The Faith

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Thu Dec 09, 2004 4:24 pm

Given the French words being the same for both versions, someone took some liberties with translation, not that the essence isn't the same. A very sad and touching song, indeed.
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tomsakic
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Postby tomsakic » Thu Dec 09, 2004 4:25 pm

The Canadian Encyclopedia Online:

>>The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, edited by Edith Fowke (Harmondsworth, England 1973) notes that after the political turmoil of 1837-8 several rebels were imprisoned, deported to Tasmania, or hanged, and those who escaped reprisal had to go into exile in the USA. Fowke writes: 'Their plight inspired a young student, M. A. Gérin-Lajoie, to write "Un Canadien errant," setting it to the tune of a popular French folk song, "Si tu te mets anguille." Soon after the song appeared in 1842, French Canadians were singing it from Acadia on the east coast to the distant reaches of the North-West Territories'.<<

So, Un Canadien Errant is already written on the melody of older folk song Si tu te mets anguille!!!
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Jonnie Falafel
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Postby Jonnie Falafel » Thu Dec 09, 2004 5:06 pm

Midnight wrote:I've changed my mind about this song. At first I liked it. But then I really started listening to the words and it's pantheism jumped out at me.
Reminds me of the time a fundamentalist Christian acquaintance of mine refused to sing Lord Of The Dance on the spurious grounds that it was pean to Shiva. Quite how, "They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high/And left me there on a cross to die", related to Shiva, was lost on me.

So even if the song has very vague overtones of pantheism why would that be grounds for disliking it? Dylan's Every Grain of Sand is a very fine song, firmly rooted in his Christian faith and yet with a discernable whiff of pantheism about it. And what's so wrong with invocations of the power of nature in literature? We'd have to write off Wordsworth, Keats and the other romantics - not to mention Ted Hughes - if poetry must do away with nature. I mean The Faith isn't The Return of Pan!

Seems to me Midnight like you had a strong emotional response to the song. Isn't that what it's meant to invoke, even if it's hopelessness & despair. And if we are to rule out songs of hopelessness & despair then the psalms of the Old Testament have to go to! Now that would make for Pollyanna art don't you think?

Personally, it's the violin between the final verses of The Faith that gets me every time. It's too exquisite - it almost hurts - but what a wonderful pain.
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Postby Tchocolatl » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:29 pm

Tom, :D Read carefully, "Tu te mets anguilles" :!: :? is just fragments of "J'ai fait une maîtresse". Gérin-Lajoie said it comes from "Par derrière chez ma tante" which had been slow down to fit the mood of the Canadien Errant. That is why I was wondering how could it be possible for the Faith to be based on a "slower" Canadien errant!

I referred to these info on some other threads. Anyway all those folk songs were used with different tempo (typo) and lyrics. :)
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Midnight
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Postby Midnight » Fri Dec 10, 2004 7:29 am

Dear Jonnie,
So even if the song has very vague overtones of pantheism why would that be grounds for disliking it?
Because I'm not a pantheist.

Words mean something to me. These words are hopeless in the extreme. They are not vague. There is no out. The Serpent eats it's tail forever. LC is espousing a religious viewpoint in this song. At least, LC was honest and give us a non-western version of it. In the east, the eternal cycle of death and rebirth is viewed with horror and something to be escaped. In the west, we say, "Yeah! A million lifetimes ---woo-hoo, bring it on!" We love to have our religious cake and eat it too.
And what's so wrong with invocations of the power of nature in literature?
Absolutely nothing. But the power of nature is not what is being invoked in this song. Also, I never said that poetry must "do away with nature."
Seems to me Midnight like you had a strong emotional response to the song. Isn't that what it's meant to invoke, even if it's hopelessness & despair. And if we are to rule out songs of hopelessness & despair then the psalms of the Old Testament have to go to!
Evoking emotion isn't enough. Negative or positive.

Yes many of the Old Testament psalms do express despair and pain and sorrow and everything else common to the lot of man. But they never end there.

When Job screamed out his pain he didn't scream into a void. When he railed and asked his questions it was because he knew there was Someone, somewhere with the answers. I get the distinct impression that LC is asking a rhetorical question in The Faith. He doesn't expect an answer because there isn't Anyone there.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Fri Dec 10, 2004 7:52 am

Hi Midnight ~

What if there isn't Anyone there? Isn't that where 'faith' comes in? That there is?

Perhaps, the content of the song is the question; and the title is the answer.

~ Lizzy
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Postby tomsakic » Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:12 am

Tchocolatl, you're right :oops: That's all so complicated there, I don't know after all which song is which, so many contrasted opinions.
Well, I said that The Faith is slower Un Canadien Errant recalling the only version I know, Leonard's Un Canadien Errant, from Recent Songs, and I think that The Faith is sung on old 1979 tape of alternate version of Un Canadien Errant (remastered and sampled). It is much slower than El Mariachi album version.
I check the booklet - it inded has reprinted the Fowke's version, the second above. So which version is printed on The Files and why not the official version from the original booklet?
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Postby Tchocolatl » Fri Dec 10, 2004 3:45 pm

Tom, If you read my first message about it (in another thread regarding a Swiss article on DH), you'll see that you only "joined the party". :) Everybody get struck by a "poetic licence" around this song :D . First, since the beginning of this Faith story, I always wonder why, yes why this mysterious "Québec folk song" was not named by its name. 8) I thought this would be unveiled at the release of DH. NoOope. NOoOthing. So here goes the fans cut loose on the arcanum of the folk past of the bird land of the man.
:o

While I am a it, here a little opinion of mine about this song.
title : The Faith
lyrics fragments : The blood, the soil, the faith... A cross on every hill, a star, a minaret O love aren't you tired yet?

It speaks to me like someone who is tired of religious wars (that does not make sense to him). A believer that adresses a prior to his G_d and his fellow human beings at well.

(not to mention the club, the wheel, the mind which we all uses as war weapon) Taking to account that the history of Man is a succession of wars also.

So the Faith for me, is a song of Hope. Hope that one day this nonsense will be lay in the past like a step toward maturity.

Have a nice day :D
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
Karri
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Postby Karri » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:32 pm

Tom, you´re right about the translation in the booklet of Recent Songs. I´ve owned the cd for almost two years now and I´ve never bothered to read the booklet too carefully. :oops: It´s mainly because I knew the lyrics more or less by heart, having studied the sheet music before purchasing the cd.



Karri
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jpx
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Postby jpx » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:58 pm

Words mean something to me. These words are hopeless in the extreme. They are not vague. There is no out. The Serpent eats its tail forever.
i disagree markedly.

The Faith isn't hopeless! it's soothing. for me that's clear. the shape of the poem makes the statement. the first and last verses are almost the same. but look at their differences : start with,

the sea so deep and blind
the sun, the wild regret
the club, the wheel, the mind
oh love aren't you tired yet?

by the end of the song -- through love and life and faith -- we end with,

the sea so deep and blind,
where still the sun must set
and time itself unwind,
oh love aren't you tired yet?

worried about The End? worried about The Oncoming Night? cornered by Memories? concerned for The Faith? sssh. let go of the wild regret. the past is the past. as twilight comes, time itself will forgive you. it will be less like twilight than you imagine it to be. oh love. aren't you tired yet?
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Wed Dec 15, 2004 9:13 pm

That's a very interesting contrast, jpx. Thanks for pulling those together the way you have. I feel incredibly hopeful when I listen to "The Faith" ~ those feelings are generating from somewhere. Sometimes, I feel, we 'experience' the song, without the analysis, and still arrive at the same place [emotionally], only in a different sense. I still immensely appreciate the analyses. So much thought goes into them, and gives me even greater reason to appreciate Leonard's work, from a different, historical, cultural, religious, multi-layered perspective, beyond the layers I already experience. He draws on so much knowledge when he writes that it's rare for any, one person to understand all of his many layers. It seems to me that it would have to be more satisfying for Leonard to know of those appreciators who know where all those doors and windows, down those hallways, lead to. I 'get it' when someone does the research and linking. I just don't come up with 'all of that' on my own. Some, yes; but not to the extent of the Cohen scholars, for whom I'm eternally grateful ~ and who will help keep Leonard alive in the annals of music and literary history for generations to come 8) .
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tom.d.stiller
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Postby tom.d.stiller » Thu Dec 23, 2004 10:42 am

Tchocolatl wrote:Tom, :D Read carefully, "Tu te mets anguilles" :!: :? is just fragments of "J'ai fait une maîtresse". Gérin-Lajoie said it comes from "Par derrière chez ma tante" which had been slow down to fit the mood of the Canadien Errant. That is why I was wondering how could it be possible for the Faith to be based on a "slower" Canadien errant!

I referred to these info on some other threads. Anyway all those folk songs were used with different tempo (typo) and lyrics. :)
Have you already listened to this:

Je me suis fait une blonde, ou, [Si tu te mets anguille], ou, [J'ai fait une maîtresse] (1928)

Information about this record: http://www2.collectionscanada.ca/plsql/ ... &srttyp=TI

I probably won't find the time to transcribe the words. Can anybody with a profound knowledge of Canadian French help us with this?

Tom
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tomsakic
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Postby tomsakic » Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:28 am

I won't be able to listen that mp3 before this weekend.
Maybe constantsorrow could help us, he lives in Quebec?
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Postby Tchocolatl » Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:02 am

No, Tom I had never heard that song before. The lyrics are not exactly French Canadian, I would say old French.

This song could be classified in the same range of "I'm your man" more than "The Faith". :D

"I'll come to see you this Sundy (and ask you to marry me)" - "If you are coming this Sunday I will turn into a deer in the beautiful field" - Then I will turn into a hunter, to hunt this deer, my beloved... bla-bla-bla... if you turn into a hunter to chase me I will turn into a carp in a pound, ah! then if you turn into a carp in a pound I will turn into a fisherman, I will catch the heart of my beloved... if you turn into a fisherman to catch me I will turn sick into a white bed... if you turn sick into a white bed I will turn into a doctor to treat you, to cure the heart of my beloved.. If you turn into a doctor to treat me, I will turn into a nun in a convent... If you turn into a nun I will turn into a preacher to preach the heart of my beloved... If you turn into a preacher to preach me, then I will turn sun in the firmament, if you turn sun in the firmanent, I will turn a cloud to hide you, I will hide you my pretty one, my beloved....

Then she will turn into St.Pierre in paradise, she will open the door only to her good friends. End of the song.

This is the little time I had (even not, in fact but I took it 8) ) for this, right now! :D
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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Joe Way
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Postby Joe Way » Fri Dec 24, 2004 7:03 am

Thank you for the interesting links about early French Canadian songs. I've enjoyed them.

I don't remember where I read it (or if I imagined it) but I believe that Un Canadien Errant was one of Leonard's mother's favorite songs. That would certainly explain its inclusion on Recent Songs and, perhaps, give a hint as to why he chose this particular tune for "The Faith."

I have a mother who loves music also and when we get our guitars out on family occasions she is quite vocal in requesting her favorites. The line from, "The Night Comes On"-"I'll be yours, yours for a song" resonates with this.

Joe
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