by Elizabeth Bacon-Smith

Henning Franz (Germany)

Song list:

1. Brighter than our sun (1)
2. Aren't you tired ? (2)
3. The Genius (1)
4. Story (3)
5. Crime against love (2)
6. A kite is a victim (1)
7. Snow is falling (4)
8. Prayer for Messiah (3)
9. Prayer (2)

1 = The Spice-box of earth
2 = Energy of slaves
3 = Let us compare mythologies
4 = Parasites of heaven

Henning Franz ~ Performer at ‘First We Take Manhattan’ in 2004; and Event coordinator of ‘Next We Take Berlin’ in 2006. One of the ‘old ranks’ on the Cohen Files and Newsgroup, much admired, unpretentious, and well loved; Henning is known by many to be an extremely nice and honest fellow. A true friend. I was already looking forward to meeting this man, after last year, when he swiftly granted my request for a deeply-important, personal favour.

Now, in New York, here was Henning, originator of the cd “Songs from ‘The Energy of Slaves’,” the ambitious and extremely well-executed project of adapting Leonard’s poems into song; creating the original melodies with his own voice and guitar. With an essential level of confidence and understanding, Henning brings his even deeper measure of honour to Leonard, by undertaking the same painstaking process, as though the poems are his own; and with such great ownership and dedication that the results are each, stand-alone tributes. All expectations exceeded! Understood all-round to be his unique labour of love.

--- Henning Franz is from Haiger in Germany. He was born in 1958 and has been married to Elke since 1984. Henning works as a programmer in the logistics business, and has been a Cohen fan since 1975. In the year 2000, he began to create music to Leonard's poems, which resulted in a home made CDR compilation called Songs from Energy of Slaves. Visit Henning's website Tea And Oranges

Jan Erik Lundqvist (Sweden)

1. Famous blue raincoat
2. That’s no way to say goodbye
3. Bird on a wire
4. Chelsea Hotel # 2
5. Hallelujah
6. Take this waltz
7. Be for real

Jan Erik Lundqvist lives with his wife Caisa in Mölndal, Sweden. He has had many spectacular roles as an actor (God, Saddam Hussein, pirate in Peter Pan, Tevje in Fiddler on the roof). Jan Erik started his first group UNICUM in 1995, and he has released several albums, also a tribute CD of Leonard Cohen's songs. His other hobbies include classic cars (he owns a 1961 Jaguar Mk2 2.4) and summer cottage in Oland.
Jan-Erik Lundqvist, with great stage presence, and looking like the seasoned professional he is, began to perform. Sitting on a chair, comfortable with his guitar, and confident in voice, he surely could have played and sung forever. An accomplished musician, his self-accompaniment was excellent and complex. I consider myself fortunate to already have him on cd, and had particularly looked forward to hearing him in person. Hearing Leonard’s songs in a language one doesn’t understand adds a whole new level of appreciation. With Jan-Erik, the language is Swedish. Between the depth and the beauty in his voice, and the exotic sound of the unfamiliar words, new dimensions are added like the layering of oils on a fine masterpiece.

Considered “handsome” by more than one woman at the Event, he sounded amazingly seductive, singing slowly in Swedish; like a crooner from an earlier music style, as well as an emissary for today, revealing how exquisitely Leonard translates into the native tongues of other lands.

Learning that Jan-Erik played Tevje in a Swedish production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ resonated with my impression of his renderings being like fine, olde world wine, his presentation full-bodied with flair. It’s unfair to suggest ‘favourites,’ but his renditions of “Hallelujah” and “Take This Waltz” were outstandingly rich. He brought to this Event the magic and intrigue that come with expert, other-language covers of Leonard’s songs. Listening to him, I understood how people from other lands fall in love with the world of Leonard Cohen before they’ve understood a single word.

Zachary Oberzan (New York)

1. Minute prologue
2. The Future
3. The night comes on
4. Amelia Earhart
5. Love Itself
6. Don’t go home with your hard-on
7. Closing time

Zachary Oberzan, singer/songwriter/ actor/director, is originally from Maine but now lives in New York City. He has performed off-Broadway, in film and tv, and has directed a decidedly Cohen-influenced production of Beckett's Endgame for regional theater. Zachary has released two albums of original material: Songs of Straw and Gold and Mighty Above All Things. For more visit

I want to thank you all for having me perform at the Cohen Event. It was a great pleasure for me to play the songs that I love for an audience who shared that love. The whole event was quite a memorable experience, and I'm very happy and proud to have been a small part of it. I hope I'll be able to join you in Berlin.
Yours, Zachary

Zachary Oberzan ~ What a name; and he comes by it naturally. With a degree in theatre from Dartmouth, he stands composed and elegant onstage. An unassuming, quiet, and thoughtful man, when Zachary played his guitar and sang at the International House; at open mic; and at The West End pub; his refined, reflective, and focused nature carried through into his performing. Whether he played intensely or gently, it was always attentively ~ never by rote ~ in his rendering of the instrumentation and lyrics of Leonard's songs; as well as with "Amelia Earhart," the insightful and accomplished song of his own writing.

Modest and self-effacing in his manner and humour, his humble and unassuming responses to people's compliments often came with a look of surprize, preceding a lift in his voice, with his "Oh really!?! Thank you!" Sincere and genuinely grateful for the positive feedback he receives, he's the kind of performer it's gratifying to compliment. He can be, in equal measure, earthy, as well, in response to praise, where the quality of the songs themselves gets highlighted. When Teratogen thanked him for choosing to perform the songs he did, he said, "Yeah, those songs are so fucking underrated."

At The West End, toward close of the night, people stopped talking to listen, when the lightness of his guitar, clarity of voice, and perfect diction, merged with his intentional, unique pacing of "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye," to absolutely make it his own. Many expressed their delight in meeting him. Zack’s two cds also capture his unique perspectives encased in his intriguing, intense, and highly-imaginative lyrics. Zachary's gentle kind of class lent a very special and pleasant timbre to the Event.

Suzanne Holland (South Africa / California)

1. If it be your will
2. Who by fire
3. The traitor
4. Seems solong ago, Nancy
5. Priests
6. Suzanne
7. The gypsy's wife (with Henning)
8. Joan of Arc (with Henning)

Suzanne Holland was born in South Africa. She worked first for the South African military teaching Afrikaans and English but got bored with the job and started a new career as street singer in 1984. An African song about a witch doctor and Suzanne were the first songs she sang at a Cape Town flea market. In 1988 she moved to the USA, and since then she has been singing at various farmer's markets in the Bay area in California. She lives with her companion Michael Epstein, and is well-known for her amazing skills in numerous languages and sounds.
Suzanne Holland, especially for those of my generation who lived through those times, effortlessly embodies and generates warm memories of the ‘Flower children,’ the Rainbow Family, and the early days of Cohen. She is authentic, both as a reminder of that era, and as a person. A completely sincere woman, she is someone who truly appreciates the real beauty in life, the smell of vanilla in someone‘s hair; the sound a squirrel makes. Though herself unseeing, with what we call ‘eyesight,’ her spirit exudes the sensitivity and mystical spirituality, associated with her Sixties personae. A great visual for us, with her vivid, long dresses; sleek, flowing hair; ‘statement‘ pieces of jewelry adorning her body; and beatifical, loving expression, knows how to dress with the look that best suits her. I had heard so much about her, and then there she was, both sounding and looking glorious, her fluidity of ‘being’ repeated in the flow and lilt of her waltz-like music and voice.

Beginning with her Friday-night opening performance of ‘The Guests,’ [standing strong, confident, and proud to be herself], I admired her clear and crisp playing of her 12-string guitar, and was struck by her strong, pure, accented voice. At open mic, she commented on the beautiful melody of ‘The Traitor,’ another one of those songs Zachary considers so [ahem ~ ‘likewise‘] underrated. Listening to her “Suzanne,“ I returned to the first time, the first song, I ever heard Leonard sing. From the oft-cited favourite of many Cohen fans, “If It Be Your Will” through her duets with Henning on the lament of “The Gypsy’s Wife” and “Joan of Arc,” Suzanne imparts to her listeners the joy to be found in Leonard’s stunning lyrics and melodies. Her gifting to me, of her “Sisters of Mercy” cd, will remain for me the treasure of a precious memory.

Photos © 2004 Vern Silver (Henning, Jan Erik)
Thelma Blitz (Suzanne)
Jarkko Arjatsalo (Zachary)

Reviews © 2004 Elizabeth Bacon-Smith