Book of Longing CD

Everything about Leonard's 2006 book of poetry and Anjani's album
opendoor
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby opendoor » Wed Nov 21, 2007 7:02 am

Hi Dick -

I agree with you. On a parallel track, I wonder how many people were introduced to Allen Ginsberg by his work with Philip Glass?

I think many of us have "Leonard Cohen" glasses and look at Philip Glass or Lewis Furey as interlopers who sully Leonard's work or hang on to his coattails. Which isn't fair to all parties.

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richardrj
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby richardrj » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:48 pm

hydriot wrote:Aren't we all missing the point here? I wasn't terribly thrilled by Phillip Glass' composition, but I really didn't expect to be. We are a self-selecting sample. By definition, everyone posting on this forum is an admirer of Leonard's poetry and music.

But what I do think is significant about this event (and this CD) is that hopefully it is bringing Leonard's work to a wider audience. If it encourages Glass fans to explore Leonard's full canon, and even prompts them to buy tickets for Leonard's tour next year, then Book of Longing will have proven to be a resounding success.

Let's face it. The thing was never composed for us.
I would love to know where I fit into your scheme of things. I have been a great admirer of both Glass and Cohen for many years. I'm a Glass fan who is already familiar with Leonard's full canon. So do I count in your notion of "us"?

And as I posted on another thread, I think Glass comes out of Book of Longing with a good deal more credibility than Cohen does. I'm a Cohen fan, but not an uncritical one.
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby lizzytysh » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:53 pm

Hi Richard ~

Do you wonder why Glass chose the particiular pieces from out of Leonard's work that he did?


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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby richardrj » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:00 pm

Glass touches on this in an interview quoted in the Book of Longing pages of the Files:

The pieces, according to Glass, are grouped so that humorous self parody, romantic longing, spiritual striving, and other types of poems appear only once in each cycle. Similarly, the vocalists and instrumentalists appear in cycles. In an interview with the Canadian Press, Glass says he sought a sampling of Cohen's poems that touch on romance, biography, balladry, the dharma, limericks and rhymes. "I wanted the experience of listening to the piece to be similar to what happens when you look through a book of poems but you don't look at it sequentially," he says. "It's a random kind of thing but in the course of time you actually encounter all the different aspects of the piece."
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby lizzytysh » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:31 pm

Hi Richard ~

So, do you feel he would have portrayed Leonard in a better light had he chosen differently with the particular pieces from the Book of Longing? Or, do you feel that Leonard simply lacks credibility in that particular book? As a longtime fan of Leonard, do you wish that Glass had set, for example, The Spice-Box of Earth to music, instead? Or, do you feel that Glass simply has greater credibility than Leonard?


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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby richardrj » Wed Nov 21, 2007 5:14 pm

lizzytysh wrote:So, do you feel he would have portrayed Leonard in a better light had he chosen differently with the particular pieces from the Book of Longing? Or, do you feel that Leonard simply lacks credibility in that particular book? As a longtime fan of Leonard, do you wish that Glass had set, for example, The Spice-Box of Earth to music, instead? Or, do you feel that Glass simply has greater credibility than Leonard?
At the end of the day I think the problem is simply that Book of Longing is not really that great a collection. It seems rather scrappy and thrown together to me. A lot of it is just doggerel. Let's face it, it's no Spice-Box of Earth nor is it even a Book of Mercy. Glass did his absolute best but he didn't have much to work with.

In terms of their respective credibilities, over the course of their whole careers they have both amassed considerable bodies of work. But at this point in time, based on what they are doing now, Glass is certainly a greater artist than Cohen.
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dick
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby dick » Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:41 am

Schedule update

Got an Amazon email today that I assumed would be shipping confirmation -- but no --- they now advise of a delay in production and project I will have the cd by 12/19-12/21. If only they had said it would now be both audio and video --- but that too was no solace.

No big deal, but after reading the NYT's comment about how great it is to own your own label.... I am disappointed.
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby richardrj » Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:03 pm

Dick wrote:No big deal, but after reading the NYT's comment about how great it is to own your own label.... I am disappointed.
Production delays can affect all kinds of record labels large and small, and without knowing the precise reason for the delay it's difficult to comment. As a fan of Current 93 I have got very used to items being shipped much later than their originally scheduled date. But with small or artist-run operations, these delays are often for a good reason, i.e. the artist is a perfectionist and wants the release to be exactly as they wish. Often the release will be delayed because a shade of colour used in the booklet will differ slightly from what was intended and the proofs have to be returned, for example.

Rather this level of perfectionism than the standard approach of the majors, i.e. sling the thing out without due care and attention.
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dick
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby dick » Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:50 am

richardrj wrote:
Dick wrote:No big deal, but after reading the NYT's comment about how great it is to own your own label.... I am disappointed.
.. But with small or artist-run operations, these delays are often for a good reason, i.e. the artist is a perfectionist and wants the release to be exactly as they wish.
good points
but who woulda thunk leonard was a perfectionist? :)
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Joe Way
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby Joe Way » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:11 am

Hi richardrj-

You wrote:
At the end of the day I think the problem is simply that Book of Longing is not really that great a collection. It seems rather scrappy and thrown together to me. A lot of it is just doggerel. Let's face it, it's no Spice-Box of Earth nor is it even a Book of Mercy. Glass did his absolute best but he didn't have much to work with.

In terms of their respective credibilities, over the course of their whole careers they have both amassed considerable bodies of work. But at this point in time, based on what they are doing now, Glass is certainly a greater artist than Cohen.
I speak as someone who really appreciated the collaboration-though I've only heard it once and anxiously await the arrival of the cd. Certainly LC's poetry is different than his earlier works, but that is not unusual in the poets who are blessed with long lives and long careers. If you compare, for example the earlier Yeats with his later writings, I think you will find many of the same type of differences in the poetry. They can freely divert at this point in their lives from observing some of the same poetical conventions that younger poets must observe. For example, one of the axioms that one would learn in a beginning poetry class would be to avoid certain terms like, heart. If I'm not mistaken, one of the poetry sites I've visited said something to the effect that if you use the term "heart" in a poem, it better refer to an Aztec sacrifice.

"Book of Longing" is certainly a work that spends much of its time examining aging and that retrospective look at life afforded those who are blessed and cursed with long life. Yeats once wrote, "Out of the quarrel with others, we make rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." I think that "Book of Longing" certainly represents a quarrel with himself.

For fun, let's just compare two poems of Yeats and Cohen.

Yeats wrote a poem called, "The Man and the Echo" toward the end of his life. It is a dramatic question of a man shouting questions into an abyss:

"All that I have said and done,
Now that I am old and ill,
Turns into questions till
I lie awake night after night
And never get the answers right."

Compare this with his language from "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" where he was observing the image driven criteria that defines a type of poetry:

"I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore,
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core,"

In the earlier poem, the language is rich and image driven, in the latter it is succinct, containing words mainly of one syllable, but still like the best of Yeats, highly universal.

Now here is one from Cohen of a similar theme:

"You might be a person who likes to
argue with Eternity. A good way to
begin such an Argument is:

Why do You rule against me
Why do You silence me now
When will the Truth be on my lips
And the Light be on my brow?


After some time has passed, the answer to these questions
percolating upwards from the pit of your stomach, or downwards
from the crown of your hat, or having been given, at last, the right
pill, you might begin to fall in love with the One who asked them;
and perhaps then you will cry out, as so many of our parents did:

Blessed be the One
Who has sweetened
my Argument"


Now one can, of course, argue the relative merits of each poem and in particular, I'm not fond of how LC capitalizes certain words, but in general, I find the sentiments more insightful that Yeats. Yeats followed the opening of his poem with some historical perspectives (At least LC is spared from having to ask himself questions about how his role changed the course of history).

"Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?
Did words of mine put too great strain
On that woman's reeling brain?
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house lay wrecked?"

However, Cohen adds his perspective on his own personal history:
I Miss My Mother

I want to bring her to India
And buy her
Gold and jewels
I want to hear her sigh
For the poor in the street
And marvel
At the unforgiving greyness
Of the Arabian Sea
She was right about everything
Including my foolish guitar
And where it got me
She would make sense of
The cotton flags
The sorrows of the port
The arches of the past
She'd pat my little head
And bless my dirty song
And speaking of dirty songs, Yeats certainly became earthier in his later years:
Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
"Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty."

"Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul," I cried.
"My friends are gone, but that's the truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

"A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent."




Obviously, the scavenger, LC, studied this poem and borrowed a line plus a concept, but in style it is very similar to the poems form "Book of Longing."

Also, the notion of including drawings along with the poetry goes back at least as far as William Blake (his "Tyger, Tyger burning bright" looks a lot like Tony the Tiger). I'm not sure if I've given enough evidence to convince you of the greatness of BoL, but, believe me, it is not a minor work.

Thanks for your vote in favor of the musical treatment. I suspect that someday, as Glass has spoken of the time that he saw Stravinsky on stage in New York with Aaron Copeland on piano playing one of his works, that we will look back on the time that we saw two giants in their fields, standing on stage together after collaborating on a major work that will live on long after they are gone.

Joe
Last edited by Joe Way on Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lizzytysh
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby lizzytysh » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:19 am

Beautiful, Joe.


I've never studied poetry or literature, so I don't have all you do to draw on... I had only thoughts of the poignant honesty of an aging man.


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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby jarkko » Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:38 am

Amazon Germany (http://WWW.AMAZON.DE) already has the CD - I ordered it, and already got confirmation that it will be shipped tomorrow.
15,92 euros + postage 6 euros + VAT 22 % (they charge the VAT according to the VAT rate in the destination country, following the EU legislation)
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tomsakic
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby tomsakic » Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:23 pm

Hm, UK Amazon says "5 weeks delivery" (probably because it will be released only on December 11). It's expensive, Jarkko, on Amazon.com it's only 15 dollars, plus the outrageously low course the US dollar is taking these years ... Almost free :-) So I'll wait for the US Amazon release.
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lizzytysh
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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby lizzytysh » Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:06 pm

plus the outrageously low course the US dollar is taking these years ... Almost free :)
Would you mind not rubbing it in, Tom? Or, at least not smile as you gloat?


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Re: Book of Longing CD

Postby tomsakic » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:49 pm

Can't help myself ... :lol:

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