Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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B4real
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:09 am

Vickie wrote: Love and best wishes to anyone celebrating Thanksgiving... my favorite American holiday.
Vickie, Hope you have a great day!

Ah Alan, some good insights there! I know it’s too late to say “Don’t catch a summer cold” but I hope it won’t last long! Maybe some apples dipped in honey (and lemon or is that Leonard ;-) ) will help it on its way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J10bR_IuJuE

Jean, thanks for your words and as always you give me food for thought and I have to chew slowly to digest it properly. It is known that this way is most beneficial for your body and mind :)

4, I enjoyed your analogy on A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes and thanks for your other comments. Interestingly, all of those three songs you first mentioned were never sung in concert and another thing they have in common is that they all have some military mention. LC said if his father had lived he would have probably followed him into the army. His father was a Lieutenant in the Canadian Engineers in WW1. Leonard has always had an affinity to what the army represents as an orderly instructional organization. As you know he called his first tour (of duty) band The Army. In other songs there are a number of references to soldiers and war. And still speaking poetry-wise, Leonard said about Book of Mercy that he received letters about it from soldiers and people who weren’t poetry readers.

The complete song of The Captain was not sung but recited three times that I know of in the USA in 1985 at New York, Boston and Philadelphia below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIFqt5w2nrE

The Captain is mentioned in these other songs -

Go tell all the brave, young Captains at war
~ Come Spend The Morning

Everybody knows that the Captain lied
~ Everybody Knows

Nor the Captain on the hill
~ God is Alive, Magic is Afoot

And I sing this for the Captain...
You must keep it for the Captain
~ Heart With No Companion

Now I sing this for the Captain
~ Thirsty For The Kiss

From the (Captain’s) horse’s mouth, so to speak:
I began this song four years ago and it has 30 or 40 verses. I had to choose among them. This selection does not guarantee an achievement but at least proves the will of achievement. Among others, there are two lines that I find true: "Whatever makes a soldier sad, will make a killer smile." In other words, we are really a predatory species. We are unique so far as we kill for pleasure. We have to understand that we're going to meet with some people who, naturally, are killers. It's not like a soldier or self-defence. We have to get ourselves ready, otherwise we're going die by naivety. And this is the topic of "The Captain," a passing on during which the corporal and the basic soldier are really taught by the captain because he's the one who understands he has to fight. But the soldier considers that, in light of so much pain and bloodshed, his only way out is to escape from the place of war. But the captain furthers his education, saying to him "There's no decent place." ~ Paroles et Musiques Magazine 1985

I always liked Stories of the Street from when I first heard it and I would say it still is the one I prefer best of the three songs.

You know, it’s not always about what you say but how you say it .... the power of words, I’ve always loved this -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU
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
its4inthemorning
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:52 pm

Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving holiday in the US. This year, in addition to the many things I have to be thankful for, I can add the good fortune of finding this thread and its thoughtful participants. The depth of thinking behind the recent comments centered on "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" really overwhelms me, never feel that the time you spend here is wasted!

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

Postby vlcoats » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:20 pm

B4real post wrote:You know, it’s not always about what you say but how you say it .... the power of words, I’ve always loved this -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU
I finally had a chance to look at the link you posted above. I liked it a lot!
its4inthemorning wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:52 pm
Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving holiday in the US. This year, in addition to the many things I have to be thankful for, I can add the good fortune of finding this thread and its thoughtful participants. ...
I trust your Thanksgiving was a good one 4! I agree with your thoughts of thanks for this forum. It received a prominent mention at the table during our holiday as well. How different this year has been compared to the past, and all because of what I have discovered and what I have learned on this forum from the friends I have found here.

As for Stories of the Street-
It has so many great lyrics (as usual), but my favorite lines remain ones I think we discussed during our conversation about The Window:
"And I lean from my window sill in this old hotel I chose,
One had on my suicide, one hand on the rose."
Of those, I like the second line the best, but it really needs the first to create the strong sense of place that it has.

The mention of the Cadillac and the poison glass in an earlier line makes me wonder if he was thinking of Cuba.

I also think the line--"I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world," was particularly clever. It makes me think how we all want so much out of life, even though we are only here for a blink of time. Our righteous talk of what we think we deserve and all of our desires just become mere wishes in the end.

And of course the lines about the farm and keeping all the animals warm have a special place in my heart as well. This song covers a lot of territory!

Vickie
its4inthemorning
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:08 am

The stories of the street are mine, the Spanish voices laugh.
The Cadillacs go creeping now through the night and the poison gas,
and I lean from my window sill in this old hotel I chose,
yes one hand on my suicide, one hand on the rose.

I know you've heard it's over now and war must surely come,
the cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone.
But let me ask you one more time, O children of the dusk,
All these hunters who are shrieking now, oh do they speak for us?

And where do all these highways go, now that we are free?
Why are the armies marching still that were coming home to me?
O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel,
You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal.

The age of lust is giving birth, and both the parents ask
the nurse to tell them fairy tales on both sides of the glass.
And now the infant with his cord is hauled in like a kite,
and one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night.

O come with me my little one, we will find that farm
and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm.
And if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am,
O take me to the slaughterhouse, I will wait there with the lamb.

With one hand on the hexagram and one hand on the girl
I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world.
We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky,
and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye.

Vickie started commentary on "Stories of the Street more than a week ago, I thought I would continue with that song. I typed out the lyrics partly to facilitate making reference to them, but mostly because I find that doing so helps to immerse me in the song and helps the thinking process. (As I was copying the lyrics my mind wandered, and I imagined actually composing them, and what an accomplishment that would be! If I could sign my name to those six verses, I would remember writing them until my last day. For Cohen, however, "Stories of the Street" is merely a tiny snippet of his body of work.)

For some reason I never made the connection that Vickie did regarding the first verse. "Cadillacs" is what always threw me off, I could never make an association with any particular place until Vickie mentioned Cuba (even today Cuba is the last resting spot for old American cars, especially larger and prestigious models like Cadillacs). This, combined with the knowledge that Cohen visited Cuba during the Revolution, made things fall into place.

So, like "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes," "Stories of the Street" is primarily about war. It was probably written in the early or mid 1960s, a time when there was a growing wave of pacifism in the US (and elsewhere), especially among college students and young adults. While Cohen had reached age 30, his lifestyle would have often placed him in the midst of strong anti-war sentiment, and that would have to have had some influence on him. He used his experiences in Cuba and the Cuban Revolution to introduce the war theme into "Stories of the Street" with the "Cadillac," "old hotel," "poison gas," but the song eventually devolves into (Cohen's) attempts to reconcile the idealism of pacifism and goodness with the (unfortunate) realities of war and evil.

Some lyric interpretations (all just IMO):

"The cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone." - People/groups that once coexisted can no longer, room for compromise on both sides is gone. This is not unlike current political conditions in the US. (But be aware that sometimes compromise is not an option: you are approaching a tee in the road beyond which is a cliff, and you want to turn right and your spouse wants to turn left; compromising (by continuing straight) can sometimes be the worst option.

"All these hunters who are shrieking now, oh do they speak for us?" - The shrieking army that says it is protecting us and has our interests at heart--I'm not so sure.

"And where do all these highways go, now that we are free? Why are the armies marching still that were coming home to me?" - Well, we've washed our hands of war and armies...but is this a wise position? Is it a sustainable position?

"O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel, You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal." - Lovely lyrics that I cannot fit into my template.

"The age of birth....one eye filled with night." - These were always among my very favorite Cohen lyrics even during the years and years that I did not try to analyze them. Here, the war/peace or war/antiwar theme has become simply good versus evil. God and Satan produce a child, and each hopes the child will follow in his footsteps. The infant sees the dilemma he will face and tries to flee, but is hauled back. He resigns himself to a life of internal conflict between hope and good (blueprints) and bad and evil (night).

"O come with me....all the animals warm." - Also exquisite lyrics. We will defy all the odds and achieve our own little Eden and ignore the world.

"And if by chance....with the lamb." - I struggle with an interpretation of this poignant line, any help?

"With one hand on....all men call the world." - As Vickie interpreted, life is a balancing act and a wishing well all rolled into one, war vs peace, good vs evil, spiritual (hexagram) vs carnal (girl). And although scientists will continue to try, humans will never fully understand life.

"We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky, and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye." - These deep thoughts make my brain hurt, I think I'll take a break and try to pick up that woman; Cohen brings it all back home!

We just had our first (very light) snowfall of the season, so I guess that means that B4 and Alan are getting their beachwear out of storage.

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

Postby vlcoats » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:56 am

its4inthemorning post wrote: "And if by chance....with the lamb." - I struggle with an interpretation of this poignant line, any help?
So nice to hear from you 4! I know this is a busy a time for you, so I have been hoping you could find time to write.

I am just writing quick in response to your comment about this line and will write more when I have time, but your post was very good and thought provoking.

I think the answer to the interpretation of that line lies in your interpretation of the line that comes before it.
"O come with me....all the animals warm." - Also exquisite lyrics. We will defy all the odds and achieve our own little Eden and ignore the world.
When Leonard said,
"And if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am,
O take me to the slaughterhouse, I will wait there with the lamb."
I think he might have meant "If I dare to be so impudent as to not appreciate this little Eden we have achieved, or (worse) question it's value and/or my place in it, then just kill me, because obviously, I am not worthy of it"

Of course I am just guessing, but the more I learn about Leonard Cohen, the more I feel that although he questioned so many things and got fired up about stuff and sometimes made crazy choices in his life, what he really valued most of all was a nice quiet, simple life. I think he saw that sometimes his need for peace and obscurity was in conflict with some of his other desires.

Sorry I don't have time now to say more about your post but I will when I can. This coming week is the last week of school before winter break, and in my infinite wisdom (ha-ha!), I scheduled a Book Fair in the library. Plus it is Hanukkah this week!

As for the weather here in Idaho... we have no snow yet, but it has been in the 20's (Fahrenheit) nightly and so begins my yearly concern regarding the comfort of the donkeys and chickens!

Vickie
its4inthemorning
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:41 am

The Cohencentric website has featured a number of videos and photos from the 2013 Australia tour recently, didn't see Bev or Alan, but there was a reference to and photo of the rose Bev threw on stage at Townsville! Check it out.

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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AlanM
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Location: Adelaide, Australia

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

Postby AlanM » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:51 am

HI 4
I'm still considering your post on Stories and in the end I may not have much to add.
Regarding Cohencentric, the good doctor is very kind to me and often promotes my videos.
I can't remember which were the most recent, but they were there, under my YouTube name AlanM5049.
They are also all here: https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U&pi=1

Best wishes,
Alan

p.s. Avalanche from Sydney in 2010, the first LC video I recorded and posted, is featured today!
Also some still photos from Adelaide 2013.
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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