight" – The Band
42. "Waterloo Sunset" – The Kinks
43. "Tutti-Frutti" – Little Richard
44. "Georgia on My Mind" – Ray Charles
45. "Heartbreak Hotel" – Elvis Presley
46. "Heroes" – David Bowie
47. "All Along the Watchtower" – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
48. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" – Simon and Garfunkel
49. "Hotel California" – The Eagles
50. "The Tracks on My Tears" – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
51. "The Message" – Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
52. "When Doves Cry" – Prince
53. "When a Man Loves a Woman" – Percy Sledge
54. "Louie Louie" – The Kingsmen
55. "Long Tall Sally" – Little Richard
56. "Anarchy in the U.K" – The Sex Pistols
57. "Whiter Shade of Pale" – Procol Harum
58. "Billie Jean" – Michael Jackson
59. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" – Bob Dylan
60. "Let's Stay Together" – Al Green
61. "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" – Jerry Lee Lewis"
62. "Bo Diddley" – Bo Diddley
63. "For What It's Worth" – Buffalo Springfield
64. "She Loves You" – The Beatles
65. "Sunshine of Your Life" – Cream
66. "Redemption Song" – Bob Marley and The Wailers
67. "Jailhouse Rock" – Elvis Presley
68. "Tangled Up in Blue" – Bob Dylan
69. "Crying" – Roy Orbison
70. "Walk On By" – Dionne Warwick
71. "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" – James Brown
72. "California Girls" – The Beach Boys"
73. "Superstition" – Stevie Wonder
74. "Summertime Blues" – Eddie Cochran
75. "Whole Lotta Love" – Led Zeppelin
76. "Strawberry Fields Forever" – The Beatles
77. "Mystery Train" – Elvis Presley
78. "I Got You (I Feel Good)" –James Brown
79. "Mr. Tambourine Man" – The Byrds
80. "You Really Got Me" – The Kinks
81. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" – Marvin Gaye
82. "Blueberry Hill" – Fats Domino
83. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" – The Beatles
84. "Every Breath You Take" – The Police
85. "Crazy" – Patsy Cline
86. "Thunder Road" – Bruce Springsteen
87. "Ring of Fire" – Johnny Cash
88. "My Girl" – The Temptations
89. "California Dreamin'" – The Mamas and the Papas
90. "In the Still of the Night" – The Five Satins
91. "Suspicious Minds" – Elvis Presley
92. "Blitzkrieg Bop" – Ramones
93. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" – U2