of no fixed subtitle
May 27, 2007
Leonard Cohen, happy at last?
A nice little feature from Saturday's
. Features a
of him at home in Montreal, discussing his art.
16 years ago
Ooh, that was very nice. It feels odd that he doesn't seem to be
for something, though, does it?
*would dearly love to send The Hat packing* *and Peter C. Newman's, too*
“Believe me, what you want is someone to have dinner with”...
Oh, damn, yes.
I remember an old article where tells the interviewer "You have hope; so, you're
". Yeah, hope can make you happy, in the end.
In certain circumstances, so can Preparation H.
*gets the rolled up newspaper ready for
Yep, hope can make you happy, especially later on when you accept that you are not immortal. Lack of hope (and thus no fear of punishment) can make you happy in the here and now. Unless I'm mistaken, most of Cohen's output has been based on the tension between these two conditions.
*rolls up backup newspaper*
this made me tear up in hope
On his gallery show about to open.
Leonard's going in the Rock & Hall of Fame.
No glaring WTF?! nominations this year...but still no Rush.
Still not a lot of people, actually. But indeed, Rush.
Nice. Next up, NRBQ.
"It Doesn't Matter Which You Heard": the Curious Cultural Journey of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"
I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know that was one of Cohen's
(forgive me Capt!)
, although the lyrics are clearly his style. I had run across the Buckley version and loved it. The Mefi thread alerted me to the k.d. lang version, and thus to the Hymns of the 49th Parallel album, which I am enjoying immensely.
I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know that was one of Cohen's
You're not alone there. Many people believe the Buckley version to be the original, which pisses off the die-hard Cohen fans to no end. As the article states, Buckley's cover of Cale's cover of Cohen's song represents the great divide of its history -- from that point on, it had a new identity, and Buckley's vocals are largely the reason why, even though we must credit Cale's interpretation for its genesis, and for that matter Cohen's slowed-down live reworking of the original, without which Cale's recording wouldn't be what it is. But whatever your feelings about him or what he did, Buckley achieved the rarest of feats for a singer: by simply covering a song, he made it his own in nearly everyone's eyes. That's the sort of thing Ray Charles did, back when Ray Charles was Ray Charles. Buckley did the same thing on his first (and, tragically, only) album, and he did it with the song of a giant. That simply does not happen. I'm honestly sort of ambivalent about Buckley's album. Musically it's good, but the goddamn thing is so overwrought, so infused with pain and pathos that it's clearly the work of a young man. Listening to it front to back is the emotional equivalent of eating half a cheesecake in one sitting -- it's just way too much, way too rich, and by the end you're going to need several weeks to a few months of lighter fare before you can go back to it. My impression of the album as a whole is that it is undeniably dense with promise, but still lacking maturity and subtlety, and it makes me all the more furious that he drowned in the goddamn Mississippi. Even Dylan thought he had a hell of a future, and I for one would rather he had had the chance to mature as an artist.
As a die-hard, I tend to gloss over the covers entirely. k.d. did a good job, John Cale good too, never heard Buckley, but I will always prefer Leonard, both the first and the second recordings (the religious one and the more secular). I'm not sure it's safe to say that he 'reworked' the song, so much as chose different stanzas from the larger piece. For some songs, he writes much more than he sings, and "Hallelujah" and "Democracy" were simply epic -- 88 verses for "Democracy", as I recall. I doubt the reworking was as major as suggested. I also doubt Leonard even thought of the work as finished at the time of the 1984 recording, as he openly admits that it takes him years to consider a song complete. Yeah. So. Covers. I accept them, I have them for the sake of completing the collection, but aside from
I'm Your Fan
, I don't feel motivated to listen to them all that much. Even
, I'm pressing the 'skip' button a lot. And, frankly, "Hallelujah" was never my favourite song on that album. True, he was going through a lot of religious introspection at the time, most notably through
Book of Mercy
which aren't poems so much as psalms, but even on just
, I thought he did a much better job reciting his faith on "If It Be Your Will". But to each his own.
Oh -- the induction ceremony for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame will be webcast on March 10th, 8 p.m. Eastern, on (of all places) bestbuy.com.
All that said, I like Willie Nelson's cover on
, but Rufus' version simply drives me out of my frickin' nut -- he played during Leonard's induction ceremony into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and had to
fucking read the words!!!
I was just outraged, screaming at my tv,
I actually heard the Cale version first, Cohen second, and Buckley third. Maybe because of that, I prefer Cale's. This is odd because there are very few songs, even those where the cover became vastly more popular than the original, where I don't prefer the original version.
Top 5 "Covers better than original" list: Hallelujah - John Cale Mad World - Gary Jules Such Great Heights - Iron and Wine With A Little Help From My Friends - Joe Cocker I Will Survive - Cake
Just bringing different skills to the table. Leonard can't do torch, and k.d. can't do threadbare-weary. Rufus brings nothing.
I Will Survive - Cake
Cake has made a cottage industry out of covering tunes in a way that makes it sound almost like they wrote the songs themselves. "I Will Survive" is a perfect example of this, as is their cover of "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps." Somehow their wit just seeps right in without coming off as self-conscious square-spectacled hipster irony. This morning I was listening to their "B-Sides and Rarities" album on the way to work, which is mostly covers, and while it's one of their weaker albums, they cover "Mahna Mahna," of all things. Even better, they do it in a way that's not a novelty OMGMUPPETS vibe. It actually stands up as a fun (mostly) instrumental piece that's bouncy and happy and has a good groove to it. Anyway, I can keep writing the "Cake is awesome and waaaaay underrated" dissertation here, and I'm sure the one other member of this site who gives a shit would enjoy it.
There's an Eva Cassidy album called
that's almost entirely covers and is simply wunnerful. The Cardigans also do some fun covers (notably Black Sabbath numbers).
I've listened to quite a lot of Cake and find them good. They haven't made much of an impact in Europe though. Or at least they hadn't when last I had time to know about these things.
The new Cat Power cover album is just stupendous.
The only reason Rufus Wainright even did a "Hallelujah" cover is because Sony told him to. Rufus is a Sony-signed act and when they put the
soundtrack CD together they substituted him in place of Cale (whose version was in the film's original soundtrack). This pissed me off hugely when I bought the soundtrack for my kids.
O tempora, o mores!
Having reviewed four versions -- Cohen, Cale, Buckley, kid from American Idol this week -- my vote's for Cale. Then again, his and Len's are the only ones I knew before.
On the subject of Mr Cohen and covers, Herbie Hancock's
River: The Joni Letters
is a very decent tribute album and contains one absolutely killer track
The Jungle Line
with Len on voice.
set to be a Christmas No 1 and 2
There seems to be a strong insistence on this song in television song contests these days.
St. Leonard’s PassionLeonard Cohen releases his 12th album, Old Ideas. The troubadour and poet hasn’t always been popular, but he is always profound.
We have an audio only channel on our TV. They read about Leonard's new album. Two things stuck out for me. First, his manager embezzled all but $150,000 of his fortune (that's why he went on a tour circumnavigating the world three times). Second, for his new album he recorded six of the songs voice only on his computer before sending them to the producer. I like that concept:)
Influence? Here's his real son.
Leonard Cohen Unplugged
Why I Love Leonard Cohen
When gurus go wild: Leonard Cohen’s Zen teacher wants to see your tits