Depression/melancholia in LC's work

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Dou you feel Leonard Cohen's music is depressive?

Poll ended at Sat Jun 05, 2004 1:26 am

Yes
1
4%
No
19
79%
It depends
4
17%
 
Total votes: 24
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tomsakic
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Depression/melancholia in LC's work

Post by tomsakic » Wed May 26, 2004 1:22 am

I'm writing an essay about things like "duende", "longing", "depression", "melancholia" and "mourning" in Leonard's work (which I must finish in next ten days. So I thought maybe you could help with a poll and your opinions.
Do you feel his music is depressive? Or it is not? Or it's like (my experience), your mood of the day shapes your listening: on the bad day it sounds depressive, on good days it sounds calm and meditative? Any kind of commentary here bellow is more than welcomed!
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peter danielsen
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Post by peter danielsen » Wed May 26, 2004 2:20 am

I believe that songs like Imagine is depressive, as they are idealistic attempts to ignore reality. I feel that none of LC's work is depressive. As Nick cave said about many modern pop-lovesongs, that they are really not love songs in their :"I will always love you...deee daaahhh.." these song are not love songs he claims but rather hatesongs, while the buyers let the real lov song stand in the corner pissing its pants

Many of the people who find cohens work depressive, are indeed depressive themselves, not because of them having a sickness but because they are incredibly boring and totally lack vitality.

Peter
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Insanitor
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Post by Insanitor » Wed May 26, 2004 2:21 am

Hi Tom

This is a really interesting research topic. When I recently discovered LC, I couldn't stop listening to him. Every time I heard his music I would feel as if I had heard a further layer to the emotion or experience he was describing/I was going through. Far from depressing more like soothing and like talking to an old good friend. I was in a stressed out space, but not depressed.

However if I mentioned listening to LC to others, they often would say "god, are you depressed?" or "how depressing".

It's definitely dependent on the mood
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linmag
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Post by linmag » Wed May 26, 2004 2:27 am

I don't think the songs themselves are depressive. They are about the things we all experience at some time during our lives, about the ups and downs of relationships, about growing old and about searching for meaning/spiritual fulfillment. They do deal in strong emotions, and a person's reaction to a particular song could change depending on the mood from which they approach it. A song about suicide would not necessarily encourage someone to go out and end it all. The knowledge that someone else had been there before and survived to write a song about it, or just the feeling that at least one other person knew what it felt like, could be just what it took to start someone on the way back up from depression.
Linda

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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Wed May 26, 2004 4:41 am

I voted No, as well. Even though Leonard has spoken of being [very!] depressed himself, at times throughout his life......in this way, his songs seem to me to be other parts of himself empathizing with the overwhelmingly-depressed portion. His 'will to live' manifesting and empathizing with that which can bear it no longer.

As anyone who experiences empathy knows, the impact is anything but depressing! It acknowledges and honours that which is going on within; and within the very moment confirms for the person that he/she is not alone; is capable of being understood, is in fact ~ in that moment ~ being understood; and therein, is given hope. That is not depressing for anyone who experiences it.

As Linmag has said, his songs cover the whole of what human beings experience, and through his expression and compassion, those who are willing to look honestly at themselves, experience the empathy of his song. It is not depressing. It is life-affirming. Leonard's songs offer understanding and, therein, hope.

As Insanitor has said, ". . .soothing and like talking to an old good friend." I know that feeling well.

If more people were able to verbalize the depths as Leonard has and does, I believe there would be fewer lost to them.

I really like Nick Cave's quote [quoted by Peter]. I feel that those who would dismiss Leonard's music, on the 'depressive' notion and in lieu of all the 'happy' love songs, are in serious danger of being in denial about their own lives.

Still, other times, I feel that how people do or don't connect with Leonard's songs have to do with how far back in time they go......an old soul, or a younger one. A consideration is whether they were once, or have always been, a member of 'his' soul cluster. It's really hard to say. One thing I can say for myself with certainty, however, is that his songs are not depressive.

~ Lizzy
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Vesuvius
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Post by Vesuvius » Wed May 26, 2004 3:17 pm

Ciao Lizzytysh!


How does one become a member of Leonard's soul cluster. Is it crowded. I would like to join.


Vesuvius
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Post by George.Wright » Wed May 26, 2004 3:26 pm

Ves, you have to be part of a Galaxy.
Georges
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Pete
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Post by Pete » Wed May 26, 2004 9:09 pm

An image emerged of Cohen in the 60's/70's of a man with a guitar who sang songs which didn't entice the listener to jump up with joy, to clap in unison or to join in the chorus. The songs were measured in a way that gave greater opportunity to assimilate the lyrics and to also appreciate the hidden melodies. Some could not relate to this so deemed it to be depressing..as a contrast to their own existence and thus something to use in attack against others, disguising their own depressions in whatever form. Those who did listen carefully were able to access it on a different level and respond in a way that aided their own depressions. Let it be said that everyone suffers from depression, whether it be fleeting or be manic.
I have never found Leonard's songs to be depressing. I use them to promote my inner calm and do not use them to confront any anger that itself may translate itself into depression.
I actually tell people that the songs 'cheer me up'. When they realise that I am serious then I see a hesitant, quizzical look appear in one eye that slowly cascades to the other eye and smothers any further verbal response. They then go away questioning their own perceptions...probably. :-)

Pete
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Post by margaret » Wed May 26, 2004 10:33 pm

I have never thought his songs depressing. Certainly serious, thoughtful, melancholy or angry, but not depressing. He expresses so well the emotions we all feel and have to work through in our lives. In one of his poems or interviews I remember him saying something like "I write for those for think and feel the same way as I do" As much as I love good foot-stomping rock 'n roll, and other good music of all types, the average pop love songs are so trite and trashy in comparison with L C's songs. Some of the drivel piped out in shopping areas sometimes makes me angry and depressed, and gives me the urge to get out of there as fast as I can. :roll:
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu May 27, 2004 5:32 am

The songs were measured in a way that gave greater opportunity to assimilate the lyrics and to also appreciate the hidden melodies.
Exactly right, Pete. A great way to express it.

~ Elizabeth

Ciao, Vesuvius.....who says you aren't?
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Vesuvius
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Post by Vesuvius » Thu May 27, 2004 3:31 pm

Ciao Lizzytysh!

But wouldn't I know it if I were?


Vesuvius
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Fri May 28, 2004 7:43 am

Perhaps :wink: , Vesuvius. Ciao :D .

~ Lizzytysh
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Post by smile » Fri May 28, 2004 4:38 pm

Spot on Pete what else can I add? :P
Life is love so treasure every day.........
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic » Fri May 28, 2004 7:23 pm

Thank you all, and keep going with your comments! It's as I expected. One more thing to consider: aren't we, Cohen fans, usually dissmised al depressive persons, or even insulted (remember few intruders on this forum?)?
My goal is to end the essay with Irving Layton's magnificient stating that Leonard starts his songs in manic depressive state and ends them in exhilaration, total chatarsis of feelings from which the songs started. I think that's true, and everyone, and all of you here in this topic, confirm this view.
Tom
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Post by Helven » Fri May 28, 2004 8:05 pm

Hi Tom,

I "jumped" here intending to tell just of chatarsis :) . My observation isn't so brilliant as Layton's one, of course, but here it is, nevertheless.

I’ve never found LC' music to be depressing – and even irrespective to my own momentary state of mind. I’d say it’s rather calming and pacifying.
Maybe sometimes his songs make me experience again some difficult moments of my life but such re-experience has nothing in common with an immersion into the “abyss of hopelessness” or something like that. It rather resembles catharsis which allows bringing to light everything that weighted on heart latently and liberating from it.

And regarding the supposition that Cohen's music is something destined for a certain category of people who're more or less "depressed" themselves... It's interesting, when some of my acquaintances who had never heard LC' songs before listened to them they really liked them and none of them found the songs to be depressive – in spite of the fact that they were people of absolutely different characters, tastes, ages, and turn of mind. The "experiment" wasn't pure, though, as they didn't understand the texts, but, at least, so far as just music is spoken about their perception was totally positive.
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