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Leonard Cohen, I don't get it


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This is the second time I have grabbed my brother's c.d.'s and tried to get into Leonard. I don't get it. This guy is worshipped by many. I have seen mentions of "genius in the songwriting world," etc. To me, he is HORRIBLE. God, the guy can't sing. Bob Dylan in 2004 sounds like Pavarotti compared to Cohen. His range must be three notes. Actually, he doesn't sing. As for his "brilliant" lyrics, I don't get that either. He's written a lot of songs so surely he has some good ones but not on this album. I really don't get it. I can't imagine this guy making a living selling songs. Got me puzzled.

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It took me ages to get my head around his appeal too. I think because so many people told me how great he was, I expected too much. You definitely need to be in the right mood for it as well. What changed my opinion was listening to it in the dark, when I was really tired and dozing off to sleep - I started noticing the details, appreciating the emotion in his voice and got used to the what at first appeared to be quirky chords. Give it a go, see what you think...
In his blue velour and silk you liberated, a boy I never rated, and now he's throwing discus, for Liverpool and Widnes
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Ahh ... Laughin' Len.

 

Sometimes musicians miss the obvious, that it's not all about how well you sing or play guitar. it's also about what you have to say. Cohen, like Dylan, has a lot to say.

 

Chelsea Hotel No. 2 is a fantastic song about a causal affair (I believe with Japis Joplin, cold be wrong) "That's all, i don't even think of you that often"

 

Famous Blue Raincoat has a tune that gets inside my head and won't leave.

 

"Like a bird on a wire

Like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way to be free"

 

I don't know about you but I've not written anything that good. Kris Kristofferson (Sp?) says he wants that on his tombstone.

 

Don't forget Hallelujah ... Jeff Buckley did it better but Cohen wrote it.

"That's what the internet is for. Slandering others anonymously." - Banky Edwards.
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Not to hijack the thread but I've been listening to The Return of the Durutti Column.

 

that's one fine album Mats :thu:

"That's what the internet is for. Slandering others anonymously." - Banky Edwards.
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Originally posted by Mats Olsson.:

"Susanne" is a really good song, one of my favorites.

Saw Cohen on Austin City Limits several months ago; surprisingly I don't think he did this song, one of his best. But then again, many of the acts on ACL do their newer material. Cohen became famous with this song several years ago and I guess he has played it a million times or so. Go figure. A couple of recent folks on ACL, Steve Winwood and Vince Gill, also played only recent material with a couple of exceptions, but all of these guys sounded great.
...touched down in the land of the Delta Blues.....in the middle of the pouring rain....
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Originally posted by Rog:

"Like a bird on a wire

Like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way to be free"

 

I don't know about you but I've not written anything that good. Kris Kristofferson (Sp?) says he wants that on his tombstone.

Yes, Rog, that is very nice. I like that lyric a lot. But I can't stand to listen to this guy. I mean, I'm talking agony. So, every song he writes could be a masterpiece but it wouldn't make any difference but I can't stand to listen to him. I'm just surprised. Heck, I'd rather just read some nice poetry, skip the non-voice.

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hehe

 

I like his voice, I'd rather listen to an honest if not amazing voice than a processed, polished one which has nothing of interest to say.

"That's what the internet is for. Slandering others anonymously." - Banky Edwards.
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Buy the Famous Blue Raincoat CD by Jennifer Warnes. She's got the voice of an angel, and she's smart enough to understand and communicate LC's songs. George Massenberg made the album sound great.

 

He has a couple of collections on CD. You can hear his voice go from limited and shakey in his 20's to limited and basso-big in his 50's, but throughout his career, he has remained true to his vocal instrument.

 

If you don't like LC's singing voice, fair enough, we all have our likes and dislikes, but his words and melodies (strangely enough for someone who, I agree, has a range of about three notes) are perfectly formed. His lyrics are not Rimbaud-on-acid Dylan, but beginning-middle-end stories with a complete logic and layered meaning. His takes on historical and biblical stories (Song of Bernadette, Abraham) are brilliant.

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I have the Jennifer Warnes CD and if you're really innarested I'd say she does a great job with the tunes.

 

I don't much like Cohen either and am with you in not seeing his greatness. He does come up with some very clever lines but I don't find any great depth in his songs.

 

Perhaps Cohen's art is like post-modern painting. Where paint is splattered on a canvas. Some people must really like it. Somewhere, somehow. Heh heh.

 

Cohen better than that. The Buckley version of Halleluiah is terrific. Very powerful even though the lyrics are vague. God-stuff aside, the word "halleluiah" is very powerful in itself.

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Ugh, I can't stand Cohen either. I think his lyrics are pretentious and his melodies are lousy.

 

Have dated several overly-dramatic girls who thought he was "brilliant." I'm no fool, I would smile and 'hmm' noncommitedly.

 

Anyways. He bothers me in the way Tom Waits does... to listen to him feels like wallowing in schtick.

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I've got a couple of his discs. 'I'm Your Man', and 'The Future'. I like the albums, but I have a preference for 'I'm Your Man'.

 

I don't think of Cohen as a singer really. I tend to think of him more as a narrater over the song. His voice doesn't really bother me. It really sets a mood, in my opinion. He uses it very effectively for that purpose.

 

I think his music has transitioned quite a bit. I'm not too familiar with his pre 1980's work, but it seemed to be more folky sounding. I think 'I'm Your Man' was a fairly different album for him, and maybe kind of a come-back album as well.

 

I like the imagery he uses. I thought 'Take This Waltz' was fantastic. The lyrics are based on a poen by Federico Garcia Lorca, whom I'm not familiar with other than that he was a close associate of Salvador Dali, whom I am a great admirer of.

 

I can understand where people wouldn't dig his stuff though. I think you have to connect with the mood he's setting.

 

In my opinion LiveMusic, I think there is probably something here well worth tapping into. It might take you several listenings to adjust to it. But I think there is enough substance there to justify the extra effort.

 

Give'em another chance, bro! :thu:

Super 8

 

Hear my stuff here

 

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Originally posted by Super 8:

I think you have to connect with the mood he's setting.

Exactly.I'd also throw in throwing away any preconceived notions about his stature as an artist as well,being called a "genius" ahead of time doesn't help the matter at all.
"A Robot Playing Trumpet Blows"
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I can't rag on his voice very much 'cause mine ain't the greates either. To me he's in there with Townes Van Zandt who didn't have the best voice either but had the vibe, and, is one of my favorite singer/songwriters.

 

Put some others there too.

Guy Clark

Mickey Newberry

Tom Waits

 

Our Joint

 

"When you come slam bang up against trouble, it never looks half as bad if you face up to it." The Duke...

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Originally posted by daklander:

I can't rag on his voice very much 'cause mine ain't the greates either. To me he's in there with Townes Van Zandt who didn't have the best voice either but had the vibe, and, is one of my favorite singer/songwriters.

From what I have heard, Leonard Cohen is not even close to Townes Van Zandt. And even Townes could halfway sing a song. His only performance problem (for me) was a tendency to go flat. Of course, staying sober enough to breathe was a major problem, as well. Maybe I'll try another Leonard album.

 

Dak, you familiar with Mr. Mudd And Mr. Gold (title?)? Is that a lyrical gem or what? How in the world can any human being dream up something like that?

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Super 8 Heh, I appreciate that. I'm kinda like that guy in Dirty Harry though I know my limitations. :D

 

Duke Yeah, I'm familiar with Mr Gold and Mr Mudd. It's not one of my favorites.

If you haven't yet, listen to the Live at the Old Quarter album. It's a great sampling of his music and that song is on there.

I do cover several of Townes Van Zandte tunes.

As to my Cohen remark. It's not that I'm comparing the vocals, I'm comparing the lack of a great voice vs the vibe both have.

Realistically, any of the guys I mentioned aren't normally going to be loved by people that hear them for the first time. They rapidly grow on you though.

 

Our Joint

 

"When you come slam bang up against trouble, it never looks half as bad if you face up to it." The Duke...

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