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

  • From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:22:04 -0500

Speaking of religious imagery, some of my favourite Cohen lines are in 'Suzanne.'

Writing from memory:

And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
he said all men shall be sailors then until the sea shall free them
....broken...long before the sky would open
he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone...

How common is it for Jews (or Buddhist monks) to be so interested in Jesus?

On 12-01-18 9:21 AM, Andy wrote:
Liking music is like being in love. The heart has reasons that reason cannot know. One of the things I never liked about Dylan is that he exploits religious imagery and people love it, maybe for the illusion of profundity it gives. Imagine if he wrote "And Zeus said you'd better run". Not quite the same ring, even if the same idea. Leonard Cohen strikes me for the totality of the experience, that beautiful soft quality with lyrics that stick to the ribs somehow. I love the song Marianne. But I also like the Pill Box Hat. The heart has reasons...

*From:* Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
*To:* "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
*Sent:* Wednesday, January 18, 2012 6:55 AM
*Subject:* [lit-ideas] Re: [lit-ideas] Culture Desk: Leonard Cohen’s “Going Home” : The New Yorker

*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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