I bet you aren’t too familiar with this UK guy. One of my most fave under-appreciated male singers with his velvet fog, brooding and baritone, whisky-soaked voice: Liam McKahey.
McKahey first caught my attention when he was fronting the pop noir band Costeau in early 2000. Love at first listen. That voice, so deep and dark. Reminds me of Nick Cave. But a bit more harmonious.
McKahey released his first solo album, Lonely Road, in 2009 as Liam McKahey and the Bodies, followed by Black Vinyl Heart in 2014. McKahey subsequently regrouped with Costeau’s main songwriter & producer Dave Ray Moor in 2016, returning as CosteauX.
He masterfully covers the famous song “So Long, Marianne” here. Liam McKahey is the epitome of a British gentleman.
“So Long, Marianne” is written by Leonard Cohen, featured on his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen.
The song was inspired by Marianne Jensen, whom Cohen met on the Greek Island of Hydra in 1960. She had recently been left by her husband, the Norwegian writer Axel Jensen, leaving her and their six-month-old son alone on the island. The two hit it off, and Cohen ultimately took her from Hydra back to her home in Oslo, Norway. He later invited her and her son to live with him in Montreal, an offer which she accepted.
Cohen dedicated his third volume of poetry, Flowers for Hitler, to her, and she directly inspired many of his other songs and poems. A photo of her appears on the back of his second album, Songs from a Room.
Marianne then died in hospital in Oslo on 28 July 2016, aged 81. Cohen wrote to her shortly before her death, saying:
“I’m just a little behind you, close to take your hand
I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty, but you know that
Safe travels old friend, see you down the road, love and gratitude”
Cohen died three months later.
So long, Marianne. Thank you for the beautiful song, Cohen. Cheers to your gravelly voice, McKahey.
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Featured image via Stephen Emmer.