Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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tomsakic
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby tomsakic » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:11 am

Dear Heather was released *before* Leonard discovered he's broke. Actually, his manager announced retirement "because of private reasons" in very same week when CD was released. She was credited in the CD (her email) as Leonard's office's email.

In any case, Mr. Cohen did say later in an interview that the original idea was to release new album very soon after Dear Heather, and Dear Heather (originally titled Old Ideas) was supposed to be an inter-album "without the song structure" (his words quoted by Sharon in an interview for dearheather.com) with which he finally wanted to finish his "old ideas" - covers (Byron, F.R. Scott), tributes (Layton, McClelland, A.M. Klein), recitations, spoken poetry recordings of other poets (Scott) and his own (To a Teacher), outtakes (The Faith), previously unfinished pieces (Undertow, Morning Glory), duets (Letters, Undertow), live versions (Tennessee waltz) etc. Dear Heather is, imho, like Book of Longing, it contains jokes and doodles (Because Of, Dear Heather), sketches (Morning Glory, Dear Heather), paraphrases of other poets, diary entries (Morning Glory), serious long poems (Letters) etc. Some kind of scrapbook, only in musical way. That's why there are so many styles, approaches etc. on Dear Heather, and you can hear the traces and echoes of Leonard's previous work in every song. Even "Morning Glory" resembles the melody of instrumental piece "Tahoma Trailer" from The Future CD. I think that he really wanted to empty his head of half-finished songs, "old ideas". And I really do miss *that* title, more appropriate and true to this "Zen" CD made of little forms. It's a great album.

The next "real" album with "song-structure", the follow-up to Ten New Songs, was delayed by economical events, changes of management, Book of Longing, Blue Alert, then the tour preparations, and now, of course, because of the tour itself. It's 2 years now, including months of pre-tour rehearsals.

Although it's amazing that he succeeded to rehearse and write some new songs (Lullaby, The Darkness). Now, of course, the next album is now constantly "delayed" as usual with Leonard; all dates were removed for "sometimes after the tour".
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby LisaLCFan » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:36 pm

I love tomsakic's description of Dear Heather as a "scrapbook." That is exactly what it has always seemed to me, and a wonderful, charming scrapbook, at that!
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby linda_lakeside » Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:14 am

Well, Tom, if anyone knows, it would be you. I was simply going on a vague memory of noting that his 'former manager' was not credited with the usual 'thank you to ...' as on TNS and Cohen Live, and it was shortly thereafter the proverbial * hit the fan. What 'he' knew, what 'you' know, what 'I' know are three different things - maybe 2 -- and naturally, I wouldn't have the knowledge at the same time as Leonard, so what do I know? Opinions are all I have.

Nonetheless, to respond to Casey Butler's original comment - 'live with it awhile' honest - it will grow on you. At least part will, in time. Yes, we all have our favourites and our not so favourites. The only one that matters here, really, is Leonard, what he thinks is 'right' is indeed 'right'. As they say: "you can't please all the people all the time". Still, it would seem he's pleased you enough in that you're going to hang around and see what's next? Right? I hope so. I am too. It seems the longer one looks/listens, the further and deeper one wants to venture thereby becoming more 'in tune' to what Leonard 'may' have been thinking - and he's not adverse to changing his mind, really, either. He just does it oh so gracefully. Cheers.

Linda.

***edit - yes, there are traces of long past pieces in Dear Heather. Whether he wanted to empty his head of the 'Old Ideas' (your beloved Old Ideas), or if he had to draw upon those Old Ideas is something I wouldn't know. But, I trust your judgment. :-) ...at his age, he must be far more optimistic than many had previously thought, to wait so long to empty his head of 'Old Ideas' to make way for the new. As you know, this site was but a twinkle in Jarkko's eye when it was uncertain if Leonard would ever record again. I'm sure there are many more old ideas laying about, now that would be a treasure chest to explore!

Oh, Tom! I just love this! It's 'Tacoma Trailer' from your fave album. Tacoma is a town just a few miles south from where I live. In fact, I spent one July 4th there. Maybe I was the at the same time Leonard wrote that song. :) haha! But, I do know that I would not have known even 1/50th of Leonard and his past had it not been for my chance meeting of you in this (well, the previous forum) :) - the pics and anecdotes made it feel like a real part of my life. I almost felt like I had been w/Leonard & co. along for the ride.
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby imaginary friend » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:15 am

So very well put Linda. Hope you are well.

XO

Sheila
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby tomsakic » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:51 am

LisaLCFan wrote:I love tomsakic's description of Dear Heather as a "scrapbook." That is exactly what it has always seemed to me, and a wonderful, charming scrapbook, at that!
Leonard himself has described the Book of Longing as the scrapbook full of poems, song lyrics, doodles, koans, diary entries, parts of unfinished prose works, sketches, drawings... As I see Dear Heather as similar concept, I used his words for the album also:)
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby tomsakic » Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:01 am

The new album is coming, Linda, but in Leonard's usual pace...

I will quote myself from the thread titled "The Darkness - new song performed in Venice". I am adding three additions (in red colour). (The research in Cohen's oeuvre is constant work. Few days ago, watching the bunch of DVDRs I got but never had time to check (French TV cuts, 1980s-1994) I bumped into the moment when Leonard plays the tape with FIRST version of Anthem, to a different melody...)

tomsakic wrote:

Now, the next album: according to recent rumours that Leonard and the band will not go to the studio after the tour, but to a vacation and to their families (well, it will be 18 months of touring), and the fact that SonyBMG sites removed "Leonard Cohen: TBA album" from all their forthcoming-titles lists (where it was listed since Remasters series in 2007), I guess the album will be another slow work. In April Leonard admitted he has only couple of songs, Amen and Lullaby. Did he forget about Book of Longing and Puppets? Maybe yes: because those two tracks were computer-produced, while in all recent interviews he announced that he will record the album with the current tour band. On the other hand, Sharon said clearly that the album is coming up (slowly) and that she knows that as she was involved in some songs. I firmly believe those are the songs she mentioned in her 2004 interview for our sites, one of the titles being "A Thousand Kisses Deep No. 2" (but then, Leonard used those words for "Recitation w/ N.L."). According to the early draft of Book of Longing, which was given around as PDF/print out, that song - printed in the final version of Book of Longing as "1" under "Thousand Kisses Deep" - was titled "Still Into That".


My list of works-in-progress, 2004-2009:

1. Still Into That (A Thousand Kisses Deep No. 2), with Sharon Robinson, in production after Dear Heather
[plus another song or two produced and co-written by Sharon]

[[add.: that lyrics has been recited as Recitation with Neil Larsen on the current tour.]]

2. "Taken Out Of Egypt": the original version of "I Can't Forget", discarded in 1987-88. Also titled at one point as "Born in Chains".
"[...] that song started off as a song about the exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt. As a metaphor for the journey of the soul from bondage into freedom. It started out, I was born in chains but I was taken out of Egypt / I was bound to a burden but the burden it was raised / Lord I can no longer keep this secret / Blessed is the name, the name be praised. It went on like that for a long, long time, and I went into the studio and tried to sing this song about how "I was born in chains and I was taken..." But I wasn't born in chains and I wasn't taken out of Egypt, and not only that, but I was on the edge of what was going to become a very serious nervous breakdown. So I hadn't had the burden lifted and the whole thing was a lie! It was wishful thinking. And this song, "Taken Out of Egypt," took months and months to write. Nobody believes me when I say these things but I have the notebooks and I don't fill them in an evening. And there were many of them. So it wasn't as if I had an endless supply of songs: I had to start over. And I was saying to myself, "What is my life?" and that's when I started writing that lyric: I stumble out of bed / I got ready for the struggle / I smoked a cigarette / And I tightened up my gut / I said this can't be me / Must be my double / And I can't forget / I can't forget / But I don't remember what. That was really true."
(Leonard Cohen, interviewed by Mark Rowland, "Leonard Cohen's Nervous Breakthrough", Musician, July 1988.

Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero ... ttakes.htm
I clearly heard Leonard mumbling these lines "I was born in chains" etc. to the unknown melody in Lian Lunson's 2005 documentary Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man. At that point [in 2005] I firmly believed he's gone back to that song.

3. Book of Longing, demo aired at KCRW in 2006

4. Puppets, demo aired at KCRW in 2006

5. The Street, recited live in 2006, according to Leonard in an interview: music co-written by Anjani Thomas

6. Blue Alert, Leonard's own version, demo discarded after he heard Anjani's version and then given to her for her album. This song is probably discarded forever, although I'd like to hear Leonard performing the version from Anjani's album (her music) as it's an excellent song for his voice.

Appendix about Leonard going back to decades old songs: Undertow, from 2004' Dear Heather, was written down on Closing Time manuscripts dated around 1990-91, on the margins of the notebooks (check viewtopic.php?p=44013#p44013); Never Got To Love You, written in 2004-05 for Anjani's Blue Alert, is in fact new version of the original, slow-ballad version of Leonard's own 1992 song Closing Time.
[Closing Time] Recorded "in 3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel. Entirely different words." (Paul Zollo, "Leonard Cohen: Inside the Tower of Song", Song talk, April 1993). Takes have been destroyed by Cohen and he starts a new version (lyrics & music) in March 1992 (Ira B. Nadel, Leonard Cohen: le canadien errant (Various Positions), 1997: 327).
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero ... ttakes.htm
"On the song "Closing Time", from The Future, we had a gorgeous track that we worked on for quite a while. We brought in new musicians and did overdubs; a great arrangement that I was absolutely in love with. And Leonard said: "Darling it's not working." So he disappeared for a week, played into his synthesizer at a much brighter tempo with new lyrics - it was almost another song. The "new" version on the song was great hit for him in Canada". (Leanne Ungar, interviewed by Mel Lambert, INSIGHTS: Leanne Ungar, April 2001).
Source: http://www.leonardcohenlive.com/storero ... ttakes.htm
For instance, a song like "Closing Time" began as a song in 3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel. Entirely different words. It began:

The parking lot is empty;
They switch off the Budweiser sign.
It’s dark from here to San Jobete,
It’s dark all down the line.
They ought to hand the night a ticket
For speeding, it’s a crime.
I had so much to tell you,
Yeah, but now it’s closing time.

And I recorded the song and I sang it. And I choked over it. Even though another singer could have done it perfectly well. It’s a perfectly reasonable song. And a good one, I might say. A respectable song. But I choked over it.
There wasn’t anything that really addressed my attention. The finishing of it was agreeable because it’s always an agreeable feeling. But when I tried to sing it I realized it came from my boredom and not from my attention. It came from my desire to finish the song and not from the urgency to locate a construction that would engross me.
So I went to work again. Then I filled another notebook from beginning to end with the lyric, or the attempts at the lyric, which eventually made it onto the album.

Source: http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html


7. Lullaby, performed live in 2009

8. Amen, mentioned in 2009 interviews as "finished"

9. untitled blues, provisionally titled by fans The Darkness, performed in Venice, August 2009, at the soundcheck

10. according to Laura's yesterday's post [Oct 1, 2009], Leonard rehearsed brand new song at the sound check in Barcelona?
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby linda_lakeside » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:18 pm

Thanks again, Tom, for the benefit of your hard work. I like the 'alternate Closing Time'. To me, it sounds like something Tom Waits could have done.

I guess as Leonard is working at his 'usual pace', now would be the time to be looking at all the discs I've rec'd over the years, and see if I can glean certain mumblings of more familiar songs in the background (remember that 'I have been delivered' line from By the Rivers Dark??) haha... I do remember Undertow written in the margin of something else from long ago. It's funny how some songs start out one way, and then end up so totally different. I Can't Forget being a very good example.

Well, it looks like we're going to have some time to cool our heels. He 'does' need a good rest. Thanks again, it looks like I've missed much. Taking a look at some of these back pages wouldn't hurt either.

Well, we'll see you here and there, now and again - and just wait, I guess.

Cheers, and a hearty cheers to you, too Sheila! Nice to see you hung around. I don't see a lot of familiar names, but I bet the same observations are being bandied about, just by different people.

Until next time, Ciao!
Linda.
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby tomsakic » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:35 am

linda_lakeside wrote:Thanks again, Tom, for the benefit of your hard work. I like the 'alternate Closing Time'. To me, it sounds like something Tom Waits could have done.
Linda,
I deeply believe that Early Version of Closing Time was actually recorded by Anjani in 2006, and it's titled Never Got To Love You, in the original "3/4 time with a really strong, nostalgic, melancholy country feel":

The parking lot is empty
They killed the neon sign
It's dark from here to St. Jovite
It's dark all down the line
They ought to hand the night
A ticket
For speeding: it's a crime
I had so much to tell you
But now it's closing time

I never got to love you
Like I heard it can be done
Where the differences are many
But the heart is always one

The memories come back empty
Like their batteries are low
It feels like you just left me
Tho' it happened years ago
They're stacking up the chairs
Wiping down the bar
I never got to tell you
How beautiful you are

I never got to love you
Like I heard it can be done
Where the differences are many
But the heart is always one

Don't know how it happened
But I missed the exit sign
It's dark from here to St. Jovite
It's dark all down the line
Duet version by Leonard and Anjani, recorded at Anjani's show in Warszawa, 2007: http://1heckofaguy.com/2007/04/04/anoth ... ver-heard/


This about how song goes into another direction, I like Leonard's statement how he choose Democracy's verses from 80 verses he did... To get one version of the story, a prophetic song. Then he admits that not only he had 4 or 5 narrative sin the verses, but that he actually *did record* 4 or 5 Democracies on same melody, and same chorus, but using different choise of verses so he had 4 or 5 different songs on same motif.
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby linda_lakeside » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:55 am

This about how song goes into another direction, I like Leonard's statement how he choose Democracy's verses from 80 verses he did... To get one version of the story, a prophetic song. Then he admits that not only he had 4 or 5 narrative sin the verses, but that he actually *did record* 4 or 5 Democracies on same melody, and same chorus, but using different choice of verses so he had 4 or 5 different songs on same motif.
Sorry, Tom, but I've forgotten how to get the proper quote code to work. I've never looked too deeply into Anjani's work, I'm ashamed to say, but I bet there's much in Blue Alert that would be of interest to us LC fans - there was just 'something' about her 'independent' delivery that was lacking for me. Jennifer Warnes, however, is a different story. I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with The Hunter this summer. She was in Van. but I missed her. However, I always felt that she was able to interpret his work to a 'T' - much like Sharon.

This is so typical of LC, like the gazillion verses of Hallelujah. He can stay with the same song, in effect, but have it fresh every time. Within each song, the verses, in a derivative kind of way, give us new songs, and new insights. I really wish he would write a new novel - more along the lines of Favourite Game than that of Beautiful Losers - but. he's never really been one to give us the facts in a straight forward manner (except in interview, and he likes to 'play' there, too). This is what makes LC our 'Favourite Game'. Ha! Thanks for the links. There is often some 'connection' found in the long lost and the seemingly newly found songs/verses. Oh! Can you imagine the flurry of activity when....when...when...the 'new' album comes out? For me, it will be better than the tour. 'Fresh' material. C'mon Leonard, get cracking! Ha!

Thanks again, all.
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re:

Postby RainDog1980 » Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:44 am

peter danielsen wrote:"'on that day' is particularly disappointing - the blizzard of the world really has crossed the threshold, and it seems the finest lyricist who ever walked the earth really has nothing of any interest to say about it. "


Well a lot of modern people would indeed say that LC say nothing of interest in this song. They want straight answers, to our problems. Our time is welcomming a new leader, a new ideolgy to put things straight. Everything indeed seems to be "sliding in all directions" so there is "nothing you can measure any more". And so we once again hear the call for World Socialism, World Faith, World dignity, World Order. One World, One People.--> Do you think it will bring us peace and love this time.

Some people say
It’s what we deserve
For sins against g-d
For crimes in the world

-I've heard this over and over again since 9-11. Well educated people in my country asserting that we, (for example as parttakers of capitalism) deserved the masacre of the twin towers. We sinned against God and now we pay. In my judgement the judges seem to ignore the fact that they by their judgment claim to be godlike and so without any sin-->Let he who has no sin throw the first stone

Some people say
They hate us of old
Our women unveiled
Our slaves and our gold

-Is the western world being hated? Are the women in the western world unveiled. Do we have slaves, and do we have gold? I say yes we are hated, and yes we have slaves(anyone who does not always serve their neighbour use slaves, as anyone at a certain point is a slave). Do we have gold, yes. Anyone who does not want his or her gold can just give it up. Leave your house and your wine and your nice shoes and give it all up. Or accept that you desire gold-->the sinner is forgiving, the well do not need a doctor.

But answer me this
I won’t take you to court
Did you go crazy
Or did you report
On that day
On that day
They wounded New York

-Did you go crazy when it happened. Did you loose yourself, do you hate the killers? Would you kill the Killers. Do they deserve to die? Do you. Do the ones you love deserve it. Do the ones you dont love deserve it. Could there be a world without any destruction. Would you listen to the ones who claim that there could be another utopia. Did you report for duty in an army, or did you report to your friends or a paper. Where were you, where are you, who are you. Do you know anything about the deeper levels of your heart. Do the know the ground of being, are you affraid

-Any answer reflects your mind, your heart, your soul, your ideas of g.o.d your ideas about the world about politics, about sex, love, hate, passion, knowledge. You can't escape your answers, and the wound they reflect. But the wound is a crack in everything...that's how the light gets in

Peter
I know this is a very old post, but I had to tell you that my wife and I visited Ground Zero earlier in the day before the MSG concert. And naturally, "On That Day" came to mind. I had recently read this post prior to heading down there, which really brings to attention what the verses mean. And they were haunting me while I was there. Maybe it was being there, maybe it was actually seeing it in person... but thank you for bringing meaning to this song, when it was needed most.

There were a flood of memories that came where I was and what I did "On that day", and this provided a very poignant backdrop for them.
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby Midnightchoir37 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:56 am

Here is a short review of "Dear Heather" that you might enjoy:

http://folkmusic.suite101.com/article.c ... ar-heather
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Re: criticisms of "Dear Heather"

Postby sue7 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:32 am

Thanks for some really interesting posts on this thread. Tom, thank you for all your work on this: I particularly like your description of "Dear Heather" as a scrapbook in a similar vein to "Book of Longing." I've always loved this album, but now I will have to go back and listen again (I haven't heard it for a while) in the light of what you said. And, when I think of the liner notes that go with the album, they have that scrapbook feel as well, and really look quite similar to "Book of Longing."

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