Watch David Gilmour and Family Cover Leonard Cohen Classics - Rolling Stone
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Watch David Gilmour and Family Cover Leonard Cohen Classics

Pink Floyd guitarist performed “Bird on a Wire” and “So Long, Marianne” to celebrate his wife’s new book

Polly Samson — wife of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and his long-time co-lyricist — originally planned on promoting her new novel Theater for Dreamers with a large public event at Central Hall Westminster in London this week.

When coronavirus shut-in orders made that impossible, she set up a livestream event in which she spoke about the book and occasionally paused so Gilmour could play some Leonard Cohen songs. (Fast-forward to 7:46 for “Bird on the Wire” and 30:08 for “So Long Marianne.”)

Gilmour went with Cohen tunes since Theater for Dreamers takes place on the Greek island of Hydra in the Sixties, which is where the songwriter lived during that time. He’s even a character in the book.

“Bird on the Wire” was partially written in Hydra and “So Long, Marianne” is about his relationship with long-time romantic partner Marianne Ihlen. They met on Hydra and lived there for a number of years. The 2019 Nick Broomfield documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love chronicles their tumultuous love affair.

On the webcast, Gilmour and Samson were joined by their children and other members of their family on a set designed to look like a cafe in Hydra — down to the candles, wine glasses and a basket of oranges. Their daughter Romany joins in on harmony vocals during both songs.

Earlier Wednesday, Samson announced plans for another livestream tomorrow at 3:00 pm ET. She also posted a brief Instagram video of David Gilmour strumming along to a recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” a possible preview of the song he plans on playing.

Gilmour has kept a very low profile since the conclusion of his Rattle That Lock world tour in 2016. Last year, he sold many of his guitars at a charity auction that netted more than $20 million. In September 2019, Roger Waters told Rolling Stone that he met up with Gilmour in June of that year. The two have been estranged from each other for many years.

“We had a big meeting where I came up with a big peace plan that has come to nothing, sadly,” Waters said. “I bet all Pink Floyd fans are sorry to hear that. They all hoped that we could kiss and make up and everything would be wonderful in a cozy, wonderful world…Anyway, let’s not go there any further. I’ve said more than I should.”

Gilmour has yet to comment on the “big peace plan.”

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