[lit-ideas] Leonard Cohen’s “Going Home” : The New Yorker

  • From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:13:24 -0500

I agree with much of what you write, Donal. But what can I say, I love him anyway. I don't particularly love his muzaky (as you say) backgrounds, but he and I go back a long way. I first saw his name credited (back in my Chicago days) as writer on Judy Collins' version of "Suzanne." I was not yet Canadian and didn't know he was Canadian. Sometime later, I moved to Toronto and was introduced to his music, poetry and, yes, Beautiful Losers. (We were all so young then!) He seems an honest pilgrim and I am occasionally content to walk beside him.

Besides, a couple of drinks and good company of an evening tends to make one sentimental. So shoot me!

Ursula on the lake (Nipissing)

On 12-01-18 6:55 AM, Donal McEvoy wrote:

*From:* Ursula Stange <ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
**>Listen...and then read the heartfelt comments below the song. Leonard is loved...>

Yeh. Too-f---g-loved.*

Cohen raises a problem that other artists, like Dylan, also raise: their all-too-loving fans. They're enough to put you off (as Dylan observes in 'No Direction Home', "You can kill with kindness"). And the abiding suspicion is that what they get from the artist is a pale and self-satisfying imitation of what the artist is actually offering [Woody Allen sent this up re Dylan in "Annie Hall" with the Shelley Duvall character who is awestruck by the profundity of the chorus of "Just Like A Woman" (though one suspects Woody might think there is little more to Dylan than what that character 'gets')]; and so they do the object of their devotion a disservice. In Cohen's case, his schtick might be summarised as offering some of these fans a romantic vision of themselves as 'beautiful losers'; but the ironic and perverse and self-mocking elements of Cohen's own 'beautiful losers' personae tend to be downplayed, if not scrubbed from, these fans' appreciation. It makes them rather pathetic and deluded looking - losers maybe, but not so beautiful as they care to think. That they might be simply deeply affected, rather than at all amused, by Cohen's new "Going Home" is a case in point.

Dylan went through a hideous phase, shown by "Empire Burlesque", of trying for some modish production and even singing in a terribly mannered way, but on his recent records ("Time Out Of Mind" onwards) his singing, and the playing and production, would be worth the price of admission even if those records did not also contain some of his best songs. But Cohen has long and consistently opted, presumably deliberately, for musical backdrops that tend to 'muzak' (including the kindergarten clippety-clop undertow of new song 'Going Home' and its girly chorus) - anyone who finds this great and affecting and sophisticated music, without bemusement at its MORish schmaltz and very limited musical structures and palette, is only one step away from taking Mantovani and Liberace seriously as great artists. It can only work as music if taken as some kind of joke. How many Cohen fans would head the queue agreeing? There were none in the queue of "heartfelt comments".

*see 'Spinal Tap'
Who inwardly cheered when Chris Addison expressed his derisive view of the "awful" Shami Chakrabarti ("She screeches like a spoilt six year old") in yesterday's London 'Metro'


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