Thursday, August 13, 2009

There can't be many first-rate songwriters and musicians who can boast a fully-fledged career as a poet and novelist before they took up songwriting, but Leonard Cohen can, of course. I stumbled across this gem recently: a documentary made in 1965 before he was known as a musician. It was made by the National Film Board of Canada, and as well a good documentary and an insight into Cohen himself, it's a glimpse into a lost literary culture.

To see it on the NFB website, click here


John B-R said...

I saw the recent collaboration between Philip Glass and Cohen, The Book of Longing (Glass was present; Cohen was more or less virtual). It was schlock. Utter and absolute schlock. Cohen's words were so entirely lame I couldn't believe it. (Glass's setting didn't help much ... the music was crap too). I tried the poems on on the page, they were even worse. Seeing/hearing/reading what C's become, I don't mean to diminish what he was. But it's hard to take him seriously all all, ever, anymore. Maybe he (literally) fell on his head.

Ed Baker said...

LC came over to "hang out" in Lindos (on Rhodes) when I was living there in 1968.. I think he was a bit bored with where he was at the time physically and mentally I think on Kos

picture of girl at table in room most likely in their place on an old
was/is not Susanne..
some fun songs over the years not much beyond
the mythos of (now) who "he" is

Canada has/had some good poets... he ain't one...

Alan Baker said...

I think Cohen's song lyrics, especially the first few albums, are masterful - as song lyrics. I haven't seen them on the page, and I must confess I don't really know his poetry.

John, that show must have been pretty bad for you to react like that. It's true that Glass's music can be pretty bland, though he is still capable of good stuff. As for LC, sounds like he stepped outside his comfort zone. It seems to happen when pop artists try to get classical - witness Paul McCartney's orchestral compositions. They seem to feel they have to abandon the humour, irreverence and edginess that made them good in the first place. By the way, what's the precise meaning of schlock? Sentimenta? False...?

Ed Baker said...

schlock is dreck

with less a stink!

John B-R said...

Alan, Ed's def in absolutely perfect, but if elaboration helps, I meant sentimental (in the bad simulacrum-of-actual-emotion sense), of poor quality, unbelievably embarrassing in the sense that an old man (two old men) could actually know so little about being human.

I think LC's problem was that he was **exactly in** his comfort zone, the worst place for an artist to be.

Glass is capable of decent music, I saw him in solo performance say 5 yrs ago and it was really good, he too stayed in his comfort zone so there was no tension of any sort; just same old same old. No: worse than the same old. Schlock.

If I age into **that** I hope someone shoots me.

The only positive of the evening (and **Kathy** pointed this out to me!) is some of the female musicians were wearing backless dresses and atwo of them had beautiful backs.