Worst ever LC tracks

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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dharma
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by dharma » Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:00 pm

the only tracks i never listen to are jazz police and dear heather :cry:

i can imagine someone like Momus doing a good cover version of jazz police though

as for death of a ladies' man, there's a damn good album hidden in there somewhere - maybe it can be remixed one day? :roll:
London 1985 / London 1988 / London 1992 / Dublin, Manchester, London, Paris, 2008 / Weybridge, Venice 2009
John Etherington
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by John Etherington » Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:55 pm

Hi TGT,

You may well be right about Leonard's influences, though I believe that he has said that he didn't hear Brel till later - after people had likened them (I know and love Brel's songs through the Scott Walker versions). Leonard was of course also influenced by country music and Dylan, and "Recent Songs" was inspired by the music that Leonard's mother loved, so we can detect influences there.

I wasn't suggesting that John Cale influenced Leonard, but vice versa, since "Fear" was released in 1974. It has a black and white cover with Cale's face, and in places could well be influenced by "Songs of Love and Hate". Certainly Cale respects Leonard since he recorded "Hallelujah" and "Queen Victoria" and chose "Alexandra Leaving" as one of his "desert island discs".

Another interesting link was Nico, who had a significant role in both Leonard and John Cale's lives. Leonard and John Cale would have met Nico around the same time, as they all converged around Andy Warhol's scene in New York in the spring of 1966. Come to think of it, "Songs From a Room" is probably the closest thing there is to a Nico album! I remember Leonard once saying something to the effect that people would fully appreciate both Nico's "Desertshore" and his own "Songs From a Room" as and when they came to inhabit similar psychic landscapes to those from which the two albums had emerged.

All the best, John E
lowtwn
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by lowtwn » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:15 pm

I've been a Leonard fan for a long time now, and haven't joined these boards. But the way some of you are "harassing" the Jazz Police, I thought it'd be appropriate to join and defend it. You know, since it can't really defend itself 'cuz it's a song. :)

I must say that I'm Your Man is one of my favourite albums all together, also when taking into consideration other stuff than Leonard's. I don't really know what there isn't to like about the song, its got a fairly interesting harmony, at least for an LC tune, musically Jazz Police, I think, is one of the more exciting Leonard tunes.
And lyrically, I find it quite enjoyable, also sometimes when I listen to it, I swear he's got a russian accent.
Let me be somebody I admire
Let me be that muscle down the street
Stick another turtle on the fire
Guys like me are mad for turtle meat

As to what songs I don't like, I've never really been so fond of the ten new songs and that stuff, it's a little bland and dull musically.

Ah, w/e that's just my humble opinion.
Mr. Sunshine
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by Mr. Sunshine » Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

I have to exclude the entirety of "Death of a Ladies Man" from my list, since I find it to be unlistenable, and so cannot be included since I cannot fairly evaluate it.

(1) "Teachers": This song has an over-the-top melodrama that I related to when I was a young man. Now I I think of it as Mr. Cohen's "Push". It could have been written by that dreadful Matchbox Twenty band.

(2) "The Butcher": Also has an over-done melodrama to it, however in this one I picture some heavy metal god holding up his leather-clad fist as he sings "I accused him there with his TORTURED lamb" (leaning heavily on the word TORTURED). Reminds me of the bad metal ballads of the 1980's.

(3) "Queen Victoria": I assume that completed songs that were issued are fair game. I haven't included the dreadful "Store Room" since that was never truly a completed song. However, Mr. Cohen chose to release the awful "Queen Victoria" on his "Live Songs" album in the early 1980's. It's depressing, has no melody to speak of, and has no reason to have been written, at least not one that I can discern.

On the other hand, while "Jazz Police" is not a "good" song, not even by lesser than my standards for Leonard Cohen, I find it to fit in fairly well with it's album's themes and sounds. It wouldn't even be on my "worst 10" list if I went down that far.

Cheers,

Rudolf
yogi
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by yogi » Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:42 pm

"Jazz Police" and "Dear Heather" are great!

If you want the worst: "Never Any Good" from More Best Of.
John Etherington
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by John Etherington » Sat Apr 05, 2008 1:12 am

Hi all,

I still find it peculiar how people that are into Leonard's work can really dislike some of the tracks mentioned here, even though some songs are generally less popular. I'm glad that "Jazz Police" is getting some support. I would also like to express my enthusiasm for "Never Any Good" which I thought was a knockout...Leonard inspired by Otis Redding, with great lyrics! I'm personally not so keen on the "Dear Heather" song, because at times the voice is not disimilar to the computerized sound of "The Great Event", which was only a quirky little experiment, anyway.

I doubt whether "Queen Victoria" was ever intended to be more than short a poem that was given a vague tune, and it was a nice bonus at the end of "Live Songs". I guess Leonard's inspiration for this was his father's "love" of Queen Victoria, and maybe his playing at the Royal Albert Hall (Prince Albert was Queen Victoria's consort, and the Albert Memorial faces the Albert Hall).

All good things, John E
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skunk
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by skunk » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:09 am

Queen Victoria is one of my favourite Cohen songs. Full of loneliness, wit, and longing, to me its a Cohen classic.

As for not liking Bird on a Wire... I am in the wrong forum?
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ania
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by ania » Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:14 pm

mickey_one wrote:1. Bird On The Wire, this is a dirge, dull and dull, I have only once been able to bear it when a friend sent me a French version, is there anything which doesn't sound better in French than English?
you KNOW its a beautiful song, the live songs version. youre just in denial ;)
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becoming a bankrupt or an alcoholic or a cheat and a thief.
Or a liar." -- Raymond Carver
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Lissa
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by Lissa » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:02 pm

I haven't heard a bad track yet. I don't know how anyone can't like Bird on The Wire. It's one of my favorites.
I have tried in my way to be free...
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ania
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by ania » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:08 am

i have to say 'jazz police' makes my teeth hurt
"It's strange. You never start out life with the intention of
becoming a bankrupt or an alcoholic or a cheat and a thief.
Or a liar." -- Raymond Carver
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Andrew (Darby)
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by Andrew (Darby) » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:28 am

For me, though Jazz Police has been the Cohen song I've least liked, like ‘commonweal’, it received a significant boost in my appreciation of it by listening to Monsieur Camembert’s fun version of it, which as far as I’m aware is the only cover version of this unpopular Cohen song! 8)

Anyway, check out MC’s version of it (along with a few other tracks) at their Myspace site: http://www.myspace.com/monsieurcamembert

(Those of you who are lucky enough to be going to the Edmonton Event in July are likely to see MC perform all of the Cohen covers from their Famous Blue Cheese tribute show/album, during their two sessions there! :D )

Cheers :)
Andrew (Darby)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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~greg
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by ~greg » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:01 pm

ania wrote:i have to say 'jazz police' makes my teeth hurt
you're not supposed to chew it.

you're supposed to lick salt, toss it down, suck on a lemon.
or snort the salt.
Hylton
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by Hylton » Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:47 am

John Etherington wrote:I have to say I find it totally inconceivable that anyone could be into Leonard, but not like "Bird on the Wire"...rather like being into Dylan, but not liking that erm... "Like Rolling Stone" song! For me, "Bird" is totally central to everything that Leonard has always stood for...My first Leonard album was "Songs from a Room" which I've always considered a faultless work, and I've loved "Bird" through it's various incarnations - most especially on "Live Songs", the gospelly version in the "Bird on a Wire" movie, and the later versions with the "don't cry" section. Still, different strokes for different folks, I guess! Leonard is such a perfectionist, that I find it hard to say that there is anything I really dislike about his work. Though, "On That Day" is probably my least favourite song.

All good things, John E
"On That Day" = they wounded New York? To me was the most incisive comments I've heard about that day.. the song and music fitted the sentiment.

I find it hard to criticise Leonard -
about his words = never;
collaboration with Mr Spector = music dedracted from the (great) words.
John Etherington
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by John Etherington » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:35 pm

Hi Hylton,

I did say that "On the Day" is my least favourite song (with an emphasis on the word song). I don't think it's a very good tune and not that well sung. Furthermore, it sits awkwardly in the middle of an album that is primarily concerned with the dilemmas of aging. As a comment on 9/11 it is also misplaced in time, as it comes three years after the event (whereas Springsteen's "The Rising" emerged as a almost immediate response). Since it's unusual for Leonard to comment on specific political issues, he has been criticised for his seemingly ambivalent attitude in the song. Though personally, I think I can see where he's coming from. Certainly 9/11 raises some profound questions that go far beyond "us" and "them". It also throws the individual back to their own role in the greater sheme of things. I tend to believe that there is such a thing as a collective shadow. Thus when a nation sees itself as ruling the world and generally takes a"John Wayne" - "let's go get 'em"/"gung-ho" approach, rather than trying to understand the other sides perspective or talk to them, then sooner or later it is not totally unexpected that something like this might happen. The fact that numerous innocent lives are lost seems to be part of the process (and clearly God doesn't stop this happening).

All the best, John E
John Etherington
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Re: Worst ever LC tracks

Post by John Etherington » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:35 pm

Although "Death of a Ladies'" man has been widely criticised, I've never had a real problem with it. I think the tunes are good and suit the lyrics well. I like both "True Love Leaves No Traces" (with the female voices) on "DOALM" and Anjani's variation with the original poem "As the Mist Leaves No Scar" on "Blue Alert". "Paper Thin Hotel" works well as a paradox with the comforting "Christmassy" Spector music, and the combination of relief and pain that is expressed in the lyrics. My favourite track is "I Left a Woman Waiting" which I find quite beautiful. The "over-the-top" musical approach is fitting for "Memories" and "Don't Go Home With Your Hard On" because the songs are also "over the top" and deserving of exaggeration. The countrified "hoe-down" stlye given to "Fingerprints" is not inappropriate, since Leonard had already used it on the live version of "Tonight Will Be Fine". My only real criticism of the album is that Spector's "wall-of-sound" can somtimes make things sound messy. This is particularly true on "Iodine" and "Death of a Ladies' Man" (and also for that matter on Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High", which does not sound quite so good on modern equipment). I would like to hear a paired-down version of "DOALM", and may have been the first person to suggest this (I put the idea to Leonard in a letter, at least eight years ago). However, I would also ike to hear a fully re-mastered version of the original version of "DOALM" with more clarity and separation. It would be nice if the two potential new versions were released as a double album, though I'm not holding my breath for such a thing! Finally, I should say that although "Death of a Ladies Man" was
an interesting experiment and worked well as a "stand alone", I'm glad that Leonard followed it with the masterful "Recent Songs".

All good things, John E
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