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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:54 pm
by its4inthemorning
Vickie, thank you for your kind comments.

I had written a longer post yesterday along the same lines, but when I was done, I didn't like it at all; moreover it was beyond the point of editing, so I scrapped it. It is still not easy for me to write even though I do it a lot for work. (But, maybe this is true of almost everyone, I don't know.) Re how long it takes to write, Winston Churchill said that, for an important speech, he generally spent one hour composing and rehearsing it for each minute of the final speech; ie, 30 hours preparation for a 30 minute speech!

Now I get to relax and read what you and Bev and Alan have to say about FBR.


Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:39 am
by vlcoats
Hello again,

After reflecting on my earlier post today, I realized that not only did it maybe sound rude regarding my not being interested in what others think his lyrics mean, but it also wasn’t completely true. For one thing, I would be VERY interested in what LC thinks the lyrics mean ;-) , but I am also somewhat curious about what others think as well. A better way to put it would have been, I am MORE interested in how the songs make others feel than exactly what the lyrics mean to them.

4- It cracked me up to hear that you had scrapped your entire post to rewrite it, even though it basically said the same thing. I also loved your reference to Winston Churchill. I share a birthday with him, so I have always felt connected to him in my admittedly self-centered way. As for whether everyone struggles with editing to the point of insanity, no I don’t think they do. My husband is all about writing things "one and done", and look at Dylan, who professed to write an entire masterpiece in 15 minutes. When I was reading your post to my husband, I wondered aloud whether others here on the forum also suffered from rewriting, and in his usual offhand way he said, “Of course. That’s why you all like him so much.” Then he said, “You all have that Cohen affliction", thereby coining a household phrase I am sure I will hear again whenever I take forever to write an email to my boss, or anything else for that matter.

As for my thoughts on Famous Blue Raincoat:

This is one of only four LC songs that were vaguely (or more so) familiar to me as I listened to them on the CDs for the first time. The four songs are Suzanne, Hallelujah, First We Take Manhattan, and Famous Blue Raincoat. Of course, Hallelujah I knew was his even before I started this journey. As for Suzanne and First We Take Manhattan, I was vaguely familiar with the titles and the tunes, but I didn’t necessarily know that they were his (or hadn’t given that any thought until now). However, Famous Blue Raincoat was a title that I wasn’t familiar with at all, so when I first heard it on SOLAH, I was surprised. I was like, “Hey, wait a minute. I think I know this…”, but when I tried to place the tune, I couldn’t even guess where I had heard it before. Even some of the lyrics were vaguely familiar. It really caught my attention, like a Déjà vu.... which I have heard is just shreds and bits of memories that aren’t quite firing in your brain but mean nothing. Of course, I fell in love with that, because how can you not.

It is the music that got me first… the guitar and the chord steps, but then his voice comes in, so pure like it was then, and you can tell that he is singing about something important. You feel like you just stepped into the middle of a movie where you missed the most dramatic part and you are hearing the aftermath, or like you are listening in on something very personal and maybe you should stop. And then he says, “Jane…… came…. by, with a lock of your hair,” and the melody is so sweet that it breaks your heart (well, at least it was like that for me), and it was the melody right there that sounded so familiar to me.

As for the lyrics, once I was able to peel myself away from that haunting melody, it was obvious how torn up the narrator was, but (like B4’s quotes from LC confirm) it was hard to tell whether he was singing about being hurt or singing about hurting someone else or singing about betrayal in general. Most nagging of all is that I started to feel a lack of respect for the man who didn’t feel capable of taking the trouble from his woman’s eyes and didn’t seem to even want to try. It makes you almost want to side with the SOB in the raincoat, as much as you understand the narrator's pain. And then the fact that he stays with this woman afterward... even though she is obviously still smitten with the gypsy in the raincoat (seriously!) is also troubling.

Other standouts in this song for me are the lyrics 4 has already mentioned, “You treated my woman to a flake of your life” (I also liked the “k” and agree why it is there), but I also loved the rest of that line, "and when she came back, she was nobody's wife". I also am taken by "My brother, my killer", but my very favorite lyric is "Sincerely, L. Cohen”, and like 4, it really grabbed me, but for some reason it makes me feel like he himself is the SOB and not really the narrator after all.

I can listen to this song over and over without even thinking of anything else.

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:39 am
by B4real
Vickie, I had this post ready to go and I've just read what you have said and have enjoyed all of it!
AlanM wrote: Next song for discussion: Famous Blue Raincoat. I'll let you lead off 4, fo(u)r obvious reasons!
I know Alan and I have discussed this song in print and in person before so I’m not surprised that he would suggest it as the next topic because it’s one of his favourites ;-) I said then that most men who are LC aficionados seem to have Famous Blue Raincoat as one of their very favourite songs. Of course women love it too but it seems to captivate some other aspect with the male species. I guarantee if you ask a male friend who is into Leonard this song will be among his top ten if not five, for sure! I can see why 4 likes this song and I enjoyed his words about it. With Vickie’s first diploma he definitely wanted me to include the ending “Sincerely, L. Cohen” because he felt it was the essence of LC plus it was fitting that he signed it and of course he was right. Over the years in concerts on many occasions he has ended with “Sincerely, a friend” - maybe he wanted to remain anonymous on those occasions! ha! as if!! Once when in Israel he used his traditional Jewish name as the ending, “Sincerely, Eliezer ha’Cohen.”

Also occasional used are a couple of words changed in this line: “I hear that you’re building your little hut deep in the desert...” and “I hear that you’re renting some little house at the edge of the desert...”

Personally, when I first heard this song the line “a flake of your life” was the one that resonated with me. I thought, how can one word say so much! He often included the word “little” before “flake” at concerts. Most of you probably know that with the line, “did you ever go clear?” LC was referring to a procedure in Scientology. Another alternate line was, “That night that we planned to go clear” ha! Now it’s not a question but a statement! He dipped his finger into Scientology for a short time – actually, if I remember correctly, he first met the mother of his two children in a lift at one of the meetings.

Melody discussion:
Interviewer: In FBR which is A minor, the chorus shifts into C major which is very beautiful.
LC: Yeah. That’s nice. I guess I got that from Spanish music, which has that.

So interesting to hear what Leonard says about his songs and how he writes and changes them.

Ancestry stuff:
Vickie wrote: What juicy bits have you been uncovering in your genealogy? You can message me if you prefer, but you have my curiosity.
Ah Vickie, I will say here that St Leonard’s On Sea, England is not far from Hastings where one of my ancestors was the first and only prominent baron to die in the Battle of Hastings 1066 and he is featured in the Bayeux Tapestry. Some other ancestors are from Sainte-Suzanne, France and another baron of the same name was shot under the eye with an arrow at the siege of the castle of that town....and of course that’s only the tip of the to speak :) It's interesting to note that all this comes from the only English grandparent I have! Of the other three, one is Scandinavian and the other two are European. More in my PM.
You know, if we go back far enough we are all related but it’s interesting to see if (and what) we can discover the journey we take in doing so!

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:33 am
by AlanM
I know Alan and I have discussed this song in print and in person before so I’m not surprised that he would suggest it
I remember it well - not quite the Chelsea Hotel, but a very pleasant afternoon spent discussing Leonard with another Cohenite friend (is that tautology?), just prior to the concert in Melbourne Tennis Centre.
I said then and I say it again, FBR is my #1 Cohen song, I prefer the album version most of all, as it is almost unplugged*. Some of the concert versions over the years have been over-arranged IMHO.
I haven't heard a cover that I even remotely like and I confess that when I saw and heard the video of a program called "RockPop" broadcast on German TV (31.10.1979) I thought Leonard had murdered his own song by his phrasing. Sadly several versions are available on YouTube.

This thread has made me examine my own thoughts on why I like the song. When the album was released, I had played the first 2 albums almost endlessly, mainly listening through headphones, for 2-3 years, I had just started work and was living in shared accommodation with a non-Cohen fan. It is a fabulous song to absorb in the dark, allowing those word pictures to guide my thoughts as they drift around, often in different directions from the time before.
Irrespective of the lyrics, the melody and arrangement are to me, lullaby-like, and this is accentuated by Leonard's hypnotic voice. I am not musically savvy enough to describe the combination, but the slow rhythmic beat, the rising and lowering of his voice, the delicate picking of the guitar strings get me every time.

The lyrics - what a story that is both told and untold, the mixed feelings for the other(s) as well as the self just resonated with me initially and ever since.
At Uni and working, both away from my family home, my parents had insisted on a letter home every week and I always found it difficult, and here is this man writing a letter and expressing and implying feelings that I had never experienced. It was such a revelation.
The only comment that I'll make re the specific lyrics is not original. The concept of the other man being another part of Leonard's "id" was postulated some years ago, with the trigger word being "gypsy". He had referred to himself as a gypsy in So Long, Marianne and later of course he apparently was writing about Suzanne Elrod in The Gypsy's Wife. So I agree that the gypsy thief is another (suppressed?) part of his nature, his character, his past, etc.

Favourite couplet:
Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

But there are so many brilliant lines. These are probably not just my favourite lines in this song, but probably my favourite LC lines over all, considering the depth of emotion both expressed and implied.
I know Leonard felt he hadn't nailed it, but I wouldn't change it at all, other than he could have pronounced the K at the end of awake, with the same clarity that he did at the end of flake.
However, I would happily expunge that RockPop version from the universe.

As I write this, it's not 4 in the morning, more like 5:30 in the afternoon, and there's FBR (album version) on repeat front and centre. I don't know how many repeats, but each time it is an old friend that I know well and an amazing new friend, like I was hearing it for the first time, both together.
So I know this song intimately, but I don't know it at all. How's that for understanding?
Long Live The Mystery Of Cohen Lyrics!
If the great whoever said to me "only one song for evermore" I would chose this one.
To be truthful, I am not so much interested in what anyone thinks the lyrics mean exactly, but how do the lyrics make you feel and what kinds of images and memories do they bring to mind, and what about the music? That, I am definitely interested in. So thank you for sharing.
Thank you Vicky. So much has been written in other places, I feel your direction is the right one to follow for this thread. I hope I have succeeded.

Best wishes,

I was listening to New Skin For The Old Ceremony this morning and thought it could easily have been called Songs Of Love And Hate part 2.
Are you aware you can have personalised ring tones on your mobile phone without paying an ongoing fee?
I have The Future verse You don't know me from the wind as my ring tone and the intro to Waiting For The Miracle as my message tone.
ppps: unplugged*
At the start of the 2nd half of the 1985 concert I attended, he was unplugged and unaccompanied for a few songs, and it was fabulous.
Leif Bodnarchuk (guitar technician) in his blog during the beautifully long World Tour quoted someone along the lines of:
If your name is not on the ticket, you don't really have much of a say and many fans out there would happily turn up to hear Leonard on his own. Amen to that.

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:07 pm
by vlcoats
Thank you everyone for giving me so much regarding FBR!

B4- I thought it was so funny when you said, “If you asked a male friend who is into Leonard…” because not only do I not have many friends (although they are usually male), but not one of them is a fan of Leonard, unless you count my husband, which I suppose he might be if coercion is a valid way to become a fan. Would it be weird if from now on I refused to become more than an acquaintance with anyone unless they like LC?
It’s interesting to me that so many of us like the line “a flake of your life”. I had thought it was just me until now and attributed to the fact that when I feed my donkeys I give them “flakes” off of the bale. After hear hearing FBR, I often think of that line when I am feeding.

Thank you for the info on the melody shifts being a Spanish thing. Thank you also for the info on going “clear”, I do remember it being said that it was from Scientology. I had even read something about him meeting that Suzanne in an elevator, but didn’t know it was at a Scientology event.

Your genealogy journey is amazing (I will reply to your message soon also). I have always envied those who understand history; especially all of the battles in England, but to having a personal connection to it must bring it alive for you. I suppose you are right that we are all connected, although I often prefer to think I have nothing to do with most of the other people on this planet, haha.

Alan- I am envious of you also, for being able to name your favorite #1 Cohen song. I have several that contend for that spot, but maybe in a couple decades, I will narrow it down. I haven’t really listened to any other versions but the studio one of FBR, and after your description of them, not sure if I want to. I prefer things unplugged as well.

I loved hearing your story about listening to your first 2 albums on headphones because of your roommate. I can imagine you there in the dark… just like I can imagine the expression on 4’s face when he heard it for the first time at his friend’s house. Thank you both for those images.

I loved your description of the melody, and hypnotic is not only a perfect word for his voice but for the entire song. As for it being lullaby-like, I had always thought of it as dreamy so I can see what you are saying.
Both you and 4 brought up the letter-writing device of the lyrics. Until now, I hadn’t really thought that much about that. Of course I noticed when he signed it that it was a letter, but maybe it’s because of the well-known male attribute (true or not) of having an aversion to sharing their feelings that you both you and 4 were taken by the depth of emotion written so plainly in a simple letter.

It was funny to read in your post, Alan, that you also had FBR on repeat as you wrote about it. That is how my husband found me when he came home from hunting last night—finishing my post while listening to FBR over and over. I wondered if B4 and 4 did the same?

I loved your ps, pps, and ppps. If you have children of a certain age, you may have seen the movie "Nacho Libre", where Jack Black has a very funny bit about ps's. By the way, I especially liked what Leif Bodnarchuk (the guitar technician) said!
AlanM wrote:
To be truthful, I am not so much interested in what anyone thinks the lyrics mean exactly, but how do the lyrics make you feel and what kinds of images and memories do they bring to mind, and what about the music? That, I am definitely interested in. So thank you for sharing.
Thank you Vicky. So much has been written in other places, I feel your direction is the right one to follow for this thread. I hope I have succeeded.
Yes you have, and very well in fact. Thank you all so much for sharing your impressions. I don't think you know how it adds to my enjoyment of listening to Leonard. You have given it all so much depth and have offered me another way of thinking about things. For instance, there is not once that I listen to Dance Me to the End of Love without imagining 4's anticipation in a concert hall as the music begins.

Thank you again!

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:40 pm
by its4inthemorning
What a wealth of interesting comments over the last 24 hours.

Re: Editing/rewriting. For me, the degree to which I will spend time reviewing and editing anything I write is based on the audience. Work-related writing demands complete accuracy and clarity, somebody is actually paying me for my thoughts (this is still something that, to be honest, amazes me). For other writing, I try to at least match the efforts of the correspondents. It is fairly obvious that those posting here spend considerable time composing what they write, so I feel they deserve reciprocity.

Re: Cohen affliction. This a perfect description of our condition. Once or twice each summer we will encounter a tortoise slowly making its way across our lawn, and I think, how hard it must be to wander around in slow motion with the faint hope of encountering a mate, and how rare it must be to succeed in that endeavor. The Cohen-afflicted are like that tortoise, we live our lives, meet people, and interact, but we almost never encounter others with our condition in the flesh. Thankfully Jarkko has provided us with the gift of this Board so we can at least electronically communicate with our brethren.

Re: Vickie's comments. It is interesting that you recall, but only vaguely, hearing FBR some time in the past. The fact that it did not "grab" you at that time might be because you heard a cover version, which would eliminate the impact that LC's voice has on the song. (I have consciously avoided listening to most covers, in particular FBR covers.) As for no LC fans in your locale, I am curious about the results of your raising the LC subject with co-workers at your school (I am guessing that you would have done this). Were some of them at least familiar with LC and his work?

Re: Alan's comments. The idea that the other man in FBR is not really another person, he is an earlier version of LC (which means the letter LC is writing is to himself) is intriguing. In this context, LC the older is admonishing LC the younger for treating Jane in a selfish/sophomoric/unfaithful manner, and the act of writing the letter is to atone for these previous shortcomings . Usually any line-by-line song analysis fails in that there are always some lines that just cannot be bent enough to fit the premise. But I do not see any FBR lyrics that do not fit the older/younger theory. As for considering "New Skin" as SOLAH #2, I must say I have never considered this, I need to listen to "New Skin" a few times with that thought in mind.

Re; B4's comments. What's nice about this thread is to be able to see observations made by thoughtful people that one has never entertained. (I guess that is what's called, "learning,") Why would men tend to rank FBR among their favorite LC songs more than women? Maybe, if we adopt the premise that men are more likely to have been unfaithful to their mates than women, it is because (1) men can better-relate to the lyrics and story of the song, and (2) since the story (sort of) has a happy ending, it assuages men's guilt about infidelity. It would be interesting to see a poll that bears out B4's hypothesis.

To wind up this post, I thought the interviewer/LC exchange regarding FBR's melody that B4 posted was hilarious. What if Beethoven had been as nonchalant about his work as LC was in this interview?

Interviewer: In Piano Sonata No. 8, which is in C minor, the Adagio cantabile second movement is very beautiful.

Beethoven: Yeah. That's nice. I guess I got this from Mozart's Piano Sonata No.14, which has that.

Have a nice weekend!


Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:44 pm
by vlcoats
Hi 4!
Of those I've asked at work, only 2 have heard of him. One was familiar with Hallelujah only, and he is our music teacher :shock: if you can believe that! Our French teacher perked up when I asked her if she knew of Leonard Cohenand and responded that yes, she loved him. When I tried to talk about him though, she didn't seem to love him as much as she implied. I think she meant to say, I can see you love him, and I have listened to him a time or two. My husband said if you reference an atlas and see where we live, you might understand our situation with that haha!
As for my being vaguely familiar with FBR because maybe I had heard a cover song somewhere along the line.... I had wondered the same thing.
Interesting about men and FBR. I would say one of the reasons it resonates with me is because I was overly fond of my father and never forgave my mother for breaking his heart. Which is probably also why I often prefer men to women, our good friend B4 excluded of course! ;-)
By the way, what you said about B4's post regarding Beethoven was very funny!

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:17 am
by B4real
4, you have to stop making me laugh so much – I love your dry sense of humour!

And hey everybody, there’s something we’ve all overlooked as regards Famous Blue Raincoat!
It’s funny how you sometimes can’t see something that is right in front of you!

4’s full forum name is “it’s four(4) in the morning”.....hummm ....I wonder why he chose that name ;-) Seems to be the first line of Famous Blue Raincoat doesn’t it? Hehe! Could this revelation suggest that it was not a random gesture by 4? Methinks it has connotations of my theory about men favouring this song so much :)
(but for the record and just to confuse things, my forum name isn’t chosen as a favourite song)

And just for fun maybe we should run a poll here on the forum to see if what I’ve discovered is a random thing or more universal - but then I know there are more females here than males so it would stand to reason that more females would answer :razz:

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:07 am
by AlanM
And hey everybody, there’s something we’ve all overlooked as regards Famous Blue Raincoat!
I beg to differ, Bev. I knew exactly why I should ask him to lead off the discussion.

Do we want to remain with songs from this album, or venture into another one?
Do we want to veer towards the non-concert songs that are generally less discussed on the Forum?

Considering that Vickie is the novice, maybe she might like to nominate the next song, but not necessarily do the lead posting, unless she would like to.

4 - I loved your insights and I love your sense of humour/humor.
Then he said, “You all have that Cohen affliction"
I think it was Allan Showalter (Dr H Guy, now Cohencentric) who called it the Cohen gene. I prefer his terminology as "affliction" implies something unpleasant and undesired. I am totally at ease with my Cohen gene.


Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:24 pm
by its4inthemorning
It is really impossible for any fan to pick a favorite song, but yes, if I had to, it would be FBR, with about twenty other songs tied for second place. And no, it is not because I am atoning for being unfaithful! Like Alan put it, each listen of FBR is like visiting an old friend.

Vickie, I know you live in an unpopulated area and am curious, ignoring family members and work, roughly how many people would you tend to interact with face-to-face in a given week? I reviewed my calendar and memory for the last week, and I am coming up with a rather small number: face-to-face interactions with only eight people aside from Joann and work. Is this normal? Am I not "getting out" enough? What about you, Bev and Alan?

Just to clarify, I previously mentioned that I "write for work," but please do not construe this as being any form of creative writing, I am not sitting at my desk churning out essays and novels. I do not have the "creative" gene, my writing is all geared to finance and economics.

Alan asked where we should go next. I would hate to "use up" the songs of SOLAH so quickly, so would prefer to go in different direction, but it is Vickie's choice.

BTW, we are planning to attend Jarkko's mysterious event on Montreal November 5-7. I am hoping for a tribute concert with the members of "the world's quietest band," or at least a screening of one of LC's concerts; but no matter what transpires it will be a (final?) opportunity to see some of the fans we met in the past. We have the luxury of only being seven hours from Montreal, I am sure the logistics and cost will make it difficult to impossible for you others to attend.


Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:30 pm
by vlcoats
Okay, so now I really feel like a hermit! Can I count grocery clerks and the nice guy in flooring at Home Depot? How about the occasional person who delivers a package that won’t fit in our mailbox? You already said face-to-face, so I can’t include any of you or the handful of friends I either write or text or occasionally call on the phone. Not including the aforementioned encounters, without even needing to look at my calendar, I would say my weekly face-to-face encounters total 0-1. In the summer, I only leave our 6.5 acres to drive the mile to get our mail or the half mile to turn on our irrigation pump, and every Saturday we drive the 30 minutes to town to do our shopping. During the school year, I leave daily of course, but once I am home, I tend not to go out again. Do I think I should get out more often and interact with people more? Maybe, but it’s not like I never talk to people. I have a couple very close friends and some family members that I love to see when I have a chance. I just seldom feel the need. I already have TONS going on (real and imagined ;-) )! Do I consider myself a ‘hermit’? Not in the strictest sense, but I do have tendencies, lol.

I was wondering about your writing for work, 4. Even if it isn’t ‘creative’ writing, it is still writing and there is craft that goes into that. I think you are lucky to have a job that allows you to do it.

Hmm, which song to pick? There are so many that I would like to hear more of your thoughts on. Just looking at the first album alone, I could pick One of Us Cannot Be Wrong, Teachers, The Stranger Song, etc. Or I could pick one from New Skin... like Why Don’t You Try, since Alan had brought that album up. But how about we go a few albums forward and I pick one that has been stuck in my head lately? It is “The Window”. I absolutely love the song. I can’t really say it is my favorite on Recent Songs, because there are so many on that album…but it has always gotten stuck in my head, and when it does, it is very persistent. “Oh chosen love, Oh frozen love, Oh tangle of matter and ghost, Oh darling of angles, demons and saints, And the whole broken-hearted host, Gentle this soul…”. So much depth and breadth in even just those few lines! And then there is that haunting music. Talk to me about it please.

Yes, the Montreal event! So excited! I think I told you that says my DNA results place me 'very likely' in the genetic community of "French Settlers Along the St. Lawrence", so I have been working to convince my husband that we need to go there ever since I saw Jarkko's post. He knows it would mean a lot to me, and after I reminded him that we DO have airline miles that we haven't had a chance to use, he has agreed! I am so excited! Of course it wouldn't be one last time for me, but perhaps my only chance to be as close as possible to the experience of seeing Leonard live. He will not be there in person but how can he not be there in spirit? I am curious to see what a whole group of Leonard fans will be like! I can't imagine being around that many people that I have something like this in common with. I am so happy to hear that you will be there too 4! I would love to see B4 and Alan there too, but I know it is a long ways...

Alan, my reference to an affliction was regarding the struggle some of us have with writing in that we take forever to perfect what we want to say, because we feel that there is really only one right word for each situation. As for the ability to love what Leonard Cohen did (and in fact the inability to resist it) the phrase Cohen Gene is a much better description!

Thanks everyone!

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:53 am
by B4real
vlcoats wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:30 pm
But how about we go a few albums forward and I pick one that has been stuck in my head lately? It is “The Window”. I absolutely love the song.
Seems an appropriate choice Vickie, seeing as The Window is on the next live album you will be (or already are) listening to!

First up, I know I have said this many times before over the years on the forum but The Window has, is and will always be in my top five to ten LC songs. Needless to say, I love the violin here. Every time LC came to Australia during the long last tour I had convinced myself that he would sing this song (and/or The Traitor) during at least one concert here! Alas, it was not to be, but at least I heard Avalanche and The Guests!

I’ve been browsing just now though some 1979 concerts and these are the words I heard and saw LC say about The Window:

“This is another song; it's from my new album, it's called The Window. It's a kind of prayer (he puts his hands together as if he’s praying) to bring the two parts of the Soul together. It's called The Window”.

“This is from the last album I finished. It's a song that is based on an old Persian poem that says: Oh chosen love, Oh frozen love, O tangle of matter and ghost, (after saying the word ghost, LC forgets the next line, getting stuck on O and three times asks either Sharon or Jennifer; ‘What is it?... What is it?... Ah What?’… They tell him and he recites the next line) O darling of angels, demons and saints. This is the first time I ever said it. I always sung it before. It's a song called The Window”.

I think the Persian poem he’s referring to is probably one of the Sufi poets called Rumi from the 13th century. He was a favourite poet of LC’s.

For whatever reason, which I cannot fathom to date and am yet to discover why, this song was not included as one of the considered classic 70 songs published in The Little Black Songbook 2008.

You know, all of LC’s songs are full of pictorial imagery but there’s something about this particular story where the pictures he paints are more than visual - I can smell the fragrance of that rose and feel all the thorns, the cold, the heat. Plus there is such an awareness of consciousness of spirit – and that has nothing to do with any particular religion. To me this song has a hypnotic meditative quality. It simply and complicatedly does what the last line says, “gentle this soul....

btw - so good to see both you and 4 are going to Montreal! Just have the best of times, you two!!

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:12 pm
by vlcoats

Thank you for your post on The Window. I am sorry if I missed that this song was one of your top 5 before… but I do remember that you love Recent Songs so I am not surprised. In fact, I was hoping you would comment first and that you would mention the violin. If the music is overwhelmingly haunting for me, I can only imagine how it might be for you… since you can actually play the instrument. I knew you would give the best intro to our discussion!

I am especially grateful for your description of what LC had to say about The Window in your research. If I researched it on my own, even without the constraints of satellite internet, there is so much out there, that I may have never found the 1979 concert you referenced with his personal quotes. I loved your description of his hands in prayer and the cuteness of him asking, “What is it?... Ah What?..” as he was looking for the words. So now there is another poet (Rumi) that I need to look up in addition to Lorca. I wasn’t aware that my favorite lines in the song had been influenced by the poet you mention.

I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned The Little Black Songbook 2008 before in our thread, but I would not be surprised if you did and I missed it. As much as you might think I have taken my time on this journey, I feel like I have been galloping along and not stopping to smell enough roses. The Little Black Songbook is on my list now though.

I agree that the images in The Window are especially strong and it is a particularly hypnotic song. I love the image he opens with — someone standing at a window in the early light— and the phrases “rags of remorse” and “high silver nerves”—how did he come up with that stuff! Not to mention, “Climb on your tears” and “ladder of thorns”. And as always, it isn’t just what he says but how he says it. I am particularly taken with his enunciation when he sings the word ‘stutter’…

After reading your post, I tried to find out more about the Sufi poet and stumbled on an interesting academic paper written about The Window. The writer discussed the concrete image of the window and how it has appeared often in Cohen’s work and the symbol of the rose as religious, mystical, and sexual. He took his interpretations so far that he lost my interest, and I was only reading half-heartedly by the end, but the gist of it was religious. Of course he didn’t discuss the music at all, so it was all bread with no butter. Speaking of lyrics and music, I read in one of my LC biographies that he sometimes wrote the music first and then added the lyrics later, while in other songs, he would write the lyrics first. I often wonder now with each song if it is one that he wrote the lyrics for first or vice versa. But, now I am rambling... :)

Anyway, your post was wonderful B4, so thank you!


Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:11 pm
by phillip
I Have got all LC albums and books dvds etc love them all :D

Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:29 am
by B4real
Good on you, Phillip!

I thought I’d add and expand on our last posts. In 2009 I already had The Little Black Songbook with 70 songs in it but I wanted ALL of LC’s official songs at easy reach so I decided to make a book of my own containing all the songs to date then so I could carry the words to all those songs wherever I was! My handmade book included the 49 additional songs. Actually, the reason for me doing my present book was that I needed one that was up to date today and it’s still an ongoing and forever expanding project!

AlanM was talking about the Cohen Gene (can't find his exact words) or Cohenphilic Personality Disorder at Cohencentric and it reminded me of my 49 Songs book listed there as a person happily self-afflicted with this “disorder” ;-) The old link doesn’t work anymore and I can’t find the new link with it specifically in but there are so many other examples of this most exclusive DNA gene there that you will absolutely not feel alone! ... en-fan-if/

Anyway, this is the image of my book there on the site at that time.

And how it is at present. And of course it includes The Window :)
I altered it a bit and hand coloured it darker later. You can see it’s a little tattered now.

And this is my copy of the Little Black Songbook. Inside there are guitar chords with the lyrics.

Also I know I have posted this link in this thread before (I'm remembering now that we discussed about some people in the audience sitting with their backs to him!) but as well as other songs it shows two songs we have recently been discussing - Famous Blue Raincoat and The Window. The one Alan spoke about with different phrasing of FBR and the one of The Window where LC places his hands in prayer. This is one of my very favourite TV shows - Munich 1979

Unfortunately there is no vision of the concert where he forgets the line - we'll just have use our imagination ;-)