When Leonard Cohen and Julie Felix duetted on ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’
The late Leonard Cohen wrote some of the most beautiful songs that have ever been penned. His song ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ is one of Cohen’s most beautiful tracks. While on record the song is a shining moment of Cohen’s talent, that talent is elevated to another level with the assistance of the late Julie Felix’s dulcet tones.
The two folk singers, Felix and Cohen, had a great friendship which spanned around half a century. Dating back to when they both coincidentally lived on the bohemian Greek island of Hydra in the early 60s. Hydra was an artists utopia that attracted some of the world’s most fascinating creative minds and helped form the likes of Cohen & Felix into the artists that they would go on to become.
Cohen famously described the island as being essentially a slice of heaven in the Mediterranean: “There is nowhere in the world where you can live like you can in Hydra, and that includes Hydra.” Felix decided to head there in the early 60s after hearing about its magical nature from friends who had made the voyage to begin a new life there.
“It was full of creative and eccentric people,” she said to The Guardian in 2018 two years before her death: “There was a young poet from Canada there whose name was Leonard Cohen. He used to borrow my guitar and sing union songs because he wasn’t really writing songs back then. I would sing in bars for free drinks.”
Felix’s friendship with Cohen would never dwindle as the years passed, she gave him his. They sang together and he appeared on her TV show which is where they performed this rendition of ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’. Felix said: “Years would go by but we were always talking and emailing. Leonard had a way of choosing his words so carefully. He was never afraid to go to deep, dark places and that’s why people liked him, without even knowing that was what they liked.”
Cohen was shown the footage of their duet from the late 60s on her TV show of ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ when he appeared on Later with Jools Holland back in 1993. Immediately a smile beamed across his face as he reminisced on those days and revealed he had never seen that clip before and recalled that it was his first-ever TV appearance in Britain.
‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’, Cohen was on record as stating that: “This song arises from an overused bed in the Penn Terminal Hotel in 1966. The room is too hot. I can’t open the windows. I am in the midst of a bitter quarrel with a blonde woman. The song is half-written in pencil but it protects us as we manoeuvre, each of us, for unconditional victory. I am in the wrong room. I am with the wrong woman.”
There is a tangible chemistry between Cohen and Felix that make the song feel even more supreme when the latter lends her voice to the track because her presence also gives the track an edge that the original version is somewhat missing, devour the footage below.