Songwriters Hall Of Fame 2006

Leonard Cohen

Songwriters Hall Of Fame 5 Feb. 2006

45:38; DVD12; Leonard Cohen ceremony 31:03 MP4 664M

Rufus Wainwright - Everybody Knows
Willie Nelson - Bird on a Wire
Adrienne Clarkson
Leonard Cohen Accepting
k.d. lang - Hallelujah

Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press Published: Sunday, February 05, 2006

TORONTO (CP) - His lower lip quivering, poet Leonard Cohen could not hide his emotion Sunday as he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame with stirring performances by country stars Willie Nelson and k.d. lang.

Tears dropped from Cohen's wide-open eyes as he took the stage to accept the honour, clearly overwhelmed by the video montage highlighting his lengthy career and worldwide influence. "If I knew where the good songs came from, I'd go there more often," said Cohen, drawing laughter from the audience just as the mood threatened to tilt to the sombre.

"So it is that we shuffle behind our songs into the hall of fame - shuffle awkwardly, not quite believing that we wrote them but happy that you do."

"You have been so good to me over the years, my heart is full of gratitude."

The public appearance was a bit of a rarity for the 71-year-old Cohen, a devoted Buddhist known nearly as much for his quiet modesty as his incredible songwriting.

Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson lauded Cohen for changing lives "with the complexities of his sadness, the breadth of his love" in songs such as Suzanne and Bird on the Wire.

"He gets inside your brain, your heart, your lungs - you remember him, you feel him, you breathe him," Clarkson said.

"He is our connection to the meaning of ecstasy, our access to another world we suspected existed, but which he puts into song."

The third-annual gala also honoured country sweetheart Anne Murray, who was bestowed with the legacy award for her interpretation of defining Canadian classics such as Snowbird.

Pop star Bryan Adams, previous inductee Gordon Lightfoot and folk singer Bruce Cockburn praised Murray's unique voice and heartwarming style for bringing their compositions to life.

Murray smiled broadly as she took to the stage to a standing ovation.

"It's a real honour to receive this legacy award from the songwriters who have... been the backbone of my career," said Murray, who has garnered 21 Juno awards and four Grammys over a 35-year career.

"Over the years, I have recorded the equivalent of eight albums, 80 songs written by Canadians, and I am grateful to finally have the opportunity to say thank you to all of you."

Backed by the Faith Chorale, R&B singer Jully Black brought audience members to their feet with a rousing rendition of Murray's Your Hand in the Hand.

Nelson, meanwhile, took on Cohen's Bird on the Wire, while pop singer Rufus Wainwright sang Everybody Knows. A barefoot lang closed the evening with a soaring Hallelujah.

Not all of the performances were as successful.

One awkward musical collaboration featured singer-songwriter Andy Kim, made to mesh his inducted song, Sugar, Sugar, with the reggae sounds of chart darlings Bedouin Soundclash, the trippy Esthero and an unfocused children's choir.

Five songwriters, 26 songs and three Legacy Award recipients were honoured Sunday, including big-band artist Carmen Lombardo (younger brother of Guy), record-industry pioneer Herbert Samuel Berliner, composer and lyricist Lionel Daunais and early jazz master William Eckstein.

© The Canadian Press 2006