The same day Leonard Cohen’s son announced a star-studded tribute concert to his father in Montreal, the Polaris Music Awards premiered a brand new animated video for the late legend’s “Leaving The Table” from his shortlisted album, You Want It Darker.
“When we were thinking about how best to represent and present this album, the first thing we thought of was the obvious and that was asking somebody to perform a cover,” Polaris founder Steve Jordan said onstage at Toronto’s The Carlu.
“Then we thought back to the Feist version of ‘Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye’ at the Junos and the odds of us creating something that great seemed very slim. So we approached our friends at Prism Prize, which is like the Polaris for music videos and their suggestion was to make an animated video.”
He added that director Christopher Mills “jumped at the chance” and Sony Music “agreed to produce it.”
The resulting video is a whimsical montage of the distinguished gentleman flying — or make that gliding — effortlessly above, even pausing to sit down at an old typewriter.
“The idea kinda came from the ‘lightness’ that I imagined Mr. Cohen would be feeling right about now,” Mills tells Billboard in a private exchange on social media after the Polaris Music Prize was over.
“I really loved thinking about him celebrating this new journey by dancing around in the clouds, and visiting his old haunts, playing around with all the weird and cool stuff you could probably do, once you ‘cross over’ into another plane.
“It just kind of made me warm inside to take this song, which could be about passing on to another place, and figuring out what it could look like in a world of lightness, new adventures, and whatever great memory you could come up with.
“I mean – I’d watch that channel…”
As for the process of making the music video, which has an antique look, Mills explained, “I really wanted it all to come from painting and collage.
“Hand painted a number of the sets, pieces, and characters, but then also went and shot some stuff that I knew I wanted to paste into the scenes. I have this place I love going to at the AGO [Art Gallery of Ontario], where it’s just above the tree-line there, and I always thought about how cool it’d be to get a hover-belt or something, and do a whole dance routine.
‘I probably watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon like 300 times or something….I love the idea of effortlessly touching the leaves with the soles of your feet.”
Cohen’s You Want It Darker, which was awarded album of the year at the Juno Awards earlier this year, did not receive the same honor from the Polaris Music Prize (Lido Pimienta’s La Papessa won), but earlier that day, which happens to be Adam’s birthday, the Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen was announced.
The tribute, to be held in his hometown of Montreal on Nov. 6, is co-produced by Adam and noted producer Hal Willner, and will be attended by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec. The lineup includes Elvis Costello, Lana Del Rey, Feist, Philip Glass, k.d. lang, The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, Damien Rice, Sting, Patrick Watson, and Adam Cohen. Additional artists, as well as actors paying homage through spoken word performances, will be announced shortly.
“My father left me with a list of instructions before he passed: ‘Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event, do it in Montreal,’” Adam Cohen said in a statement. “I see this concert as a fulfillment of my duties to my father that we gather in Montreal to ring the bells that still can ring.”
Evenko, Rubin Fogel Productions and Live Nation/Robomagic are co-promoting the show and it will be filmed for an upcoming special by Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning director Jack Bender (Game of Thrones, Lost, The Sopranos, Mr. Mercedes).
Watch the clip below.