Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by vlcoats » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:25 am

its4inthemorning wrote: Am I wrong to think that Cohen fans may be able to cope with self-isolation better than most?......
.......a song set in troubled times that intrigues me today more than ever:
https://youtu.be/H63dZKnlu_I
4,
From the little- and the lot- I have learned about all things Cohen, I am fairly sure you are not wrong about that!

And thank you for the link....a favorite song of mine too, and yes it certainly resonates today!

Vickie
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B4real
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by B4real » Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:48 am

https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 15#p375248
vlcoats wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:17 am
Regarding the song, and not the political use of it, I am wondering why people, in online comments (example https://www.newsweek.com/leonard-cohen- ... nc-1528260) have been saying that the song is a "break-up song". Hallelujah touches many realms, but I am not sure I have heard that about it before. Can anyone enlighten me?
Thanks,
Vickie
Vickie, I thought I would reply to your question here. Besides, it's nice to be back on this old familiar thread!

There are some interesting and varied thoughts below :)

https://justrandomthings.com/2018/12/02 ... -analysis/
What is the Meaning of “Hallelujah” Song By Leonard Cohen? (Lyrics Analysis)
If there is a song about love that got labelled as a Christmas hymn, it would be “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. The song is actually about a devastating ending of a love between two people. However, the song acquires a religious undertone due to the many Biblical references. Hence, this song can be categorized as a secular hymn.
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... =9&t=20864
The meaning behind the 5th verse of Hallelujah

https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... =9&t=13097
A short history of "Hallelujah" - lyrics, versions, oddities

https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... f=9&t=5443
THE FAILED MESSIAH – A BROKEN HALLELUJAH
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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vlcoats
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by vlcoats » Fri Sep 04, 2020 4:33 am

B4!

As I was writing my last post, in the back of my mind, I heard, "Um... what are you doing? Why don't you just ask Bev?" Somehow, I knew you would respond. How nice that we are back here!

I had a quick look through the links you provided, but only see one or two so far that have spoke of the breaking-up aspect of this song. The one coming closest to my question is the one discussing the kitchen chair verse. By the way, I always felt it was a typical male complaint to cry about losing their freedom right after holding out their wrists for the handcuffs. ;-)

Of course Leonard's love life was none of our business then or now, but I can't help but wonder what break up it was about. Then again, I guess he could have been talking about breaking up with G-d ... or even with himself.

Regardless, it is so good to hear from you, and to be back on solid ground, lol!

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

Post by B4real » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:09 am

Yes, this is like old times :) And I was just about to add this before you posted.
I know you were mainly asking about the reference of “break-up song” but it’s still fun to see everyone’s opinion.
Maybe other forum members can help out here too.

https://www.beckfords.com/news/the-mean ... ard-cohen/
This song is a bitter lament about love and loss. Cohen, adept in scripture, simply taps the human condition described in the bible in order to provide counsel to the broken-hearted.

I really should include the words Leonard said about his two Hallelujah songs -
In an interview in 1985:
"You know, I wrote this song a couple of ..., it seems like yesterday but I guess it was five or six years ago and it had a chorus called Hallelujah. And it was a song that had references to the Bible in it, although these references became more and more remote as the song went from beginning to the end. And finally I understood that it was not necessary to refer to the Bible anymore. And I rewrote this song; this is the 'secular' Hallelujah.(...). So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion."

And in another interview in 1988:
"Yeah another song came on top of that. So I'd already recorded that one. And I wanted to push the Hallelujah deep into the secular world, into the ordinary world. The Hallelujah, the David's Hallelujah was still a religious song. So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion."


Vickie said: By the way, I always felt it was a typical male complaint to cry about losing their freedom right after holding out their wrists for the handcuffs. ;-)
And I couldn't resist comparing your words to LC's image :)

hummingbird & handcuffs.jpg
Seems to be a universal condition, doesn't it ;-)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by vlcoats » Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:11 am

B4,

Thank you for the reminder! I hadn't been actively thinking of that image when I made the handcuffs comment, but now there is no doubt where the seeds of that thought came from!

So Hallelujah was more about his comiserating with others in their loss than speaking on a more personal level?

As for it being secular and not religious, that has always been the draw for me, regardless what version I hear.

I don't recall our discussing Hallelujah in any depth on this thread (I would have to do a search to be sure). I do recall feeling that everyone on the forum might have had it 'up to here' with that song and discussing it might have been met with an eye roll or two by anyone who has been a fan of Leonard over the years. But it is still my 'go to' when I am trying to get people to recognize who he is after they claim to have never heard of him.

Vickie

Edited to fix typo... fingers not working up to par today
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by B4real » Sat Sep 05, 2020 2:43 am

vlcoats wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:11 am
I don't recall our discussing Hallelujah in any depth on this thread (I would have to do a search to be sure). I do recall feeling that everyone on the forum might have had it 'up to here' with that song and discussing it might have been met with an eye roll or two by anyone who has been a fan of Leonard over the years. But it is still my 'go to' when I am trying to get people to recognize who he is after they claim to have never heard of him.
Vickie, I did a search on this thread and we didn’t discuss Hallelujah in depth but I found this little titbit you said about it on page 24 - https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... ah#p366321
Vickie wrote: One of my favorite song on it is Hallelujah. I know it can be hard when an artist you have known and loved since the beginning of time is suddenly popular or exploited by people who don’t know the artist as well as you, so I don’t blame those of you who want to roll their eyes whenever yet another cover of Hallelujah is put out or when that is the only song most people know of Leonard’s. I feel your pain. But there is a reason this song is popular and exploited. It is really a very important song, and I am guessing that every one of his live performances of this song is perfect in every way, even though they are all different. I do love the verse on this version that begins with "There was a time that you let me know...” It is the verse with the lyric about the holy dove. We all know what that verse is about. It epitomizes why some of us love him so much. Here is a guy who is brave enough to admit that sex is better when there is a real connection, even when that connection is fleeting and physical. The way he mixes it all up, the earthy and the spiritual is no accident, and they are not separate for him.

BTW - It's also my "go-to" when talking to people who say they don't know LC :)

You know, I am now reminded of years ago and the dire circumstances I found myself in then and at the same time Hallelujah being my kismet re-connection to Leonard. I pre-planned my funeral and arranged for that song to be part of the ceremony. At the time I thought no one will know this song and who wrote it but it didn’t matter because of when and how and the result of it coming into my life. Now days, I’m considering not using it because of its overuse and abuse but how can I not because it’s such a personal thing for me. I would have used whatever LC song that chanced across my path at that instant in time because of where it led me. It simply happened to be the “Acceptance” song of Hallelujah.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by vlcoats » Sat Sep 05, 2020 4:21 am

Thank you for sharing your reasons for wanting Hallelujah to play at your funeral. You definitely need to stick to that resolve and not remove it. Funny that you would bring it up, because 4 and I were just talking the other day about the ever-important funeral playlist.

Thank you for doing the research on the previous appearance of 'the' song in our thread also. I guess I was right when I said that I recalled thinking there might be eye rolling going on. Too funny.

Speaking of what to say when people ask about Leonard.....every time I wear my "Leonard Cohen was Right" shirt in public, I have random people ask me either "About what?" or (more often) , "Who is Leonard Cohen?" I have been torn between not wearing it in public, even though it makes me happy to be reminded of him, and wearing it anyway so I have the opportunity to spread some Cohen cheer. I have been curious for some time what people here on the forum would say if they were wearing that shirt and received those questions. Maybe I should create a poll!

Still no word on the break up behind Hallelujah?

Vickie
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by Jean Fournell » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:02 pm

Vickie, I'm afraid that in the context of "Hallelujah" the label "a break-up song" just doesn't mean anything at all.
Journalists are not paid for the blank page, and so they have to write something, anything, in order to make a living. One of the basic ideas is, "If you've got nothing to say, make it cryptic, hoping they'll believe it's profound".

Labels like "a break-up song" (or "a break-down song", or "break-through" or "break-away", or "break-in" or "break-out") are rather easy to find. Maybe they are not as cryptic as more sophisticated labels like "a pilgrim song" or "a chrysalis song" but they are not as obviously meaningless as "a railroad song" or "a fish-market song" or "a chess-player song" either.
And none of these labels is in any way pertinent when it comes to "Hallelujah", of course.

The fellow did his job, and then got cracking on the next article.
Imho there's nothing to be found behind those words. They're just ink on paper, filler material.
Hope I'm not too disappointing…
But then: the worst enemy of truth is not the liar (because he still cares), but the bullshitter (who doesn't give a damn either or any way).

It's good to hear from the two of you!
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by B4real » Sun Sep 06, 2020 1:05 am

Jean, you've kinda read my mind ;-) I was about to post this and still will. It's good to catch up with you too!

Vickie, keep wearing your LC T-Shirt!
Yes, for want of doing some different, a poll could be the go or maybe people could just say so why without it.

As regards “bitter break-up song” I reckon some journalist first said those words about it rather than say a song about love and acrimonious loss and as it is on the net these days, others simply used the same description and it became a catch phrase. Even though Leonard said, “it doesn’t matter which you heard, the holy or the broken Hallelujah”, I think in this case it does depends on the fact that they were paying more attention to the verses of the secular rather than the religious :) I do strongly feel Leonard wasn’t referring to any particular person at all.

And just to add 50 more opinions :roll: about the meaning of the song -
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-Leona ... ujah-about

That was an interesting coincidence about funeral discussion playlists...
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by vlcoats » Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:53 am

Thank you both for disappointing me...
Haha.

Seriously it is a very good point and one I need to take to heart, along with "it doesn't matter what you heard, the holy or the broken Hallelujah" (arguably one of the best lines of the song in any version). It goes to show that people will say anything just to say something.

I loved these words Jean, "But then: the worst enemy of truth is not the liar (because he still cares), but the bullshitter (who doesn't give a damn either or any way)."

I haven't yet followed your link B4, with 50 other opinions, but I will.

Thanks again for staying in touch,
Vickie
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by its4inthemorning » Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:06 pm

I had pretty much given up looking to see if there were any new posts here, you guys surprised me.

I too liked Jean's quote about the worst enemy of truth. I never heard it before and am guessing it is his own, thanks Jean.

Hallelujah always struck me as an all-encompassing tribute to love--past and present, with some thanks thrown in for the One who made love and everything else possible. I agree with Vickie that the reason it was not discussed so much here was because of the song's overexposure--and the fact that there were so many other less-known songs to talk about. What makes it such a good song, I think, is the way he was able to veer hither and yon in the various verses and still keep the song focused. And really, who else would actually include a discourse of a song's notes and chords within the song itself? I have to believe that when Leonard finished composing the first verse to his liking, he said, "shit, that's good" and poured himself a glass of wine!

Since B4 raised the point, how is this for a topic: if you could have one Cohen song played at your memorial service, which one would it be and why?

4
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
2012 OCTOBER 3 - PALAU SANT JORDI, BARCELONA / 2012 DECEMBER 13 - K-ROCK CENTRE, KINGSTON
2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
2017 NOVEMBER 4-8 - MONTREAL "TOWER OF SONG" CELEBRATION - RIP, YOU GOT ME SINGING!
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by Jean Fournell » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:26 pm

Bev, I agree that when one journalist comes up with a handy label (for any notion), others are prone to eagerly pick it up. The "break-up song" at hand is neither too ludicrous nor too esoteric, and they can always claim that this "in between" is not mediocrity but The Middle Way. Who then is going to waste their time arguing!

Its4inthemorning, the idea of those two different enemies of truth is an old idea (no pun intended). On this and other things, the American philosopher Harry Gordon Frankfurt
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Frankfurt
has interesting developments in his nice little book "On Bullshit":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit

The ancient Greek had folks that were similar to bullshitters (although more sophisticated), and they called them "sophists" (from Greek "sophos": wise/cunning).
Their hallmark also is that it's not truth that matters it's the quality of the orator: the better talker wins over the masses.
People like Socrates and Plato were utterly disgusted with such intellectual dishonesty, and Pythagoras (probably) coined the term "philosopher" (from Greek "philos", friend: "friend of wisdom").

The problem with sophistry, as with more basic bullshit, is how to tell use from abuse. Because there is a positive side to it as well:
A criminal, even of the most abject kind, is innocent as long as he's not legally convicted of his action; and his defence lawyer must know the tricks of the trade, and use them to the best of the accused person's interest whatever his private convictions may be.
What might seem like sophistry here, or bullshit, is in fact professionalism and they have to learn it somewhere. They have to learn to defend any given nonsense in a most convincing manner. Somebody's life might depend one day on their ability to make the jury doubt…
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by LisaLCFan » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:25 pm

Jean Fournell wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:26 pm
...Pythagoras (probably) coined the term "philosopher" (from Greek "philos", friend: "friend of wisdom")...

Most people who study and practice Philosophy prefer to define "philosopher" as a "lover of wisdom", and in fact, it is widely translated as such -- "friend of wisdom" would be a very atypical translation (in fact, this is the first time that I've ever come across it! Did you make it up?). Pythagoras, who may, indeed, have been the first person to use the term, in fact referred to himself as a "philosophos", which he almost undoubtedly meant as "lover of wisdom", and Plato and others who came later generally, if not always, meant "love of wisdom" when they spoke of "Philosophia".

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

Post by Jean Fournell » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:44 pm

In English, "lover" of wisdom sounds Ok. The scope covered by the term is vast enough.
In French, "amant" instead of "ami" would be more than weird.
In German, "Liebhaber" instead of "Freund" might be possible, but I never saw it.

And no, I didn't make up the translation "philos friend" either.
There are others who use it:
https://emcitv.com/bible/strong-bibliqu ... -5384.html

Here the English references of those 27 occurrences (29, in fact) where "philos" can be found translated as "friend":
Matthew 11:19
Luke 7:6 — 7:34 — 11:5 — 11:6 — 11:8 — 12:4 — 14:10 — 14:12 — 15:6 — 15:9 — 15:29 — 16:9 — 21:16 — 23:12
John 3:29 — 11:11 — 15:13 — 15:14 — 15:15 — 19:12
Acts 10:24 — 19:31 — 27:3
James 2:23 — 4:4
3 John 1:14
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Along the way... Discovering Leonard's albums

Post by LisaLCFan » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:12 am

Jean Fournell wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:44 pm
...And no, I didn't make up the translation "philos friend" either.
There are others who use it:
https://emcitv.com/bible/strong-bibliqu ... -5384.html

Here the English references of those 27 occurrences (29, in fact) where "philos" can be found translated as "friend":...

Ah, Biblical Greek (that of the New Testament) is "Koine Greek". It differs from the Ancient Classical Greek used by Pythagoras, Plato, et al. The dialectical differences are sometimes considerable, and they are treated, by Classicists, as two different languages. Therefore, one cannot rely on Koine Greek translations when translating works by the earlier Philosophers (and vice-versa).

Furthermore, I was referring to the English translation of "Philosopher" and "Philosophy", being compound words with very specific meanings, and not "philos" by itself, and noting the fact that "Friend of Wisdom" for the former is extremely atypical amongst English speakers (and, rather weird-sounding!). Besides, the root origins of each part of a compound word are not necessarily the same meaning it takes on as part of a compound word, and so one cannot always literally translate each root word's meaning within the new context of a compound word in which it is found.

Also, out of curiosity, since you wish to translate "philosopher" as "friend of wisdom", how would you translate "philosophy"? By your criterion, it would be something like "friendliness towards wisdom", again, which, in English, sounds very weird, and it does not really accurately express the meaning of the word "philosophy", at least as I understand it. It is not merely a friendliness towards wisdom, knowledge, etc, rather, philosophy (as a discipline and as a pursuit) is a passion, an all-consuming thirst and a very strong need to seek out "The Truth", or at least, to get as close to it as possible, through rigourous methodology, including logic. "Friend" and its derivatives seem completely inadequate to express the idea of either a philosopher or philosophy itself, but again, that is possibly an English-speaking bias, and it is definitely my bias!

Cheers!
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