Dear Heather 10(ish) years on

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
AlexandraLaughing
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Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:45 pm

Dear Heather 10(ish) years on

Postby AlexandraLaughing » Mon Feb 02, 2015 6:13 pm

I got around to buying a copy of Dear Heather for the first time this weekend (having gotten into LC properly just late last autumn). I listened to it six times through, more or less (Morning Glory more, as it took me several playings to make any sense of it, Because of and Dear Heather less, because I can't stand either of them).

Although it is chronologically situated between my two favourite LC studio albums (Ten New Songs and Old Ideas), and although I like Late Leonard in general, I wasn't that enamoured of it. I think the reason I sort of feel it's a bit of a dud album, despite the fact that it actually has enough good songs and pieces on it for a good album (in order of my liking at the moment, The Letters, To A Teacher, The Faith, Morning Glory, Nightingale, On that Day, Go No More a Roving, with Undertow and There for You as makeweights) is that the title song is so annoying, Villanelle is quite drawn out, you can't really listen to the Tennessee Waltz more than once in a while, and there's quite a lot of weird or annoying instrumentation on this album (like the Jew's harp on On That Day).

However, I have noticed many other people besides myself mention having the experience of really disliking a LC song the first time you heard it, only to really like it later. On the other hand fans who first heard DH will also have been coloured by the fact that it looked at the time like it might have been his last album, full as it is of tributes to dead friends, and with no attempt on LC's part to do any publicity.

I wonder how longer-term fans view it now there have been two very successful more recent albums, and obviously the Renaissance Tour(s)?
AlexandraLaughing
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Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:45 pm

Re: Dear Heather 10(ish) years on

Postby AlexandraLaughing » Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:46 pm

I have moved this thread up again in the hope of getting someone who listened to Dear Heather when it first came out to answer the question whether they now like it better or less than they did then, and whether their views on any of the songs have changed.

Have been listening to some of Anjani's Blue Alert songs, and I much, much prefer her slower version of Nightingale on that album to the up-tempo one on Dear Heather. I wish she had re-recorded Undertow as well. Sylvie Simmons has a long report of an LC/Anjani discussion of what a triumph Anjani's rendition of it was, when 'her voice dropped from her throat to her heart'. And it is a great poem, especially the line 'my heart the shape of a begging bowl'. But all that subtlety is completely wrecked by the heavy-handed instrumentation and especially percussion on the DH version.
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blonde madonna
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Re: Dear Heather 10(ish) years on

Postby blonde madonna » Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:48 am

It seems DH has a similar reputation to DOALM so you are not alone in your thoughts about this album. I've seen them both ranked as the worst of his studio albums. I have been listening to his music for a long time and your perceptions do change with increasing familiarity and your own changing perspectives. Maybe that's why no one has responded, your question is a big one.

I think I was a bit disappointed on my first listen to DH. It didn't have the unified sound of Ten New Songs or the power of The Future or the wry humour of I'm Your Man, which all seemed to grab me on first listen. But it was released in the shadow of 9/11 and I think that dates it now. I also remember not really wanting to hear other people's words or other people singing the lead and LC singing backup. I also wanted more singing and less reciting.

Now songs like 'there for you' and 'the faith' are among my favourites. *(a long and ever changing list)

As to your comments on 'Nightingale', I often like to hear covers of LC songs but they are never better, just a different interpretation. Anjani's voice is beautiful and her arrangements were very spare but I rarely listen to them today.

It a big job starting from scratch and acquainting yourself with all of LC's work. Sometimes other people's opinions and lists might help you get an understanding of it all. I never seem to agree or understand the need to rank his output. I tend to see it as a whole, it all goes together, every part is necessary and therefore equally valuable, if that makes sense.

Btw, agree with you on the Jew's Harp, sounds like a rubber band, you learn to not notice it!
rokrobin
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Re: Dear Heather 10(ish) years on

Postby rokrobin » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:55 pm

I loved Dear Heather from the very beginning. It's one of my favorites. I even like dh as a song. Dh is much better than doalm and although Blue Alert is an excellent jazz album nothing beats original work of lc. Maybe his country sound isn't the best but it reminds me of his roots.

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