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

  • From: Andy <mimi.erva@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 15:46:58 -0800 (PST)

It's funny how I never really heard the religious connections, there though 
they are.  To me religious imagery is facile and uninteresting.  Still, it's 
always been a never ending source of interest to artists of all kinds.  Most 
everyone can relate to it.  If Milton can explain the ways of God to man (is 
there a loftier endeavor?) why can't Leonard put a few images into 
lyrics?  Christian images, whatever the bloody reality, are more gentle than 
the Old Testament.  For example, Deuteronomy tells us that the way to deal with 
a wayward son is to stone him to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).  That sort of 
thing just doesn't lend itself to lyrics in a soft gentle song.   Dylan uses 
Old Testament images but there's nothing soft or gentle about his songs.  When 
I hear that line (God said, kill me a son), I can't help but think there's some 
working through of milennia-old PTSD at work, seriously.  But isn't that what 
art of all kinds is
 for? To work out issues?  The Greeks thought it needed to be cathartic.   The 
cathartic value of that song has to be part of the appeal. 
Actually, I watched a History Channel show recently on the Cain and Abel 
story.  They made a good point that a non-religious explanation of the Cain and 
Abel story is a metaphor of the end of the hunter-gatherer (Eden) life and the 
changeover to agriculture.  Cain gives God grain (agriculture) while Abel gives 
God a lamb.  Agriculture then kills the nomadic herder.  It's an interpretation 
for those who need one.
I remember when I was introduced to Leonard Cohen's songs.  I felt exactly like 
you did.  There is no one softer and more romantic.  I like the way music makes 
me feel.  Artistically I've graduated from Englebert Humperdink to Connie 
Francis, but only those songs that sound like the Anniversary Song.  They call 
it fitikayshion...

From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 11:22 AM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: [lit-ideas] Re: [lit-ideas] Re: [lit-ideas] Culture 
Desk: Leonard Cohen’s “Going Home” : The New Yorker

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

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 
>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'
>Sent from my 
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