Author Topic: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.  (Read 1649 times)

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The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« on: March 23, 2018, 03:26:27 PM »
Reckon he deserves his own thread, additional to the one he had when he died in 2016. Discuss the great man and what he mean to you, etc. It's a Leonard Cohen thread, the parameters are clear.

I'll start by listing two of my favourites, full lyrics that pass as quite perfect poetry.

Avalanche
https://youtu.be/SQe88ybEIe8

Well I stepped into an avalanche,
It covered up my soul;
When I am not this hunchback that you see,
I sleep beneath the golden hill.
You who wish to conquer pain,
You must learn, learn to serve me well.
You strike my side by accident
As you go down for your gold.
The cripple here that you clothe and feed
Is neither starved nor cold;
He does not ask for your company,
Not at the centre, the centre of the world.
When I am on a pedestal,
You did not raise me there.
Your laws do not compel me
To kneel grotesque and bare.
I myself am the pedestal
For this ugly hump at which you stare.
You who wish to conquer pain,
You must learn what makes me kind;
The crumbs of love that you offer me,
They're the crumbs I've left behind.
Your pain is no credential here,
It's just the shadow, shadow of my wound.
I have begun to long for you,
I who have no greed
I have begun to ask for you,
I who have no need.
You say you've gone away from me,
But I can feel you when you breathe.
Do not dress in those rags for me,
I know you are not poor
You don't love me quite so fiercely now
When you know that you are not sure,
It is your turn, beloved,
It is your flesh that I wear.

Tower Of Song
https://youtu.be/oiAuXRK3Ogk

Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day in the Tower of Song
I said to Hank Williams, how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
Oh, a hundred floors above me in the Tower of Song
I was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond
They tied me to this table right here in the Tower of Song
So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I'm very sorry, baby, doesn't look like me at all
I'm standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah, they don't let a woman kill you, not in the Tower of Song
Now, you can say that I've grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there's a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong
You see, you hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song
I see you standing on the other side
I don't know how the river got so wide
I loved you baby, way back when
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
But I feel so close to everything that we lost
We'll never, we'll never have to lose it again
Now I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back
They're moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the Tower of Song
Yeah, my friends are gone and my hair is gray
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day in the Tower of Song

I'll also put forward this JAMC as a perfect cover of that perfect song...
https://youtu.be/vTBt9tjbIM8

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2018, 06:28:55 PM »
Cohen is an absolute God to me also.

The first I heard of him was a cassette my dad used to play in the car. He'd put just the one Cohen song on it - "The Partisan". I remember my sister and I giggling to it because it was such an utterly bleak tale and Leonard's vocals fit it perfectly.

I then rediscovered him as a 16 year old. Probably the ideal age really. And he's been with me ever since.

Those first 4 albums are flawless to me and are an absolute gold mine of emotional truth. Without sounding like some over-dramatic nutjob or some awkward cliche, those songs were there for me at a very important time of my life and helped shape a great many aspects of my personality and world outlook. He's the kind of chap who inspires such devotion.

I spent many a long night listening to those first 4 albums and making copies for any of my friends, girlfriends or potential girlfriends to varying degrees of success.

Songs of Love and Hate is a top 10 album of all time for me and "Avalanche" must rank as one of the greatest opening tracks ever. The line 'Your pain is no credential here / It's just the shadow, the shadow of my wound' makes me shiver every time I hear it. That whole song reminds me of my first major relationship.

I also purchased a book of his which was a collection of poems and songs - Stranger Music. I always remember the poem "Love is a Fire":

Love is a Fire
It burns everyone
It disfigures everyone
It is the world's excuse
For being ugly.

I always felt Cohen lost his way in the late 70s but I still bought those albums due to my completist streak. I rarely listened to them. I grew to enjoy Various Positions and I'm Your Man but struggled with many of the others.

I also saw him on his tour at the Manchester Opera House (June 2008) and he was magnificent.

I was most upset when he died. I was also furious that the BBC played Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" over montages of Leonard (they switched it to his version over subsequent broadcasts, but the damage was done).

The documentary film Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire by Tony Palmer that resurfaced a few years ago is well worth a watch.

Thanks for starting this thread. Leonard was ace.

the science eel

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Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2018, 11:46:02 AM »
Wow - one reply? really?

I think he's dreary, bar one or two songs. 'Tower of Song' is ace.

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Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2018, 11:48:36 AM »
I only have a cheap greatest hits which I've never entirely got on with, but based on recommendations on this thread I'll try the first four on Spotify.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2018, 12:20:20 PM »
The Partisan was the first song I ever heard of his, on a record of my mother's. It's still my favourite, in a possible tie with The Sisters of Mercy and So Long, Marianne.

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Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2018, 12:40:28 PM »
I love him to pieces but just haven't had the time to comment here. Famous Blue Raincoat is probably my favourite, but there are very few songs I don't enjoy. I have a really soft spot for "The Future" album as well, lyrically it's an especially darkly funny album in places.

Edit: This thread has inspired me to listen to him all afternoon, and what a bloody lovely time it has been too. Days like this I need his bitingly acerbic take on the world.

Closing Time

Ah we're drinking and we're dancing
And the band is really happening
And the Johnny Walker wisdom running high
And my very sweet companion
She's the angel of compassion
She's rubbing half the world against her thigh
And every drinker every dancer
Lifts a happy face to thank her
The fiddler fiddles something so sublime
All the women tear their blouses off
And the men they dance on the polka-dots
And it's partner found, it's partner lost
And it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops
It's closing time
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
Yeah the women tear their blouses off
And the men they dance on the polka-dots
And it's partner found, it's partner lost
And it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops
It's closing time
Ah we're lonely, we're romantic
And the cider's laced with acid
And the holy spirit's crying, where's the beef?
And the moon is swimming naked
And the summer night is fragrant
With a mighty expectation of relief
So we struggle and we stagger
Down the snakes and up the ladder
To the tower where the blessed hours chime
And I swear it happened just like this
A sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
The gates of love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
But closing time
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
I swear it happened just like this
A sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
The gates of love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
(I can't say much has happened since)
We're closing time
Closing time
I loved you for your beauty
But that doesn't make a fool of me
You were in it for your beauty too
And I loved you for your body
There's a voice that sounds like god to me
Declaring, (declaring) declaring, declaring that your body's really you
And I loved you when our love was blessed
And I love you now there's nothing left
But sorrow and a sense of overtime
And I missed you since the place got wrecked
And I just don't care what happens next
Looks like freedom but it feels like death
It's something in between, I guess
It's closing time
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
Yeah I missed you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex
Looks like freedom but it feels like death
It's something in between, I guess
It's closing time
Yeah we're drinking and we're dancing
But there's nothing really happening
And the place is dead as heaven on a Saturday night
And my very close companion
Gets me fumbling gets me laughing
She's a hundred but she's wearing
Something tight
And I lift my glass to the awful truth
Which you can't reveal to the ears of youth
Except to say it isn't worth a dime
And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
And it's once for the devil and once for Christ
But the boss don't like these dizzy heights
We're busted in the blinding lights
Of closing time
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
The whole damn place goes crazy twice
And it's once for the devil and once for Christ
But the boss don't like these dizzy heights
We're busted in the blinding lights
(Busted in the blinding lights)
Busted in the blinding lights
Of closing time
Closing time
Oh the women tear their blouses off
And the men they dance on the polka-dots
It's closing time
And it's partner found, it's partner lost
And it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops
It's closing time
I swear it happened just like this
A sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
It's closing time (closing time)
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
(Closing time)
The gates of love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
But closing time (closing time, closing time, closing time)
I loved you when our love was blessed
I love you now there's nothing left
But closing time
I miss you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex

I mean...fucking hell...But I miss him more than ever now. Sad face.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 03:56:35 PM by Small Man Big Horse »

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Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2021, 12:59:37 AM »
Never really listened to old Len, but got into a tip tonight while working and his lyricism and stoic vocals are something else. This little bit floored me with how good and funny and self deprecating it was:

Quote
I remember you well in Chelsea Hotel
You were famous, your heart was a legend
You told me again you preferred handsome men
But for me you would make an exception

And clenching your fist for the ones like us
Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty
You fixed yourself, you said: Well, never mind
We are ugly but we have the music

And you got away, didn't you, baby?
You just turned your back on the crowd
You got away, I never once heard you say

I need you, I don't need you
I need you, I don't need you

And all of that jiving around

I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best
I can't keep track of each fallen robin
I remember you well in Chelsea Hotel
That's all, I don't even think of you that often

Twit 2

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Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2021, 06:52:46 AM »
I was extremely impressed by the eloquence of this speech:

https://youtu.be/VIR5ps8usuo

Well worth a watch in full.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2021, 07:12:02 AM »
Songs of Love and Hate is indeed an amazing record. Joan of Arc and Diamonds in the Mine are my picks.

But my favorite lyrics of his is the second verse from Suzanne, the bit about Jesus was a sailor and so on. I think about that passage often and what it might mean. I love the fact it’s tucked away in this song about some woman and irrelevant to the rest of the song.


Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2021, 08:40:43 AM »
I've got the first album, 'Death of a Ladies' Man' and 'I'm Your Man' by laughing Len. And I find them... OK. It's funny how both my dad and I married women who refuse to be in the room when his music is being played but he seems to be on those songwriters who I like the idea of more than the reality.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2021, 08:45:43 AM »
Songs of Love and Hate is indeed a scarily brilliant record, and Joan of Arc would be my pick from it as well. It's a song I shockingly never got on with for a long while and thought of it, with its odd delivery of Leonard singing and speaking at the same time, as one of the lesser tracks on the record. Until before a gig I was sat in the passenger seat of my bandmate's car and he put the album on the CD of it I'd let him borrow: I mentioned "It's a shame it ends that way" and he looked at me like I'd grown a second head, turned it up and told me "No, listen to it". We were driving over Snake Pass at this point and the combination of Leonard's voice as he sings "Something in me yearns to win such a cold and lonesome heroine" and the light fog and cold late morning winter air had me welling up like a newborn. He smiled at me and said "See?".

I don't think he's made a bad record though, apart from Dear Heather which maybe I just don't get. I'll have to play it again and see how that goes.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2021, 11:16:58 AM »
Bob Dylan is seen as some kind of genre-quaking genius and yet Leonard could have felled him with one blow, lyrically.

Leonard's music, even at its darkest, has some hope, or humour, or warmth, or love in it. The closest we come to the fall is in "Dress Rehearsal Rag", and even then the camera pulls back to reveal it's not quite time for that final disappointment.

"Anthem", for example. There is no finer lyric in the 20th century, and I can't listen to it very often because there's a high probability I'll be in tears by the time we get to "There is a crack, a crack, in everything / that's how the light gets in".

Also, the Live In London DVD is thrilling. The crowd's cheer at "I was born with the gift of a golden voice" is incredible. I only wish they hadn't done it on such a tight budget - they filmed it on SD video, the cheap bastards!

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2021, 11:22:55 AM »
I've got a handful of albums by him which are of course sublime. Not got (or heard) anything from the nineties onwards though. Which are worth checking out? There was one of those 'How To Buy' articles in Mojo recently but I threw it out.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2021, 11:25:27 AM »
Funniest man in Rock and Roll.

Is my passion perfect?(Perfect comic timing) No, do it once again

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2021, 11:30:21 AM »
I've got a handful of albums by him which are of course sublime. Not got (or heard) anything from the nineties onwards though. Which are worth checking out? There was one of those 'How To Buy' articles in Mojo recently but I threw it out.

He last couple of albums were among some of the best stuff he ever did, which is why the death of a 82 year old Cohen effected me more than, say David Bowie. I wanted to hear what the 90 year Cohen had to say, more than the follow up to say, The Next Day.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2021, 11:43:25 AM »
Absolutely. Parts of You Want It Darker make my eyes quite damp, particularly Treaty both in this form (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU5FPAR7ass) and the reprise at the end of the record.

Quote
I haven't said a word since you been gone
That any liar couldn't say as well
I just can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground, my safe and sound
You were my aerial

As ever, the words on the page are moving enough but hearing it in that weathered but still beautiful croak: ah, that's where the real magic lies. The slight move upwards to as close as late Leonard ever came to a falsetto on "My safe and sound": just perfect. Cohen's lyrics are justifiably held up as some of the greatest of the 20th Century but for me its also all about the grain of the voice: be it the way he is joyfully straining and singing too loud and high for his vocal range as a young man on So Long Marianne, cackling evilly on First We Take Manhattan or singing like the rumble of distant thunder on Anthem.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2021, 03:02:26 PM »
Agreeing with earlier sentiments that the key line in "Anthem" is unbeatable, and "You want it darker" is a fine illustration of the principle "leave 'em wanting more". I want to speak up for "Come Healing": the compassion and the empathy for us poor, fallible humans is a gift we always need, and perhaps never more so than now. The first three verses in particular are strong. I find I have to take a deep breath to get past the jarring phrase "arbitrary space" - although, who promised the journey would be comfortable? -  but then you reach the couplet "longing of the branches, To lift the little bud", which I genuinely find awe-inspiring: there can't have been many finer evocations of the urge to exist, the urge to create, even if the result may seem small to others. It also acknowledges the tenderness and vulnerability of new life.

"O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The Heart beneath is teaching
To the broken Heart above

O let the heavens falter
And let the earth proclaim:
Come healing of the Altar
Come healing of the Name

O longing of the branches
To lift the little bud
O longing of the arteries
To purify the blood

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

O let the heavens hear it…"

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Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2021, 03:28:51 PM »
When I was about 18 or so, I started going out with a girl whose Dad would play Cohen during meal times. Apropos of nothing. Sort out the cutlery, plop the squash on the table, and slap on some Cohen.

I later became a Cohen fan, but back then, I didn't know anything about him, so was pretty perplexed by it all. It was never explained to me, but the family accepted it. Fish and chips, and Cohen. Lamb shanks, and Cohen. Spag bol, and Cohen. He's sit there, masticating, listening to the music in silence, while everyone else talked about whatever was going on at the time.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'Wow, what a cool cat the Dad must have been', but he wasn't really. He was just a Dad. No pony tail or cheeky spliffs in the garage. He was a Dad living in a 4 bed house in the home counties with a middle management job for in accounting firm and a Mondeo, who liked to freak out his daughter's boyfriend by playing Cohen at meal times.

The family also used to put raisins in their rice, which is a sign of deviancy.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2021, 08:49:50 PM »
I only really like "Death Of A Ladies' Man" because I enjoy being wrong but I did see "Marianne and Leonard" in the cinema and got very wet eyes at the note he wrote to her on her deathbed.

Quote
Dearest Marianne,

I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand. This old body has given up, just as yours has too, and the eviction notice is on its way any day now.

I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that. I don’t have to say any more. Safe travels old friend. See you down the road. Love and gratitude. Leonard

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2021, 04:43:09 PM »
I only really like "Death Of A Ladies' Man" because I enjoy being wrong but I did see "Marianne and Leonard" in the cinema and got very wet eyes at the note he wrote to her on her deathbed.
I literally just a few hours ago heard First Aid Kit's rendition of Who By Fire, which incorporates this note. I'm not yet entirely convinced by their vocal performance, but boy howdy the arrangement is stunningly effective.

The eponymous track on Death of a Ladies' Man is great, albeit very reminiscent of a twisted version of, um, another act. I always think it's Pink Floyd, and then think nah, but I can't put my finger on who it actually puts me in mind of.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2021, 03:41:36 AM »
Brilliant songwriter, and one of very, very, very few artists who (in my opinion at least) got better as a performer with age. Absolutely love his stuff from the 80s on when his voice really dropped to Biblical prophet range.

Saw an interesting documentary a while back that follows him around in the mid-60s when he was a noteworthy poet but had no really become a singer/songwriter yet. Worth tracking down - I saw it on the Criterion Channel.

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2021, 03:54:05 AM »
I've got a handful of albums by him which are of course sublime. Not got (or heard) anything from the nineties onwards though. Which are worth checking out? There was one of those 'How To Buy' articles in Mojo recently but I threw it out.

The Future is an all-timer, if 1992 is included in "nineties onwards"

Re: The Leonard Cohen Appreciation Thread. ie Cohen Is God.
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2021, 08:39:43 PM »
Saw an interesting documentary a while back that follows him around in the mid-60s when he was a noteworthy poet but had no really become a singer/songwriter yet. Worth tracking down - I saw it on the Criterion Channel.

This, I presume: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv4J7sID3Pk

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