50 years of Tenco: Leonard Cohen

50 years of Tenco: Leonard Cohen

2024 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Club Tenco, the largest Italian initiative dedicated to songwriting, of which Rockol is the official partner. As we approach this year's edition, we celebrate its history in ten episodes, drawing from its historic archive.

1978 was the fifth edition of the Tenco Prize, born from an idea by Amilcare Rambaldi. That year the Tenco prize was awarded to Leonard Cohen, and the prize for the cultural operator to Roberto Roversi, as can be explored in detail in the original 1978 issue of “Il Cantautore”, the annual monograph edited and published by Club Tenco

Leonard Norman Cohen was born in Westmont, Quebec, Canada, on 21 September 1934 into a family of Jewish origins. At the age of 17 he had his first musical experiences by forming a country & western trio, the Buckskin Boys, with some school friends. His first passion, however, was poetry and it was with this that he became known and appreciated internationally when, in 1961, the anthology “The spice box of earth” achieved widespread recognition. Shortly after, Cohen began a life of travel and travel that often took him to Europe; together with his partner Marianne Jensen and her son he decides to move to the Greek island of Hydra. Meanwhile, he published his first stories, the autobiographical “The favorite game” (1963) and “Beautiful losers” (1966), both enjoying great success with critics and the public. In 1967 he returned to North America and decided, at the age of 33, to make his professional debut in the world of song: that same year he participated in the Newport Folk Festival, where the legendary producer John Hammond (discoverer of Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and, later, by Bruce Springsteen) notices him and signs him with Columbia. At the end of the year THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN was released, the first LP containing classics such as “So long, Marianne”, “Sisters of mercy” and “Suzanne” (already known in the interpretation of various artists, including Judy Collins; in Italia is translated by Fabrizio De André). The subsequent SONGS FROM A ROOM (1969) and SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE (1971), which director Robert Altman used as the soundtrack for his western “The Comrades”, consolidated his fame as an original performer and an extraordinary author, widely plundered by the performers of the time as well as by those who followed (countless covers of titles such as “Bird on a wire”, “Story of Isaac”, “Joan of Arc” and “Famous blue raincoat”). NEW SKIN FOR THE OLD CEREMONY in 1973 marks a musical turning point by grafting orchestral sounds onto Cohen's usually spartan style; five years of silence followed, interrupted only by the publication of a “Greatest hits”: the awaited return, however, proved problematic and DEATH OF A LADIES' MAN, 1977, was disavowed by the author after the brilliant but eccentric producer Phil Spector excluded it completely from the final stages of processing, distorting the work's nature. In 1978 he was awarded the Tenco Prize.

Here is the complete biography of Leonard Cohen.

The 2024 Tenco Prize will take place from 17 to 19 October. Stay updated by following the official website of the event.


Photo: Club Tenco (author unknown)