Released: November 2019
Leonard Cohen has been a companion since I was a student. I have always loved his sardonic humour, his deft poetry, his wry melancholy and his way with melody, and I've played his songs all my life.
So when someone suggested that I dedicate an album to his music, I didn't hesitate. It took me a LOT longer than I had imagined, because I wanted it to be as perfect as I could make it.
I am indebted to Michel 'Coco' Correch, whose inventive double bass adorns Anthem & Hallelujah, to Judy Blair for the swirling Hammond organ and background vocals on Hallelujah, to Sophie Celdran for her wonderful harmonies on Hallelujah and to Albert Casas for transforming One of Us Cannot be Wrong with his duelling saxophones.
The arrangements are my own; Cohen's genius is his.
Dance Me To The End Of Love - You don't have to know that the song was inspired by a photograph that Cohen saw in his youth of an orchestra in a Holocaust death camp - but it certainly adds a different perspective ....
Famous Blue Raincoat - Written in the form of a letter, with an obscure Scientology reference (To Go Clear is to rid oneself of all negativity), this haunting song at once reveals the depth of Leonard Cohen's spirituality and of his generosity. Interestingly he declared that he had always found the lyrics too cryptic.
Suzanne - Cohen's most popular song ever - and one of the first he ever recorded. A song about faith - and ironically, if Cohen had not had faith in his record company, he would not have been denied his royalties. He never made a dime from Suzanne, having signed what they termed a standard songwriter's contract.
If It Be Your Will - Cohen referred to this song as a murmured prayer. I have kept its reverent tone. The accompaniment starts with just the guitar and then blossoms with vaguely churchy organ, violins and a cello. My thanks to the EastWest orchestra!
Take This Longing - This is the first song on the album about Nico, the iconic singer with Lou Reed's Velvet Underground in the 60's. A perfect distillation of desire, of unrequited passion. I make no apologies for the throbbing cellos.
Everybody Knows - Cohen had already recorded the definitive 4/4 version of this sombre analysis of the human condition, so I decided to see how it sounded to a reggae beat. One has to admire the accuracy of Cohen's prophetic vision ...
Chelsea Hotel #2 - I decided on a very simple treatment of this lovely song - just one guitar, a touch of bass - and a hint of synth in the instrumental section. I set it to slightly more jazzy chords than Cohen used.
Stories Of The Street - This is not a Cohen song that you hear as often as the others on his first album. I included it on mine because I love the lyrics and admire the tune. It's a brilliant evocation of the contradictions we all have to resolve. I underscored the shimmering guitars with resonant cellos.
Hallelujah - How could I not include this iconic song on the album? I sing the verses Cohen chose for his later concerts. With Judy Blair on the swirling Hammond organ and harmony vocals, Michel 'Coco' Correch on double-bass and Sophie Celdran on vocal harmonies.
One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong - The second song on the album about Nico, this one showcases Cohen's gift for wry humour. With the magnificent soaring saxophone of Albert Casas.
Bird On The Wire - Just me, two guitars and a bit of bass. This track originally featured on my Who Knows Where The Time Goes? album.
Anthem - This exquisite song opens to a gently undulating beat and soars to a dramatic orchestral climax. The revelation that imperfection provides illumination is profound. With Michel 'Coco' Correch on double-bass.
The Window - There are so many great lines in this, one of Cohen's most religious songs. So let us 'bless the continuous stutter of the word being made into flesh'. The arrangement starts very soft and gradually builds in intensity.
Hey, Thats No Way To Say Goodbye - The album closes with this early tune of Leonard's, which becomes somehow elegaic.
A growing number of music sites allow you to stream my songs in their entirety. If you are an Amazon Music subscriber, for example, you can ask Alexa to Stream Michel Griffin music. Spotify offers a service where you can stream my songs for free. Here are links to some of the streaming services where you can play Dance Me To The End Of Love:
This is just a selection. If your favourite streaming platform is not listed above, try going there and searching for Michel Griffin - chances are, my music will be there. And if you want to buy the album, just click on one of the buttons below!
"Respectful of the originals while offering his own take on these true-blue American classics, Michel Griffin's Feel my Love: Bob Dylan's Finest Lovesongs simply stuns." - Skope Magazine
"Michel's voice - all velvet & smoke - brings new life to the familiar lyrics ... with such feeling it'll give you goosebumps."- Music- News.com
"Griffin manages to capture Dylan's spirit and personality, and more generally the feeling of the 1960s folk music scene, through his elegiac, romantic delivery and dexterous acoustic guitar picking."- The Big TakeOver
"I have rarely heard an album that provides such a compelling combination of poetic and musical pleasures." - CD Baby
"The multi-talented Michel Griffin just gets better and better.." - CD Baby
"I can't say enough good about the album Russian Dolls" - CD Baby
˜This is one of those rare albums where the lyrics are as good as the melodies. Griffin combines the dexterity of James Taylor's guitar work with the genius of Bob Dylan's poetry. - CD Baby
Michel weaves his magic like an artist on canvas, with inspired lyrics set to haunting melodies that reach deep into your soul. - CD Baby
˜Michel's talent lies not just in his musical prowess but in the eloquence and poignancy of his lyrics." - CD Baby