Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Leonard Cohen's previous album (January 2012)
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Pete
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Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby Pete » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:16 pm

I've been listening to 'Old Ideas' this week
not continually but now and again
in the background, in my headphones
it's an album that needs to be listened to
as a progression from one song to the next
as a whole
as an experience
as a total emotion
and it's taking time
for it to find its way
into me
but it is
and then
I decided to have a listen to 'Dear Heather'
it had been a long time
and suddenly
'Dear Heather' enriched me more
and I dipped back into 'Old Ideas'
and it all makes sense.
I know what you're up to, Leonard.
For me,It's like starting again
back in the 70's
when I heard you the first time
and now I think
of all those people
hearing you now, for the first time
and working back
to 'Dear Heather'
and getting the picture.

Pete
1974: Brighton Dome 1976: Birmingham Town Hall 1993: London RAH 2008: Manchester Opera House, London O2, Matlock Bandstand, Birmingham NEC 2009: Liverpool Echo Arena 2013 Birmingham
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tomsakic
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby tomsakic » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:22 pm

I think it's the same album actually, Old Ideas are starting where Dear Heather stopped. I can feel the same drive, the same source, the same ideas, the same landscape... I did mention this already in viewtopic.php?f=55&t=31408 but this is something I will need to think about more:) I am glad that it's at least two of us who got that impression. And it's funny how the ratio of ProTools and live instruments on both albums are 'round the same, and critics and people claiming that Dear Heather was "synth" and Old Ideas are organic and natural. "Amen" is almost completely programmed, "Different Sides" is so apparently Sharon-Robinson-track in the manner of There For You, and some Patrick Leonard's programming is in the trace of Dear Heather recitals.
DBCohen
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby DBCohen » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:38 am

I beg to differ, at least partially.

Although there are certainly some aspects of continuation from Dear Heather to Old Ideas, there are also substantial differences.

On the musical side, yes, you may have a point, there is a lot of programmed music in both, but there is a little more “live” music on OI, including one track with the band (I wish there were more!). However, like Ten New Songs before it, DH was produced and arranged by Sharon Robinson and Leanne Ungar, and both have specific characters; OI is much more varied in that respect, with various studios and several people involved, including Patrick Leonard (whose music is the weakest side of the album, unfortunately; the more I listen to it, the more dissatisfied I am with his tracks). Of course, LC must have had the last say in everything, but still, you can feel that many people had their hands in it.

More importantly, as far as the lyrics are concerned this is quite a different album than the previous one. DH was like a basket full of various kinds of fruits. Exceptionally for LC, it included lyrics by other poets to which he wrote the music (“Go No More A-Roving” by Byron, “Villanelle For Our Time” by Frank Scott), a song “based on a Quebec folk song” (“The Faith”), as well as one non-Cohen song (“Tennessee Waltz”). There are tracks that felt like an “experiment” or a “joke” without much substance (“Morning Glory”, “Dear Heather” and perhaps also “Because Of”), a recitation of a poem without much music (“To A Teacher”), a comment on current events (“On That Day”), an atypical sweet little song with Anjani (“Nightingale”), and two or three songs that are more typical LC (“The Letters”, “There For You”, and “Undertow”, which is very short). OI, on the other hand, has 10 songs all with lyrics by LC, most of them very typical and dealing with the familiar themes of spirituality, sexuality, suffering and the artist’s calling; I have expended on these themes in another thread:

viewtopic.php?f=55&t=31398

So, thematically this album goes back to TNS and earlier albums, including several substantial songs that could become LC standards. No track from DH was ever performed on the recent long tour (that doesn’t make the album unsubstantial in my mind; on the contrary, it has its own value, but in a different way; I think LC put into it different odds and ends that reflect his whole career, from the young poet in Montreal and from his roots in Country music, up to his old age, and he speaks in it very personally to those who followed him throughout the years). OI, on the other hand, has several tracks we can expect to be performed in future concerts (some were already performed), perhaps even the whole album.

So, although musically this album represents no major breakthrough compared with the previous one or two, it is still a very different album than DH, and in its poetry closer to TNS.
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby tomsakic » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:33 am

I agree, Doron, but musically, I think it's still Old Ideas No. 2 (Dear Heather being the original Old Ideas) - Ten New Songs were all *songs* while here we have poetry recitations (I really have impression that Patrick Leonard was trying to follow the example of To a Teacher e.g.), in beat style, at least 5 songs of 10. Of course, "old ideas" was meant to represent the "old ideas" i.e. songs, recitations, doodles, sketches, duets originally, as the original title of Dear Heather - now they represent the "old ideas of cultural conscience" so the album is lyrically more close to Ten New Songs. That's why I think it is the expected and delayed 2005 album which ought to complete "post-monastery trilogy" (as LC did say Dear Heather is a quick album of old ideas and unfinished songs and he will follow it fast with proper songs album in 2005 or 2006, what did not happen due to financial affair). If you look at Dear Heather in that way, you'll see that The Faith was lyrically after TNS, and The Letters and There For You were "typical" TNS-Sharon songs, like Different Side is (with the same twist - is that love song or is it a song a out two sides of poet himself, fighting and thus logically closing the album as counterfeit to Going Home?). Also, songs on Old ideas are very short, like on Dear Heather, with only Amen working at his usual length and Different Sides and Darkness and Lullaby as only "proper" songs. At times, my impression is that Old Ideas are doing musically and in production values some stuff Dear Heather didn't do or he is still doing it (e.g. beat jazz recital /Anyhow/, reciting poetry over musical improvisations /Because Of-Going Home/, and letting female choruses singing the parts which does sound like left-overs from traditional song structures while he recites around it...)

I think that Sharon was probably the one who gave TNS so unison production and sound, as even before it, on The Future, Leonard himself was much more diverse and not so concentrated - my opinion is that this is the result of his long writing. Songs like Democracy, Amen or Anthem took him as other people took time for the whole albums. Result is that his album are less frequent and they function as compilation of poet's life and work in last 7-8 years, usually. In a way, the albums are treated like poetry books.
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby DBCohen » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:36 am

Tom,

Thanks, you’ve made many interesting and important points, as always.

First, the notion that OI is a delayed album, belonging in the previous decade, and including older materials and not just recent ones. Still, the fact that it was delayed probably caused it to have been produced by so many hands, rather than being unified like the previous two albums.

Second, indeed, almost half the album is recited, and that could be along the model of “To A Teacher”, but it must also reflect the fact that it became difficult for LC to sing as much as before. Also during the tour many songs sounded more like recitation. I’m not complaining, but this should be recognized. And yes, the “division of labor” between him and the female singers is interesting.

Your observation on “Different Sides” as possibly reflecting internal dialogue of the poet and thus closing the circle with “Going Home” is very interesting (I thought I could hear in it, apart from the theme of relationship, a kind of Jewish-Christian dialogue, but I couldn’t quite nail it; it is easier to demonstrate your interpretation; it also occurred to me earlier that in “stop writing everything down” he actually admonishes himself).

Then you’re also making the point which I didn’t specify and that is that many songs on OI are short, and in that case it is closer to DH than to TNS, in which all the lyrics were very reach (still, about half the songs on OI have relatively long lyrics).

“The albums are treated like poetry books” - that’s a very good point too.

You did not relate to the point that in the tour he completely ignored DH (as well as DOALM…), and that if more concerts are to come, we are probably going to hear much of OI performed, as well as material from the other new album we are hearing about (two tracks were already performed in concerts and not included in OI). Do you think that he might even resurrect something from DH? And do you expect that he will create a new concept for the concerts, with mostly new material and a few old favorites, or the other way around, as in the last tour?
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby MaryB » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:12 am

DBCohen wrote:Second, indeed, almost half the album is recited, and that could be along the model of “To A Teacher”, but it must also reflect the fact that it became difficult for LC to sing as much as before.
Tom and Doron,

Sorry to intrude, but, could the fact that there is so much recitation in OI be in any way connected to the adulation and acclaim he received from his fans with his recitation of 'A Thousand Kisses Deep' during this tour? Then, as result he wanted to give us more of what we so enjoyed - especially when we said he could read the phone book and we would be happy?

Kindest regards,
Mary
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby DBCohen » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:49 pm

Mary,

This is not a private space so there is no need to apologize for intruding. My slogan regarding discussions on the Forum has always been “the more the merrier”.

To your question, your guess is as good as mine, although I personally tend to believe that it became easier for him to recite than to sing. Let’s see what Tom thinks.

To my earlier speculation about the contents of the not-yet-declared but highly possible future concerts I must add what I’ve just read in Sylvie Simmons' wonderful Mojo article/interview, where LC says: “it will take some time to learn all these new songs and the five or six from the next new record”, so apparently he is planning on concerts with plenty of brand-new material. As for actually going on tour again he says, when speaking about the last tour band: “…we all miss that sense of community. I certainly miss it. So that’s a strong invitation to resume. Whether it can be done or not, there are other considerations.” Bottom line: he wants to do it, the band wants to do it, and now it all depends on those other considerations…
Last edited by DBCohen on Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby tomsakic » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:27 pm

I think not, because the recitations started much before the tour and that was the logical development of Leonard's musical and singing style. Actually, Dear Heather was partially conceived as the recital album "with no traditional song structure", and later unreleased songs like Puppets (which apparently will be on next album, according to the booklet's last page) were continuing that style. "Amen" itself was recorded in 2007, and that version is included here, like "Villanelle For Our Time", recorded in 2001, as his first track after the monastery but released after Ten New Songs, in 2004.

I myself had an impression that in 2008-10 LC started to SING for the first time, so I am surprised a little that the new album was not the full band album (and thinking about Javier Mas' January 2012 interview to El Pais, where he said he is surprised that their record sessions are not on Old Ideas except one track), but apparently the songs were to good to be left over. On the other side, the fact that Puppets was on album's working track-list (pictured on booklet's last page) probably means it's going to be on next record, so I do not except anymore the idea that Old Ideas is the riddance of old ideas, and that next (2013?) album will be the full band album without recitations. I was thinking so a a week ago, especially because the first impression of Old Ideas was that it is not an album of songs you can perform live. I think that beside "Darkness" and "Lullaby" and "Crazy To Love You" there's no track you can perform live, and surely not "Going Home" or "Come Healing". Otherwise he would re-record it with the band for the album release. (For the matter of fact, they were recorded in such manner *after* the tour, with Patrick Leonard, although LC does have a band sitting and waiting for him, what confirms my impression it is the type of songs and style LC likes to cultivate since mid-2000s.). It is too demanding poetry recital to be performed live and needs much rearrangement - not like "A Thousand Kisses Deep" which has only LC on voice and Neil Larsen on keyboards.

So I do not expect Dear Heather tracks in the set-list, but I do hope the new set-list would be comprised of songs from Old Ideas and next album ("Born in Chains", "Feels So Good", "Street", "Thanks for the Dance"...) as I really think "the best of" concept is worn out in 2008-10's 247 concerts...

Of course, Mojo is not available here yet so I am not concluding anything before I see Sylvie's interview.
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby DBCohen » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:58 pm

Tom,

I was lucky to get my MOJO copy so soon thanks to the kindness of a very good friend, who will remain nameless for the moment, so you and others may not demand “why Doron and not me?”. Let’s say it was my turn this time, on this remote island where I used to sit and read with envy how you were all gallivanting from one city to the next, from concert to concert… So this time I got CD and MOJO early: that’s what friends are for 8)

I think that I’ve quoted above the crucial things he said about future concerts, although there is of course much more in the article, especially about recording OI, thoughts on the next album, and various songs that he’s been working on for years (“The Treaty has been around easily for 15 years, Born In Chains has been around since ’88.”) He speaks with great admiration of Patrick Leonard; apparently, he is very satisfied with those tracks…

Now I can’t help but disagree with you about the possibility of performing all those songs on stage. You are the expert, so I may be wrong, but I can definitely hear “Going Home”, “Come Healing”, “Amen” and most other songs performed with the female voices in the background, and somewhat different arrangements perhaps, why not? Well, it’s all a little academic at the moment, but it may still come true.
Last edited by DBCohen on Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby holydove » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:31 pm

I must add Different Sides, Banjo & Show Me The Place to the list of potential candidates for live performance. I think Leonard could do great live performances of those songs!! Actually, I think a live version of Going Home is quite feasible too. I think the only one that might be difficult to do live,(at least in its current form), would be Anyhow, but that certainly doesn't mean it can't be done, & it most definitely doesn't mean I wouldn't love to see a live performance of it!! So, I guess I'm saying that I think all or any of the songs on Old Ideas would be great material for live performance, & whether Leonard chooses to recite or sing the words wouldn't really matter - it would be beautiful either way. And I think Leonard's rendition of Crazy To Love You (as well as a few others, & certain parts of other songs,) on the album, as well as his performance on the recent tour, provide us with ample evidence that he can definitely still sing!!
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby Hartmut » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:43 pm

holydove wrote:So, I guess I'm saying that I think all or any of the songs on Old Ideas would be great material for live performance
I concur.
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby tomsakic » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:19 pm

Well, I wouldn't want him to lose the precious concert time on Banjo or this version of Lullaby... Many other songs to perform. ;P
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby DBCohen » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:50 pm

OK, but 5 or 6 out of 10 should be possible...

BTW, Sylvie writes that "Darkness" "appears to be about cunnilingus". Did anyone mention this before? It wouldn't be the first time 8)
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby Goldin » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:04 pm

DBCohen wrote:BTW, Sylvie writes that "Darkness" "appears to be about cunnilingus". Did anyone mention this before?
Haven't read about it here, but for some of us it was rather obvious, as one of interpretations. This "little ruby cup", drinking from which one have a risk to caught some infectious darkness :roll:
DBCohen wrote:It wouldn't be the first time 8)
Sure, viewtopic.php?f=10&t=14907
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Re: Old Ideas to Dear Heather and back again!

Postby DBCohen » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:48 pm

Yes, well, I guess I focused on the spiritual aspect of the song :oops:

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