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 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:27 pm

its4inthemorning wrote:Still thinking about "Advanced Leonard Cohen Studies." What if, every so often, someone suggests a topic for discussion (this could be a particular song or album, a theme running through many songs, an event or period of Leonard's life, almost anything), and this topic is discussed until no one has much more to add?
I like that idea! As for the first topic... it appears to be Avalanche! I remember very clearly the first time I heard this song. I was coming down our gravel driveway and had just put on the CD before stopping at the bottom to open the gate. But I couldn't get out of my car. I literally got goosebumps (although it was still winter, they weren't from the cold) and just kept saying, "Wow" every few seconds out loud to nobody. I finally was able to get moving to work, but played it over again 2 more times before moving on to the next song. I don't know if it was the guitar, his voice which was filled with either impending doom or wild discovery, or what!? I was already enamored by the first 2 albums, but this song cinched it for me.

Regarding the Tower of London, I remember the same grassy lawn you are speaking of 4 and the odd experience of trying to envision it being the site of such horror. I was also taken by the stories of the Bloody Tower and Sir Walter Raleigh. I wonder if people who live in London go there often or are as intrigued by it as we visitors are?

As individuals you are right 4, most of us are insignificant when it comes to history. Thank goodness we never have to totally realize that indignity while we are still here, lol!

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

Postby AlanM » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:45 am

Hi Vicky,
As for the first topic... it appears to be Avalanche!
A very good place to start!
A thousand years ago, when Leonard was someone one couldn't discuss with others, his songs were played on the BBC occasionally as was the rare interview - usually by John Peel. Of course I was eager for anything Cohen I could get. In one interview he said he always started his concert with Bird On The Wire as it reminded him he was at work (or words to that effect).
In 1972 I was able to procure some tickets for the Albert Hall concert - no internet ticket agencies then - and headed to London.
Imagine my surprise when instead of Bird On The Wire, he started with Avalanche. Songs Of Love And Hate had been released not long before, so I suppose he was promoting it.
In Sydney many years later = 2010, Avalanche was the first song I managed to record so there's a further connection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVGPVIYorbM).
Do I love it? YES.
Do I understand it fully? Not yet (45 years on!)
Do I want to fully understand it? Probably not.
Can I enjoy it without a full understanding? Most certainly (see previous post re absorbing lyrics).
Which version do I prefer? Probably the concert one where he sings with only his guitar as backing, not quite unplugged however. The studio version with its big bold arrangement always takes me back in time and triggers so many memories.
Verse 5 is my favourite, especially the last 2 lines:
I have begun to long for you,
I who have no greed;
I have begun to ask for you,
I who have no need.
You say you've gone away from me,
But I can feel you when you breathe
.

What a confused set of emotions!

Enough - I know others have their interpretations, probably a lot different from mine.
Hopefully in 45 years you will still love this song and not fully understand it.

Best wishes,
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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby vlcoats » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:44 am

Thank you Alan!

Loved the video from Sydney! What a great experience you were able to capture. (Lucky dogs, all of you that saw him live!)

Why did you say that "A thousand years ago, when Leonard was someone one couldn't discuss with others"? Was that because not many knew of him or (G-d forbid), not many liked him, or something else? How encouraging to know that you do not understand Avalanche much either, but still you love it. Ditto here. Your advice about absorbing the lyrics is very good and easier to follow than the alternative.

I was also taken by the last 2 lines of verse 5.
Another favorite of mine is:
"Your pain is no credential here,
It's just the shadow, shadow of my wound."

I would like to still misunderstand this song in 45 years, but I will feel lucky if I make 35!

Thanks so much for your thoughts!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby B4real » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:31 am

B4real wrote: But back to Leonard, I love anytime he plays and sings Avalanche. To me it is the essence of him.
And it seems we all tend to think that way!

I saw Avalanche sung in Brisbane from the centre front row on that same 2010 Aussie tour but alas no video was recorded :( so thanks Alan for yours!
Actually I'm now remembering that after Take This Waltz I threw a kangaroo singing Waltzing Matilda on stage and Leonard picked it up while it was still singing :lol: I'm still laughing at remembering his reaction! Dean from Adelaide will remember that also, in fact he took a couple of photos :) viewtopic.php?f=44&t=23564&start=15#p256235
Ah, just read the whole thread, viewtopic.php?f=44&t=23564 there's more photos and it's all quite entertaining!

I haven’t yet gathered all the different lines of Avalanche but here are some -

That’s my favourite verse too Alan, in all its forms! And I love those two lines as well, Vickie!
He used to deliberately change up and alter those first four lines Alan mentioned at some concerts from 1970 to 2013:

I have begun to long for you,
I who have no need;
I have begun to ask for you,
I who have no greed.

I have begun to wait for you,
I who have no greed.

I have begun to wait for you
Oh love beyond belief...

I have begun to wait for you
I who rule the seven seas...

I have begun to wait for you
I’m waiting on my knees...

I have begun to claim you
I who have no greed
I have begun to long for you
I who have no need...

And other concert variances -

I do not beg for company
In the centre of the world...

When I am on this pedestal
You do not love me there...

You who wish to conquer pain
You must learn what makes me well...

You must learn what serves me well...

Your cross is no credential here...

This is your world beloved...

It is your world beloved
It is your flesh that I wear
It/this is your song beloved
It is your flesh that I wear.

Avalanche was originally a poem entitled “I Stepped Into An Avalanche”
from Parasites Of Heaven 1966 before it was released as a song.

I stepped into an avalanche
It covered up my soul
When I am not a hunchback
I sleep beneath a hill
You who wish to conquer pain
Must learn to serve me well

You strike my side by accident
As you go down for gold
The cripple that you clothe and feed
is neither starved nor cold
I do not beg for company
in the centre of the world

When I am on a pedestal
you did not raise me there
your laws do not compel me
to kneel grotesque and bare
I myself am pedestal
for the thing at which you stare

You who wish to conquer pain
must learn what makes me kind
the crumbs of love you offer me
are the crumbs I’ve left behind
your pain is no credential
it is the shadow of my wound

I have begun to claim you
I who have no greed
I have begun to long for you
I who have no need
The avalanche you’re knocking at
Is uninhabited

Do not dress in rags for me
I know you are not poor
Don’t love me so fiercely
when you know you are not sure
It is your world beloved
It is your flesh I wear
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 AlanM » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:32 am

Hi Vicky
Why did you say that "A thousand years ago, when Leonard was someone one couldn't discuss with others"? Was that because not many knew of him or (G-d forbid), not many liked him, or something else?
Sadly the reason was that the few that knew him rarely liked him. Thankfully nowadays more know and like him and some of us understand some of what he has been telling us in his songs and poetry.
Around that time I was at a dance and the girl I was with asked the DJ to play Suzanne. Well, the dance floor cleared quicker than if the fire alarm had gone off. Next song (not LC) the revelers were back.

Shortly before his first Adelaide concert of the World Tour, I was talking to someone who was thinking of going (trying to persuade them, of course) when someone else interrupted and quoted the "music to slash your wrists by" line. My response was to bless them with a sample the humour in his lyrics, but I think I wasted my breath.
With the passage of time, I have decided my future response: "Show me your wrists - I see no scars. That means you haven't listened and therefore you shouldn't judge." I'll probably (hopefully) not get the chance to use it.

I hope you have heard "Listen To The Hummingbird". I think it is a very amusing paradox, typical of the droll humour of Mr C: "Don't listen to me." Does he mean we should listen to him and thus not listen to him? If that had been his first poem, would it then have been his final poem? I think it is hilarious.

Best wishes,
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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby AlanM » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:09 pm

Hi Bev,
You are doing a mighty job collating alternate lyrics.
I have often wondered re their origin, i.e. were they considered and rejected before the studio recording?
Did Leonard formulate them at some later time?
I have often also wondered when he decided which version to sing - day(s) before the concert; that morning; that afternoon; before going on stage; during the previous song; just as the song was starting or just as the line was due to be delivered?
I have not seen any relevant information on either conundrum. Any thoughts?

Best wishes,
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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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Postby its4inthemorning » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:44 pm

"The first topic...it appears to be Avalanche." If this implies interpreting the lyrics, it should be the final exam!

I find it very difficult to get beyond the experience of listening to just a line or two and (still, after 45 years) shuddering, and feeling the shock of hearing a few simple words strung together in a manner you have never heard or seen before, and then the sheer amazement that someone thought to do so, and if he did, what can it possibly mean? To try to interpret all the lines strung together is well beyond my pay grade.

"I stepped into an avalanche, it covered up my soul." It really doesn't matter what Cohen's meaning might have been, to me it is a metaphor for, "all of a sudden I'm in a desperate situation, and I don't think I will ever escape." This could apply to many situations, physical and mental. I have been blessed by never having to experience deep, clinical depression, but it seems to me that anyone who has could surely relate to this line. Same for anyone finding themselves addicted to substances. When I hear this opening line, I often muse how lucky I have been to never have it apply to me. Knock on wood. (For some reason, I never seem to hear the "Well" at the beginning of the song, to me it always starts, "I stepped into an avalanche.")

When I first heard Avalanche back when Alan did, I knew exactly one other person who was a fan (it was his album I was listening to). No one in my world ever heard of Cohen, and when I would play his early albums for them their eyes would sort of glaze over, and eventually there would be the, "hey, why don't you put on Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones or...anything else." Remember this (1972) was a time in music when rock--especially loud rock--was predominant, and the popularity of what we might call thought-prevoking music was, save Dylan, almost non-existent. You can almost say that a simple way to test for the Cohen gene was, and is, to play Avalanche; if the subject is anything but enthralled, he/she will never be a Cohen fan.

Other favorite lines are:

"The cripple here that you clothe and feed is neither starved nor cold."

"Your laws do not compel me to kneel grotesque and bare."

The crumbs of love that you offer me, they're the crumbs I've left behind."

Such lines are perfectly constructed and crystal clear. But try to weave a thread through all the song's lines to tie them together, and you come up short.

I've read a theory that Avalanche is based on Viking mythology, where characters called trolls existed and lived beneath ground. This would account for the hunchback and the line, "I sleep beneath the golden hill." Other theories I've seen postulate that Avalanche has deep religious meanings. Given that the writer is Leonard Cohen, though, it is always a safe bet that it is really about love and a woman!

Thank you Bev for pointing out the genesis of Avalanche from "Parasites from Heaven." I think I need to get that poetry book and see what other gems it might contain.

And thank you Alan for joining us.

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

Postby AlanM » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:59 pm

Hi Vicky & 4,
A video version of this song that is a favourite of Bev's and mine comes from the 1988 concert in San Sebastian.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muAIhNW6YDw
The camera is close on Leonard all through the song and he appears not to blink for nearly 4 minutes. Chilling!

4 thank you for the Troll observation, I had not been aware of that one.
You strike my side by accident
As you go down for your gold

has been the most mysterious couplet for me and that helps a bit.

Too close to my bed time to comment further for now, other than to report that I have 10 versions of Avalanche on my iPod and to pass the time on a flight once, I listened to them one after the other. No I didn't get bored.

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

Postby vlcoats » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:24 pm

Oh you guys! I love this conversation and could stay up all night listening to your insights on Avalanche and everything you all know and have experienced as Leonard Cohen fans. It helps fill in some blanks when I find myself wondering what it must have been like to have been there and have had all this through say, 45 years. I love to hear your stories about how few people knew or liked Leonard. It makes me feel better about the fact that I can find nobody who loves him anywhere when I bring up his music, if they have heard of him at all. The story of "Suzanne" clearing the dance floor cracked me up.

4, what you said about Avalance should have been the final exam also made me laugh out loud. And I liked what you said about someone's reaction to this song being the perfect test for the Cohen fan gene. I shared that with my husband and he replied, "I liked that song.... Better than some of the others." Ah... but alas, he didn't say he loved it... I remember playing it for him, so sure that he would finally see the light and being disappointed when he didn't. Luckily, like I have said before, he is so sweet and tolerant about my preoccupation with Leonard Cohen now, that I can overlook this one fault of his. As for your thoughts on Avalanche and how crystal clear the lyrics are but trying to weave them into some kind of understanding is not easy, I totally agree and find that is true with so many of his songs. As for your comment about it being "..always a safe bet that it is really about love and a woman!", good one!

B4- Thank you for the additional lyrics. I like some of them as well as the original and some even better or at least wish they were all melded together somehow. How is it that you have compiled all of those lyrics and how long have you been doing it? What a great memory you have of the stuffed kangaroo.

Alan, I too have noticed how Leonard didn't blink during some songs, yet close his eyes through others. I will have to go through YouTube and see if it is consistent through different performances of the same song. As for the lyrics changing, I have also wondered that as well- when did he decide which lyrics to sing during a performance? no, I have not heard "Listen to the Hummingbird" but I certainly will now! But in fact, I will have to come back later to re-read what you all have written because I am out of time right now. We are getting hay for the donkeys today and it is a long and hot day if we don't get started now.

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

Postby AlanM » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:31 am

Listen to the hummingbird
Whose wings you cannot see
Listen to the hummingbird
Don’t listen to me.

Listen to the butterfly
Whose days but number three
Listen to the butterfly
Don’t listen to me.

Listen to the mind of God
Which doesn’t need to be
Listen to the mind of God
Don’t listen to me.

Leonard Cohen

Hi Vicky
LC recited this during an interview after You Want It Darker was released.
Re your husband - be grateful for his tolerance and keep working subtly. My wife was not a fan when we met, but she has put up with hearing little else in the car and has accompanied me to a number of concerts. Occasionally she will spout forth a Cohen quote at an entirely appropriate occasion. I think she surprises herself as well as me when it happens. See above re absorbing lyrics!
My children (now adults) were indoctrinated in the car on the way to school each morning, but sadly not totally. However Bev has met my son at a Sydney concert because he said he would like to go. Double delight for his Dad - he wanted to go and I was able to tick off a Christmas present.

Non-Cohen trivia - apparently the word "donkey" only appeared in the English language after the publication of Man Of La Mancha (about Don Quixote). doŋ kiˈxote -> donkey hotie. It was an ass prior to that. No matter, they are lovely creatures.

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

Postby B4real » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:41 pm

AlanM wrote: You are doing a mighty job collating alternate lyrics.
I have often wondered re their origin, i.e. were they considered and rejected before the studio recording?
Did Leonard formulate them at some later time?
I have often also wondered when he decided which version to sing - day(s) before the concert; that morning; that afternoon; before going on stage; during the previous song; just as the song was starting or just as the line was due to be delivered?
I have not seen any relevant information on either conundrum. Any thoughts?
Alan, Thanks for your kind words about my alternate lyrics! I’m assuming your questions about when are mainly rhetorical but if they’re not it would be interesting to know. In some instances I do know he “tried out” some lines in concert before the studio recording. Some recent ones instantly spring to mind – after more than 31 years some lines he “tried out” in 1985 in concert with Diamonds In The Mine have finally gained a permanent place in his final album being included in Treaty! I know there are more but I'm like you last night and I’m getting too tired to concentrate.
Personally, I after listening to many concerts especially those close together in date order I think he could have just decided on the night at that moment in time which words he felt were suitable. I think he reacted to each audience in an individual manner and hence the words would come out accordingly to suit the mood of the night. A line from Avalanche that I’ve quoted above, “Your cross is no credential here” I think was a definite statement to the situation in Warsaw at the time of his concert. Interestingly, he also said it in Dublin too.
AlanM wrote: However Bev has met my son at a Sydney concert
And of course it was a pleasure! That was a great night - we all had dinner first and then on to the first LC concert of the last Aussie tour!
Vickie wrote: How is it that you have compiled all of those lyrics and how long have you been doing it?
Vickie, It all started when we used to play the picture game and we were always looking for obscure lines so it would not be so easy to guess. Now I’ve said that it would be roughly eight years ago. But I collected very many more when I started my book you saw the link to about a month ago. I have slowed down with it lately; been occupied with Ancestry stuff and that takes time too.

4, I haven’t heard that troll observation explanation before – very interesting!
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 Jul 31, 2017 4:22 pm

Alan- Now that you mention it, I guess I have heard my husband quote Leonard! It was when we were talking about whether something we were working on outside would work or was at least good enough, and I said, "It will be fine", and he responded, "....for a while!" At the time, I barely noticed it because it was the perfect seamless response and one I would have given myself. So maybe you are right, and it will rub off eventually. He does put up with him in the car and on our outdoor speaker while we are working outside. After several songs, he will ask me to change it to random mix to include all of the other music on my device. Of course, so much of it is Leonard now that he pops up often, which is fine with me!

I had not heard that theory about the etymology of the word donkey. I do know the word didn't come along until fairly recently in the scheme of things though. You have reminded me that I have never read Don Quixote but always told myself that I probably should. I am intrigued by King Arthur and stories of chivalry, and (to bring it back to Leonard) always loved the line in Bird on a Wire, "Like a knight from some old fashioned book". However from what I have heard, the chivalry in Don Quixote is tongue in cheek.

Thank you for The Hummingbird! I get the first 2 verses about the hummingbird and the butterfly and Leonard's wry sense of humor in saying, why listen to me, what I am saying is there but not there (the invisible hummingbird wings) or at least nothing that will last (the short-lived butterfly) But what the heck does he mean in the 3rd verse by "Which doesn't need to be". I probably don't know enough about religion to figure it out.

One more thought on Avalanche, I like what 4 said about "I stepped into an avalanche.." being a metaphor for "I'm in a desperate situation..." which now seems so obvious. Another perfect example of my trying to overthink things. I was trying to piece it all together with what the rest of the song might be about. LC had so many versions and bits and pieces of songs and poems that he would then piece together like a quilt, so maybe taking each phrase and the image it creates on its own works best. The rest will hopefully be absorbed like Alan suggests.

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

Postby its4inthemorning » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:15 am

I find myself checking this thread more than daily, a sure sign that I have some projects on my desk that are not very time-sensitize and not ones that I relish attending to.

So much activity here since the lull, excuse the disconnectedness of this post as I try to make a few observations.

Just watched several videos of Avalanche to get in the mood, including the San Sebastian and Sydney videos (thank you Alan). How can he go so long without blinking (referring to the former video)? It was like he was in a trance. I know I have said this before, but it seems timely here: Leonard's lyrics have always been lauded and discussed to death by his fans (including by us on this thread), with little said about his music. (By music, I mean the tune or melody, but I think this usage is not clear or precise; if anyone can suggest the word I should use in characterizing the part of a song that does not concern the lyrics, please tell me.) With Avalanche, I think in my case the music was almost as much of a hook as the words were in drawing me to delve deeper. I could listen to him play those guitar chords in the manner he does so well over and over (maybe in my own unblinking trance) until released by that little strumming business at the end.

B4, appreciate your many contributions here such as the alternative lyrics, but really loved your stuffed kangaroo story and pictures. Here is a similar anecdote (hope I didn't already relate it here). Back in 2012 we met a lovely young woman, Christelle, before the 9/28 Paris concert, and she told us of her plan to throw a stuffed monkey, who she named Pablo, on stage when Leonard sang the line, "the monkey and the plywood violin." Unfortunately for some reason, maybe security personnel or a bad toss, she was unsuccessful. Five days later, we arrived at a park in Barcelona where some fans were congregating prior to that concert and we ran into Christelle, armed with a new Pablo. We wished her better luck. This time her plan was implemented with perfection. Here was the result: https://youtu.be/dfe5vGJ3kjs

On the subject of alternate lines, I too wonder when he decided to make a change to the then-current lyrics of the songs he was singing. Here is the way I think about (or more likely, overthink) this: Consider his brain as a vast library of all his poems and song lyrics (as well as, of course, much more); then imagine a smaller area of that library called the current reading room where the lyrics of the songs that might be performed during the tour reside; and finally consider that a few books in the current reading room are closed, while most lie opened to specific pages. The open books represent the tour's basic repertoire, the lyrics that are sung almost every night, the lyrics that can be sung almost on autopilot. To modify a lyric, he has to mentally page through the appropriate open book, find the alternate lyric, and remember the change during the concert. I do not think this is something that can be done very easily while on stage. Instead, I think when he, for whatever reason, decided on a lyric change it was done sometime earlier, perhaps while traveling from the previous city, or maybe earlier during the day of the concert. What about the closed books in the current reading room, and the books not in the closed reading room at all? The closed books represent songs that have been rehearsed by Leonard and the band, but seldom performed recently; to access them (ie, play them in a concert) requires a concerted effort by all involved, something that would have to be planned for days and practiced at sound checks. The books residing outside the current reading room in the general library contain the entire body of Leonard's work other than the songs rehearsed for the tour. To use any part of them in the current tour would be almost impossible.

B4, I briefly participated in the "Picture Game," but didn't quite grasp that it was meant to be fun as well as challenging. My first (maybe my only) contribution was a picture of an old shoe almost covered up by sand. The line was supposed to be "It covered up my soul" from our beloved Avalanche. Get it: sole = soul? Neither did anyone else!

Finally, on the subject of randomly quoting Leonard, I do it constantly when conversing with Joann, and it (almost) always makes her smile. Thursday morning I had to spend the day in NYC, and when I was leaving yelled upstairs, "Goodbye." She said, "I thought you had already left," to which I responded (YOU FILL IN). So, maybe this is another Cohen fan identifier, working song lyrics into everyday conversation?

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

Postby AlanM » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:15 am

Greetings, All.
I’m assuming your questions about when are mainly rhetorical
Not entirely, Bev. I put it out there in case anyone has read or heard something that Leonard may have said. I guess if he had been asked the question directly he would have ticked the "all the above" box.
4 - I like your library comparison, and I am in agreement with your thoughts.
I think there is at least one example of alternate lyrics being formulated after the studio recording. The line in Bird On The Wire - Like a monk bending over the/a book is reputed to refer to Roshi and I don't think Leonard knew him when Songs From A Room was recorded.
I think in my case the music was almost as much of a hook as the words were in drawing me to delve deeper
Again I agree, and not just for this song. Maybe Jarkko's mid August announcement will be about the release of the string versions of the songs that the 2 Leonards were working on. There are not many instrumental versions of his songs "out there" that I have encountered. I probably haven't looked for many as "the lyrics are everything". I'd probably modify that comment as few cover versions come up to the quality of Leonard's delivery. Remember he knew more about each song than anyone else.
Anyhow there was an interview/musical broadcast in Austin in 2012 called A Life In Art with UHTC (except LC & Neil) in which they played an instrumental version of Seems So Long Ago, Nancy - really beautiful. I presume it is still available on YouTube.
Finally, on the subject of randomly quoting Leonard,
I recall reading an interview (can't remember which of the many Cohen books it was) where LC kept quoting his own lyrics, and I smiled wryly to myself, thinking "he does it too!"
But what the heck does he mean in the 3rd verse by "Which doesn't need to be"
One of life's (eternal?) mysteries, Vicky. I think life in general, and this Forum in particular, would be very boring if we knew all the answers. However trying to find out is part of the fun of being a human being.

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

Postby vlcoats » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:31 am

B4real wrote: It all started when we used to play the picture game and we were always looking for obscure lines so it would not be so easy to guess.

I didn't see your post before I posted my last or I would have asked what the heck is the "picture game", but thank you 4 for saying more and explaining it! I really do need to check out more of the forum :? I have made sure to watch the 'news' but haven''t explored too much more than that. I get so much from everyone in this thread that I don't feel the need yet. Besides, what if I respond to a thread that is ages old and nobody has commented lately? Would that be too weird?
its4inthemorning wrote: I find myself checking this thread more than daily, a sure sign that I have some projects on my desk that are not very time-sensitize and not ones that I relish attending to.
Ha ha... same here! Having a little free time in the summer is one of the numbered luxuries I am allowed as a school employee, but with our property, and our don-quixotes (haha, thank you Alan) I am putting off work I should be doing! I loved your library theory on his choosing his lyrics, especially the realization that he would need to give it thought beforehand. He is Leonard after all, and he would do that, right? And the books containing lyrics of songs that were seldom if every played... of course they would need to be considered and rehearsed by all! Regarding what you said about the 'trance' he seemed in during performances of Avalanche, it seems the same to me, and like you said, the music in that song is hypnotic and engulfing. If you had created it, wouldn't you be even more entranced? Loved the monkey video, and his little crooked smile when he held it! What a great memory for Christelle!
AlanM wrote: Anyhow there was an interview/musical broadcast in Austin in 2012 called A Life In Art with UHTC (except LC & Neil) in which they played an instrumental version of Seems So Long Ago, Nancy - really beautiful.
Now that you mention it, I wonder if the Nancy song is a favorite of mine because of the music and not just the lyrics? Like 4, I honor Leonard's ability to create a tune. Music has always had a huge impact on me emotionally, and I have actually been jealous of those who can create it. Like the character Salieri in the movie "Amadeus" who says, "All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing... and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn't want me to praise him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?"
On a less intense note ;-) , I liked hearing that Cohen quoted his own lyrics!

Thanks again everyone!
Vickie
Thank goodness we can edit these things, LOL!

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