One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

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B4real
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One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by B4real »

Well, these types of lists must be 'flavour of the month' :)
If I remember rightly, at least one of the songs mentioned is a certain forum member's album favourite ;-)

One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

https://americansongwriter.com/one-unde ... hen-album/

“Suzanne.” “Bird on a Wire.” “Hallelujah.” “Everybody Knows.” We could go on and on with a list of Leonard Cohen songs that have become nothing less than modern standards thanks to his immense songwriting skills. Cohen’s ability shone through on lesser-known songs as well. It’s just that those songs don’t get the same kind of exposure.

We’re here to right that wrong. Here’s a look at one song from each of Cohen’s 14 studio albums that deserve classic status.
“The Stranger Song” (from Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1967)
His stellar debut is jam-packed with unforgettable tracks. Because it doesn’t have a flashy hook, “The Stranger Song” might get a little lost in the shuffle. But Cohen’s use of the language is at its peak, and the flickering guitar creates a kind of trance-like state that’s unlike anything else on the record.

“Tonight Will Be Fine” (from Songs from a Room, 1969)
This song comes off in an unassuming manner, what with the simple bass notes and twanging accompaniment. Yet when you follow it along, you realize that it’s a moving portrait of a man trying to take in every last bit of goodness from a relationship, because he knows it’s about to end.

“Sing Another Song, Boys” (from Songs of Love and Hate, 1971)
Cohen threw audiences a bit of a curveball by including this live song on an album that’s otherwise filled with studio tracks. It turned out to be a good idea, since it manages to build over and again to some exciting levels, thanks to the rising melody and Cohen’s engaged performance.

“A Singer Must Die” (from New Skin for the Old Ceremony, 1974)
Cohen puts himself ironically on trial and then convicts himself in this unheralded track. The lyrics ended up taking a turn for the tough (Their knee in your balls and their fist in your face.) In the end, his simple la-la refrains say as much about the power of music as his eloquent lyrics.

“Paper Thin Hotel” (from Death of a Ladies Man, 1977)
Cohen’s infamous pairing with producer Phil Spector ended up more a curiosity than an essential part of the man’s catalog. But “Paper Thin Hotel,” which finds Cohen slipping into a familiar pop-ballad melody as he (maybe facetiously) suggests that learning of a lover’s infidelity is the best thing to happen to him, is a winner.

“Ballad of the Absent Mare” (from Recent Songs, 1979)
Recent Songs delivered an excellent return to form for Cohen, and there were several candidates for this list on the album. We went with the epic album-closer, in which he indulges in some Western clichés in an allegory about the inevitable twists and turns of a long-term love affair.

“Coming Back to You” (from Various Positions, 1984)
Cohen finds a nice little country-soul niche here, which allows him to deliver a straightforward yet affecting melody. The title might suggest that this is a reunion song. But when you delve into the lyrics, you realize that it’s really about how the fickleness of human nature often keeps us from those we need the most.

“I Can’t Forget” (from I’m Your Man, 1988)
There’s something almost surprising about the slinky beat that introduces this song. Cohen certainly seems to enjoy luxuriating within it. It’s a touching little ode to love’s ability to withstand the deficiencies brought about my old age. The summer’s gone but a lot goes on forever, he promises.

“Closing Time” (from The Future, 1992)
This feels like it can stand with any of Cohen’s verbose anthems, yet it doesn’t get that kind of attention. Maybe it’s the musical backdrop, with woozy synths battling for time with old-timey strings. That setup actually keeps things fresh as Cohen rolls his way through verse after verse of love’s ups and downs.

“Alexandra Leaving” (from Ten New Songs, 2001)
Cohen sings a touching duet with Sharon Robinson on this track, she high and ethereal, he deep and resigned. It’s an ingenious song, one where the narrator tries to convince a man about to be left behind by his lover not to kid himself about the reality of the situation.

“The Faith” (from Dear Heather, 2004)
Cohen borrowed the melody of this song from a 19th-century Canadian song about exiles. He turns it into a kind of dirge. As the narrator looks through the pain and suffering of human history, he wonders when it might end, or if it ever will.

“Come Healing” (from Old Ideas, 2012)
An odd sort of beauty always emerged when Cohen’s deep bellow contrasted with high, sweet female vocalists. Here, he lets the girls take the whole first verse to really play up the difference. It’s a beauty of a melody as well, one that begs for mercy, in its way, just as the lyrics do.

“Samson in New Orleans” (from Popular Problems, 2014)
Cohen’s voice somehow managed to get more expressive as his range diminished. By the end of this track, he’s coming at us in a husky growl to make it known just how aggrieved he is by the tragedy and injustice of Hurricane Katrina, in a city better than America.

“Leaving the Table” (from You Want It Darker, 2016)
As he came closer to his parting hour, Cohen addressed with insight and tenderness the need to let bygones go right on by. Nowhere does he do it in more touching fashion than this sauntering ballad. Knowing that the brass ring of a perfect relationship is impossible, he settles here for the consolation of simple civility.

“The Goal” (from Thanks for the Dance, 2019)
With Thanks for the Dance, Cohen took advantage of one more chance for Settling at last / Accounts of the soul, as he calls it here in this spoken-word piece. Barely more than a minute long, “The Goal” sparkles with its honesty and bravery, and leaves us with Cohen’s touching conclusion that the goal / Falls short of the reach.
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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AlanM
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by AlanM »

See reply to previous list.

Alan
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
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AlanM
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by AlanM »

Cynicism warning!

Copy and paste the original article into Microsoft Word, for the purpose of a word count.
Result = 1006 words.

I imagine an editor saying "give me 1000 words on ... "
The author nearly got the required amount.

I suppose any mention of Leonard is better than none.

Alan
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
Sydney 2010; Adelaide 2010
Sydney 2013 X2; Melbourne 2013; Adelaide 2013
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B4real
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by B4real »

IMO for someone to say something is underrated implies they personally think more highly of it than how they perceive it to be thought of by others.

We all have our own opinions and this list plus the previous one (which by the way, has only one song the same) is just an individual’s opinion about certain LC songs that they think need to be appreciated more.

That can’t be a bad thing to keep Leonard’s songs still esteemed and discussed about today.
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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LisaLCFan
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by LisaLCFan »

B4real wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 12:52 am Well, these types of lists must be 'flavour of the month' :)
If I remember rightly, at least one of the songs mentioned is a certain forum member's album favourite ;-)
Oh, yay, another list! Not sure if I am the forum member you are thinking of, but I resemble that remark regarding Ballad of the Absent Mare! :D

AlanM wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 5:44 am...I suppose any mention of Leonard is better than none...
B4real wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 5:55 am ...That can’t be a bad thing to keep Leonard’s songs still esteemed and discussed about today.

Quite right! Henceforth, I shall try not to be so negatively critical of these hack journalists and their shoddy articles with their poor and/or questionable premises, and instead simply rejoice in the fact that Leonard's wonderful songs are being written about! Woo-hoo, Go Leonard, Hip-Hip-Hooray!
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B4real
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by B4real »

LisaLCFan wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 6:58 am
Not sure if I am the forum member you are thinking of, but I resemble that remark regarding Ballad of the Absent Mare! :D
Ha! Now that makes two of you ;-) Coincidentally, the same song but I was actually thinking of Vickie :)
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: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by Nothing left to do »

Thanks to B4real for pointing to this nice article. It is usually interesting to read such lists and get to know the opinions of people who are not Cohen afficionados, at least as they get the basic facts right. Although the mentioned songs are of course well known to us, they are not so well known to the broader public as 'Hallelujah' or 'Suzanne'. As these articles are aimed mainly to them they might help to show some Cohen songs to them which they do not know and hopefully find interesting. But even for me these lists are a good indication to listen again to albums such as 'Death of a Ladies Man' od 'Recent Songs', which I rarely listen to.
One final remark: Cohen has relesed 15 studio albums (and not 14 as it says at the beginning of the article) and consequently 15 songs are included in the list.
its4inthemorning
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by its4inthemorning »

Bev, when you said a song on the list was a forum member's favorite on its album I thought of Vickie, but with respect to "The Stranger Song." She will need to straighten this out.

Stay tuned, I am working on a list of my sixth-favorite songs from each album, to be accompanied by a 1,000 word explanation.

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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B4real
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by B4real »

Ah, 4, you are so right; how could I forget to remember Vickie would very likely also choose The Stranger Song!

I wrote lines from both songs on the graduating diplomas I designed and presented to her here: https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 75#p365775
Those Stranger Song lines are also on another diploma I designed for her so I should have remembered:
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 28#p369128

It's very hard to name any LC favourite list let alone a 6th fav one with the why for them - good luck ;-)
-----

Nothing left to do, glad you enjoyed the article. We are all individuals and see things as we do.
And speaking of seeing, I didn't notice the typo of the wrong 14 for 15 album numbers :)
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: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by vlcoats »

its4inthemorning wrote: Bev, when you said a song on the list was a forum member's favorite on its album I thought of Vickie, but with respect to "The Stranger Song." She will need to straighten this out......
Hello 4!
I took some time here at the bottom of the rabbit's hole to look at a few posts for once... and yes I immediately saw The Stranger Song on the list. It is a very special song and speaks to me, being someone who has moved so often and many times, I often feel that I too have a highway that is "curling up like smoke" above my shoulder. I often get mad at my 'friend' Alexa for never playing this song on our Amazon speaker when I command "Alexa, play Leonard Cohen". Not to mention my disappointment in her the time I forgot that not everyone is on first name basis and commanded simply, "Alexa, play Leonard", and she had the gall to play a Leonard Skynard song! Dave is still laughing about that one.

Ah yes....Bev, my diploma! Hard fought, proudly earned, and much appreciated. ;-)

Vickie
its4inthemorning
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Re: One Very Underrated Song from Every Leonard Cohen Album

Post by its4inthemorning »

[/quote]

...I often feel that I too have a highway that is "curling up like smoke" above my shoulder.

Vickie
[/quote]

I can vouch for Vickie's association with curling highways. Six years ago we took a trip to the US Northwest, and we planned a leg that would take us to where Vickie and Dave lived in Idaho. This leg was simple--just drive on Route 12 from Missoula to Vickie and Dave's place. We picked up Route 12 just outside of Missoula, and the first sign we saw was one of those that warned of curves ahead--a squiggly arrow sign--and at the bottom of the sign it said, "next 99 miles." That sign wasn't lying, and my knuckles were white for a week. The funny thing was, during the time between planning our trip and the event, Vickie and Dave moved (maybe because they knew we were coming), so while we saw their former home and some beautiful country, we didn't actually see them.

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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