, originally uploaded by Judy Green Art Photography.
The thrill of a lifetime for me… meeting and talking with Leonard Cohen. 12/12/10 Las Vegas, NV.
Gwen Langford of Ireland wrote and shared this wonderful account of the deeply intense experience of meeting Leonard Cohen.
“Sunday December 12th 2010, the date that showed me dreams can come true will be forever etched on my heart. Meeting Leonard Cohen and being able to thank him in person for the way he has enriched my life is something I will be eternally grateful for.
The road to actually meeting Leonard began on Friday December 9th when we were told by our new found friend Doug of the possible areas around Caesars Palace where we might meet Leonard. This local knowledge proved very useful over the days that followed. We spent hours on Friday before and after the concert trying to make this dream come true.
After sussing the entrance which Leonard would arrive and knowing the time, meant we were lucky enough to see him being driven in for the sound check. While we didn’t actually set eyes on him then once the driver exited the building I shouted at him to know had he just dropped off Leonard Cohen to which he confirmed he did. We kept looking and wishing for most of Friday and after both concerts on the Friday and Saturday night.
Having discovered the tower block in which the band and crew were staying after the concert on Saturday and while we didn’t meet Leonard then in which I’m pleased as I don’t think a casino is an adequate location to meet Leonard. However we were ecstatic to meet Dino Soldo and Hattie and Charley Webb where they all stopped to chat and sign my flag and pose for photos. This flag had travelled with me to the concert in Katowice Poland where I was lucky enough to stand at the front for the encores and display it for all the band and Leonard to see my message “Thank you Leonard and co for the magic and memories of Lissadell”.
Although I was a good bit back at the show on Saturday Dino had seen me waving the flag and pointed down at me and waved. He confirmed this when I met him. The Webb Sisters also confirmed that they had seen it as did many of the crew members we also spoke to. I had the longest conversation with Hattie on Saturday night and I told her how I had shaken her father’s hand in Poland and I also told her about how special a photo she had sent to our friend Gill who had given her and Charley a Unified Heart and how Gill was unable to be in Las Vegas but had helped me get there. She was very moved by this and I was very moved by how genuinely nice everyone we met was.
Shortly after this we met Ed Saunders who I thanked for looking after Leonard and asked him could he give me any info on departure. He told me while he didn’t know the location the time would be between 10am and 10.30am. This proved vital when we mixed it with Doug’s local knowledge the following morning.
Having all arrived nice and early Sunday morning Doug discovered where a lot of the crew were waiting so we gathered there to wait. We didn’t have long until Leonard exited the building wearing his trademark suit and hat with sunglasses and his guitar on his back. I had daydreamt about this scenario for so long that I instantly started shaking all over as I walked to where Leonard was standing and signing for Doug and Judy. I could hardly believe the one thing I had wanted to happen in the world more than anything was happening to me right at that moment. For me it wasn’t just about meeting Leonard, it was about thanking him personally for the massive effect he has had on my life. It is very hard for me to convey this in words but suffice to say the effect has being huge!
While I waited I prayed I wouldn’t say something stupid or start crying as I’m a very emotional person so didn’t want to ruin this one opportunity! Thankfully even though I was shaking like a leaf I did nothing I regret.
When Leonard turned to me I told him how special this moment was and how I was shaking he thanked me and told me I was ok. He kept telling all of us how kind we were to which we replied he was the kind one. People say you should never meet your heroes as they don’t live up to your expectations. This most certainly was not the case with Leonard. He was simply amazing and lived totally up to my expectations. He is a total gentleman among the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I had brought with me a lyrics book of Leonard’s songs and at the page for Hallelujah I had inserted my two concert tickets and a photo and a fridge magnet. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind signing one ticket and the lyrics of Hallelujah as it is my personal favourite song of his indeed my all time favourite song. Leonard being the total gentleman signed everything and when I asked him to sign the lyrics to me watching him write it was poetry in motion as he took great care over each letter.
When he finished this I showed him my flag at which he was very impressed. His first word was wow and he told me it was something else. After we posed for a photo with it where we both held it up I asked him to sign it and draw a Unified Heart on it. He said he would try as he isn’t very good at drawing! I told him he was and in any case he would be much better than me at drawing it!
While he was signing all my stuff I told him how much his music means to me and how it caresses my soul. He liked that comment telling me I was very kind. I also told him when I went to see him in Poland alone it was my first time out of Ireland and Las Vegas was my second. He was so kind and seemed touched by my words.
He then signed various bits and pieces for Mandy and Judy and spoke to them for a few minutes too where they shared their stories with him. I was very glad for the company I had while meeting Leonard. Both ladies are genuinely lovely people and helped make my Las Vegas journey a memorable one! Of course without Doug we would have never met him so I was very pleased for him too.
When Leonard was finished signing I asked him for a hug before he left to which he replied of course and he then hugged Mandy and Judy too. He then proceeded to walk away and not wanting to be a nuisance we followed at a respectable distance all the time trying to comprehend what had just happened! As he headed to the area where the buses were parked he would stop every now and then and wave back at us thanking us. We thanked him and told him we loved him.
Then Robert Kory walked out and came over to us. I begged him to help get Leonard back on tour after the album is recorded and to make sure to come to Ireland as we love Leonard and we know he loves Ireland. I told him he’d have few complaints if they did a tour of every venue in Ireland. He told me he always does as he is told and would do his best to make it happen. He then proceeded to walk over to Leonard and the two of them lay against a wall talking and looking to where we were and smiling.
Next for me was the most special moment of all. While we stayed where we were taking photos we trying to make sure we weren’t being to invasive. Suddenly Leonard started walking towards us! We could hardly believe our luck. As he approached us he told us again how kind we were. I’ve just wondered now as I type this did Robert tell him what I said. If so I thank him for this moment where Leonard voluntarily returned to talk to us.
While Mandy asked him to sign one more item I took the opportunity to tell Leonard about my Lissadell experiences. I told him about my first trip for my birthday and seeing the area where the concert was marked out and how special to then return for the concert and how amazing that was. I asked him how it felt for him to be playing there and he said it was something else. I then told him about mine and Mike Purcell’s trip across Ireland back to Lissadell for the unveiling of the plaque at where the tree had being planted in his honour by the forum, a Canadian Maple of course. I said how we stayed in the Pier Head Hotel and how at 12pm on his birthday we put the plaque at the tree. I described where the tree was planted and told him of our desire for him to return. He was visibly touched when I told him this story.
Mandy then told him she had being to see him in Moscow to which he replied it was a rough one. It pained us to think of the uncomfortable time he would have had there as Mandy described the regime to me.
I then asked Leonard could I have one final hug before he left which he obliged and this time we simultaneously kissed each other on the cheek. Now that is a moment which I will never forget. When he walked away this time I decided to go back into the hotel and I knew how generous Leonard had being to us and after he took the trouble to walk back to us I was deeply grateful.
On returning to the hotel we spotted Charley and Dino again and though Dino was busy I was able to share my experience with Charley. I quickly told her the Lissadell story and how much it meant to me. She was very impressed and so nice. I told her I had many photos of all the events on my FB page and I understood if she didn’t want a fan on her page she was welcome to add me for one day just to look at the photos. She was very moved by this and I was shocked to see my words made her eyes well up with tears!! She told me I was so kind, now where had I heard that before! This just overwhelmed me for to my eyes it is Leonard and his wonderful band members that are the kind people for giving us so much time and consideration.
I find it hard finding the right words to describe how much meeting Leonard means to me. This year has being an emotional rollercoaster and had someone told me earlier this year I’d be going to Poland and Las Vegas I’d have laughed at them. I do know one thing though Leonard and his music reaches a place deep inside me that no one else can. He really has enriched my life in more ways than I could ever have imagined. To finally meet him is a dream come true and it can only be described at the best moment of my life. As I wrote my review of the concerts on the flight home I listened to Leonard’s music and the instant Hallelujah came on I was overcome in convulsions of tears of actually have met Leonard and what had came with it. I can only describe this as the best moment of my life.”