What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
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caz
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What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby caz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:42 pm

http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainme ... story.html
What Leonard Cohen can teach us about love
 
Despite his early reputation as a ladies' man, the Montreal poet and songwriter is clearly drawing on some powerful material
 
BY DOUGLAS TODD, VANCOUVER SUN NOVEMBER 27, 2010 2:14 AM
 
 
Why don't women hate Leonard Cohen?

After all, he's a cad, at least by the usual definition. He has a reputation for having slept with a bevy of beautiful women and never really settled down.

His image is that of the proverbial not-ready-to-commit man, for whom many women often feel fear and contempt. Yet, I don't know of a woman who, once aware of Cohen, doesn't love the dark-eyed Montreal-born singer-songwriter. Even at 76.

With the legendary baritone coming to Vancouver on Dec. 2nd for one of six North American concerts, and his art going on sale Dec 4th at Granville Fine Art, it is worth exploring the many things that this secular poet-priest with the gravelly voice has done, said and taught about the complexities of love.

Even more revered in Europe than in North America, Cohen first earned the casual-lover "ladies' man" tag by writing often-salacious lyrics and bedding many women, including singer Janis Joplin and actress Rebecca de Mornay.

In his early days he hooked up with Scandinavians Axel Jensen, Goran Tunstrom and Marianne Jensen (made famous through his song, So Long Marianne). He has also lived with artist Suzanne Elrod and cosongwriter Anjani Thomas.

In the past decade, Cohen was betrayed by longtime Californian lover Kelley Lynch, a former manager who defrauded him of $9 million and continues to ignore a court order to return the money. It's part of the reason Cohen is touring again.

What prevents Cohen from marrying? The Lynch debacle could be part of the answer. But he has also said it is "cowardice and fear."

Despite his relationship wariness, or maybe because of it, charmed women across Europe, North America and the rest of the planet continue to flood to his poignant, mournful concerts, where his one-octave voice is backed up by sensual females singing heavenly.

Maybe some women simply like that he always wears a suit, since his father was a well-off Jewish clothing store owner. Maybe others want to be his saviour, the one woman who finally rescues him from his admittedly depressive self.

There is more to Cohen, though. He's on fire with honesty and authenticity and wry insight, all of which are attractive to men as well.

And unlike many songwriting pretenders, Cohen can put together a poem. The writer Pico Iyer once referred to Cohen as "a collaboration between" French songwriter Jacques Brel and Christian mystic Thomas Merton.

There is no subject about which Cohen has more to say than the vagaries of love: sexual, relational, spiritual. Is anything more important?

Cohen first became known, decades ago, for spelling out the tortured connection between love and sex, about which he is often shockingly graphic.

In 1972's Chelsea Hotel, which he later acknowledged was about his fling with a young Joplin, he boldly states: "I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel / you were talking so brave and so sweet / giving me head on the unmade bed / while the limousines wait in the street."

Some of his lyrics strongly hint at a fascination with sado-masochism, including the signature 1988 song, I'm Your Man. "If you want a lover, I'll do anything you ask of me / If you want another kind of love / I'll wear a mask for you."

In the renowned Hallelujah, which has been covered by more than 200 artists in many languages, Cohen touches again on the kinky, musing, "She tied you / To a kitchen chair / She broke your throne / She cut your hair / And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah."

Cohen goes even further than this about the connection between love and eroticism, as we'll see, but let's first explore what he says about the link between love and human relationships. In the Tower of Song, he wrote "I'm crazy for love," which, initially, might not seem too profound a line. After all, many popular songwriters go on and on about romantic love.

Cohen always seems to be falling for a woman. Like a country and western singer, he confesses: "I love to see you naked / In your body and your thought / I've got you like a habit / I'll never get enough / There ain't no cure for love."

Yet Cohen goes much further. He has talked about how, even when he hates people, he "loves them anyway." He produced an album that dealt head-on with such inner rage and suspicion, titled Songs of Love and Hate.

Cohen has never acted as if he's particularly good at love, which could be part of his appeal. Being typically hard on himself, perhaps invoking his ladies' man persona, he wrote in The Traitor, "I'm listed with the enemies of love."

Yet he's obsessed by love, at times almost shouting out about his relationship failures, as he did in "Lover, Lover, Lover, Lover, Lover / Come back to me."

In Alexandra Leaving, based on a 19th-century Greek poem, Cohen exposes how he so often blows it with the women who honour him by their presence in his bed. In Alexandra Leaving, love takes the form of a god, which he again manages to push away.

"Suddenly the night has grown colder / Some deity preparing to depart / Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder / they slip between the sentries of your heart."

In his classic, Hallelujah, Cohen spells out just how brutally hard loving relationships can be, filled with figurative gunfights. He laments, with a tinge of sardonic humour, "Love is not a victory march / It's a cold and broken Hallelujah."

Despite this testimony to tough reality, all there is to Cohen is love.

It's sacred. It's the ultimate.

As a Jew who also takes Jesus Christ seriously, and who has spent years in meditation in a Buddhist monastery, Cohen has mined the meaning of love to make the spiritual quest again seem meaningful to millions.

Cohen has spoken of his poems and songs as "muffled prayers." And, after all, his beloved friend, singer Jennifer Warnes, said of him: "If he has one great love, it's his love for God."

To Cohen, love can bring everything together -- sex, relationships, spirituality, metaphysics -- and divided humanity itself.

He once said: "Love is the only engine of survival."

As he did in Alexandra Leaving, he also suggests in You Have Loved Enough that maybe the holy he has trouble believing in is a transcendent cosmic Lover.

"You kept me from believing / Until you let me know / I am not the one who loves / It's love that seizes me."

In that same cut from the album, Ten New Songs, almost all of which seem to equate God with love, Cohen writes about a person who has always yearned for connection being told it is their turn to be cared for:

"When the hunger for your touch / Rises from the hunger / You whisper, 'You have loved enough / Now let me be the lover.'"

Even more directly, Cohen sometimes brings divine love and sex into bed together, such as when he sings in Hallelujah, "And remember when I moved in you / The holy dove was moving too."

Few of Cohen's songs are more frank about the link between divinity and love than If It Be Your Will, in which Cohen speaks of that ancient and elusive mystical practice, surrender.

In this aching song he boldly expresses his love and gratitude to God. "If it be your will / To let me sing / From this broken hill / All your praises they shall sing."

Cohen has evolved far beyond his early Don Juan image.

Yet he sometimes doesn't get credit for the intense work he's put into researching, more than almost anyone, the bewildering currents of love.

Indeed, there is a telling moment near the end of the 2006 documentary, I'm Your Man, when Cohen says he almost hates it when people trot out his early ladies' man image.

"I laugh bitterly," he says, "at the 10,000 nights I've slept alone."

The revelation leaves little doubt that for a long time, Cohen has been swimming in love's deeper realms.

dtodd@vancouversun.com

read douglas todd's blog at vancouversun.com/thesearch

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
I think there are some leaps of imagination in some of the contentions here (a little as per the Who Wrote Hallelujah? article) but also some nicely observed sentiments. See what you think.

Carole
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caz
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby caz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:47 pm

I mean, come on! Kinky? Fascination with sado-masochism. Am I being naive or am I missing something here?
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby sturgess66 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:58 pm

caz wrote:I mean, come on! Kinky? Fascination with sado-masochism. Am I being naive or am I missing something here?
I missed it too. :lol:

Strange article - disjointed & jerky - -annoying - back and forth - all over the place - and - um - shallow - relaying cliches and misconceptions like they are factual? :cry:
JMHO
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby remote1 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:04 pm

sturgess66 wrote:
caz wrote:I mean, come on! Kinky? Fascination with sado-masochism. Am I being naive or am I missing something here?
I missed it too. :lol:
There's a lot about Leonard and BDSM in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=20471&start=0
[including a link to this article: http://www.tinymixtapes.com/Kinky-Cohen-Part-1-NSFW]

Enjoy! ;-)
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby friscogrl » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:39 pm

Leonard does not have dark eyes, they are hazel. And from what I have read Kelley Lynch was not a long time lover. This guy doesn't seem to know Leonard very well. He just seems to be interested in the titalating aspects of Leonard's reputation as a Ladies' man , aren't we all, but he should at least have his facts straight.

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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby khayya » Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:33 pm

Oh, my! Don't be naive. I think a great part of Leonard's art is about masochism, even his religious imagery. And so what? I guess he would be the first to admit it himself. All this obsession with humiliation and surrendering, the remotest possibilities of sex and the religious exagerations explored in Beautiful Losers etc, etc. Maybe it's something that resonates in many people; no need to conceal it. I admire his boldness in this field and prefer a hundred times it to be masochistic than sadistic. There has been quite a lot of research about the connection of religious and erotic feelings in human beings and I personally think that there is no strict border line between the two. Love is just too big a paradox and, as Leonard has said many times, we can't penetrate this mystery anyway.
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby jeanne » Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:16 pm

Hi..I am going out on a limb here...but please!

We all hear and feel Leonard's work and his life, in our own way....

His story can be found in his words through these years.......

The only one that can give you facts, if you need them, is Leonard himself!

Why must we pick him apart......why can't we just take him as he is......To each of us....something else...

I apologize to those who feel they must dissect him....It is your way....and necessary for you.....And Leonard Cohen puts himself out there freely.

Myself, I simply love where his life and words have taken me..Without him, my world would still exist, but the sun would not be as bright nor as warm.

Sorry if I offend.....Jeanne
"there is a crack in everything.that's how the light gets in " Florence 2010 - las vegas 2010....hope for Hydra......Hydra no longer a hope......now a reality..
"when the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers"
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby blonde madonna » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:47 am

Badly written piece that fails to adequately back up it's assertions. I have no problem with what he says, just that it's shallow and inaccurate. Surprising for a Canadian newspaper.
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby lizzytysh » Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:12 am

Geesh. That's all I've got time to say, and seems to be about all it warrants.
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby st theresa » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:13 am

err yeah--It's kind of embarassing that a Canadian journalist wrote this article about Leonard Cohen. Apart from that, it appears to have little relevance to our man, but speaks volumes about the writer...I never read the Sun in Edmonton but I believe the Vancouver Sun is supposed to be of a higher quality....maybe not...oh well--as someone else said--each to their own.
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby Chubi » Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:20 pm

Thank you for the links, remote1.
I think that everyone will agree that the man can literally go down on his knees like no one else and does so more often than most.

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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby hydriot » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:53 am

First, surely this article should have been written by a woman? I have a pretty clear idea why women find Leonard irresistable, but still I would like to hear my theories confirmed ... by a female journalist.

(My theory? Well, since you asked ... Women are always attracted to poets [think Byron], and the reason is that the way poets think and express themselves is most in tune with the way women think and would express themselves if they were similarly articulate. A poet articulates a woman's emotions in a way a mere prosaic male could never do.)

Second, this article has all the hallmarks of an unwelcome project written to a deadline. I reckon the editor told the journalist: "Write xxxx words by tomorrow on Cohen's attractiveness to women -- go!"
khayya wrote:I think a great part of Leonard's art is about masochism, even his religious imagery. And so what? I guess he would be the first to admit it himself. All this obsession with humiliation and surrendering, the remotest possibilities of sex and the religious exagerations explored in Beautiful Losers etc, etc.
I don't myself see any genuine interest in BDSM in anything Leonard has written; I think he just takes ample advantage of the wonderful and arresting imagery that the alternative lifestyle offers. He is such a gentleman it is difficult to imagine him wielding a whip ...

But surrender, now that's a different matter. Love, real love, the love that endures for decades, always involves surrender. For there are three people in a relationship: You, Me and Us. Lovers start with You and Me in a state of armed neutrality, Us barely discernible. One lover puts aside a weapon; then the other puts aside a weapon. One lover takes a brick out of the wall; then the other takes a brick out of the wall. Gradually (or rapidly!) You and Me surrender to Us. Eventually, the wall between You and Me disappears entirely, to be replaced by a protective wall that surrounds the new entity Us. (And that's why when love goes wrong it is so unbelievably painful: within the relationship, all defences are down.)

Most of my life I have loved, and when I fall for a new woman that sensation of surrendering to her is one of extraordinary sweetness, even if the love is not returned. And my surrender is not humiliating. It is in fact empowering. My invincible defeat.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby lizzytysh » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:24 am

What wonderful descriptions, Hydriot. I've copied & pasted them.

Thanks.

I like how you parsed this xxxx number of words. Can't call it an article.


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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby Laura » Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:31 am

hydriot wrote: Love, real love, the love that endures for decades, always involves surrender. For there are three people in a relationship: You, Me and Us. Lovers start with You and Me in a state of armed neutrality, Us barely discernible. One lover puts aside a weapon; then the other puts aside a weapon. One lover takes a brick out of the wall; then the other takes a brick out of the wall. Gradually (or rapidly!) You and Me surrender to Us. Eventually, the wall between You and Me disappears entirely, to be replaced by a protective wall that surrounds the new entity Us.

That is a beautiful description that only applies to a very healthy relationship (or, to be honest, I think only to an ideal one).
Love is a powerplay. Who gives more, who takes more.
I stand now on my knees in front of the man I love. There is not a spot on my soul, not a memory which doesn't hurt when I think of him. Bitter taste, cutting pain, slow torture, burning, overwhelming grief, I know them all. There are some days when I even try to cut into my own body - try to give some shape to the pain inside.
Still, I stand on my knees in front of him and beg him for more. I don't care about the pain, I don't care about humiliation, if he would only - only - speak with me a little while longer. Isn't that a form of masochism? And he has never even touched me.
I think this is more like what Cohen meant. More subtle than chains and whips.

Laura
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Re: What Leonard Cohen Can Teach Us About Love

Postby Tchocolatl » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:27 pm

caz wrote:Yet Cohen goes much further. He has talked about how, even when he hates people, he "loves them anyway."
Despite the puzzling smorgasbord this article was to me at first sight, I was surprised to read this, as I felt exactly the same since as far as I can remember. This does not mean that I say amen to anything and everything, now, a concept which I had once mistaken for "true love". You know, like in the misconception (to my eyes) in the style if-you-love-me-you-will-do-whatever-I-want. It is hard to explain how I can hate and nevertheless love anyway, and it is harder to live it than to explain it. I wished, at some times, that life could be just black or white, simplistic like and old Hollywood cow-boys movie, but now I am at peace with this particular aspect of my self - or may I say Self, in a jungien point of view?

Hydriot, how luminous is your description of love to me. I have one similar, but where you see walls I feel roots, like two (or more) beings having grow intricate roots while sharing a space of their life together.

Laura, I am closer to Hydriot conception of love than yours, but i can understand, i guess, as pain is a little price to pay to avoid indifference, which is the worst thing a human being - being a social animal by nature - can experiment.
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

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