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Leonard Cohen Depressing?

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GUEST,Elmore 09 Dec 10 - 01:58 PM
Richie Black (misused acct, bad email) 09 Dec 10 - 02:04 PM
alanabit 09 Dec 10 - 03:47 PM
Van 09 Dec 10 - 06:20 PM
ollaimh 09 Dec 10 - 06:31 PM
EnglishFolkfan 09 Dec 10 - 06:32 PM
dick greenhaus 09 Dec 10 - 07:30 PM
Leadfingers 09 Dec 10 - 08:00 PM
Rob Naylor 09 Dec 10 - 08:10 PM
Leadfingers 09 Dec 10 - 08:30 PM
Doug Chadwick 09 Dec 10 - 08:35 PM
MAG 09 Dec 10 - 10:02 PM
andrew e 09 Dec 10 - 10:26 PM
Janie 09 Dec 10 - 10:44 PM
Little Hawk 09 Dec 10 - 10:55 PM
Dave Sutherland 10 Dec 10 - 02:58 AM
GUEST,Patsy 10 Dec 10 - 03:18 AM
Dave Hanson 10 Dec 10 - 03:19 AM
acegardener 10 Dec 10 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Neil D 10 Dec 10 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Doug Saum 10 Dec 10 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 10 Dec 10 - 01:45 PM
Dorothy Parshall 10 Dec 10 - 01:55 PM
Van 10 Dec 10 - 04:13 PM
mauvepink 10 Dec 10 - 04:25 PM
Dorothy Parshall 10 Dec 10 - 05:28 PM
robomatic 11 Dec 10 - 12:09 AM
GUEST,Elmore 11 Dec 10 - 12:02 PM
Doug Chadwick 11 Dec 10 - 12:07 PM
Doug Chadwick 11 Dec 10 - 12:11 PM
Dorothy Parshall 11 Dec 10 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Reality 11 Dec 10 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,Doug Saum 11 Dec 10 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 11 Dec 10 - 02:20 PM
GUEST 12 Dec 10 - 01:02 PM
Rob Naylor 12 Dec 10 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Patsy 13 Dec 10 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 13 Dec 10 - 08:04 AM
Little Hawk 13 Dec 10 - 03:12 PM
puck 13 Dec 10 - 04:22 PM
Dorothy Parshall 13 Dec 10 - 05:19 PM
Little Hawk 13 Dec 10 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 13 Dec 10 - 06:49 PM
Little Hawk 13 Dec 10 - 11:31 PM
Beer 13 Dec 10 - 11:48 PM
Little Hawk 13 Dec 10 - 11:56 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 14 Dec 10 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,Alan whittle 14 Dec 10 - 04:27 AM
Charmion 14 Dec 10 - 03:17 PM
Dorothy Parshall 14 Dec 10 - 06:03 PM
Little Hawk 14 Dec 10 - 06:26 PM
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Subject: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Elmore
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 01:58 PM

For forty years I've been hearing folkies make jokes about Leonard Cohen's depressing songs. I steered clear of his albums and concerts,Recently I've been watching his PBS special and found the songs to be profound and inspiring, and Leonard's performance warm, exciting, even hypnotic. Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Richie Black (misused acct, bad email)
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 02:04 PM

He has a pretty even balance of moods in his music, he's made some songs that are incredibly depressing, but on the other hand, he's done some work that's very positive and often even pushes the envelope into "Inspirational". I think a lot of people just focus on his more depressing work because he has a voice that, for many people, automatically suggests sorrow and misery.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: alanabit
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 03:47 PM

I do not find anything depressing about "Everybody Knows". In fact, some of the lines are laugh out loud funny - and made even funnier by his deadpan delivery. This image of Cohen as being the perreniel wrist slasher is long out of date and irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Van
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 06:20 PM

Why should songs that make you think be considered as depressing?


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: ollaimh
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 06:31 PM

the first post hits the nail on the head. cohen has long been one of the most insughtfull and creative writers in the world. those who see only depression should go back to watchinmg sopa operas, thats all they can handle.

he also hires great side men --and pays them well--to accompany him. right now he has one of the worlds great spanish laud players and before several great greek laouto and bouzouki players to name only a few. and look at his back up singers--a list of greats who feels honoured to sing behind cohen..

and yes every body knows grasps the modern world where the media and corporate dominated elite no longer ask hadr questions. but every body still know how corrupt and hypocritical western society remains


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: EnglishFolkfan
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 06:32 PM

Have Leonard Cohen's albums from the beginning plus all his published work, is a consummate poet imho and the singing follows on from that. For me the 'depressing' label seemed to be applied by those more interested in listening to the happy clappy pop music way back then rather than thinking a songwriter might actually have something to say. The same was postured about Bob Dylan but I always enjoyed reading their output as much as listening to them (& others) singing the texts.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 07:30 PM

soporific was the word i had in mind...


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 08:00 PM

Laughing Len has a voice that does NOT sound bright and cheerful , and a lot of his Melodic Structures are also NOT Happy Clappy but the songs are ALL worth listening to .
I personally think that 'One of Us Cannot be Wrong' cant be ANYTHING but a Comedy song , despite the Minor Chord progression !


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 08:10 PM

I've never understood the "depressing" tag. Sure, his voice isn't bright and bubbly, but the understated irony and humour in a lot of his songs is great...I don't like *every* song he's done, but I like the vast majority.

Some of the shows I saw him do in the UK and Norway in the 70s and 80s were downright funny. All the little asides and one-liners...

LF: "One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong" is definitely a comic song...it was the second one of his I learned, and is still the one I enjoy doing most...though I dispense with the increasingly manic "la las" at the end. I just can't get them to sound right at all.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 08:30 PM

I dont do the La La Las either - Great Song though


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 08:35 PM

For forty years I've been hearing folkies make jokes about Leonard Cohen's depressing songs.

It's not a joke. It's a fact.

DC


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: MAG
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 10:02 PM

Anybody else read "Beautifuk Losers"? It is from a very long time ago; it epitomizes depression -- or may just masochism --

I'm glad he has cheered up; "Dress Rehearsal Rag" is one of those I never needer to hear again. Not that it's not great; it just succeeds at depicting depression way too well.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: andrew e
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 10:26 PM

I've never found Leonard Cohen depressing.

Who said he was?
I think one of "The Young Ones" may have said that.
Did someone say it before that?


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Janie
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 10:44 PM

Funny, when I was young, I did think some of his songs were depressing - and loved it!   But I was caught up in the narcissistic angst of youth, and was probably pretty depressed at the time myself. Those same songs evoke a different response in me now.

Sign of wonderful artistry that the poetry continues to speak to the listener over the course of a life as the understanding changes.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 10:55 PM

No, Leonard Cohen is not the least bit depressing. He's intriguing, sometimes fascinating, and sometimes quite inspiring. I have never found Leonard Cohen depressing.

I'll tell you what I do find depressing: most of the crud that's on commercial radio and TV, that's what.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 02:58 AM

Leonard Cohen depressing? That statement joins the ranks of disinformation such as "fingers in ears, sandals and Arran sweaters"; usually spouted by those who know Jack Sh.t about the music.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 03:18 AM

No not depressing, Leonard Cohen makes me think and is as essential as Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Nick Cave and many others. Hope he keeps on doing what he is doing for a long, long time to come.

JLS? Now that is really depressing.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 03:19 AM

No, not depressing, but he doesn't do ' cheerful ' does he ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: acegardener
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 05:01 AM

'Music to commit suicide to' an expression from the early 70's. Not anymore. I had all the early stuff then lost contact for over 30 years. I rediscovered some really upbeat music of his on the net. Now I have another collection of his and they cheer me up with the 'hidden messages'

I went to one of his recent concerts, what a change from the doleful young man I heard in the troubador years ago.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 08:56 AM

LC doesn't give us depressing songs. He gives us the human condition and some may find that depressing. For me it's just moving. I'm touched by the beauty of his finely crafted offerings in a way that few artists can equal. I also second what ollaimh said about the musicians he surrounds himself with. I saw him last year he had 5 backing musicians and 3 singers sharing the stage, all virtuosi in their own right. The sound quality of the live mix was impeccable.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Doug Saum
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 01:38 PM

Depression, like beauty, is in the mind of the listener. He elicits a wide-range of emotion in me, most often poignancy. There is great humor in many of the songs of a subtle variety. ("Tonight will be Fine" a fav of this type.) L Cohen is a world treasure.
Doug Saum


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 01:45 PM

a lugubrious world treasure...?


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 01:55 PM

Thought provoking thread. I would agree with DougS, although it never really occurred to me before, that depression, and ignorance and many other emotions, are perceived differently in the mind of each individual. Forty years ago, I did not find LC depressing as I simply did not care for his mournful way of singing. Some of his songs, as sung by others, are long time favs. Wither I have changed or his voice has. I very much like it now and also enjoy most of his songs, as sung by him and by SOME others. I watched I'm Your Man a number of times and will again. I might skip a couple songs.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Van
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 04:13 PM

Dorothy I suppose with age we all wither;)


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: mauvepink
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 04:25 PM

Totally talented and iconically inspirational

Cohen touches parts other songs don't reach...

or at least not in any similar way.

I have a kind of thought about serious actors doing comedy. They can't. Whereas comedians can do serious. In singing I think if you cannot do thought provoking - not necessarily depressing - then you cannot write. When you look at some of the best songwriters you can just see how they manage to get inside of you. You can see it but maybe not define it or find it tangible. It's effects certainly are though. I need to be reached in to. Cohen does that in oodles

Everybody knows....

mp


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 05:28 PM

Van: oops! Whether should have been the word! I do not feel in the least withered!!! But that too is a state of mind!


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: robomatic
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:09 AM

"Things are gonna slide
Slide in all directions
Won't be nothin' you can
Measure any more
The world, the world is cross
the threshold and it's overturned
the order of the soul!"


what's depressing about that?



Robo, who when they say "Repent, repent" wonders
what they meant


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Elmore
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:02 PM

Robo: Yeah, but it has a nice beat and it's easy to dance to.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:07 PM

Not depressing?

Halle-bloody-l


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:11 PM

Oops!! Hit the submit button before I meant to.

Not depressing?

Halle-bloody-luljah depresses me as soon as I here it.

DC


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:26 PM

Depends on who sings it. How 'bout KD? I missed it but I heard good reviews. Can't imagine her being depressing


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Reality
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:45 PM

... and my very close companion gets me stoned and gets me laughing
She's a hundred, but she's wearing something tight!

What could ever be depressing about that?!?!


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Doug Saum
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:09 PM

Dorothy,
You might have accidentally been correct with the word "withered" if LC is taken in light of this little poem from W B Yeats.

The Coming of Wisdom with Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

cf "You lose your grip / And then you slip / Into the mystery." "A Thousand Kisses Deep" (L Cohen)

The first noble truth of Buddhism is that all life is sorrowful. Everybody knows no one gets out of here alive, after all. LC does not dodge nor escape reality, but if that alone makes him depressing, we must have some folks commenting who love escapism more than the truth. In fact he's a pretty fun guy for a Jewish poet the first generation after the death camps. There is such a thing as tragic joy. "Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc / As she came riding through the dark." Doug Saum


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:20 PM

Jaysus, there must be weird parties going on out there.

Dancing to Laughing Len.

Ladies and gentleman. Tonight for your levity, licentiousness, joie de vie, and ooh lala!........a pretty fun guy for a Jewish poet the first generation after the death camps. Give it up for Cohen!


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 01:02 PM

On the other hand alcohol (and the "levity, licentiousness,. . . and ooh lala" it brings) is a well-known depressent often used in an escapist philosophy. dls


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 02:49 PM

You ever been to any of his live gigs, Alan? The one I went to in Oslo in '84 had them dancing in the aisles and screaming for more...he did the first half solo then brought on a full band and really rocked it up. No-one stayed sitting down!

Perhaps you're as unfamiliar with the non-stereotypical Cohen as you appear to be with the viccissitudes of Irish house-building excesses?


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 06:12 AM

Of course LC isn't party music. On the otherhand when the guests dwindle down to an intimate few why not listen to that after the hectic party has come to a close (or been thrown out). It all depends on what kind of guests you have. After an evening of loud metal or rock and alcohol it is sometimes nice just to ease back and wind down.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 08:04 AM

apologies to LC fans!

'a pretty fun guy for a Jewish poet the first generation after the death camps'

the description just amused me.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 03:12 PM

There is tremendous warmth, compassion, wisdom, and honoring of life in Leonard Cohen's work and in his performances. To call his work "depressing" is bizarre, in my opinion. It seems like the most superficial reaction of someone who just took a very quick glance at something and formed an immediate opinion and walked away, but who never bothered to look any further or to comprehend what was really going on there. "Judging the book by the cover", in other words.

Some people have called Bob Dylan's work depressing too. Same basic problem. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: puck
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 04:22 PM

Went to see him live 18mths ago - BEST concert I have seen in many years of concert going.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 05:19 PM

LH: how utterly non-judgmental of you!
Imo, Dylan sounds like a sick cow caught under a gate.
To each, their own.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 06:13 PM

Yes, Dorothy, but a sick cow stuck under a gate is not depressing to anyone but the cow herself. To others, it's merely inconvenient...or a matter of curiosity.

I don't think Dylan's own music depresses him in the least. Therefore I find that your metaphor lacks merit. ;-D


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 06:49 PM

'your metaphor lacks merit'

a bit like the wind howls like a hammer....would that be a sledge hammer, a masonry hammer, a steam hammer, a rammer hammer ding dong....?

A good name for a group though.... Big Al and the Howling Hammers.

while Susanne holds the mirror....I've wondered about that one too.

Its not so much . that i look to these guys to analyse my life and problems - like I did when I was a kid. or perhaps I looked to their words like a mantra.

I suppose whats fundamentally depressing is the grandiosity of the language. I guess they were a bit like Dylan thomas's pub conversations - hypnotising at the time and place. but after closing time, out in the real world, they didn't have any answers.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 11:31 PM

"the wind howls like a hammer" seems like a perfect line to me, specially in the context of the verse it's in. Obviously, a hammer does not howl in the literal sense of making any howling sound, but that's not the point of the line at all. The point of the line is that the wind is fierce and violent and strong and without mercy. And that's why I say that it's an absolutely perfect line, very fine poetry. I wish I'd written it.

"while Suzanne holds the mirror" is also a good line, and here's why. The mirror has long been used in literature, poetry, and legend as a symbol of the feminine archetype. Leonard Cohen was evoking it in that sense, I believe, that Suzanne was holding in herself the archetype of the feminine very powerfully. She was, to him, the Feminine embodied. Again, it's a very good line.

Noble or dramatic poetry will always be seen as grandiose by someone who is not in sympathy with it for some reason...while it will be seen as noble and quite appropriate by someone who is in sympathy with it. So, it's totally up to you whether you interpret a given poem is "noble"....or "grandiose"...and once you've decided it's one or the other, no one else will convince you otherwise, I expect. So I certainly won't try to...

Poetry is not written to provide answers, in my opinion. It is written to inspire and to raise questions in the mind of the reader so that the reader will look deeper into things and go searching for deeper meaning. Math books and science books and text books are written to provide answers...and they are most definitely useful for that, but they're not poetry.

As Dylan said in another song, don't look to him to provide answers where answers can't be found. He was not trying to provide any answers for anyone, he was just expressing himself in a way that fulfilled him somehow at the time. If other people thought his job was to provide answers for them, that was their mistake.

As to my remark about Dorothy's metaphor (actually, it was a simile, to be more precise)....I was basically joking when I said that. I think it's quite funny for someone to say that Dylan sounds like a sick cow...it gave me a chuckle, and I love how he sounds...so I figured I'd say something funny back to her in return. Sick cows, actually, don't usually make much of any sound at all other than maybe an occasional low sigh or moan. Mostly they just lie there and suffer silently. ;-) Dylan makes a tremendously greater amount of noise than any sick cow ever did or ever will...and that's why I joked that her metaphor "lacks merit", but I was speaking tongue in cheek (with a grin on my face) when I said it.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Beer
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 11:48 PM

When Leonard first hit the scene I was with a roommate who would put all the lights out , light candles and listen to Leonard and some other fellow who read poetry with music in the background. I had to call the ambulance twice because of his antics (drugs) while listening.
It was not until I had the opportunity to book Leonard and meet him that i started to appreciate what a gem of an artist he was(is). Mr Cohen went through much of what most of us did. Some more than others, but it was the time and few escaped it. Leonard was no different.
I have followed him through the years and in my opinion he has just got better and better as the years have flown.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 11:56 PM

I agree. He has kept improving, and kept writing better and better songs throughout his entire career. That's quite an accomplishment. Most artists do their best work in their younger years.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 04:24 AM

Out of interest - do cows (sick or otherwise) get caught under gates very much in the ordinary way of things? Why do they go under the gate? perhaps they see the chimes of freedom flashing.....


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: GUEST,Alan whittle
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 04:27 AM

or perhaps they see a better bit of grass on the other side of the fence......


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Charmion
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 03:17 PM

Ever wonder why farmers poll their cattle -- that is, cut off their horns? It's not just because they don't like getting gored; the main reason is that the silly creatures stick their heads into narrow gaps (such as under a gate) and snag their horns.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 06:03 PM

Well, LH did give me a good laugh over his response to the sick cow.... And I have heard cows moaning mournfully that sound better than Dylan, and a few other singers. I actually found Cohen one of them back in the day. As Beer says, he has just gotten better and better!

Remember beauty is also in the ears of the listener! OR maybe in the way the brain responds to the sounds the ear picks up, to be slightly technical. My brain simply does not process things the same way as some other folks.

Not "dysfunctional"! Just functioning differently.


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Subject: RE: Leonard Cohen Depressing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 06:26 PM

Yeah, that's the way I figure it too, Dorothy. I've never been able to put up with listening to Tom Waites, for example, simply because of the sound of his voice...but I do understand that he's written some very fine songs.

When I was around 16 years old, I had a friend who loved Dylan, but I gave only the briefest listen to Bob at the time and decided I couldn't stand his voice! I already knew that I loved his songs...as recorded by Joan Baez or Judy Collins or PPM...but I didn't want to hear him sing them at all. I was a real purist in those days. ;-) The singers I liked all had conventionally very good voices, and that was the only thing I wanted to hear.

Then when I was 21 my guitar teacher advised me to listen to Bob Dylan...I bought Highway 61 Revisited...and it was like a revelation! I absolutely loved Bob's singing from that moment on.

Admittedly, his voice has deteriorated drastically in the last decade and a half. He sounds a lot like Tom Waites now... ;-D

It's basically just a matter of personal taste as to what people like, and people can develop a taste for anything if the time is right, and if they decide to like it for some reason.

I'd say that Leonard Cohen was a pretty poor...though quite expressive...singer in the early years. He has become a far better singer in the later part of his life as he moved into the lower range of his voice and learned to relax it and bring out the resonance. I really like the way he sings now.


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