Monday, June 25, 2007

Listening to Leonard Cohen

I first heard Leonard Cohen in the late 1960s at a dinner party. It was being held at the two room Kensington studio of Pamela Rowlands, a Mary Quant makeup artist, who was going out with Ian Gillian of Deep Purple. As we drank some very rough burgundy and dipped our skewered meat into the fondue broth (as I said, it was the 1960s), we listened to the Cohen debut album The Songs of Leonard Cohen. We were transfixed. None of us had ever heard such truth told with such melancholy. Now 40 years later, his publishing company have released (re-mastered) Songs from a Room, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, and Songs of Love and Hate. I haven’t listened to these albums for 20 years and it’s amazing how fresh and relevant they sound. I’ve also got a bunch of bootleg live Leonard albums from the 1970s and 1980s (thank you Bleeker Street Records) and all his recent stuff too.

Cohen’s voice has weathered beautifully. His time on the Greek island of Hydra (my eldest daughter Nikki made the pilgrimage there two weeks ago), coupled with his retreat into Buddhism, has resulted in a weather beaten, mellow, knowing storyteller, as comfortable as the 20-year old adidas sweatshirt I’m wearing this morning. Cohen’s poetry, spirituality, pain, dreams and romanticism are timeless. Listening to him today, I feel I am still close friends of Suzanne and Marianne. Cohen is the creator of true intimacy. My advice? Buy these three re-mastered albums, put on your headphones and close your eyes. Tonight the world can go on without you.


Susan956 said...

Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river?

I *think* those are the words I recall.

You and I are from somewhat similar eras Kevin so I know Cohen fairly well. We used to always talk about him as the cut-your-throat-and-bleed-into-the-pretzels
singer. Melancholy to the power of...

Nice to hear he's held with time [for you].

I always get pleasure out of seeing my offspring turn on to artists that were vital to my teenage into adult years. My son knows considerably more about Floyd for example than I do although he's never quite taken to Tull and I just love them still.

I laughed at the fondue comment. I recall being at a party circa 1972 and watching people swirling sticks madly in this bowl and lifting out cheesy covered 'lumps'. I imitated and couldn't seem to locate anything at all in the bowl with my stick. A nice partygoer whispered in my ear that I needed to actually stab food first and put it INto the mix. Ahhhhhh...blushed cheeks. The innocence of the uninitiated.

BELOT said...

She said, I'm tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
With a wedding dress, something white
To wear upon swollen appetite.

(Leonard Cohen.. Joan of Arc)

Purely and simply... sublime!

Susan956 said...

Swollen appetite...

interesting line...double meaning...I connected with pregnancy.

Cheers Consul.

Anonymous said...

I recently got turned on to his music and I play his "you've have loved enough" every morning for inspiration and peace. I love that you also love him! wow!

all the best
Shirley Moulton

Jason Kemp said...

"I did not know
until you walked away
you had the perfect ass

Forgive me
for not falling in love
with your face or conversation"

Now there is a dinner party thought! It comes from the man himself 1972 collection 'The Energy of Slaves' - which I bought for the title alone many years ago.

It still makes me smile as do many of Leonards word worlds.

I also like the way your personal music draws us into a world we can all enjoy