Gail Roseman is a very formidable businesswoman. She was the president of the Queens Economic Development Corporation and was the first female chairperson of the Long Island City Business Development Corporation.
What is less known about Roseman is that she also sees herself as the city’s definitive Leonard Cohen fan. The tough real estate broker is touched by the poet and singer−songwriter’s sensitivity and “deep, dark effort to grasp the meaning of life.”
“I had a very difficult upbringing. I felt very alone,” said Roseman. “Listening to him, you get the understanding that there was someone who also had a path that was complex and introspective.”
But Roseman would not be alone in vying for the title of Cohen’s consummate admirer — in Queens or virtually anywhere else.
After 15 years without touring, Cohen is in the midst of a multi−continent tour that has already sold out shows in such diverse places as Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; Brisbane, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Bucharest, Romania; and an assortment of North American towns ranging from Austin to Calgary, Ottawa to Oakland, and of course, Montreal, his hometown.
The 74−year−old chanteur and his highly lauded nine−piece band will do more than 30 shows in Europe this summer and early fall.
One Web site dedicated to Cohen estimates that 80 of his more than 100 shows so far have received five−star ratings from music critics.
Cohen’s first show in New York City in a decade and a half was at the newly refurbished Beacon Theatre on Feb. 19. Then in May he sold out two shows at the ornate, 6,000−seat Radio City Music Hall. All three shows were lauded by critics, lifelong devotees and the newly initiated, including many fans from Queens.
“I loved it. The songs seem simple and yet they’re so deep at the same time,” said Earl Douglas, a Forest Hills resident, following the first Radio City show.
A career radio producer and now an aspiring writer, Douglas was attracted to Cohen’s music when he heard two of his songs in the film “Natural Born Killers,” and heard Don Henley sing Cohen’s “Democracy” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
He calls one of his favorite Cohen tunes, “The Future,” apocalyptic. “The country was in comparatively good shape when he wrote it,” said Douglas. “He was pretty much ahead of the curve.”
?Things are going to slide in all directions
Won’t be nothing
Nothing you can measure any more
The blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul
When they said REPENT
I wonder what they meant.”
Chelsea Sheridan of Sunnyside first heard the Cohen classic “Chelsea Hotel,” when a friend played it in their college dormitory. She was drawn to the song not only because it contained her name, but also because her father Michael’s affinity for 1960s and soul music.
Chelsea, 26, sent her father, who is in his 60s, a homemade CD of Cohen’s music and reintroduced him to a singer whose work he appreciated decades earlier.
Papa Sheridan was hooked and made a point of seeing Cohen concerts in London and the Canadian prairies. When he learned about the Radio City shows, he made sure his beloved daughter had orchestra seats.
“You know what else I didn’t expect was how dapper he looked on stage, how beautiful he looked with his suit and his hat, and the women looked beautiful, too,” said Sheridan, herself a bit of a throwback, an old soul.
She thinks that Cohen has plenty of fans in their 20s.
“As the older generations get older, I am appreciative of Leonard Cohen for giving something to connect with my father on that deeper level.”
“I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you prefer handsome men,
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said “Well, never mind,
we are ugly, but we have the music.”
Tricia Curran Whiteman of Douglaston also has a family connection to Cohen’s music. More of a New Wave fan in her own musical tastes, she gained an appreciation for Cohen from her husband Jim, whom she accompanied to the Music Hall show.
“I know this kind of music is very important to him, so as his life partner I want to get to know it too,” said Curran Whiteman. “We give to each other — he bought me tickets to see Madonna.”
Her tastes in Cohen’s music tend toward songs slightly later in his career, like “I’m Your Man.”
“I like it when his voice sounds deeper and richer,” she said. Getting a bit older herself has allowed her to appreciate an artist like Cohen, she said.
“He talks a lot about the foibles of people,” she said. “As you get older you realize your frailties.”
“The moon’s too bright
the chain’s too tight
the beast won’t go to sleep
I’ve been running through
these promises to you
that I made and I could not keep.
But a man never got a woman back
not by begging on his knees
or I’d crawl to you baby
and I’d fall at your feet
and I’d howl at your
beauty like a dog in heat
and I’d claw at your hear
and I’d tear at your sheet
I’d say please
I’m your man”
“I’m Your Man”
“I’m Your Man” is also one of Gail Roseman’s favorite Cohen songs.
“It could have been written the other way around, too, about a woman to a man,” she said. “To me, it’s about the deepest form of love and self−sacrifice.”
©2009 Community News Group
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