Leonard Cohen: Classic or Dud

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I was listening to his first album last night. I still like it a lot. Everyone was really embarrassed about him for a while, weren't they? Well, I seem to remember reading stuff about him being the singer-songwriter whipping boy. Just cause of associations I guess. Before 'bedsit' got attached to the the Smiths instead.

What do YOU think?

N., Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Overrated.

helenfordsdale, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

TEN NEW SONGS IS PURE GENIUS.

alex in mainhattan, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

some are under some are over ,great

anthony, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

"Story of Isaac" - first song ever to foreshadow the lyrical concerns of nu-metal, Korn in particular?

dave q, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

This is where I say 'Death Of A Ladies' Man' is his best alb and then Anthony threatens to kill me...

Andrew L, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

yes , because Death of a LAdies man has the stupidist song evah , namely dont go home w. yr hard on .

anthony, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

it's 4 in the morning, the end of december - he is the man's man of ladies men.

Geoff the, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Maybe some artists can't be enjoyed in the company of others, hence an almost masturbatory guilt is associated with them. Not that you're jerking off to "Bird on a Wire", but it is self-indulgent stuff that goes best with an undone tie, rumpled shirt and empty house.

fritz, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

"No-one ever listens to me round here. I might as well be a Leonard Cohen record."

DG, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

DG, what's that from? I know I just saw it but it slid out my brain alread. Royal Tenenbaums?

fritz, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Young Ones! am I right?

fritz, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Right the second time. Along with "...and we'll all be dead but still alive! Like Leonard Cohen!"

DG, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

In endless time, in endless art.

RickyT, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I like his records, and he wrote some great songs, but I think I might like one of his novels, Beautiful Losers, even better. Highly recommended.

Martin Skidmore, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

If I was Leonard Cohen, or some other songwriting master

I'd get the oral sex first and then write the song after...

electric sound of jim, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

TEN NEW SONGS IS PURE SHITE

Still classic though.

Ben Squircle, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

TEN NEW SONGS IS PURE SHITE

Since this LP doesn't mark any kind of a departure for Cohen, I wonder how he can be classic but this record shite? I say it's real good, and fits comfortably in with the rest of his catalog.

Sean, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

The Young Ones Cohen jokes are nowhere near as vicious as this other musical diss: "GOD I'M BORED! I might as well be listening to GENESIS!" (emphatic derision on the final word)

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Does anyone here like the Human League?

electric sound of jim, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Is this tobacco....or Pink Floyd?

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

one year passes...
god this man (and his music) are shite

Tad (llamasfur), Thursday, 29 May 2003 02:06 (nineteen years ago) link

blah bloody blah!

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 29 May 2003 07:28 (nineteen years ago) link

Laughing Len is great great great

Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 29 May 2003 14:06 (nineteen years ago) link

i can't believe this blasphemy. leonard cohen's first four albums are the most artistically unassailable items in my record collection/life. every couple of months i'll go through a period where i just listen to them over and over. fuck you all.

j fail (cenotaph), Thursday, 29 May 2003 14:11 (nineteen years ago) link

Leonard Cohen ROX! U R all gay.

It goes like this/the fourth, the fifth

TMFTML (TMFTML), Thursday, 29 May 2003 14:19 (nineteen years ago) link

the minor before the major lift...

first few albums is classicz, sez I. "The Partisian" is fucking badass, even when 16 Horsepower covered it.

after all that, it gets a bit dodgy. the man should never have been introduced to the synthesizer. and "Don't Go Home With..." is a classic example whenever one needs to explain the concept of "overproduction" to a neophyte.

the funny bit: i got into the guy after hearing the snippet of "If It Be Your Will" that's played in "Pump Up the Volume".

Kingfish (Kingfish), Thursday, 29 May 2003 14:53 (nineteen years ago) link

Songs of Love and Hate is one of the most perfect albums I've ever heard. His later synth stuff easily matches the early folk mumblings, esp. 'I'm your man'. Baffled by the hate for him. I tried one of his books though, it was unreadable.

Affectian (Affectian), Thursday, 29 May 2003 15:08 (nineteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
Woah. Just put I'm Your Man on my iPod and.....some of it is just not good. At all. "Jazz Police"? Woah.

Baked Bean Teeth (Baked Bean Teeth), Friday, 9 January 2004 21:43 (eighteen years ago) link

Really, BBT? Had you heard the record before? "Tower of Song" and "I'm Your Man" are the best songs, I think. "Tower of Song" is really beautiful. "First We Take Manhattan" is pretty great as a kind of gesture of overblown grandeur. And you gotta admit it's pretty funny. Maybe you just don't like the synth textures?

Broheems (diamond), Friday, 9 January 2004 21:53 (eighteen years ago) link

there's some lovely stuff on there, but I really can't deal with the production (and "jazz police" is pretty harsh)

s1ocki (slutsky), Friday, 9 January 2004 21:55 (eighteen years ago) link

"Jazz Police" is almost indigestible. I'd have thought "Everybody Knows" was another that was hard to hate from IYM...

Oh, CLASSIC btw, especially the first decade or so.

Nag! Nag! Nag! (Nag! Nag! Nag!), Friday, 9 January 2004 22:16 (eighteen years ago) link

I like "Jazz Police". It doesn't take itself too seriously and it's kind of funky in a strange way.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 9 January 2004 22:49 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic, but more so as a lyricist than singer.

anode, Friday, 9 January 2004 23:15 (eighteen years ago) link

get his latest. it is his best. and they are all so fuckin class!

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Saturday, 10 January 2004 00:14 (eighteen years ago) link

I love Cohen's songs, but generally can't stand the way he arranges them - the first version of Hallelujah I heard was Jeff Buckley's, and hearing the original was a huge disappointment. I'll get 'first we take manhattan' in my head, think fantastic song, weren't it?, put the record on and just stop, take it off, put it away again, because it can't ever live up to my expectations of it.

Suzanne is exempt from this, though. It's always great.

cis (cis), Saturday, 10 January 2004 00:22 (eighteen years ago) link

songs of love and hate is my fave.

s1ocki (slutsky), Saturday, 10 January 2004 05:28 (eighteen years ago) link

dealing with the production is i think kind of the point of his latter three albums

my fave is typically whatever i'm listening to at the point but i tend to listen to "love and hate" and "new skin" most of all

amateur!st (amateurist), Saturday, 10 January 2004 17:58 (eighteen years ago) link

new skin rules too.

s1ocki (slutsky), Saturday, 10 January 2004 18:00 (eighteen years ago) link

yea

amateur!st (amateurist), Saturday, 10 January 2004 18:01 (eighteen years ago) link

Broheems, yeah, the stilted over-synthed rhythms on that record are somewhat hard to take. I am much more partial to the early '70s stuff. IYM has a few good trax, including the title track, "Tower of Song" and "I Can't Forget," but the other stuff hasn't connected much with me, musically. It's evocative to me of a really bad era of musicianship or something.

Baked Bean Teeth (Baked Bean Teeth), Saturday, 10 January 2004 20:59 (eighteen years ago) link

five months pass...
Leonard cohen has always been hip in a beardy, low key sort of a way. Who wants some guy with sunglasses that can play show off guitar anyhoo?

The lyrics to Avalanche are sheer genius. Ditto fer Dress Rehearsal Rag, Susanne, Lady Midnight and Story Of Isaasc. He totally fuckin' rocks dude.

Also other great songwriters seem pretty inconcise or repetitive compared to Lenny the Great.

The arrangements are good to. The eighties stuff is kinda weird. Although Tower of Song has a nice production effect. At least he didn't go techno.

Casper, Thursday, 1 July 2004 05:55 (eighteen years ago) link

Cohen's songs always strike me as sitting there waiting for their definitive versions. Does that make any sense? The Pixies, for instance, own "I Can't Forget." R.E.M. can have "First We Tale Manhattan" if they want. Etc.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Thursday, 1 July 2004 07:26 (eighteen years ago) link

Take. Take Manhattan. Ugh.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Thursday, 1 July 2004 07:26 (eighteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...
"Roshi said something nice to me one time. He said that the older you get, the lonelier you become, and the deeper the love you need. Which means that this hero that you're trying to maintain as the central figure in the drama of your life -- this hero is not enjoying the life of a hero. You're exerting a tremendous maintenance to keep this heroic stance available to you, and the hero is suffering defeat after defeat. And they're not heroic defeats; they're ignoble defeats. Finally, one day you say, 'Let him die -- I can't invest any more in this heroic position.' From there, you just live your life as if it's real -- as if you have to make decisions even though you have absolutely no guarantee of any of the consequences of your decisions."

-- Leonard Cohen, Rolling Stone interview 2003.

Mark (MarkR), Thursday, 9 June 2005 16:37 (seventeen years ago) link

he uses language beautifully, even in interviews.

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Thursday, 9 June 2005 23:50 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
By and large, no tunes. So, dud.

avery keen-gardner (avery keen-gardner), Saturday, 23 July 2005 22:05 (sixteen years ago) link

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Cohen has written some great tunes.

Palomino (Palomino), Saturday, 23 July 2005 22:10 (sixteen years ago) link

so classic.

AaronK (AaronK), Sunday, 24 July 2005 04:40 (sixteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Classic or not, he's broke. Why do they always a) live outwith their means, b) trust their financial people?

stet (stet), Friday, 19 August 2005 00:54 (sixteen years ago) link

me + a couple of friends discovered i'm your man in high school and our callow instinct was to mock it (keyboards, 80s production, intensely serious vocals, this waltz this waltz this waltz this waltz) and put it on 4 lulz etc., but as time passed we realized we were listening to it all the time. it's the best. you know you can. i like its disreputable moments too (you can imagine how much i liked them then). turtle meat.

difficult listening hour, Sunday, 5 April 2015 01:26 (seven years ago) link

(was also obsessed at the time w "don't go home with your hard-on" -- this is a pretty sour song, in retrospect, isn't it, like contemporary dylan. what happened to arty singer-songwriters in the late 70s? just divorce? at least this has the grace iirc to also sound as sour as possible.)

difficult listening hour, Sunday, 5 April 2015 01:31 (seven years ago) link

Progress with Cohen was:

- Reading Suzanne in the Norton Anthology of Poetry in high school
- "Everybody Knows" in Pump Up The Volume
- "Ain't No Cure for Love" in Love at Large
- Buying a ticket last-minute to see him in 1993, knowing only those two songs. Still probably my epiphany concert of any.
- Ending up living in Montreal on a study grant, finding he has novels in addition to the rest. Devouring everything except Death of a Ladies Man, which I still haven't heard.

with HD lyrics (Eazy), Sunday, 5 April 2015 01:49 (seven years ago) link

"Paper Thin Hotel" is one of my fave lyrics ever

fuck me, archipelago (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2015 03:37 (seven years ago) link

two weeks pass...

lately new skin has been the favorite

marcos, Monday, 20 April 2015 23:44 (seven years ago) link

four years pass...

"New Skin" remains the ultimate! Was at a Newbury Comics on Sunday & an employee was playing it straight through, which was so unexpected & awesome.

Has been one of my favorite albums ever for 20 or so years. They're all great but "Field Commander Cohen" has always struck a nerve.

Wally P. Doyle, Thursday, 5 September 2019 06:33 (two years ago) link

Loved this show ^^.

... (Eazy), Thursday, 5 September 2019 12:39 (two years ago) link

FWIW I really disliked the show. I think I just can't with art shows about musicians. It felt overly worshipful or something -- I didn't find anything all that engaging on its own merits in an artistic sense, the whole thing was just "WOW LEONARD COHEN GENIUS WOW." Although the thing with the mens choir was sort of fun.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 12 September 2019 16:14 (two years ago) link

was it the Conspiracy of Beards? (there can't be more than one all-Leonard Cohen men's choir...)

Οὖτις, Thursday, 12 September 2019 16:18 (two years ago) link

i thought it was mediocre too

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 12 September 2019 17:56 (two years ago) link

xp no it was a video installation that included the mens choir from his synagogue on one screen and then a bunch of rando fans who I think responded to an ad on other screens in a different room

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 12 September 2019 18:02 (two years ago) link

The best part of this show was the room with the slideshow of his self-portraits.

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 14 September 2019 01:32 (two years ago) link

If you ever visit L.A. you can easily track down his old apartment here, the one where he was photographed on the front lawn for the cover of Old Ideas. I believe that apartment is where he passed away.

omar little, Saturday, 14 September 2019 01:35 (two years ago) link

1033 S Tremaine Ave is the address.

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:17 (two years ago) link

my w1fe, who adored him, is bummed that she never knew he lived only three blocks away from her during her time living on Mansfield Ave at 8th St.

omar little, Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:32 (two years ago) link

already get the feeling from that short tune that it feels weird/wrong to consider it a "Leonard Cohen album"

Simon H., Saturday, 21 September 2019 16:27 (two years ago) link

dud

lumen (esby), Saturday, 21 September 2019 16:33 (two years ago) link

you're a dud

The Ravishing of ROFL Stein (Hadrian VIII), Saturday, 21 September 2019 16:47 (two years ago) link

with due respect

The Ravishing of ROFL Stein (Hadrian VIII), Saturday, 21 September 2019 16:47 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

He's good!.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 12 October 2019 06:16 (two years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Best mismatched inner sleeve EVER? pic.twitter.com/h0aS9K6g3B

— Laurie’s Planet of Sound (@lauriespos) November 9, 2019

... (Eazy), Saturday, 9 November 2019 14:31 (two years ago) link

Lol

Irae Louvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 9 November 2019 14:33 (two years ago) link

I can picture Roger Sterling picking up both those records for his pad in 1972.

file of unknown origin (bendy), Saturday, 9 November 2019 23:13 (two years ago) link

fuck New Skin For Old Ceremony is just devastating

Suggest Banshee (Hadrian VIII), Sunday, 10 November 2019 22:23 (two years ago) link

so many good lines on "Happens to the Heart", album out today
https://open.spotify.com/track/2DkpoHJ1h88e9dyc6SFIm2?si=MHmybq37SN-uG5U0iWNIQw

corrs unplugged, Friday, 22 November 2019 10:10 (two years ago) link

new album is wonderful

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Friday, 22 November 2019 10:36 (two years ago) link

ten months pass...

Ranking his openers!

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 October 2020 05:11 (one year ago) link

You Want it Darker is such a perfect opener.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 17 October 2020 12:21 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I knew this thread had to exist. To me, he is THE classic, but he is definitely not for everyone--which makes him even more of a classic.

jimbeaux, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 20:08 (five months ago) link

He might not be for everyone, en toto, but everyone likes at least something he's done. Like, who really besides him and Mariah Carey have had a song become a standard in the last few decades?

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 20:13 (five months ago) link

They do, but most often when it's done by someone else. Everyone loves the Jeff Buckley cover of Hallelujah, even though it's missing an entire stanza.

jimbeaux, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 20:28 (five months ago) link

Dylan's Make You Feel My Love probably goes in there too, some big ass versions of that

Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 23:47 (five months ago) link

I wasn't a big Leonard Cohen fan (of his own recordings that is) until I got the DVD Live in London. IIRC the audio is exactly the same as what was used for the CD of the same name, but I usually prefer live DVD's over CD's. Charmed the hell out of me, it sent me back to his earlier albums, but except for his debut and I'm Your Man, I had mixed feelings about how most of those albums were recorded, so the live DVD is still my favorite Cohen release. I also loved how his music was used in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, probably my favorite Altman film.

birdistheword, Thursday, 20 January 2022 17:38 (five months ago) link

I was lucky enough to see him before he died, back in 2013. It was, and remains, the single best show I've ever been to. When he played "Famous Blue Raincoat," which is my favorite song, to start his second encore I felt that my concert going career was complete. Everything after is gravy.

And yes, seeing him live was another level from listening to his albums.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Thursday, 20 January 2022 17:55 (five months ago) link

Agreed: Live In London is my favourite Cohen release, his Manchester Opera Show performance in the first week of his comeback tour is my favourite gig of all time, and the DVD is a wonderful record of the same tour.

mike t-diva, Thursday, 20 January 2022 19:00 (five months ago) link

Everyone loves the Jeff Buckley cover of Hallelujah, even though it's missing an entire stanza.

Never heard it. I've heard about a dozen other versions of it though.

Someone left a space telescope out in the rain (Tom D.), Thursday, 20 January 2022 22:26 (five months ago) link

I love cohen to the point that I have two Leonard-related prints in my flat, but speaking of that London gig (which I attended!) the fact that he was packing stadia at the end of his career shows that he was pretty well rated for a not-for-everyone fellow

Nerd Ragequit (wins), Thursday, 20 January 2022 22:48 (five months ago) link

Everyone has a Phil Spector story.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Thursday, 20 January 2022 23:01 (five months ago) link

xp totally! Also Cohen returning to live performance due to his shitbag manager spending all of his money may be the greatest case of turning lemons into lemonade in rock history.

birdistheword, Friday, 21 January 2022 04:44 (five months ago) link

Those comeback shows were too smooth and Vegas-y for my liking. There were too many band introductions and too much scripted patter. I was lucky enough to see him in the 1980s and 1990s, which were much rawer and off-the-cuff affairs.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Friday, 21 January 2022 07:59 (five months ago) link

Love Cohen, but would gladly never hear Hallelujah again

Zelda Zonk, Friday, 21 January 2022 08:09 (five months ago) link

five months pass...

Anyone see "Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song," 2021 movie doc . I have not yet. Just curious about

curmudgeon, Thursday, 23 June 2022 14:59 (one week ago) link

I have not but they're screening it at Film Forum in NYC and I believe Alan Light and Larry "Ratso" Sloman are doing separate discussion/Q&A's for it.

birdistheword, Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:06 (one week ago) link

Had not heard of that, thanks!
"Hallelujah" has been used in too many already-weepy scenes on TV, and is frequently over-sung, seems like. My favorite version is Willie Nelson's, where he seems to be thinking out loud:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58UjoiSP2wM

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:10 (one week ago) link

Think he also does "Tower of Song" on his new alb, which I haven't heard yet---here's my fave cover of that, by Marianne Faithfull:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS_zzwLgTbE

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:13 (one week ago) link

Stone cold "Famous Blue Raincoat"---this live rendition, from Living (1971), has been stuck in my head for most of my life, and will see me out, no doubt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS_zzwLgTbE

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:17 (one week ago) link

Damn, sorry!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE6e9n1HuuM

dow, Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:18 (one week ago) link


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