The Faith

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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Joe Way
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Postby Joe Way » Fri Dec 24, 2004 7:30 am

I just founds this exchange on an interview that Jarkko has on his site:

Interviewers: On your last album you had a song "Un Canadien Errant" with a mariachi band as back-up musicians. It emerged sounding like a very Latin tune rather than a Qu&eacuteb&eacutecois folksong.

Cohen: I thought the resonances that were developed through that kind of treatment were quite interesting and humorous, because you have a Jew singing a French-Canadien song with a Mexican band. So it really does become a statement of exile.

Interviewers: Is there any reason why you left out the last verse?

Cohen: I never knew the last verse too well. How does it go?

Interviewers: Something like: "Even though I die, my Canada, I will expire or languish with your name forever with me - my dear Canada."

Cohen: I don't think I ever used to sing that. I hadn't sung that song for years and years. What were the French words?

Interviewers: "Non mais on expirant, O mon cher Canada, Mon regard languissant, Vers toi se portera."

Cohen: (Pause.) I remember vaguely hearing those. I never learned those, and the song seemed to work with two verses and instumental and final verse.

Interviewers: Do you see French-Canadiens in the context of that song? Was that song directed specifically at them?

Cohen: The complexities of singing that song are enormous. I think it would take volumes to unfold. It just has a certain irony, humour and poignancy in the way it was done, because in a certain sense, we - the English-speaking Canadiens in Montreal - are the exiles. The song turns around and has harmonics that are quite interesting.

Joe
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
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tom.d.stiller
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Postby tom.d.stiller » Fri Dec 24, 2004 10:28 am

Tchocolatl wrote:This song could be classified in the same range of "I'm your man" more than "The Faith". :D
Tchocolatl, you're absolutely right about the general line of it, I believe. But looking at some of the images the old version contains, and considering the close relationship we discussed earlier between Love and G~d, I'd say that it is much closer to "The Faith" than UCE was. Many of the images i find in your précis have meanings both in religious and courting contexts.

I'd like to see how the images of "J'ai fait une maîtresse" correspond to those we find in "The Faith". We'd really need a full transcription of the French text for this purpose. Let's see when I can find the time...

Joyeux Noël, Tchoc, et á bientôt

Tom

PS (an afterthought): It seems the "voice of the old song" is trying everything to get to the heart of the beloved. I can imagine "la blonde", after she turned into the Keeper of the Pearly Gates, saying to her long-time stalker "Oh Love, aren't you tired yet?"...
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jarkko
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Postby jarkko » Fri Dec 24, 2004 10:40 am

Tom S wrote:
I think that The Faith is sung on old 1979 tape of alternate version of Un Canadien Errant (remastered and sampled).
Yes, we've got this confirmed. A full story will be posted on Anjani's site in the near future. By the way, Anjani's new album will be released soon!
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:20 pm

Quickly again... ah! :oops: I'm running after my breath... time flies so fast....
:D

Joe! The Mexican touch was why I choose my Mexican pseudo here! But the other way round in term of exile. Could we say it is turning into a square dance, this song? :lol:

Tom, if it is so important to both of you, then, here is the translation (done in a hurry) as I hear it (yes, I could I picked "sweatheart" for "La Belle" but I prefer "My Beauty")

Thank you for the kind words, they are at this time of year, the sweetest gift one could offer! :D

Man’s voice :
I’ve got a girl friend recently
I’ve got a girl friend recently
I’ll go see her on Sunday,
Sunday I will go
I’ll make the demand to my beloved

Woman’s voice :
Ah! If you come Sunday
I’ll not be there
Ah! If you come Sunday
I’ll not be there
Because I will turn into a doe
In a beautiful field
From me you’ll not have contentment.

Man’s voice :
Ah! If you turn into a doe
In a beautiful field
Ah! If you turn into a doe
In a beautiful field
I’ll turn into a hunter
To hunt you
I’ll hunt the doe my beloved

Woman’s voice :
If you turn into a hunter
To hunt me
I’ll turn into a carp
In a pound
From me you’ll not have contentment.

Man’s voice :
Ah! If you turn into carp
In a pound
Ah! If you turn into a carp
I’ll turn into a fisherman
To catch you
I’ll catch the heart of my beloved

Woman’s voice :
If you turn into a fisherman
To catch me
If you turn into a fisherman
To catch me
I’ll turn sick in a white bed
From me you’ll not have contentment

Man’s voice :
If you turn sick in a white bed
If you turn sick in a white bed
I’ll turn into a doctor
To cure you
I’ll cure my Beauty, my beloved

Woman’s voice :
If you turn into a doctor
To cure me
If you turn into a doctor
To cure me
I’ll turn into a nun
In a convent
From me you’ll not have contentment

Man’s voice :
Ah! If you turn into a nun
In a convent
Ah! If you turn into a nun
In a convent
I’ll turn into a preacher
To preach you
I’ll preach the heart of my beloved

Woman’s voice :
If you turn into a preacher
To preach me
If you turn into a preacher
To preach me
I’ll turn into sun in the firmament
From me you’ll not have contentment.

Man’s voice :
If you turn into sun
In the firmament
I’ll turn into a cloud
To hide you
I’ll hide my Beauty, my beloved

Woman’s voice :
If you turn into a cloud
To hide me
If you turn into a cloud
To hide me
I’ll turn into St.Peter in paradise,
I’ll open the door only to my good friends



I have also think the same about romance/spiritual but I have said I would take vacation from wandering about the meanings!!

Oh! No time left, see you, I really have to run, now, take care, everybody!

: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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tom.d.stiller
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Postby tom.d.stiller » Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:09 am

Thanks for your great work, Tchocolatl. The translation is there now, I'll try to take care of the transcription one of these days...

Re: "romance/spiritual" - the old version won't be very spiritual meaning prone, but LC referring to it certainly would. He always uses Love and G~d interchangeably, as you know...

Re: "mexican touch" - have you ever read Octavio Paz's essay on "mexican masks"?

Tom
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Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:48 am

What transcription Tom.d.d.Tom? (This because it reminds me too much of another song of folk of mine). It is clear : she is a troll from first generations of them. Krystal Klear. The final notes of piano is signature.

"have you ever read Octavio Paz's essay on "mexican masks?"

Nope... not yet... I'll have to have a look, now. Certainly.

We all ware masks of all sorts. Every forum is a real carnival, just like life is, in term of wearing masks.

"Whether we write or speak or do but look
We are ever unapparent. What we are
Cannot be transfused into word or book,
Our soul from us is infinitely far.
However much we give our thoughts the will
To be our soul and gesture it abroad,
Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill of thought or trick of seeming.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others' dreams. "


Hum... on that subject, either I am making a beautiful spiral or I had not finish to circle the matter. Or both.

"How many masks wear we, and undermasks,
Upon our countenance of soul, and when,
If for self-sport the soul itself unmasks,
Knows it the last mask off and the face plain?
The true mask feels no inside to the mask
But looks out of the mask by co-masked eyes.
Whatever conciousness begins the task
The task's accepted use to sleepness ties.
Like a child frighted by its mirrored faces,
Our souls, that children are, being thought-losing,
Foist otherness upon their seen grimaces
And get a whole world on their forgot causing;
And, when a thought would unmask our soul's masking,
Itself goes not unmasked to the unmasking."

What?

Oh!

Sorry! Quotes are from Fernando Pessoa.

To know (I'm mean really, not superficially) ourself and others is a slow and patient process. :) :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
Syntax
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Re: The Faith

Postby Syntax » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:43 am

I cried when I first heard The Faith (it's the first time I've cried in almost a decade). It wasn't out of joy, nor was it out of sadness, but just a strong, uplifting feeling of existence. It's interesting that Pantheism got mentioned in this thread, because I get the very same feeling while reading Spinoza describe God and the mind in Ethics, or descriptions of the Hindu pantheism.

It seems that most of Cohen's religious songs have similar themes (namely, If it be Your Will, Who By Fire, and Hallelujah). It's cold, broken, full of misery, seemingly pointless... but that's just how things are. Here are some comparisons:
The Faith wrote:A cross on every hill
A star, a minaret
So many graves to fill
O love, aren't you tired yet?
If It Be Your Will wrote:All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will
Hallelujah wrote:Well, maybe there's a god above
But all I've ever learned from love
Is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
I do find it interesting that in If it be Your Will, Cohen asks God to 'End this night' whereas in The Faith it's the day that ends.
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lizzytysh
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Re: The Faith

Postby lizzytysh » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:11 pm

It wasn't out of joy, nor was it out of sadness, but just a strong, uplifting feeling of existence.
Hi Syntax ~

I hope Doron or someone else will be along soon and read this amazing, substantive posting of yours and respond to it in kind. You have so precisely pinpointed in your quote above what not only "The Faith," but what the vast amount of Leonard's music does with me, at the same time that it brings joy.

Don't have time to say more than just this at the moment, but really appreciate your overview and the way you've evaluated Leonard's work. I love it when a [relatively :wink: ] new person resurrects an old thread and contributes like this. Welcome to your more active participation on the Forum, Syntax.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
lordbyron
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Re: The Faith

Postby lordbyron » Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:46 am

this has been a fascinating discussion to read. i am perhaps on a similar page as far as some of the ideas. i always connected this song to the line "it is in love that we are made/in love we disappear" and also to an interview with LC where he said something to the effect of "love is the sea we're all swimming in." i took 'the faith' as overviewing all of existence, the cycle of life and death, the wheel of time, the cruel and the joyous, the sea and the earth itself, and then concluding that it was indeed "love itself" moving everything, doing everything, becoming destroying and being everything. so in that sense i thought it was extremely optimistic, that no matter the depth of pain, suffering, death, decay, circularity -- it's LOVE doing it all.
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lizzytysh
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Re: The Faith

Postby lizzytysh » Thu Jul 26, 2007 4:45 am

Hi Lord Byron ~

I like very much the description you've given of your interpretation.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
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Manna
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Re: The Faith

Postby Manna » Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:25 pm

The Faith - Golly, what a nifty thread to read. Glad it found a wing to ride back to the surface.

Things seem bleak to us because we don't know the answers. Why do we have to die? Why do feel so bad, and miss a person who's died? Why does love hurt the ones not getting it? Why do we have to have pain? Why is our existence set up the way it is? Am I just a big bag of chemical reactions?

Faith is a form of Love*, and isn't it tired yet? How can Leonard continue to believe that there's more to it than just being skin and hair and his own tiny will? How can he keep this notion that there is spirit or soul in the face of watching it seemingly disappear from a person who has died? And even more so, how can he continue to believe some kind of God (pantheistic, paternal, loving, angry or otherwise) exists?

It seems to me that this song is in awe of the fact that he has faith, which isn't such a bleak notion. This is my favourite song on Dear Heather.

*Today's favourite little musing. ha ha ha.
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jimbo
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Re: The Faith

Postby jimbo » Mon Sep 03, 2007 8:21 am

This thread is good
Last edited by jimbo on Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
love is not forgotten......
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jimbo
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Re: The Faith

Postby jimbo » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:41 pm

absolutely brilliant
love is not forgotten......
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friscogrl
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Re: The Faith

Postby friscogrl » Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:36 am

I just listened to this song for the second time in my car driving home from the grocery store and am wondering if "love, aren't you tired yet?" is referring to "love, the only engine of survival"
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Re: The Faith

Postby johnny7moons » Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:10 pm

"The blood, the soil, the faith" - I always heard a reference to Nazi "blood-and-soil mysticism" there.

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