Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

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

Postby vlcoats » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:43 pm

LisaLCFan wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:03 am
Hmm, we've not heard from Vickie for a few days. Hope she's okay and just happily lost in Various Positions. I suppose, Vickie, this little break in the action might be a good time to relocate this discussion to the Music section (so as not to continue to clutter this one):
That sounds good Lisa! Let's give it a try and hopefully everyone will respond to let me know you all made it over.

Regarding my impressions of studio album #7:
I have had a different reaction to this one and it is taking me a while to sort it out. At first I was like, “Hmmm… not too sure if I like this.” I know Lisa…. shocking, right? It was nothing like DOALM of course so no worries there, but neither was it like my ‘stop the car to catch my breath’ reactions that I have had to so many of his other albums (most notably, albums #1 and #3).
The sweeping melody and harmonies and then the Casio playing on “Various Positions” all added up to something I have never been partial to….“Pop”. I mean, I know LC is often listed as a Pop artist or even Easy Listening (as well as Singer-Songwriter and Folk which are more up my alley). Maybe the genre confusion is part of why I had never made a point to listen to his music, even though I knew I should. Then he passed, and I thought to myself, “Look at all this adoration. What is it with this Leonard Cohen guy? Why does he have this nearly reverent following, not only among his fans but even other artists that you love?” to which I replied, “Yeah but he plays Pop” and countered with, “Well, what about the poetry?” So I got the book (Sylvie Simmons') and read about him and became even more curious. Then, imagine my EXTREME pleasure when I heard his first album! It was everything I loved without knowing it. I am a huge Dylan fan, and I had found someone better (!!!! Are you kidding me????) I am now a total convert and love everything Leonard now.
So when I first heard “Various Positions,” I was like, "Uh oh...here is it, here is the Pop." I was out of my comfort zone. Not totally, but enough that I was like “Dang it!” But, as I listened to it that first time, I did start to like the second half of the album more than the first. For one it starts with “Hallelujah”, and there is nothing anyone can ever say about that song that isn’t praise. Still, listening to his ‘original’ version was amazing and spine tingling and then I got over myself and said, “Vickie, stop categorizing this and just listen”. Like Lisa told me, my reaction to this album will be what I am open to, (or something like that, sorry for paraphrasing Lisa). Then I also LOVED “Hunter’s Lullaby” which is much too short in my mind and also “Heart With No Companion” (“…for the mother in confusion, her cradle still unfilled…. Though your promise count for nothing, you must keep it nonetheless….). So I listened to the whole thing again and I realized that Lisa is right. The tracks are a perfect blend of melody and lyrics!
So now I love “Various Positions” as much as the rest! Amazing. I know I will find new things to love about it as I continue to get to know it. It takes me at least a couple weeks to really experience each album. Thank you for opening my mind Leonard Cohen and to everyone here for holding my hand along this way.
We still have that dog turning our home upside down and spring is still kicking our butts on this little farm, but I will write again soon after I have more time with #7.
Thanks again!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby LisaLCFan » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:45 pm

Hi Vickie,

I was actually thinking that Leonard's new musical "style" on Various Positions might be a bit jarring for you -- I have heard that other people also had that reaction at the time, and I know a few people even now who much prefer Leonard's earlier acoustic/folk sound to what came later.

My experience was in the opposite direction: the "I'm Your Man" album was the first one I heard, which I madly loved, and then to hear the earlier "folk" albums was a huge shock to me, and it took me some time to come to grips with them (it didn't even sound like the same guy!). Eventually I came to love them all (actually, "Songs of Leonard Cohen" was an instant hit with me, but the others had to grow on me a bit).

Incidentally, I don't like "pop" music either (I have always preferred classical and jazz, in fact), and have never actually considered Leonard to be "pop" (I never thought anyone else did, either: I always thought that he was considered an outsider), regardless of the instrumentation used -- to me he is in a category of his own, his music having far too many facets and layers to focus on just one element.

Anyway, I am glad that you gave Various Positions a chance, and quickly came to appreciate it. Cheers!
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby vlcoats » Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:44 pm

LisaLCFan wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:45 pm
I know a few people even now who much prefer Leonard's earlier acoustic/folk sound to what came later.
Maybe I will be one of those people. Time will tell. I am very curious about a few upcoming albums like "I'm Your Man" and "The Future" and "You Want It Darker".

I would love to hear what everyone's favorite album is among the later ones, beginning with "Various Positions". Please share and say why, if you can do so without giving away too much, as I haven't heard them yet.

I am listening to "Various Positions" more every day and really loving "Coming Back to You" now, and even "The Captain" especially for the conversational lyrics. There is much to discover on this album and although you might think I am taking my time on my journey through his albums, I keep being drawn back to the ones I have heard already, because I feel like I am going too fast and have already missed so much.
its4inthemorning wrote:
Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:09 am
have you to thank for the opportunity to hear a "new" LC album! I am ordering it today.
Did you receive "Recent Songs" yet Curt? Did you like "Ballad of the Absent Mare"?

Thanks everyone!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby LisaLCFan » Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:08 pm

vlcoats wrote:...I would love to hear what everyone's favorite album is among the later ones, beginning with "Various Positions". ...
Hi Vickie,

It is hard to pick a favourite, but I suppose "I'm Your Man" holds a special place, being the "first" album for me! One of things I most loved about that album was Leonard's voice, and that is also one of the main reasons why his pre-1980s albums required such an adjustment. You may have noticed that his voice was a bit deeper on Various Positions -- it gets even deeper than that! That is why I said that his early albums didn't even sound like the same person when I first heard them. Leonard's deep 1980s onward voice, to many of us who discovered him at that time (or later), became one of his most defining characteristics, and that is something that is simply not present on those early albums.

As I am sure I have mentioned to you before, another defining characteristic of Leonard's music (looking back on the whole) is that Leonard always reinvented himself in the musical aspects of his songs, unlike some "pop-stars" (including folkies) who essentially always sounded the same throughout their entire careers. Some of us joyously embrace those differences (or at least, came to!), loving the variety. Hopefully you will, too.

Have a nice weekend.
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby its4inthemorning » Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:49 am

Happy Friday,

Did not get Recent Songs yet, so cannot comment on that.

In fact, given my failure to realize I had never heard this album in its entirety, I question whether or not I should be commenting on any albums between the first three and the last three (those I have listened to with rapt attention many, many times).

Vickie, this points out the advantage of your approach, "studying" each album before you move on. I had the opportunity to do that eight years ago and instead just jumped into all the music I had missed. And see where that left me--forced to turn in my fan card in humiliation. Seriously, I do wish I had done what you are doing...unfortunately "I didn't have the discipline." (This line is forthcoming in your next album.)

In light of the above I will refrain from answering your query about which album is my favorite out of the next several, as my answer would be based mostly on the songs in each that I have heard performed live rather than evaluations of the albums in their entirety. Maybe in a few months, after I finish my summer school remedial work.

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. continued...

Postby vlcoats » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:10 am

LisaLCFan wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:08 pm
You may have noticed that his voice was a bit deeper on Various Positions --
Yes, yes! I did notice it. In fact, I commented to my husband on the difference, but it is not an issue at all. Although I love the natural "angst" of his younger voice, his deeper voice on "Various Positions" is a beloved thing about this album. I have loved several artists for their deep voices alone. Eddie Vedder, Johnny Cash, Greg Brown (another folksy guy but you might like him, Lisa, just for his voice). So yes, loving the timbre on this album!
its4inthemorning wrote:
Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:49 am
I question whether or not I should be commenting on any albums
Yikes! Please don't desert me. You are the one who told me to do this and in this particular way, and I am forever grateful that I took your advice. If you want to refrain from answering my question about which album is your favorite, I don't blame you, but please don't refrain from commenting at all. Unless you don't have time, which I certainly understand. At this time of year on our little farm, you will see that I won't respond for a couple days or even a week sometimes...but I am here in heart and listening to LC. Like my husband said when I told him that you feel this way, "He is the one that got you in to this!". Please stick around if you can.

Not sure if there is a poetry section as well as this music index, as I tend to have blinders on when I focus on something, but if there is, I wish that I could post in both, because although I need the music and his voice to help me understand the lyrics, it is the lyrics that I am drawn to most of all in the end. The poetry. That is what will last through the years.
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby LisaLCFan » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:57 am

its4inthemorning wrote:...Vickie, this points out the advantage of your approach, "studying" each album before you move on...
Since it is my wont to be a voice of dissent, I actually would not have done things the way Vickie did. Leonard changed over the years, as many of us do, and thus, if I wanted to get to know an artist such as Leonard who had been around for so long, I would have approached it either from the latter parts of his career (perhaps with "Live in London" and "Songs from the Road", to hear what Leonard wanted people to hear on his 2008-2013 tour and what so many people fell in love with), and/or randomly choosing albums from each stage of his career (both studio and live), in no particular order, to get a taste of everything he had to offer over the years. But, that is just me -- there is no "right" or "wrong" way, we each must find our own paths.

A person is the entire sum of all their parts, which often adds to a greater whole than each individual bit or piece, and it seems rather unfair and unreasonable to judge a person (or to like or dislike them) based on only a few parts, but not the whole. Of course, what a person likes or dislikes is their business, based on their own mindedness, as narrow or as broad as that may be. Leonard was always an extremely unique artist, doing what he wanted the way he wanted to do it, and I have always admired and respected that. What others do or like with respect to Leonard Cohen is of no relevance to my enjoyment of this amazing artist and all that he has brought to my life over many years through his music. Other people's mileage may vary, as they say, and that's fine, too.

I have nothing more to add to this discussion, because the way I do/did things is my own, and no-one else's, and the way others do things is theirs, not mine, thus I shall take my leave, because this is not my path. Have a nice journey.
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby vlcoats » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:10 am

LisaLCFan wrote:
Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:57 am
I have nothing more to add to this discussion, because the way I do/did things is my own, and no-one else's, and the way others do things is theirs, not mine, thus I shall take my leave, because this is not my path. Have a nice journey.
I am so sorry if I said something wrong. I have valued everyone's feedback and comments and have appreciated you all.
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby LisaLCFan » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:12 am

Oh, Hi Vickie, I see that you made a new post. No, of course you said nothing wrong!

I am glad that you have found Leonard, but we must all go our own ways and follow our hearts and minds, and my way is a quiet and private one, and I could not possibly express everything about Leonard that I admire and love -- it is of a deep nature and not really of words (and it does not compare to any other artist -- Cohen is unique, as are my feelings about his work). I need to go back to that path now -- this online chatting thing is not really "me".

Incidentally, there is a poetry section (this forum is quite clearly laid out by subject on the "Board Index" page -- it should not be too hard to find), although it tends to focus on the non-song poems, not the song poems. There have been many discussions about the poetry of the songs, by album, and maybe you could take a tour through the forum one of these days and you may find all sorts of things that interest you, and people who like to chat about them (if they are still around -- there is some current, ongoing chat about You Want it Darker).

All the best!
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby its4inthemorning » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:40 pm

I am feeling badly. Sort of like a few weeks after the honeymoon when something minor (I've told you to put the toilet seat down and you ignore this tiny request) leads to a misunderstanding and unmeant harsh words. I am not sure where things went awry on this thread, I hope there are no ill feelings.

Everyone got acquainted with Leonard's music differently, probably a direct result of when in his career they discovered him and (in my case) if there was an extended period when they were out of touch with his music. There is no right or wrong way, I think we all know and agree upon that.

Faced with Vickie's original inquiry of how she might make her journey, I answered truthfully that moving through his catalog chronologically seemed like an attractive method, as she would experience how Leonard responded to several decades' worth of changes in the music world. His responses did, indeed, change the overall impact of his music on the listener, but in ways that almost always adhered to the proviso that a good song must have a good tune or melody, and that never compromised his lyrics.

So it is not unusual that there would be a little trepidation each time Vickie unwraps a new album. We've all experienced this throughout our lives, because it was/is common in the music world for a songwriter/band to put out two or three albums that we absolutely loved, only to eventually follow up with a train wreck. I recall when I was younger always experiencing a little fear when I first listened to any band's third or fourth album, fear that this would be the one demonstrating that they had run out of material!

The true test of whether or not a songwriter/band has successfully evolved his/its music is not how one feels after the first listen, but how one feels after a series of listens. Other than the unfortunate DOALM, it has never taken me more than a few plays (at most half a dozen) before I came to really like 75%-90% of the songs.

I think I said in an earlier post that "witnessing" some one else becoming acquainted with Leonard's music was interesting because it allows others to recollect their feelings back when they first became fans. That has proven to be the case, especially since Vickie is so generous about sharing her thoughts and feelings. Others have done this as well, and I hope they will continue to.

As for your earlier question, Vickie, Various Positions is my favorite album in the later group through Dear Heather. My favorite song is "Dance Me to the End of Love," perhaps in large part due to its being the first song in every concert we were fortunate enough to attend. Clear as a bell I can recall sitting and waiting, then "ten minutes," "five minutes," lights going down, and shadows moving on the dark stage, then the Webb sisters' "La-la, la-la, la-la-la-la-la-la,..." and finally Leonard's voice as the stage lights up. Hope subsequent listens to Various Positions have made the "pop" label fade away.

Really off this general topic, but it is related to Vickie's dog incident. In my town there was a dreadful incident yesterday involving a pit-bull/pit-bull mix. A young single woman owned the dog for about 2-1/2 years apparently without problems. Then yesterday neighbors responded to screams, and they found her being mauled relentlessly by the dog on her deck. By the time neighbors got the dog off her (requiring a gun shot), she was bleeding profusely, and she died on the way to the hospital. No one can fathom what prompted the attack, according to the police the dog appeared to be very well cared for.

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. continued...

Postby vlcoats » Sun Apr 30, 2017 4:57 am

I am so glad you responded! I told my husband that if nobody replied, I was just going to keep posting anyway! Please don't feel badly. There are no ill feelings here, and I will continue to share my experiences with each album as I go, just hoping others will share their feelings about each album too. I have really enjoyed this experience, and it has become more than just what it might seem to others. Doing this chronologically is my way of making up for not paying attention earlier. It is also the reason that I have not ventured into other areas on this site (Poetry, etc). I haven't explored because I don't feel qualified to contribute or discuss until I have at least heard all of his studio albums. Then I will check out everything else. This forum is here because you all love Leonard Cohen, and I just want to catch up to everyone a little bit. I plan to live a good little while yet, and I want to continue to discover and explore him for the rest of my life, so I am in no hurry.

Yes there is trepidation every time I open one of his albums! When I first started listening to Dylan, I was also behind everyone like this, mostly because his beginning albums were before my time (not before I was born, but before I was old enough to connect). I didn't listen chronologically but often wished I had. And you are right that like Leonard, it would sometimes take me more than one hearing of the album before I totally loved it. But I would just play it over and over and then BINGO! This would never happen if the artist had crap to share after their first few hits. So, I am fine with not loving every album of LC's right away.

Thank you for your description of "Dance Me to the End of Love" in concert! It was perfect. ("Shadows moving on the dark stage...") And made me again so jealous of you all for being able to see him live.

How horrible about the young woman being mauled by her pit bull mix. I am guessing there is more to the story, but they can be unpredictable sometimes. We still have "Lucky" in our home and have an appointment to have him evaluated by a vet/trainer that was trained through Cesar Millan (Dog Whisperer). He is great so far, and it is obvious that he has had training somewhere along the line, but one of the reasons we are only fostering him at this point is because you never know. Decades of breeding for a specific purpose (dog fighting) cannot always be loved or trained out of a dog. We are keeping him separate from our pugs and in a crate when not supervised. His attitude towards people is submissive, even strangers on our property, but we are not sure about other animals yet, hence the supervision.

Back to Leonard, I was happy to learn that he was also an animal lover!

Another question for anyone.. can you recommend another biography? I am tempted to read Sylvie's over again, because I feel I rushed through it. Again with the rushing (I know!), but I like to REALLY absorb and experience things. I just don't' always do that the first time.

Thank you again for your response.
Vickie
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby its4inthemorning » Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:07 pm

Ira Nadel wrote a biography in the 1990s, I believe it would have covered Leonard's life and endeavors through the albums you have heard plus I'm Your Man and The Future. It was the first such biography I ever came across, and I still have my copy somewhere.

Nadel's book was well researched and written and I learned a lot about Leonard from it. While Sylvie's book is more comprehensive and, in my opinion, the "gold standard" for LC biographies, I would still suggest reading Nadel's biography. I recall an interesting quote in the book from Buffy Sainte-Marie in Nadel's book, which I just googled:

"There's something uncomfortable about hearing a Leonard Cohen song for the first time. It seems to lack roots or direction or something. But be patient; that's you, not him. The melodies are 'unguessable,' but listen again. When you have gotten used to the idea of chord x following chord y, though it has possibly never dared to do so before, the pattern becomes clear to you, and clearly unique it is."

What she said was definitely true for me with respect to a number songs, "Famous Blue Raincoat" in particular. While I always loved that song, something made it unconnected or disjointed in some way, until I considered Buffy's comment; then it all came together.

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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. continued...

Postby vlcoats » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:03 pm

Thank you 4! I have ordered a copy of the book from Amazon. I found a collectable hardcover edition, slightly used. :) They said it is a first printing, first US edition. Not that it matters much, but kind of cool for a used price.
Now that you mention it, some of his songs are kind of like, "Hmmm? What's this?" at first (although others are totally and mind blowingly an instant connection for me). I never attributed it to them being unguessable but that sums it up rather nicely doesn't it! I have noticed that his lyrics are often unexpected and take a totally different tract than the norm. No doubt one of the reasons why I love him.

I will let you know what I think of the book. Not quite ready to move on to the "I'm Your Man" CD. I want to get a little more used to this more matured version of him from the "Various Positions" CD first.

Thanks again! Have a great week!
Vickie
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Re: Along the way ... Discovering Leonard's Albums. continued...

Postby B4real » Mon May 01, 2017 3:16 am

Hi Vickie,
I reckon 4 is correct about Various Positions by Nadel, it's a great read. Six years before that he wrote A Life In Art about the early years and it’s a good read. Before those books Prophet Of The Heart was considered the first comprehensive bio and is worth reading as well. Both of Jim Devlin’s books include some different and interesting information which I found most helpful. Sylvie’s book was excellent but I also would have liked to have read the information I know she left out! Ha!

Here’s a partial bio list from the LC files. I haven’t included those more recent books about LC. Actually, the full link to the LC Files is on the top of this page here on the forum. If you haven’t already done so please take a virtual tour around it. There is so much information that Jarkko has munificently gathered since at least 1995 about Leonard!

Biographies
• Leonard Cohen by Jacques Vassal, France 1974
• Prophet Of The Heart by Loranne S. Dorman & Clive L. Rawlins, USA & UK, 1990
• So Long Leonard by Christof Graf, Germany 1990
• A Life in Art by Ira B. Nadel, Canada 1994
• Various Positions - A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B Nadel, Canada/USA/UK 1996
• In Every Style of Passion by Jim Devlin, UK 1996
• Partisan der Liebe by Christof Graf, Germany 1996
• Came so far for Love by Paul Barrera, UK 1997
• Songs of a Life by Christof Graf, Germany 2002
• So Long Marianne by Kari Hesthamar, Norway 2008
• Leonard Cohen Hallelujah by Tim Footman, UK 2009
• Leonard Cohen - Titan der Worte by Christof Graf, Germany 2010
• Leonard Cohen - A Remarkable Life by Anthony Reynolds, UK 2010
• Leonard Cohen - La Biografia by Alberto manzano, Spain 2010
• I'm Your Man - The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons, USA/UK/Canada/Germany/Holland/Spain 2012 - Italy/Israel/Norway/Poland 2013 - China/Finland/Slovenia 2014 - Taiwan 2015
• Léonard Cohen: Le Gagnant Magnifique by Alain-Guy Aknin & Stéphane Loisy, France 2012
• Leonard Cohen: Un Canadien Errant by Viviane Gravey, France 2013
• Leonard Cohen - L'homme qui voyait tomber les anges by Christophe Lebold, France 2013
• A Broken Hallelujah by Liel Leibovitz, USA/UK 2014
• So Long Marianne - A Love Story by Kari Hesthamar, Canada 2014
• La Historia de Leonard & Marianne by Alberto Manzano, Spain 2016

I hope that helps!

btw... I'd like to say I've been enjoying your journey and take your time in doing so - there's so much to savour :)
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. continued...

Postby vlcoats » Mon May 01, 2017 4:56 am

B4- Thank you so much, first of all for responding and being positive, and second of all for the wealth of info regarding bios! Yes, the reason I am asking for bios is because I know Sylvie had to have left a ton of stuff out. I feel hers was written for those of you who have loved and followed him for years. I know there is a wealth of info on the internet, but for some reason, I want to read books about him instead of doing what everyone keeps telling me to do, which is to look around on the internet and to check out all of the info on the forum indexes. Maybe I am being old fashioned or maybe it's because I am a librarian, but more likely, I am doing what makes sense to me, even if it might be weird to anyone else. Partly, I don't feel capable yet in having my own opinion on him yet, until I have heard all of what he put out to the public in his albums. But at the same time, I want a few more details about him as he was growing up and growing into the great influence he became. So I am just going through his albums one by one and delving into a little biography stuff, because if I had been here from the beginning, I would have been doing that all along. And then I will want to go deeper and will be better able to understand where everyone else is coming from on the internet and on the forum when they discuss him.
Thank you again B4 for the awesome biography list. Is there one that shines for you that you feel might fit my crazy approach?
Vickie

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