Fascinating, Eerie, Unique: Granville Automatic’s New “Leonard Cohen”

Jeff Suwak
Feb 27 · 4 min read
Granville Automatic’s new “Leonard Cohen” is on sale everywhere, including at Amazon where I borrowed this image from.

Granville Automatic is one of the most unique music acts working today.

I don’t mean unique in that vapid, sensationalistic way that has become so common today that it’s not even unique anymore (face tattoos, sex tapes, shirts made out of bologna). I mean unique in a substantive, intellectually stimulating way. Unique with integrity and depth.

Granville’s songs dive deep into history to bring people’s stories to life with poetry and emotion. Not too long ago I interviewed them about their album Tiny Televisions, which tells tales of the history of Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee.

I’m the sort of guy who likes to sit down with music and think about it. If that’s the sort of guy or gal that you are, you’ll likely feel the same about Granville.

According to Intertique, the Triumph was birthed in 1901, springing out of the Spring Motor Phonograph. It sold for around $50, which would be around $1,500 today (according to this inflation calculator).

This image was shared on the “Leonard Cohen” release email that the band shared with their subscribers. Image belongs to Granville Automatic.

The Triumph gives Granville’s song an eerie, haunting feel. It makes me think of a ghost serenading a lost lover, or a song springing to life on a broken radio in the attic of an abandoned house.

It’s an interesting effect, whatever that feeling is, and it works beautifully with Vanessa Olivarez’s vocals, especially when she hits her highs.

Then, of course, there’s that whole Leonard Cohen angle and the picture of the old cabin on the cover, black and white reminder of Time, Old Creeper, always out there lurking, choking our favorite spaces with weeds, rusting our lives, turning our best days into memories that will someday be unremembered.

For all its corrosiveness, though, there’s something magical about the past. There’s a force of life in it, one that’s hard to describe, but one that’s undeniable and one that some of us seem particularly sensitive to.

It’s mostly melancholy, I guess, that magic of the past, of history, of Time, but aren’t most beautiful things melancholic? All of them? I don’t know why that would be, but it seems to be true.

Maybe beauty is a tradeoff for melancholia— or maybe melancholia is the price we pay for beauty. Some strange cosmic law binding the two together.

Hell, I don’t know.

I also don’t know how, exactly, to describe the feeling I get when staring into history, but it’s something warm in a sweet, sad way, and “Leonard Cohen” has it in spades.

Leonard Cohen the man sure as hell had that sad, wizened beauty, too.

According to Granville Automatic’s press release, they wrote the song about a late 1960s period when Cohen lived in a cabin in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, which is about forty minutes south of Nashville.

I don’t know if you can tell
This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel
This is you trying to get well
No news in the evening mail
Writing words that ain’t for sale
And when the darkness falls on these hills
You’ll be thinking about some other town…
— lyrics from “Leonard Cohen” by Granville Automatic

I’m a Cohen fan but had never heard of this part of his life, so I took to reading about it. As it turns out, it was at that cabin where he wrote “Bird on a Wire,” which happens to have my single favorite lyric ever penned.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
— lyrics from “Bird on a Wire,” by Leonard Cohen

Nashville’s WPLN has an excellent piece on Cohen’s time at the cabin. I’ve left a link to it at the end of this piece.

Enough Rambling, Jeff, Give us the Damn Song

Yea, yea, I know. Hard for me to shut my mouth.

I just dig this song. A lot.

It makes me miss everything and nothing in particular, all at once. It’s my favorite of Granville’s thus far.

Check it out.


Scavenger exists to bring you pretty things from the far-flung shipwrecked corners of the sea.

Sign up for Scavenger

By Scavenger

Scavenger crawls the shipwrecked depths of the sea to bring you interesting books, music, and film Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium