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Leonard Cohen, RIP

GA Russell

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Very sad.  I got into his music relatively recently, taking a chance on his Columbia box.  I found a witty, perceptive lyricist whose songs were also melodically interesting.  There was a recent profile of Cohen in The New Yorker.  In it, Dylan said this:

“When people talk about Leonard, they fail to mention his melodies, which to me, along with his lyrics, are his greatest genius,” Dylan said. “Even the counterpoint lines—they give a celestial character and melodic lift to every one of his songs. As far as I know, no one else comes close to this in modern music. Even the simplest song, like ‘The Law,’ which is structured on two fundamental chords, has counterpoint lines that are essential, and anybody who even thinks about doing this song and loves the lyrics would have to build around the counterpoint lines.

“His gift or genius is in his connection to the music of the spheres,” Dylan went on. “In the song ‘Sisters of Mercy,’ for instance, the verses are four elemental lines which change and move at predictable intervals . . . but the tune is anything but predictable. The song just comes in and states a fact. And after that anything can happen and it does, and Leonard allows it to happen. His tone is far from condescending or mocking. He is a tough-minded lover who doesn’t recognize the brush-off. Leonard’s always above it all. ‘Sisters of Mercy’ is verse after verse of four distinctive lines, in perfect meter, with no chorus, quivering with drama. The first line begins in a minor key. The second line goes from minor to major and steps up, and changes melody and variation. The third line steps up even higher than that to a different degree, and then the fourth line comes back to the beginning. This is a deceptively unusual musical theme, with or without lyrics. But it’s so subtle a listener doesn’t realize he’s been taken on a musical journey and dropped off somewhere, with or without lyrics.”

The full New Yorker article is here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/17/leonard-cohen-makes-it-darker


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As a Montrealer I feel doubly the pain of the loss  as much as the lost of a major  artist and  as one of the proudest   representative of my city.


Musical arrangements were never the strong pouint of Cohen but with lyrics like his, you could have listened to them with a vacuum cleaner in the background and it still would have been relevant.


What a lousy news to learn before going to bed.

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Very sad news.  I guess I only really discovered  his music maybe 20 years ago.  I don't recall what was the first song of his I heard, but I was immediately intrigued and the more I heard the more hooked I became.

I guess the only good that can come of this is perhaps now, in contrast to his lyrics for "Closing Time", Heaven will become a livelier place on a Saturday night now that he is there.

RIP Mr. Cohen.  Thank you for the beauty and inspiration you brought to the world.  Namaste.

And now you are the Angel Death
And now the Paraclete;
And now you are the Savior's Breath
And now the Belsen heap.
No turning from the threat of love,
No transcendental leap -
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep.

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I didn't think this week could get any worse....but now it just has. In troubled times the poetry and beauty of Cohen's music was doubly reassuring and inspiring. A true great whose wit, compassion and apparent humility lifted him above the many of his, more celebrated, peers. 

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Unbelievably dispiriting news.  2016 may well go down as the worst year ever in terms of losing musicians/artists that I cared the most about. 

I should have made a bigger effort to catch him on his last tour, but I think I was moving between cities at the time.  I was hoping he would do a tour, even just a handful of cities, to support his last, dark masterpiece You Want It Darker, but it was not to be.


Edited by ejp626
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On Yom Kippur at my (obviously Reform) temple,  the choir interpolated  Who By Fire into  the  prayer that inspired it.   BTW Are those Night Music shows available anywhere? IIRC  Miles did one.  And (also IIRC) Miles and Cohen were on the same episode of Miami Vice. 

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