Article on Anthem - Independent

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Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by shadowsonthewood » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:25 pm

Not sure if this piece has been brought up already, but I can't see it here. I'm not one to read the Independent, but I went for tea at the Grand with Lady shadowsonthewood the day after the Brighton show and the paper was sitting near the fireplace where we warmed our toes, our cockles having already been warmed by Leonard. My Lady, who picks at the Independent when encountering a lost copy on a train, deems Howard Jacobson a pompous twat, but its nice to see a discussion of Anthem in the press. ... 40271.html
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Re: Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by johnfoyle » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:06 am

Top that! ... 47109.html

The Independent


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Birthday song by Leonard Cohen

Like Howard Jacobson (29 November) I am of an age to return to Leonard Cohen's poetry. But on my 21st birthday, in January 1960, Leonard really did sing to me, just me.

At that time I was living in an attic in Hampstead and Leonard and another young tenant, Nancy, had rooms downstairs, all ruled kindly but firmly by our landlady, Stella. My mother had recently died and I did not feel like a party. But Leonard and Nancy brought me one, up to my garret. We sat on the floor and Leonard sang to me. I'm afraid I have no recollection of the words, but I still have my now brown-paged Penguin Book of Canadian Verse (three shillings and sixpence) with Leonard's dedication "with restraint and affection" in acknowledgment of Stella's strict 1950s house rules.

I too, recently bought a ticket to a Leonard Cohen concert. But I cannot get past his bodyguards and I don't suppose he is into a cuppa and a chat nowadays anyway. But I do remember the occasion, with restraint and affection of course, when he let some light into my sad birthday.

Mary Harris

London W11
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Re: Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by tommylen » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:36 pm


Thats a little gem of a letter.It brought a lump to my throat.

I hope someone brings it to Leonards attention.
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Re: Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by hydriot » Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:07 am

Nancy, in 1960? Surely that can't be the Nancy?
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
John Etherington
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Re: Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by John Etherington » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:24 pm

Nancy (bless her soul) remains a mysterious and tragic figure. Apparently Leonard knew her through his friend Morton Rosengarten in Montreal. Ira Nadel says that Leonard knew her in 1961 (though he may, of course, just be referencing the song).

All the best, John E
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Re: Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by John Etherington » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:43 pm

Re: the Howard Jacobson article: it's amazing how people get paid for cashing in on Leonard like this.

Jacobson says:

"Leonard cohen isn't somebody I'd put my mind to much until the other week [in November] when I went along to see him at the O2..."

"I read Leonard Cohen with passing interest, in the 1960s. I liked a number of his poems whose names now escape me and was aroused by his novel Beautiful Losers".

"Post the 1960s, when he started to put his poems to music, I fell out of interest with him...". "I lost track of his career, didn't know if he was alive or dead, couldn't remember a line...".

So presumably, Jacobson rapidly read "Beautiful Losers" for a bit of titillation, then scanned the poems for more of the same. Now 42 years later he suddenly turns up for the second leg of Leonard's UK tour, and uses Leonard as the basis for an article. Jacobson (referring to Leonard) says "I like it that he doesn't jig about much". Where was Jacobson, I wonder at the beginning and end of each of Leonard's sets? Presumably in the bar, with the rest of the corporate crowd?!

However it does seem that a ray of light has broken through the crack (though hopefully they won't all latch onto "Anthem" next).

Cheers, John E
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Re: Article on Anthem - Independent

Post by Habie » Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:46 pm

Hear hear, John E.

Howard Jacobson is a pompous idiot who really outdid himself in this piece, full of self-important narcissistic irrelevance. As you say, he doesn't even LIKE Leonard Cohen. He seems to think of himself as the only person who's picked up on the beauty of the line 'that's how the light gets in', and is kindly bringing it to everyone's attention, since the rest of us probably missed it in our stupidity.

I once met Mr Jacobson at a party; he was, as he clearly still is, insufferably self-obsessed. (He had just made a TV series on Jewish humour and I asked if he liked the work of actor/playwright Steven Berkoff, whose I adore, and he said, 'I don't watch his work. Haven't done for years - because he once wrote a bad review of a book of mine in the Jewish Chronicle'. I thought Jacobson was joking, but no - it seems you cease to exist if you criticise a narcissist.
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