Depression/melancholia in LC's work

Ask and answer questions about Leonard Cohen, his work, this forum and the websites!

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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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Sat May 29, 2004 5:10 am

YaY, your friends, Helven :D ~ your track record there is sure better than mine :wink: ! However, not realizing that Layton had ever said it [well, how could I, not knowing Layton until I came to this Forum] ~ through the years, I've said Leonard's music has been the vehicle of catharsis for me. Listening, singing loudly, crying long, dancing alone with warm tears streaming down my face, coming through the pain and bitterness that were trying to hold on to me, knowing I could get to the other side of it all, because he did it in his songs. I've often credited him with my lack of bitterness.

Conjunct with his music, I've been dismissed as "too serious," though not necessarily depressive.

~ Lizzy
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Jo
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Post by Jo » Sat May 29, 2004 9:57 pm

I also have never found Leonard Cohen’s music or poetry depressing, but I’m certainly familiar with the “Oh-Lord-suicide-time” phenomenon when his name is mentioned. Like Pete I also find that another’s expression of my exact feelings and the empathy gained from that lifts my depression. Confronting one’s darkest and most secret inner being is never pleasant (unless you’re a Mother Theresa clone :lol: ). Is this possibly why certain people withdraw in horror when this confrontation is forced on them by a phrase or an expression that evokes painful memories and the emotions associated with them? Lizzy hit the nail on the head when she said one has to have lived those emotions on several levels (an old soul) to be able to confront them head on.

The world is definitely divided into those who appreciate Leonard and those who don’t and I know which group I’ve always found to be the warmest, most empathetic, not to mention most interesting, as well as being the most able to express profound thought and riotous emotions better than most (of course there are always the exceptions on both sides :shock: ).

Shiloh Noone in his book “Seeker’s Guide to the History of Yesteryear” has this to say about Leonard Cohen:

Leonard took his verse into music and stilled the world with his bleak melancholic. The anthemic “So Long Marianne”, “Sisters of Mercy” and chilling “Who by Fire” continue to shiver therapeutically through the lonely strains of a man’s heart…For those that can’t cry anymore he took the pain and pierced it into our being so we could feel. Leonard was the poet that caught the tears of Jesus and then washed the world with it. Even more he was the waterbearer kneeling before the messiah as he carried the cross.

http://www.writers.net/writers/15237?PH ... 3b11536bfa
"... to make a pale imitation of reality with twenty-six juggled letters"
"... all words are lies because they can only represent one of many levels of being"
Sober noises of morning in a marginal land.
Moonlight
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Post by Moonlight » Mon May 31, 2004 2:36 pm

I've never thought of Leonard Cohen's music as being a depressant. However, at the risk of being struck by lightning, I've don't view his music the way some on this forum seem to do. In particular, quotes, like this one:
Leonard took his verse into music and stilled the world with his bleak melancholic. The anthemic “So Long Marianne”, “Sisters of Mercy” and chilling “Who by Fire” continue to shiver therapeutically through the lonely strains of a man’s heart…For those that can’t cry anymore he took the pain and pierced it into our being so we could feel. Leonard was the poet that caught the tears of Jesus and then washed the world with it. Even more he was the waterbearer kneeling before the messiah as he carried the cross.
are what give Leonard Cohen's music a bad name. In my opinion. And I certainly understand the sense of empathy that good music and great lyrics can create between the listener and the musician. But all that about washing the world with Jesus' tears and being the Messiah's waterbearer is way over the top. No artist's music can stand up under that kind of adulation and adoration. The semi-deification of Leonard Cohen on this site continually astonishes me.

M
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peter danielsen
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Post by peter danielsen » Tue Jun 01, 2004 12:43 pm

"everybody knows what you've been through, from the bloody cross on top of Calvery"

"Im guided by a signal in the heavens..."

"You dont know me from the wind, you never did, you never will, Im the little jew, who wrote the Bible"

No semi-deification there I suppose.

Peter
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witty_owl
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Post by witty_owl » Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:35 pm

Moonlight, the semi-deification of Leonard does not astonish me at all;- business as usual for homo soapiens. It does however give me cause for concern. He is after all a singer/songwriter- a commercial artist.

I do not find Leonard's music depressing though I understand why some do and I can say no more nor say it better than Pete.

Regards, Owl.
Last edited by witty_owl on Fri Jun 04, 2004 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
Andrew McGeever
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Post by Andrew McGeever » Thu Jun 03, 2004 4:07 am

Dear Tom,
"duende"....you mentioned that word on your first post, yet all correspondents, to date, have picked other words on which to hang their replies.
I think some of the answers you seek are found in the multiple meanings of the word, and in Federico Garcia Lorca's lecture, delivered in Havana and Buenos Aires, entitled "Theory and Function of the Duende".
I'll be happy to send you a copy of the lecture.....but not the book!
Yours, as aye,
Andrew.
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic » Thu Jun 03, 2004 4:53 pm

Dear Andrew (and Peter),
that's how I started thinking about this essay, after I heard Nick Cave's lecture "The secret life of the love song", where he cites Lorca's duende as main source of love song and saudade in pop music, and saying that "Leonard Cohen deals speccifically" in the field of duende.
I downloaded Lorca's lecture from the net, there's a free translation from some scholar. I am planning end with that, because I already done 10 pages about melancholia (Julia Kristeva's Black Sun gave me some ideas - the book Judith Fitzgerald would like. Recommended), and I have 4-5 pages left according to my deal with the editor.
But thanks for the offer, anyway :D
I think I will use some of responses you gave me here, it's nice to have some feedback. My professor of cultural studies would like this, he always talks about etnographies of fan cultures, something like that.
tom
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Jo
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Post by Jo » Fri Jun 04, 2004 1:16 am

Where's your sense of poetic licence Moonlight? Nobody's deifying Leonard Cohen - merely expressing in their own way what his words mean to them - some people just have a more evocative way of saying things then others.
"... to make a pale imitation of reality with twenty-six juggled letters"
"... all words are lies because they can only represent one of many levels of being"
Sober noises of morning in a marginal land.
Andrew McGeever
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Post by Andrew McGeever » Fri Jun 04, 2004 1:35 am

Dear Tom,
I'm glad you downloaded Lorca's "Theory and Function of The Duende". It saves me sending you a copy; but I had promised it anyway!
My copy is from "Lorca", selected and translated by J.L. Gili ( The Penguin Poets, 1960).
By the way, the "General Editor" is someone called J.M. Cohen.
(Honestly!!!)
There was an exhibition a few years ago in Edinburgh, where I saw photographs of Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca posing at the Madrid Academy of Arts in the (mid?) '20s.
On re-reading Lorca's "Theory and function of The Duende", I have a better understanding where L.C. obtained much of his inspiration. He was perfectly honest about it when he introduced "Take This Waltz".
That's all for now, Tom.
As aye,
Andrew.
Richard
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Post by Richard » Sat Jun 05, 2004 1:50 am

The topic of this post is perhaps one of the most common questions that Cohen fans face from those around them. I remember discussing this at length with other attendees at the Hydra event. We all agreed that one of the best things about the events/newsgroup/forum is that we can enjoy the company of others who understand the appeal of this amazing artist that so many of our peers can't seem to "get". We also agreed that none of us considered his work to be depressing or his fans depressed and that in some way his words and music can bring us out of the depths of sadness rather than allowing us to wallow in it. We explore those feelings with someone who seems to understand our pain and then hopefully move past it.

One of the best descriptions of this aspect of Cohen's work can be found in a one-page illustrated biography by Mark Beebe that has been living for years in a back room of Jarkko's site:
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/beebe.html

"A false equation is often made in our culture. That is that seriousness equals depressing equals negative. I would reserve these last terms for the mercenary, the shabby, that which is logo-ed on plastic cups. Though his work is for sale, though it's rife with sex and bloody collisions, though it is usually quiet (even near silent at times) it is an inspiring island of adult (even antique) solemnity glowing dark in a shocking pink video bath of the larger culture. It's funny, too, if you're in on the joke. Usually, though, it is serious. This is a choice, an affirmation. 'Seriousness is voluptuous.' Cohen once said, 'It is not a renunciation, it is the very opposite of that. Seriousness is the deepest pleasure we can have.' He gives voice to the soldier of love, the zen marine, on the battlegrounds of the heart where the boundaries of the self dissolve (and gives birth to panic and beauty). This is where the dark, the minor chord, the melancholy and the aged are all ever reborn ever-sexy, the land of solace and crisis itself, the stuff of holy texts and honky tonk tears."


Looking forward to meeting lots of old and new friends in New York next week.

God bless the beautiful losers.

Richard
Natalie
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Depression/Melancholia in LC's work

Post by Natalie » Sat Jun 05, 2004 6:55 am

Thank you, Richard, for citing Beebe's quotation. Wow. It's very rare that I read something that profoundly speaks to the writer in me. Aaah. It's like a glass of fine red wine.

I agree with the general consensus on this topic. I have never found Leonard's writing to be depressing. I find that I listen to him when I am depressed, and it's for solace, because he deeply understands the human condition and can emote it so beautifully. I find I listen to him when I am in the mood for something so unlike my daily grind. He captures the essence of being with his songs and poetry; no one I listen to or read does that for me.

So, that's why I am a fan. That's why I am coming to New York to be with like-minded individuals. When I was in Montreal 4 years ago, it felt like a homecoming of sorts, to be with people who understood Leonard's resonance.

I look forward to seeing everyone in New York!! It's almost here.

Natalie :roll:
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Sat Jun 05, 2004 7:53 am

You say such beautiful things, and then roll your eyes, Natalie :wink: ~ why is that :D ? Thanks from me, too, Richard, for bringing that excellent commentary to the fore. So true, so true, so true! See you both in New York! At the registration table, in fact. If you see a black cat in a tux, hiding about, don't be alarmed :wink: .

~ Lizzy
Andrew McGeever
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Post by Andrew McGeever » Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:18 pm

Tom's posts, and more recently, those from Richard and Natalie, have touched the core of Leonard Cohen.
Thanks to you all: let all the non-attenders know what it was like in N.Y.
"Wish You Were Here".....isn't that Pink Floyd ?
Andrew.
Tchocolatl
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Post by Tchocolatl » Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:23 pm

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!

Hello Tom,

Definitively duende for me. And I mean it. I mean Duende.

Duende. Yes.

Ay!

And in a kabbalistic way.

As for your first question, I do not feel his music is depressive. I feel that his music is soothing. We all have moods like temperature, sunny, rainy, misty, etc, we must experience all this to keep our inner deeper secret garden well and alive.

I'm afraid I'm too late or just in time for you to use this comment? I'm sorry then.

This is a very interesting point of view to look at an artwork through different cultural windows.

I hope you will let us know about your essay some day,
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
Andrew McGeever
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Post by Andrew McGeever » Sat Jun 05, 2004 6:47 pm

"I feel that his music is soothing"....well, sometimes, and I guess that's been the case for all (?) on this board.
Leonard's music is also challenging, for both the listener, and for him.
That's why I'm still crazy, after all these years, and so is he.
G*d bless all who attend the N.Y. event next week.
Andrew.
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