Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

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rmorgan
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Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby rmorgan » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:47 pm

So there I was this morning, silently weeping on the underground train (the Metropolitan Line) to the beauty I found in Leonard's tortured, utterly expressive vocals on Did I Ever Love You .. and then the lovely, uplifting counterpoint of the female vocals in the fast section. And finding this song affects me even more deeply than the others, although others come close.

Then I read Jon Pareles in the New York Times, saying this track is the album's "major misstep".

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/arts/ ... .html?_r=1

(And I recalled the awful, dismissive reviews of Songs of Love and Hate in 1971!)

I wonder what other Cohenites think of this track? Perhaps it only works on a train?!
HelenOE
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby HelenOE » Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:53 pm

It works for me, and I haven't been on a train.
holydove
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby holydove » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:16 pm

I immediately fell madly in love with what Leonard does with his voice in this song, & I love the musical accompaniment behind his voice, esp. the violin but also the keyboard, etc. The first time I heard it, I was somewhat confused & a bit jarred by the transition to the country-like part with the female voices, & the back & forth between the two styles/moods, & it felt like Leonard couldn't decide which way he wanted to do the song (though I'm very sure that's not the case!). Then I was surprised (& delighted) by how much the song haunted me the next day (& the next, & the next. . .) - surprised only because of how I'd felt jarred by the country-style interludes the night before. I've listened to it several times since then, & by the second listen, I found myself rather enjoying the alternating styles, even if just for the unusual aspect of it, but it's also very interesting in that it seems to present "various positions" on the matter at hand (manic-depressive positions, though they may be, but that is now something that I love about it!). So though I still might love it even more without the country-style interludes, I don't feel jarred by that part anymore, I love the whole song more each time I hear it, & the main thing for me is that the gut-wrenching intensity, beauty & expressiveness of Leonard's voice (OMG!! That VOICE!!!) & lyrics really override anything else, & because of that, the song quickly (though unexpectedly at first) became one of my favorites.

And let me just add: definitely not a "major misstep"!! :shock:

And no, I was not on a train either. . .
scocoh
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby scocoh » Sat Sep 27, 2014 5:02 am

.
.
Way back in my younger days, I used to scour every review of artists and albums I like. I'd buy several music mags and listen with the critic's review in mind, trying to gain insight to this or that artist or song. I'd do the same with movies because I was quite a film buff at the time.

Then came Dylan's Infidels. It came out in 1983 and immediately became a personal favorite. I listened to it constantly and as usual started looking for some critics reviews. I remember one day sitting down at a taco shop in my hometown and eagerly reading a few magazine reviews of the album. As I read, I tried to converge my opinions with those of my usual professional reviewers-- and gradually realized we weren't on the same page. Finally I was able to read one of my favorite music magazines review of the album, and I came to the conclusion that the famous mag and big-time reviewer had almost no clue about the album and what Dylan was doing. I was almost dumbfounded as I realized that a dumb goofball kid from SoCal who listens with patience and a good intent and who picks up clues certain artists leave for the listener might easily understand more than many if not most paid music critics.

I always look at Infidels as the album which led me away from paying much attention to what most music/art/film critics say. What I found was that there are only a scant few critics who actually lead people into in-depth appreciation of a a talented artist, and to me it is plainly obvious that most critics really do not put much thought, time, and effort into their subjects. There are always a few around who do, and I realized that the best course is to find people you trust to give you the critical goods-- and pay no attention to the others.

When it comes to Leonard, I listen to absolutely ZERO critics. I will occasionally read some random review, but can't take them seriously-- even the ones who like him are often so shallow as to be unreadable.

As for Did I Ever Love You-- it was certainly a jarring transition on first listen. I found myself wishing he would have stuck with the feel of the first part for the entire song. After a few listens, I rather enjoyed the back-and-forth, though the countrified bass and drum do still seem a bit incongruous with the heartfelt Leonard part. Admittedly, I'm only probably fifteen or twenty listens in, but this supposed "Major Misstep" is my favorite on the album so far.
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lizzytysh
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby lizzytysh » Sat Sep 27, 2014 1:41 pm

Don't have my copy, yet... so have listened to this song only once, via online.
I was so amazed by the question being the content of a song that I didn't notice any of the transitions, at all... too caught up in the lyrics. :)
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
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cohenadmirer
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby cohenadmirer » Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:25 pm

Major mistep??? NO

At first i thought so and posted that opinion on another thread , but many listenings later I regret that post. It works well and resonates with some parts of the story of my life !
Leonard's work resonates
Brighton 1979; Dublin , Manchester june 2008; glasgow, manchester Nov 2008; Liverpool july 2009 ; Barcelona Sept 2009 ;marseille, lille september2010: Ghent August 2012;Barcelona October 2012;Montreal x2 November 2012: 2013; Saint John NB April 2013; Brussels June 2013;Manchester August 2013; Leeds , Birmingham September 2013; Amsterdam September 2013
Tchocolatl
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby Tchocolatl » Sat Sep 27, 2014 9:02 pm

It feels really stange on the firts listening (though I deeply loved this song at first hearing).

Feels like Tom Waits - "(...)voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car." - source : wikipedia
Image
having done a duet with Chloé Sainte-Marie
Image





Both in their own, in their own way, and without consulting each other. Talk about the very image of a gap between a man and a woman.

Yet, you can imagine easily that their artistic personnas can have been a couple at some point. That this is more than plausible.


*

The feelings of the song are so true.
***
"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
rmorgan
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby rmorgan » Sat Sep 27, 2014 11:08 pm

So nice, everyone, to hear your views, impressions and experiences of this song ... this magnificent, beautiful song (or track). Thank you! If this is a 'misstep', may there be so many many more .. smiles!

Holydove .. I especially appreciated your post, and how Leonard's singing and the contrasts feel to you. Again, thanks to everyone. It's good to share. And good to be alive to experience this kind of Art that brushes the very face of Human Truth.

R
holydove
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby holydove » Sun Sep 28, 2014 1:21 am

rmorgan wrote:. . . this magnificent, beautiful song. . . If this is a 'misstep', may there be so many many more .. smiles!

And good to be alive to experience this kind of Art that brushes the very face of Human Truth.

R
Amen, Amen, & Amen!

And thank you for your lovely comments, rmorgan.
alb123
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby alb123 » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:15 am

Did I Ever Love You wasn't my favorite song on my very first run through of this album, but the song has grown on me immensely since that first listen. This is my theory on the song:

The song tells the story of two people who were involved in a relationship, lovers who are together no more. Perhaps there was a terrible ending to their relationship, perhaps a death, perhaps a break-up that just happened for no good reason...
And now the male voice is reminiscing on that relationship... Did I ever love you? Did I ever need you? Did I ever fight you? Did I ever want to? Did I ever leave you? etc... but then the song switches to the female point of view who is also reminiscing on the relationship and she goes through her series of thoughts which happen to be exactly the same as the man's. I think it's a very clever juxtaposition and it hits on a theme frequently found in Leonard's body of work. The inability to communicate our feelings of love and despair, of wanting and needing someone. In this imagined scenario, if the two lovers really feel this way then what the heck happened that caused them to no longer be together?! I guess that is the ultimate question and I think that the repeated lyrics are brilliant to drive that point home.

I'm still shaping my theory on what this song is about, but the proceeding paragraph is the jist of it. I'm thinking that both parties are still longing for each other, although they probably haven't seen or heard from one another in a very, very long time. This is something I can actually relate to in my personal life and the song really hits me in the heart with a sledgehammer as many of Leonard's songs tend to. It is very beautiful and even if I am way off in my interpretation, it still moves me when I think of the song with the meaning that I have given it.

I hope I didn't bore anyone... :lol:
Waterbury, CT - May 14, 2009
Las Vegas, NV - Dec 11, 2010 (Final Show of Leonard's 3 year World Tour) INCREDIBLE!
Boston, MA - Dec 15, 2012 (Best L.C. concert I've been to!)
Tchocolatl
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby Tchocolatl » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:06 am

You interested me. :) I find amazing how it sounds for you. For me, in addition to what I have already said, it is all the contrary. It is fi-nish-ed : "the file on you complete". But in A Thousand Kisses Deep, I had the same feeling that you have for this one, I feel the nostalgia, which is a remain of love, therefore, is still love. It takes time. It lingers. Like a fire that is not fed anymore and is dying naturally.

But in Did I Ever Love You the song (for me) is depicting the light feelings regarding an ex-lover once one is completely out of love. Not a tiny flame, no ember, not even a little smoke. Just a clear sky.

Serenity, even cheerfulness, compared to the passion and its dark joy and tourment. And the scenario can be repeated as many time as one falls in love (passionately). Every new passion is new as new can be.

It can feel strange to experiment falling completely out of love. Ackward at the beginning. Like the song.
***
"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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Diane
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby Diane » Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:38 pm

Did I Ever Love You, with all those pertinent questions, wondering whether it's ever over and whether 'we are still leaning across the old table' reminds me of another question he asked in one of my faves from Book of Longing:
My time is running out
and still
I have not sung
the true song
the great song

[...] why do you lean me here
Lord of my life
lean me at this table
in the middle of the night
wondering
how to be beautiful
The line, "Does it really matter?"reminds me of the zen saying, "Nothing matters, everything matters." That in a nutshell, seems to be the message of the album as a whole.
Last edited by Diane on Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Tchocolatl
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby Tchocolatl » Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:50 pm

Diane, this dimension is certainly a shining side.

The cycle of time, the time passing, passions (of all sorts) tamed by the emotional distance that time allows. Lemon and almond trees growing in California, I do believe this has to do also with the career. He may have used his personal experience to express it but it can be applied for anybody's ambition to achieve whatever goals that are crucial for you when you are young, than it feels not soimportant when you are older.

DID I EVER LOVE YOU

Did I ever love you
Did I ever need you
Did I ever fight you
Did I ever want to

Did I ever leave you
Was I ever able
Are we still leaning
Across the old table

Did I ever love you...

Was it ever settled
Was it ever over
And is it still raining
Back in November

The lemon trees blossom
The almond trees whither
Was I ever someone
Who could love you forever

Was it ever settled
Was it ever over
And is it still raining
Back in November

The lemon trees blossom
The almond trees whither
It’s Spring and it’s Summer
And it’s Winter forever

Did I ever love you
Does it really matter
Did I ever fight you
You don’t need to answer

Did I ever leave you
Was I ever able
Are we still leaning
Across the old table

Did I ever love you...
***
"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
James T
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby James T » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:01 pm

I really don't like it. For me, it is one of his worst since Jazz Police. Wouldn't call it a major misstep though, he's allowed to do what he likes! Love the rest of the album.
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Diane
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Re: Did I Ever Love You - "major misstep"?!

Postby Diane » Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:18 am

I can understand why people don't like this song, or didn't like it at first, because of the the different moods/styles of singing between LC's and the female singers' parts. It reminds me of the different presentations of Nightingale - one on DH and one on Anjani's Blue Alert. I liked Anjani's version far more, as the slower, more serious treatment seemed to fit the song. It seems LC likes to mix 'sad' lyrics and upbeat music sometimes. Maybe he is challenging the assumption that sad things can't be taken lightly?

The lemon trees blossom
The almond trees whither
It’s Spring and it’s Summer
And it’s Winter forever

Hi Tchoc:-) Yes, and this verse in particular sounds like it's about the passing of time, together with the eternal now. (Heightened in meaning since you discovered the delicious wither/whither possibilty in another thread after Codiug noticed it.)
By the way, didn't we meet in another love thread long ago? Was it ever settled?

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