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Speaker: A Singer Must Die - Leonard Cohen, In Tribute

15 Responses

  • Dan Salmon,

    Avalanche is my first memory too, the opening notes on the Bad Seeds album still make may heart race, although at the time I think BFM was playing Dance Me to the End of Love pretty regularly. Good recommendation on the bio - will track it down.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 40 posts Report

  • Gareth,

    Thanks Grant - a nice tribute. My "first Cohen" was a little earlier than yours, as you might expect - Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye, which was one of the tracks on the 1968 CBS UK sampler Rock Machine I Love You. I can still sing most of the words. And then at university his stuff (and Cat Stevens!) provided the soundtrack to some of my favourite formative experiences...

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report

  • Russell C,

    Yes, that New Yorker interview by David Remnick is a great insight into Cohen. I remember discovering Leonard Cohen when I read a small (but positive) review of Various Positions when it was released (mid 80s?) and watching that slightly odd video clip of him singing Hallelujah on RWP. I was very moved by that and happy that it seemed a bit of a secret treasure - back then no one else my age seemed to be into him. Since then I followed his new releases and worked back to the beginning. For me its Cohen over Dylan every time - perhaps that Nobel should have been split between them. 2016 had a lot to answer for already, its just gotten exponentially sadder but we'll always have the music.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 37 posts Report

  • David Hood,

    After his death, I was thinking "First we take Manhattan" was very much in the spirit of the U.S. election. I see Billboard Magazine has felt similar- suggesting "First we take Manhattan" and "Everybody Knows" as post-election songs.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gareth,

    Thanks Grant – a nice tribute. My “first Cohen” was a little earlier than yours, as you might expect

    Yes, mine too. It was either Songs From a Room or the Songs of Leonard Cohen compilation. We'd make the usual "slash your wrists" jokes, but really, there's such a vigorous sense of humour in it all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Hood,

    After his death, I was thinking “First we take Manhattan” was very much in the spirit of the U.S. election. I see Billboard Magazine has felt similar- suggesting “First we take Manhattan” and “Everybody Knows” as post-election songs.

    I thought of this one ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    And maybe even more this one. Leonard certainly had timing.

    Give me back my broken heart
    My mirrored room, my secret life
    It's lonely here
    There's no one left to torture

    Give me absolute control
    Over every living soul
    And lie beside me, baby
    That's an order

    Give me crack, anal sex
    Take the only tree that's left
    Stuff it up the hole
    In your culture

    Give me back the Berlin Wall
    Give me Stalin and St. Paul
    I've seen the future, brother
    It is murder

    Things are going to slide
    Slide in all directions
    Won't be nothing
    Nothing you can measure anymore
    The blizzard
    The blizzard of the world
    Has crossed the threshold
    And it's overturned the order of the soul

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Dan Salmon, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I love that third verse.

    Crazy to think The Future was released in 1992. Circa: George Bush senior, Iraq war, break up of USSR, Rodney King… Are we in darker times now?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 40 posts Report

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He sang Democracy in January 2009 in Wellington at the time of Obama's inauguration after 8 years of Bush. It was very powerful.

    Perhaps more relevant now is The Partisan even though it is about the French resistance and the lyrics aren't his.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report

  • william blake,


    A friend was at the LA zendo with Cohen, he showed us a wee film they made and it became clear that the singer was there to kick a heroin habit, that and his taste for cigarettes makes it all the more remarkable that he made it to 82.

    My first memory of his music was the classic album we all know but I got it into my head that he was married to Francois Hardy, not a bad match but not so. I have only recently found out that John Campbell isn't married to Carol Hirshfeld either.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie,

    From Ben Smith's Personal Mythologies series.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    1971. Auckland uni year. Girlfriend of time introduced me to Suzanne, Marianne and the Bird. Bought my guitar and Cohen Tabs music book and managed to learn to pick the whole bloody book. I still pick it up.
    Saw both concerts in Wgtn.
    Best lines:
    “Johnny Walker wisdom running high”
    “She’s a hundred but she’said wearing something tight”
    Best songs:
    Lady Midnight
    Dance me to the end of love
    Democracy. The fact he died the day after Trumps election says it all
    “Sail on, sail on, oh mighty ship of state
    To the shores of need
    Past the reefs of greed
    Through the squalls of hate
    Sail on, sail on, sail on”

    And no doubt they will.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • tonyH,

    There have been (no doubt sincerely meant but) somewhat mean-spirited words written about Dylan's Nobel. Cohen would have been equally deserving, but let's say if they are both above all that, Leonard would be maybe more so.

    I'm proud I got my first-ever CD (The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta...) as a prize for fronting up to Radio Forestland in Tokoroa with Bird on a Wire as my entry for a "songs I love but everyone else loves to hate" (or some such) comp. DJ Paul Ropata went through the motions on-air of "smashing the record". Oh dear, wish it had been the Neville Brothers' unappealing cover instead...

    Words of comfort and caution from the old lover:

    But I know
    from your eyes
    and I know
    from your smile
    that tonight
    will be
    fine, will be fine, will be fine
    will be fine

    for a while...

    Pakuranga • Since Nov 2011 • 9 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Jason Kemp,

    I have a couple of Leonards poem collections and they always struck me as completely remarkable. There is a real art to knowing what to leave out. That stands for any kind of art and for poetry especially.

    That recent New Yorker story was great.LEONARD COHEN MAKES IT DARKER in case you missed it from Oct 17th.

    The man was a master. There are many examples but for anyone who loved his music - do have a look back at the various poetry collections.

    Here is a very brief but powerful early poem from the earliest period (late 50's) called


    I heard of a man
    who says words so beautifully
    that if he only speaks their name
    women give themselves to him

    If I am dumb beside your body
    while silence blossoms like tumours on our lips
    it is because I hear a man climb stairs
    and clear his throat outside our door.

    From 'Let Us Compare Mythologies.'

    When I read that the first time I didn't know what a mic drop was. But there it was on nearly every page. RIP. Was he talking about himself in some way? probably not in 1956 but certainly later on that could be a description.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report

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