The Darker Album and the Songs

Leonard Ciohen's last studio album (2016)
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mat james
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby mat james » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:01 am

‘…But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.’
T.S.Eliot, via Diane.

Between two waves? And in the case of Leonard’s mood in this song, Treaty, the truth is not heard at all between two waves of ...doubt and fear.

of Treaty and such...

On light and ego and the tiny middle way; the narrow gate..

Leonard’s deep-deep inner-most doubts may have been expressed in this aching song, "Treaty". And cyclic uncertainty, is why he repeats the verse in the final song, String Reprise/Treaty
singing about a Treaty “between your love and mine.”

Why a treaty between lovers?
Why not a wedding?
Why not a blending of souls or spirits?
Why not a union of loving friendship?
Why a Treaty???

Maybe:
In this song, Treaty, Leonard concerns himself with a reasonably common, deep dilemma in many loving relationships where one party feels that they are being overwhelmed by the other and despite the pleasures of love, that vulnerable party feels they are being overwhelmed by their partner/lover to such a degree that this under-valueing of self becomes destructive to the gentle, fledgeling heart (atman/ego); to a point where the vulnerable one, Leonard in this case, fears he is about to be annihilated altogether by his G~d; absorbed completely; a rain-drop in the ocean, so to speak, utterly absorbed to the point of extinction. This fearful "thought by thought" is repeated in the song “Steer your way” where Leonard begs his “heart”, his god, his teachers, his Atman, his inner-dweller, anyone...:
“Please don’t make me go there,
tho’ there be a god or not”
…because he doesn’t want to be absorbed and diluted out of existence,
and so he sings another thought by thought, in Traveling Light:
But if the road
leads back to you
must I forget
the things I knew……..(?)
A “treaty” is based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility; not love.
The issue with entering the void of divine union is the possibility of, and maybe expectation of, a total loss of self, dissolved and diffused in some osmotic transfer of consciousness’. Diffusion through a semipermeable membrane/manbrain is a two way process where elemental ideas can be exchanged and shared at a non-threatening pace in a non-threatening space. But in this moment, in this space, Leonard does not feel safe and does not feel appreciated or loved, rather he feels completely vulnerable by the overwhelming “thought by thought” of individual extinction which is the promise of some mystic schools of thought.

This is the darkest darkness of what the mystics call “The Dark Night”. This is the moment where Leonard says to his g~d,
“You want it darker
We kill the flame”
Not a question but a statement of fearful pessimism.
That is, as if to say to himself and to his g~d; “kill the flame that burns in my heart”;...and that's it for me, Sunshine.
Like Jesus' loss of faith on the cross;
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"
("My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?")

"Treaty" is a song about a moment in a mind … on the cliff-face of faith, staring into a mid-night-un-welcoming void, knees buckling, soul crying, voice moaning..
If ever I loved you
It's a crying shame...
…and he feels he can go no “darker” no further… or he will topple into that “void” and be forever gone… that “light” in his heart that is ever guiding him is about to be extinguished...by his "Lover":

So he looks to his soul; and cries,
"You were my safe and sound...my aerial"
Where are you now???
...but only one of us was real
and that was me...

Alone and lost...so Leonard-lost;

And this is just the place he needs to be!!!
…..in order that he can sense the dimmest of divine light, that “sweet” light that is the essence of the Spirit of god, and, the spirit of humanity and also the spirit of “life” itself.
( I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. as Jesus explained)
To be elsewhere other than this dimmest and darkest of places in this game of light seeking Light, is to be “blinded by the Face of God”.
…and yet, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (KJB)
The “Paradox” is that we need to be dark to become light.
We need to be in darkness and unknowing ignorance in order to comprehend what the spirit/Spirit has to offer; or it is all just too much…

and so Leonard sighs,
“I wish there was a treaty we could sign”
because it all just seems too dark, too hard, too threatening and just too “bloody” much.
"I do not care who climbs this bloody hill"
A “treaty” would enable him and his atman to still exist; to saunter on through perhaps other lives to come..re-incarnate perhaps, to Bodhisattva? or maybe a gypsy poet-singer...which is more to my (Leonard's) liking...
This "Treaty" is an anxious plea,

"I want participation, not annihilation
give me time, give me time and space...not eternity...
let's call a truce, make a treaty
in this war of love and Love."

Thankfully, we have other beautiful songs of his on this wonderful album that redeem the moment, between the "waves"...the Dark Nights...
...thought by thought...
.
.
.
MatbellybuttongazerJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
vickiwoodyard
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby vickiwoodyard » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:04 pm

Allan Showalter happened to post a quote from Leonard on cohencentric.com today. As far as I am concerned, this is what Treaty is about in a nutshell. Here is the quote:

"We sense that there is a will that is behind all things, and we’re also aware of our own will, and it’s the distance between those two wills that creates the mystery that we call religion. It is the attempt to reconcile our will with another will that we can’t quite put our finger on, but we feel is powerful and existent. It’s the space between those two wills that creates our predicament." ~Leonard Cohen
yopietro
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby yopietro » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:29 pm

vickiwoodyard wrote:Allan Showalter happened to post a quote from Leonard on cohencentric.com today. As far as I am concerned, this is what Treaty is about in a nutshell. Here is the quote:

"We sense that there is a will that is behind all things, and we’re also aware of our own will, and it’s the distance between those two wills that creates the mystery that we call religion. It is the attempt to reconcile our will with another will that we can’t quite put our finger on, but we feel is powerful and existent. It’s the space between those two wills that creates our predicament." ~Leonard Cohen
That's a beautiful quote. Thanks for sharing and I agree that is indeed the essence of the treaty in Treaty.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby vickiwoodyard » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:39 pm

Leonard couldn't have said it better himself :)
Steven
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Steven » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:32 pm

Hi,

Interesting that the song character isn't wishing for a reconcilement of the
two loves or a cementing. A treaty may not be as strong as a reconcilement.
A cementing would give the loves at least a degree of permanency. Consider
the treaty in "Night Comes On." There, a treaty ("agreement") is broken; a party
"lied." Perhaps the best the character in "Treaty" is capable of wishing for is a
lesser assurance.
jim devlin
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jim devlin » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:10 pm

Presently listening to Vienna 07.03.1985 ... is that really 32 years ago!? In 'Diamonds In the Mine', Leonard sings the following verse

"I haven't said a word since you been gone
That any liar couldn't say as well
And I can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground, my aerial"

which I thought was interesting considering the earlier conversations on these pages about his use of the word "aerial" in 'Treaty'.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jim devlin » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:18 pm

Correction: listening to Vienna 06.03.1985 while typing; but just checked - and Leonard sings same lyrics next night 07.03.1985.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jim devlin » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:25 pm

And earlier in Dublin 02.03.1985, also in 'Diamonds In The Mine', Leonard's final verse lyrics are:

"I seen you change the water into wine
That was a very pretty trick to do
And I sit at your table every night
And baby I just can't get drunk with you".
vickiwoodyard
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby vickiwoodyard » Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:01 pm

So this is an old lyric of his. Hmmm. I have listened to Darker many times and this is just the sense I get. That the deepest love of his was Marianne, but that he gave himself deeply to Rebecca D. even though, out of unselfishness, he terminated the relationship. I read where they were in touch during his last days. It feels like On The Level was about this.

Whatever interpretations we put on these songs of his doesn't really matter. He didn't want to be pinned down by intellectual interpretations of what was, for him, his deep gathering of the light and darkness to share with us all.
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B4real
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby B4real » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:37 am

Hi Jim and Vicki, just thought I'd update you both or anyone else who had missed them - see these posts here:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=36714&start=300#p361210

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=36714&start=300#p361216

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=36880&p=362977&start=300#p362977

and here: http://cohencentric.com/2016/11/27/leon ... 16-treaty/

The words vary slightly from concert to concert but are generally as below:

(Wiesbaden 2nd, Birmingham 28th Feb & Dublin (1) 2nd March 1985)
I see you changed the water into wine
That was a very pretty trick to do
I sit at your table every night
Baby, I just can't get drunk with you
And there are no letters in the mailbox....

(Basel 5th, Vienna 6th & 7th, Munich 9th, Boblington 10th March 1985)
I haven’t said a word since you’ve been gone
That any liar couldn’t say as well
I can’t believe the static coming on
You were my ground, you were my aerial
And there are no letters in the mail box....

I know someone who has been to another concert that wasn't recorded (can't remember which one) and the "water into wine" verse was sung so there are probably other concerts were either verse was used as well.
Be for real. Free yourself to find the real Self ~~ Me
Happiness is like learning the violin, the more you practice it the more it comes to you ~~ Me
Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind ~~ Gore Vidal
DBCohen
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby DBCohen » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:48 pm

I’ve been away from this thread for a while because I was absorbed in writing my review on Teresa Quayle’s book on LC’s lyrics which Jarkko has now posted on Analysis page of the Files, but I enjoyed reading everybody’s recent contributions.

vickiwoodyard’s quote reminded me of the long exchanges on the question of the will (or the two wills) we had during the Book of Mercy discussion some years ago. It is indeed a pivotal idea in LC’s thought.

Steven, it’s good hearing from you here. Indeed, it seems that the speaker in “Treaty” has very little expectations. I don’t think that the despair expressed in this album’s songs is something completely new for LC (certainly not when taking into account his novels, poems etc.), but it is given perhaps the most explicit expression in his songs until now.
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Violet
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Violet » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:32 pm

Hi everyone.

I just want to make a comment concerning the creative process in general since I think it's relevant to this discussion.

When an artist/writer updates or re-uses an older line or lyric (or other aspect of one's work) this shouldn't necessarily be interpreted as his/her thinking about the original circumstances surrounding the earlier writing, etc. An earlier poem or discarded lyric may come up precisely because something in the present tense brought the feeling up again. For that reason any changes made to the original lyric in this new context are interesting to consider given they may now reflect the nuances of this new circumstance that in some way recalled the old discarded lyric, etc.

One needs to be especially mindful of this if one deigns to draw more biographical type conclusions. To think an old lyric that's been reused still lies static in the past is to overlook the more pressing and immediate motivations, which may well go to a work's "ever presentness."
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby rike » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:56 pm

" . . .perhaps the most explicit expression in his songs until now." Until now. So there is hope we'll be able to read more or hear (from the tower of song) in the future.
"...A manual for living with defeat..."
jim devlin
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jim devlin » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:20 pm

Apologies for my lack of diligence in not having checked the earlier posts on the lyrics from 'Diamonds' re-appearing in 'Treaty'.
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B4real
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby B4real » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:15 pm

No apologies necessary, Gentleman Jim :)
Please let us know if you come across any more concerts with those two similar verses.
Be for real. Free yourself to find the real Self ~~ Me
Happiness is like learning the violin, the more you practice it the more it comes to you ~~ Me
Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind ~~ Gore Vidal

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