Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:27 pm

That is interesting B4! Not only for the mules, but for the "clear water". The river that flows in front of our house, which incidentally is the the one Lewis and Clark navigated to connect with the Snake and later the Columbia and on to the Pacific Ocean,is called the Clearwater River.

I am sampling Stranger Music while I am also reading Beautiful Losers, and I am thinking I just need to get all the books. Even though he hand selected (with help) the pieces that are in Stranger Music, I know I am missing something if I don't read each publication in its entirety. I was wondering if all of you have read them all?

Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:12 am

Vickie,
That’s an interesting connection too! And yes, I have read all that is available at this stage of Leonard’s words in both song and poetry. There are members here who prefer his written word as poetry to those he has sung. Some of those words do sit differently on the page and that's where they are most content to stay at home in written form. But some of those poems have a certain rhythm and therefore ability to live contentedly double lives as songs. To me, poems are a more private affair than songs which have left home and are given to the air. I remember Leonard saying that he always heard music when he composed his poems.

If you want to get as a complete understanding as you can of Leonard’s work I suggest you do get access to all his books in the order they were published. You could take advantage of being a librarian and read them first.

Maybe you should start a new thread, “Along the way... "Discovering Leonard’s poetry” ;-)
There are others here who are very knowledgeable about his poetry and perhaps they would be interested to contribute some thoughts and ideas. Who knows .... :)
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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:20 pm

The lines B4 posted, "and the old clear water eating rocks," refers to the geological/chemical phenomenon where the earth's great mountains are slowly but surely being dissolved by rainwater and carried away. Note that he said "eating rocks," not simply eroding rocks which would be more a physical than a chemical reaction. I point this out because it is another example of Leonard's broad base of knowledge and his ability to retain what he was taught. One might expect that he would soak in everything he was taught in literature and the humanities, but remember, he almost certainly had to wade through chemistry, biology, and physics courses, and it seems like he was paying attention. I am sure there are other examples in his lyrics and poems that reveal this. One I noticed the first time I heard "Show Me the Place" was his reference to light, "A thread of light, a particle, a wave." In physics, the first things we are taught about light is that there are two theories describing it (the particle theory and the wave theory), that neither theory fully accounts for light's characteristics, but that in tandem they do. Similarly, Leonard at one time studied law, and we can see references to the legal process in a number of songs.

Vickie, thanks for posting the photos and your reactions to the Montreal Event. It was especially interesting to meet and speak with Dave, as I was curious to see if he was there only in deference to you or if he had developed his own interest in Leonard. While your desire to attend had to be a factor, I sensed that he was far from being a reluctant participant. Good work in achieving the near impossible--converting someone into a fan!

I've put in a lot of listening time to Leonard's albums these past couple of weeks, and this reminded me of three interesting songs that have not been discussed much here: "Stories of the Street," "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes," and "The Captain." Would someone want to pick one and start a discussion? It would also be interesting to hear what Leonard might have said about these songs (from B4's "archives"), but maybe that should come after our own comments.
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:47 pm

B4real wrote:If you want to get as a complete understanding as you can of Leonard’s work I suggest you do get access to all his books in the order they were published. You could take advantage of being a librarian and read them first.
I have already requested both Let Us Compare Mythologies and The Spice Box of Earth on my birthday and holiday lists! Hopefully, as I go through his written work, subsequent books will not be as difficult to find at Spice Box of Earth was! I had done an online search of the library catalog for the consortium my library belongs to and they had only Let Us Compare Mythologies and Book of Longing. By the way, I am a Library Clerk, not a Librarian. I think I have mentioned in the past that I am self educated for the most part and hold no degree (unless you count Massage Technician, which is actually a certification not a degree), nor do I receive a degree salary. ;-) However, I am the only library employee at our school and therefore all of the duties of a librarian fall to me, including cataloging new books. But to call me a 'librarian' would be an affront to most certified librarians. If they caught me calling myself a that, they would Dewey decimate me (a little library humor). So, regarding Leonard's written work, I prefer to have my own collect at home. Besides, I need to keep Amazon busy! I told Dave that with all we have spent and will spend on Leonard Cohen, maybe we could list Adam as a dependent on our taxes. Just kidding, we all know Adam can support himself. In fact, I have requested his album Like a Man on my birthday list as well!

I liked what you said about poetry being a more private affair than songs. I have loved poetry my whole life, and although I am not that learned in the technicalities of it all, I know what I like.
Maybe you should start a new thread, “Along the way... "Discovering Leonard’s poetry” ;-)
I have thought of doing that... You don't suppose I would be intimidated by those who comment do you? (In light of the fact that I am not that versed in the technicalities of poetry).
its4inthemorning wrote:I've put in a lot of listening time to Leonard's albums these past couple of weeks, and this reminded me of three interesting songs that have not been discussed much here: "Stories of the Street," "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes," and "The Captain." Would someone want to pick one and start a discussion?
Great suggestions all of them! I would vote for The Captain if I was pressed for a favorite among them. I love the final verse:

Now the Captain he was dying
But the Captain wasn't hurt
The silver bars were in my hand
I pinned them to my shirt.


Obviously he is talking about something different than a captain there.
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:30 am

its4inthemorning wrote: It was especially interesting to meet and speak with Dave, as I was curious to see if he was there only in deference to you or if he had developed his own interest in Leonard. While your desire to attend had to be a factor, I sensed that he was far from being a reluctant participant. Good work in achieving the near impossible--converting someone into a fan!
I have waited to comment on this until I could speak to Dave tonight. He was on his first hunt of the season which he missed doing earlier because of our trip to Montreal. ( it was not successful but c'est la vie).

When I asked him "Well...are you a fan? Apparently you have 4 convinced that you are."
He said, "Yeah..... I'm a fan." Then he added, "But I'm not a freak fan, like some people.", and gave me an accusatory look. Which I have to admit is deserved.

He appreciated meeting you as well. And I can't mention your wife's name without him commenting "She's so cute."
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:56 am

its4inthemorning wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:20 pm
Would someone want to pick one and start a discussion? It would also be interesting to hear what Leonard might have said about these songs (from B4's "archives"), but maybe that should come after our own comments.
I will do as you say 4, and wait to post that but in the meantime....
Vickie wrote: I liked what you said about poetry being a more private affair than songs. I have loved poetry my whole life, and although I am not that learned in the technicalities of it all, I know what I like.
B4real wrote: Maybe you should start a new thread, “Along the way... "Discovering Leonard’s poetry”
Vickie wrote: I have thought of doing that... You don't suppose I would be intimidated by those who comment do you? (In light of the fact that I am not that versed in the technicalities of poetry).
Vickie, someone, I forget who, once said that you don’t have to understand poetry to feel and enjoy it, or something like that. Ah, I remember now! TS Elliot said: “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood”. At school I learnt the basic technical aspects of poetry but I’m definitely not an expert! I’m more of the feeling variety of reader.

Still talking about poems/songs and also because you’re reading Beautiful Losers at the moment, here’s an excerpt from the 1993 Jan edition of a magazine called Details for Men -

LC: Mostly what I was interested in was writing a kind of poetry that has the same lyric limpidness as some of the Scottish Border ballads or Irish songs, and later some of the Spanish Civil War songs. The kind of verse I was writing was like "My lady can sleep upon a handkerchief, or if it be Fall upon a fallen leaf." But it isn't quite accurate to say that I started as a musician and moved over to poetry. They arose at the same time. I was interested in the kind of language that went well with the guitar.

Interviewer: In Beautiful Losers, you concoct an R&B song that Gavin Gate and the Goddesses sing without ever making fun of it, as if you were elevating it to a hymn.

LC: Well, that's the way I feel about things. People often think that I play some kind of conditional kitsch in relation to cultural artifacts, which simply isn't true. When people ask me, 'What's your favorite song?' I say "Blueberry Hill." "I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill / The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill." That's as good as it gets, as far as I know. You know everything about that moment. You know, you're continually see-sawing back and forth between the secular and the spiritual until from time to time you hit it right. It's there on "Blueberry Hill," or "Old Man River" from Ray Charles. And what is that? What is that about? Is it about work? Is it about God? Is it about love? It's impossible to say; it's been transmuted into the world, and the song doesn't invite you to examine your achievements in the realm of piety or religiosity or even love, but the song itself is embracing all those elements! Like in Beautiful Losers, there's certain moments when the lyricism and the spontaneity and the boldness allow the expression to be without self-regard, without self-consciousness, and once that happens, once that moment happens, then the embrace is absolute: Everything is embraced, nothing is left out! It's when you leave things out that you get on the one side pious, on the other side the vulgar or pornographic. If God is left out of sex, it becomes pornographic; if sex is left out of God, it becomes pious and self-righteous.

btw - check this video out and tell me what you think :)
https://cohen.1g.fi/kuvat/Montreal+Memo ... I_5002.MOV
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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:46 am

B4real wrote:If God is left out of sex, it becomes pornographic; if sex is left out of God, it becomes pious and self-righteous.
Thank you for everything that you said in your post about poetry. And thank you especially for Leonard's words, because you know how much I love that. I'm looking forward to going through his written work. Even though it is a little intimidating to me. Music and lyrics are the language of the masses, but poetry... not so much.
Thank you for the video. Can you imagine how I felt... alone in that room, looking at this recreation of all of his things, and then staring at his back out the window and seeing him turn around.. not expecting it?
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:15 am

its4inthemorning wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:20 pm
I've put in a lot of listening time to Leonard's albums these past couple of weeks, and this reminded me of three interesting songs that have not been discussed much here: "Stories of the Street," "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes," and "The Captain." Would someone want to pick one and start a discussion? It would also be interesting to hear what Leonard might have said about these songs (from B4's "archives"), but maybe that should come after our own comments.
OK seeing it’s quiet with responses about the above, I’ll start alphabetically with A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes and here we are ;-) viewtopic.php?f=79&t=34613

I thought seeing as I know what Vickie and 4 look like I would reciprocate and post a photo inclusive link. I didn’t plan it for today but serendipitously, it is also the exact same date of 20th November 2013, the 4th anniversary of the Melbourne gathering of forum members and dinner before the concert.

....and below is a ‘before’ photo of me that most of you will remember I used as my avatar photo before the day Leonard passed away. I really didn’t feel like seeing my smiling face looking back at me after that horrible happening! There’s about 40 years between these two photos. At the Townsville concert I sat close to someone who turned out to be a forum member (antipodean heart) and she straight away recognized me from my avatar – an unexpected compliment, after all those years between :razz: That plus other good stuff here: viewtopic.php?f=79&t=34677#p341706

bskvio+piano.jpg
bskvio+piano.jpg (12.62 KiB) Viewed 308 times


Now enough of this frivolity and back to the above mentioned song itself. To my knowledge Leonard has no recorded words to say about this song and it was never sung in concert. The first four lines of the 3rd verse of A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes are similar to the 2nd verse of the poem ‘Who Will Finally Say” from Selected Poems 1956–1968.

Song 3rd verse:
I sing this for the crickets,
I sing this for the army,
I sing this for your children
and for all who do not need me.

Poem 2nd verse:
I sing this for your children,
I sing this for the crickets,
I sing this for the army
for all who do not need me.

Now as I am simply a gatherer of information with a certain sense of humour, at this stage I will leave it to others to comment further on this song (or anything else above :) ) if they want to.
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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:39 pm

A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes-

This song has always been such an enigma to me, starting with the very first line. First of all, why are they so lonesome? And we don't know why they are heroes- except maybe for the mention of the army. The biggest question I have regarding the opening line is- what were they quarreling about?

The questions only multiply from there. I understand how a night can be dark and thick... but green? It reminds me of Nancy's stockings and the thin green candle. One of the most intriguing lines is "Some of us are very hungry now to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong," which makes the song seem a confession of sorts. Or maybe he is just referring to how hungry society can be to get the 'dirt' on someone. Then of course there is the line about one of them being worried about turning into gold, which brings to mind the story of King Midas. In the end it sounds as if he was right to be worried because he IS turning into gold.

The entire song is just a tease. A snippet of something bigger. It frustrates me.

B4-
Thank you for the photos, both the before and the recent! I love them, and it is nice to have an idea what we all look like. It helped that you said what you were wearing and that you had rimless glasses on. I had a hard time deciphering which was Alan. He describes himself as sitting next to the wine bottles, but I wasn't sure. By the way, we haven't heard from Alan for a bit, although he said earlier that he was traveling.

Time to get to work
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:31 am

A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes
were smoking out along the open road;
the night was very thick and dark between them,
each man beneath his ordinary load.

"I'd like to tell my story,"
said one of them so young and bold;
"I'd like to tell my story,
before I turn into gold."

But no one could really hear him,
the night so dark and thick and green;
well I guess that these heroes must always live there
where you and I have only been.

Put out your cigarette, my love,
you've been alone too long;
and some of us are very hungry now
to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong.

I sing this for the crickets,
I sing this for the army,
I sing this for your children
and for all who do not need me.

"I'd like to tell my story,"
said one of them so bold,
"Oh yes, I'd like to tell my story
'cause you know I feel I'm turning into gold."

Oh my, what has my song suggestion gotten us into?

From the beginning I always thought that this song's roots are in the Vietnam War. I am not sure when it was actually written, but the album was released in 1969, so that war would have been on the news almost every night.

Besides the term "heroes" which already points us towards military conflict, there are several lyrics that evoke soldiers serving a tour of duty in Vietnam: "smoking out along the open road" (as in smoke 'em if you got 'em), "the night was very thick and dark," "each man beneath his ordinary load (as in backpack), and again, "the night so dark and thick and green" (as in a jungle).

But still unanswered are these questions: (1) why are the heroes quarrelsome; (2) what is the story that needs to be told; and (3) what does turning into gold mean?

Before guessing at the answers, it is necessary to clarify who the person referred to as "my love" is. I interpret the song as the narrator's recollections, after the fact, of a group of soldiers at rest in the midst of a long war. (Note that the singer disassociates himself from the group by placing their lines in quotation marks.) Thus, "my love" refers to the narrator's woman who the recollections are being related to.

I can't say this is the only interpretation that can work, but it is the one that seems most likely to me: The young soldiers have been participating (perhaps against their wills), in a bloody and unpopular war, and like most warriors, have experienced things that no human should ever have to. Some in the group see what they have taken part in and/or witnessed as being an unavoidable and inevitable part of war, while others feel lines were crossed that should not have been; that is why they are quarrelsome.

The story that needs to be told may be about a specific atrocity that has been witnessed and has been covered up by the brass; in that case, the questioner's fear of turning into gold might be the fear that, if he stays quiet, he will become inhuman. (Here my lack of religious knowledge shows, doesn't the Bible place negative connotations on gold?) A second interpretation, one with a happier face, it that the story that needs to be told is about acts of real heroism that have been witnessed; in this case, the fear of turning into gold is the fear the questioner will (hopefully) return home after the war and himself be considered a hero, a designation he knows should properly go to unnamed others.

Finally, what is the narrator saying to his love when he says, "you've been alone too long; and some of us are very hungry now to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong."? I can only offer this: perhaps the lover was opposed to the war and feels remorse at not doing more to protest against it, and the narrator is trying to politely tell her, "your discomfort is nothing compared to what those that were there feel and felt."

Don't know how much sense this makes, but it was a tough assignment. (Back in college I took an Ancient History course as an elective. I think because one of the three weekly classes occurred on Saturday morning, I racked up quite a few absences, and after the final exam, which I did not feel I did well with I went to the professor's office to beg. Professor Mauer was the quintessential college professor, gray hair and mustache and a wry, cynical nature. He looked over my grades and attendance record, and then looked up over his glasses without raising his head and said, "how does a gentleman's C sound?") I hope the above is worth a gentleman's C.

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:10 am

4-
First off, I loved your ending:
its4inthemorning wrote:.... He looked over my grades and attendance record, and then looked up over his glasses without raising his head and said, "how does a gentleman's C sound?") I hope the above is worth a gentleman's C

As always, you crack me up!

Backing up to your interpretation... (I hope you can hear my applause)...I like it. I keep forgetting to bring the context of the era that the songs were written into things!! The dark and thick and green is totally a Vietnam thing, as well as the "I'd like to tell my story". It reminds me of a young man that my dad hired to work in the woods with him when we were in Oregon. He had just come back from Vietnam. He was definitely marked by the jungle, in that every time it rained, as was often in Oregon, Dad would say, "John might stay home today". He came camping with us once and around the campfire he started to tell stories. I remember it scared me and Dad didn't like me to be around him, even though I was a young teen by then, or maybe because of that.

As for:
"Put out your cigarette, my love, you've been alone too long;
and some of us are very hungry now, to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong."

Since he is talking about putting out a cigarette and they were smoking along the open road, maybe it refers to the one telling the story and not his love interest. Maybe he is wanting to ask what the soldiers have done wrong, including himself. However, if it is about his love left at home, maybe he is asking who she has been messing around with while he was gone- indiscretion is a seemingly popular theme with Leonard.

Anyways, thank you for reminding me that the time frame that Leonard's songs were written in are important. They may be timeless themes, but they are brought to the surface by very topical things..... and we are all products of our environments.

Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:59 pm

By exchanging thoughts in these little "studies" we all gain new insights. I focused my write-up on Vietnam and ignored the larger context (replace jungle with sand, and the song could just as easily be about an army patrol in the mid-east), while Vickie concentrated on the larger theme and did not notice the topical references.

As I implied, I was grasping at straws in my attempt to fit the "Put out your cigarette...that was so wrong" lines into my premise. Vickie's interpretation is more where I wanted to end up, but I still cannot reconcile the two little words, "my love." Without those words the entire line could be referring to another soldier in the group. With them included, the line becomes clumsy, with the beginning "Put out your cigarette, my love, you've been alone too long" occurring in the narrator's after-the-fact conversation with his love and the ending "and some of us are very hungry now, to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong" taking place along the open road. We can, of course, make things reconcile nicely if "my love" is a member of the soldier group, but if Leonard had intended to portray a homosexual relationship I have to think he would have done so with more than just the insertion of "my love."

Some musings:

When I listen to, or read, the lyrics of, "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" I get the feeling at certain points that Leonard has included extra words that make it seem a bit awkward. For example, omitting the "very" from the line "A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes" makes the line flow more easily. Same with the "very" in "the night was very dark and thick between them," the "that" in "well I guess that these heroes must always live live there," and the "it is" in "to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong." Does anyone else sense this?

Thanks B4 for the photos of you and Alan, it is nice to put faces on correspondents. The Australian tour must have been great fun with your little group, and with your prime seats. I was disappointed that you know of no comments by Leonard about "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes," and surprised to hear that Leonard never performed the song in concerts. Thanks too for posting the T S Elliot quote, "genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood." That is a perfect statement. And you are much more than a gatherer of information!

From a peak of having six cats, we have been down to one for about a year now, and every time I would mention being cat-poor to Joann, she would scowl and say one is too many. However, this week there was a change of heart on Joann's part, so we will be obtaining one (or two?) from our local shelter next month.

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby Jean Fournell » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:38 pm

vlcoats wrote: Now the Captain he was dying
But the Captain wasn't hurt
The silver bars were in my hand
I pinned them to my shirt.


Obviously he is talking about something different than a captain there.
No idea what precisely a captain is, except on a ship. Military matters are none of my business. So here just an idea.
Maybe we should read:
Now the [old] Captain he was dying
But the [new] Captain [= the narraror] wasn't hurt
The silver bars were in my hand
I pinned them to my shirt.




It had not occurred to me that "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" might be related to the Vietnam war, but now it sounds very plausible (I've never thought of soldiers as heroes either, and I still don't). Yet I have more questions than answers...

A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes
Does "quarrelsome" mean they did some fragging?
were smoking out along the open road;
Using flame-throwers on the last survivors in villages along a road "opened" by air-raids and tanks?
the night was very dark and thick between them,
Not around them: a secret (fragging?) between them?
each man beneath his ordinary load.
Meaning the combustible for his flame-thrower?
"I'd like to tell my story,"
said one of them so young and bold,
"I'd like to tell my story,
before I turn into gold."
"Speech is silver; silence is golden"?
Is he ready to betray their secret?


But no one really could hear him,
the night so dark and thick and green;
How can the night muffle his voice?
Why isn't the green colour seen as grey in the night?

well I guess that these heroes must always live there
where you and I have only been.
A couple of war journalists?
Put out your cigarette, my love,
Opposition of flame-thrower versus cigarette?
you've been alone too long;
and some of us are very hungry now
to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong.
Petty offences in a confessional or on a psychoanalyst's couch versus war crimes?

I sing this for the crickets,
Aesop's "The Ant and the Grasshopper"?
I sing this for the army,
I sing this for your children
Whose children?
and for all who do not need me.
"I'd like to tell my story,"
said one of them so bold,
"Oh yes, I'd like to tell my story
'cause you know I feel I'm turning into gold."

Some time ago someone mentioned Wallace Stevens to me, and his "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", a poem of 13 haiku-like stanzas. I'm not yet able to make head or tail of it, but it seems to be strongly influenced by the ongoing First World War. The tenth stanza reads:

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


No idea what those two "green" might be about. Maybe some military code...

PS: Just read Its4inthemorning's last post.
its4inthemorning wrote: When I listen to, or read, the lyrics of, "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" I get the feeling at certain points that Leonard has included extra words that make it seem a bit awkward. For example, omitting the "very" from the line "A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes" makes the line flow more easily. Same with the "very" in "the night was very dark and thick between them," the "that" in "well I guess that these heroes must always live live there," and the "it is" in "to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong." Does anyone else sense this?
Well, it would, possibly. But it wouldn't be better, to my taste. The additions seem to break the "euphony"...

Sorry all of this doesn't seem to be very helpful. It's just all I can say at least for the moment. :?
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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AlanM
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Location: Adelaide, Australia

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby AlanM » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:32 am

A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes is on Songs From A Room, the first LC album I heard, way back in 1968 or 1969. As this thread is about our personal feelings about Leonard's songs, rather than to accurately divine what Leonard meant, here goes ...
I was hooked after the first line of Bird on The Wire, and initially I listened to Songs from A Room more than Songs Of ...
Before I knew the origin of The Partisan, I always felt there was a similarity between it, The Old Revolution and A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes. Coming from a country not directly involved in the Vietnam War, I am still not fully aware of the effect it had on the participants, their relatives and friends and the remainder of the populations of the involved countries. I have become more aware having lived in Australia for over 40 years now, but I doubt I will ever fully understand the immediacy of its effect.

Anyhow ... There was a movie The Comedians https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Comedians_(1967_film) that in my mind fitted in with these 3 songs. In hindsight I see it is a loose attenuation, but not totally ridiculous.
{Jean, I had to look up what fragging means, so now I am wiser.}
I had interpreted these heroes as a group of rebels (in The Old Revolution?) rather than a platoon of regular soldiers.
Lonesome and quarrelsome indicates the isolation of the individual in a group where he feels he does not fully belong, maybe with no clear leader (too many chiefs?).
heroes I think is sarcasm, as recruitment polishes the idea of heroism, but after the conflict, many are discarded, having served the cause but are no longer needed.
The night was very dark and thick between them These men were thrown together in a common cause, but without total agreement.
Each man beneath his ordinary load. Struggling with the stresses of life and personal problems while with the group.
"I'd like to tell my story," etc. I want to get this off my chest ...
before I turn into gold." before I become cold and lifeless.
But no one really could hear him,
the night so dark and thick and green;
We've got our own problems, "suck it up, Princess!"
well I guess that these heroes must always live there
where you and I have only been.
I'm not sure if the song was composed after Leonard had been to Cuba, but, to me, it fits.
Put out your cigarette, my love,
you've been alone too long;
and some of us are very hungry now
to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong.
"My love" here, could be the narrator addressing himself in the 3rd person, berating himself for ignoring the need for his companion to unburden himself.
I sing this for the crickets, the crickets are in the darkness, and aren't listening either.
I sing this for the army, the rebel one or the enemy?
I sing this for your children the children of the revolutionaries?
and for all who do not need me. I expect to be discarded after the rebellion.
The final 4 lines emphasize the importance the narrator's companion attaches to telling his story.

Jean, my interpretation of that verse in The Captain is the same as yours.
"The (old) King is dead, Long Live The (new) King!"

You should all be glad that we are having this discussion electronically rather than face to face, as I have been coughing my way through my "Gentleman's C-" thesis. Contrary to Leonard's exhortation, I have picked up a "summer cold".

Alan
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
Sydney 2010; Adelaide 2010
Sydney 2013 X2; Melbourne 2013; Adelaide 2013
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vlcoats
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Location: Idaho

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:40 am

Hello-
How much fun it is to hear everyone's ideas and interpretations without arguing or one-upping. I haven't been in any electronic conversations like ours, or many at all to tell the truth. But whenever I mention to Dave that I can't believe what people say online, he always reminds how easy it is to hide behind the veil of the internet. I am so glad that doesn't happen here.

How nice to hear from you again Jean and Alan! Your takes on A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes were interesting. Like 4, Jean comes from a country directly involved in the Vietnam War, while Alan does not. Both of my countries were involved (Canada and America). America directly and Canada both for and against http://www.cbc.ca/radio/rewind/the-viet ... -1.3038110. But what about Leonard?

Jean-
I overlooked 'silence is golden' as a possible reason for 'turning into gold'. I also totally missed the fact that 'but the captain wasn't hurt' referred to the changing of the guard.

Alan-
Thank you for again reminding us that our thread is about our personal feelings regarding Leonard's songs. I too have always equated The Partisan, The Old Revolution, and A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes as being of the same vein...to the point that when 4 brought this up, I was wondering what Adam Cohen might have to say about it, being that he chose to sing The Partisan at the Tribute. I especially liked your interpretation of the 'dark and thick and green line' ---"We've got our own problems…suck it up, Princess!". Good one! I also liked your reminder that this may have had very much to do with Cuba, which Leonard was more involved with than Vietnam.

I hope you are feeling better after succumbing to 4's thesis comment! I love the reminder that it is now summer down under while we are struggling to get the animals fed before darkness descends here in the north!

4-
Regarding the kittens. If your current cat is older, I vote for 2 kittens, but not if they are of the same litter. Litter mates tend to act like Army circus performers practicing for their next show on a 3 day leave. Our cats are litter mates, as are 2 of our pugs. Both pairs have torn up this place! They never grow up! Just saying!

Love and best wishes to anyone celebrating Thanksgiving... my favorite American holiday.
Vickie
Sorry --- edited to add that when I said "But what about Leonard?", I meant "Where was his head at?" regarding this song.

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