"Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Leonard Cohen's previous album (January 2012)
panjandrum
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Re: "elaboration of a tube" - any interpretation suggestions

Postby panjandrum » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:41 pm

Looking at the inside cover it is clear this is indeed supposed to be "tube" (otherwise you will have to assume that the same typo was made twice).

This is an extremely "Leonard" move. I'm thinking of it in much the same way (as I mentioned above) as "very close companion" which sounds almost exactly like "varicose companion". He definitely likes to play with the way words sound, not just their specific meanings. And "tube" is replete with many layers of possible interpretation whereas "tune" would be fairly straight-forward. This is also a great example of how a single word can change an entire song/poem. (I remember one version of "My Funny Valentine" the singer chooses to sing "don't change your hair for me" instead of "don't change a hair for me". This one move completely changes (in my opinion ruins) her rendition of the song. A single word can change everything...)

Anyway, on the surface, "tune" worked very well. That would have made the meaning of the entire song very clear and there would not be a whole lot of room for individual interpretation (many of which may be perfectly valid even if seemingly contradictory; depends on how much you believe in the validity of authorial intent). "Tube" though, listeners will be arguing the meaning for years. I love it! :-)
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Joe Way
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Re: "elaboration of a tube" - any interpretation suggestions

Postby Joe Way » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:35 am

On the drawing next to the lyrics, there seems to be what looks to me like a squat bottle-although I'm wondering if that might be a toothpaste tube that is running out and rolled up. All good ideas-but I am certain that it is "tube" and listening on my Mac, I can hear the "b" quite clearly.

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Re: "elaboration of a tube" - any interpretation suggestions

Postby bposside » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:08 am

Wow, pretty sophisticated discussion! I just enjoy the music. I hated English classes where we had to interpret anything. I thought he was singing "tune" until I read the printed lyrics. I don't think it's a typo since L.C. takes years to craft some songs. At first I assumed "tube" was an "evo-devo"/evolution developmental biology reference, as many have suggested, especially when I heard the "thread of light, a particle, a wave" lyric in "Show Me The Place", more science! The scientific references wouldn't seem out of place given Cohen's cultural literacy, and having to come to terms with the physical and biological forms of our existence, and past references to science such as the lyrics from "Queen Victoria": but when I read the comment by Francis: "in popular French, "un tube" is a hit, a popular, succesful song" this seemed much more likely since Cohen is originally from Montreal, so I'd bet 60% "tube as in "un tube" and 40% for the biological topology interpretion, and wouldn't be surprised if he chose this word because he means it both ways. If this was an English class, I'd be sitting here thinking: "why doesn't someone just ask him?" But then we'd have to interpret that. If it wasn't so complex there wouldn't be any reason to listen to his songs over and over and over and over ... "Going Home" might rival "Hallelujah" in eventual populararity because it strikes a similar universal chord, and while it's hard to choose a "best" Leonard Cohen album, this is right up there and probably one of the best musical autobiographical epitaphs ever recorded. I don't know why but it reminds me of Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" so it must be great.
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Re: "elaboration of a tube" - any interpretation suggestions

Postby panjandrum » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:21 pm

It might be interesting to simply list all the various interpretations of the word "tube" which might apply. (And yes, I agree that this could easily be a reference to the basic design of the human body. Leonard's touched on bodily-functions plenty of times in his works. But I expect that this word was carefully chosen to mean many things simultaneously.) The whole bi-lingual nature of the issue is also fascinating!

Un Tube = french for "a hit"
Tube = Vagina: Certainly, with sensuality/sexuality being such a large part of his works, some of them could be seen as a brief elaboration of (or an ode upon) this particular tube
Tube = Penis: Again, with sensuality/sexuality being such a large part of his works, some of them could be seen as a brief elaboration of the demands of this particular tube
Tube = his throat, larynx, mouth: the source of his voice (guess we can't skip that this can also a source of sexual pleasure)
Tube = the digestive tract
Tube = part of audio equipment (older pre-electronics and now coming back again and becoming appreciated by a new group of people... could read lots into that)
Tube = From an evolutionary standpoint many early life forms were essentially "tubes", upon which we humans are certainly but a "brief elaboration" from a cosmic point of view. Leonard is very spiritual, so maybe from his point of view G-d (or some form of G-d) elaborated on purpose upon these tubes. Lots of good discussion material here!
Tube = Early methods of amplifying sound were essentially just an elaboration upon a basic tube (megaphone. crank phonograph etc.)
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby DitteRose » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:03 pm

I hadn't even considered that it could be anything but a neural tube which we all are at some point before it is briefly elaborated.
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Jonnie Falafel
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby Jonnie Falafel » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:17 pm

Embryology: After the ovum is fertilised by the sperm the new cell divides to form 2, 4, 8 16, 32, 64 etc. cells until a ball is formed called the zygote. This then forms a tube and cell differentiation begins (elaboration?) - the neural tube is formed, the hollow organs like the heart are early in the process too. This is basic to all mammals - it's the same process in man and in mice. Then we are born and our brief (3 score years and 10) lives begin. In one sense we are nothing but a brief elaboration of a tube.
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby lizzytysh » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:48 pm

So well explained, Jonnie... the line comes alive for me when I think of it in those terms.
It is also absolutely consistent with the presumed 'theme' of this album's being death, which inherently involves conception and birth, prior to death, and in the middle, the life.
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby Steven » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:55 am

Hi,

Many people will hear the word as "tune," to have it make any sense to them.

A tube is a finite container, whereas God is infinite. This meaning and contrast makes sense to me given
the context of the rest of the song. Granted, though, that "tune" also would have made sense. Most people would
probably prefer the word "tune." -- "Tube" is an odd word to use and probably leaves many people without a clue
as to what the word might mean. It's unnecessarily esoteric in its usage, i.m.o., and works against the song's gaining
popularity with the general public. Apparently that wasn't a concern to Leonard in choosing the word. :)
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lizzytysh
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby lizzytysh » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:15 pm

I originally heard it as "tune," with his musical life and all that he's done with his music and it would be another example of his humility... so that's how I've heard it, but I've seen it in print by Sony, on the cd insert of lyrics, so what are you going to go with ;-) ... at least now, I can make sense of it, which I wasn't prior to reading Jonnie's analytic explanation 8) .
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby lizzytysh » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:18 pm

Haha... yes, Leonard has never catered to the public in his writing. It's this very kind of usage that makes his work so distinctive... the doors and windows to those many deeper layers. And he is certainly acknowledging his own 'tubed' SELF as being finite, though thank G~d his deepest 'self' is infinite, the same as G~d.
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby Steven » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:10 am

Hi Lizzy,

:D At least connected with God, infinitely.
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Jonnie Falafel
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby Jonnie Falafel » Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:34 pm

Lizzy ~ Even with "tube" & not "tune" you're still absolutely spot on regarding his humility here.
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby jason » Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:49 pm

I haven't read all the responses here, so not sure if someone has said the following. It seems like most of the responders are overthinking the simple poetic sensibility of these lyrics.

The song depicts the poet as a conduit, a vessel, a messenger, a prophet of 'God' or the Divine or the Absolute, however you want to call it.

A tube, very basically, is a long hollow cylinder through which air or sound etc can pass. A tube in this context is merely a cylinder between the poet and 'God,' through which 'God' communicates with the poet, who is merely elaborating His message(s)-- the way Moses and other 'chosen' spiritual and artistic messengers throughout the ages have elaborated it, without much free will in the matter.

From the get-go, many of Leonard Cohen's songs are about this fateful calling from the Divine. You Know Who I Am, Story of Isaac, If It Be Your Will, etc etc
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lizzytysh
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby lizzytysh » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:10 am

You're right, Jonnie, it doesn't matter which it is, it still comes through 8) .

I like your thoughts on it, too, Jason. Of course, I like how Leonard has always given us the liberty and the space in his lyrics to overthink all we like ;-) ~ what you've said here, though, creates a graphic view of a simple process that holds up now, as well as historically with Leonard :) .
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Re: "Elaboration of a tube" line in "Going Home"?

Postby Damfino » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:29 pm

Unromantic as the notion may be, "tube" must be Leonard's intended word choice. One of the most basic animals is the worm — essentially a living digestive tract or tube. We are but brief elaborations on that.
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