Saturday, 28 January 2012

Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas

The Bastard

I was listening to this new album from Leonard Coehn as I was inputting exam marks on the computer, a dirge of a chore that in a non-derogatory way was an empathetic act within the aural experience. Opening song Going Home is the best on the album, and the opening lyrics set the mocking self-effacement laced with honesty,

I love to speak with Leonard  
He's a sportsman and a shepherd  
He's a lazy bastard  
Living in a suit

It is these lyrics that capture and fascinate as you listen. Here, the self-referencing is honest and acceptable not just because of its comic humility but because in evoking his desire as songwriter and poet [as you'll see further on in more of the lyric] you know he has already achieved what he continues to seek. That is impressive as an expression of a man, who at 77, still aspires to be wise. Some songs are also simply dark and it is certainly a weighty listening experience in many ways.

But for me there is across this album a dreariness in the continuous spoken narratives, though the angelic female vocals do often highlight melody, as simple and effective as ever, or smooth out the rough whole of Cohen's vocal. Where Waits has a crooner's gravel that can soar to sweet falsetto, Cohen's baritone growl rumbles persistently, and even if you squeezed his certain cojones in a vice, there could be no rise in that bass register. So it's the words that uplift in a singer who always had a dour tone and style anyway,

He wants to write a love song  
An anthem of forgiving 
A manual for living with defeat
A cry above the suffering  

A sacrifice recovering  
But that isn't what I want him to complete
I want to make him certain 

That he doesn't have a burden  
That he doesn't need a vision
That he only has permission  

To do my instant bidding  
That is to SAY what I have told him  
To repeat

But maybe it was just the dirge of the inputting......

No comments:

Post a Comment