The Darker Album and the Songs

Leonard Ciohen's last studio album (2016)
Athnuachan
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Athnuachan » Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:57 pm

Bennyboy wrote:I like how he sings 'fart by fart' in 'Steer Your Way''
What a mischievous suggestion :D Can't help hearing this now that you've mentioned it.
He certainly has a shorter vowel sound for "thought" than we in Ireland would have, here it is more like "thawt". Somehow I think the author of "Beautiful Losers" might enjoy your humorous comment!
Last edited by Athnuachan on Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Unspoken Words » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:15 pm

My third comment on the album this week...what an effect from words and music, unexplainable but divine and continues to touch and bring a physical warmth to my very core of being, soul and thoughts.
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Joe Way
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Joe Way » Sat Oct 29, 2016 12:54 am

Well, I've listened again and again. I've also taken the time to read more carefully everyone else's thoughts here in this thread.

There should always be an attempt to determine what an artist is suggesting by his work, but even more importantly that work can cause a person to have thoughts that really only impinge on that person and his/her situation in life. It is certainly true that this album has touched many people in a very personal way (ProfNowlin and others who have life situations that help them reflect on those aspects of them). Leonard has a history with all of us and in that respect is very personal in his reflections.

Annemieke, your interpretation could most certainly be correct and your earlier thoughts about the more Christian aspects of this album are very interesting.

Judy, my take may be somewhat "out there" but Jubilee's most common definition is the celebration of an event measured in years-such as Diamond Jubilee, Golden Jubilee etc. While we don't know what Jubilee year this would be for the release from the Babylonian Captivity, we do know that involved with the Captivity was the paying of tribute to Nebuchadnezzar-hence my thoughts that this is somehow connected to the line, "We sold ourselves for love, but now we're free."

I would like to take a little more time with the first two songs before I say more. Again, I apologize for taking this down an analytical road so early-I just had so many immediate thoughts about the album-perhaps from having listened to Leonard for 49 years now.
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musicmania
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby musicmania » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:21 am

Joe, Doron, please do continue your analysis, either in this thread, or a new one. Just please don't stop!
Ironically for someone who normally has no problem writing my thoughts, in the case of analysing Leonard's songs I do. It is a testament to the skill of Leonard that his work is so layered, and therefore open to many interpretations. I personally love reading what other people think. It can open the mind, and especially since I am not educated in Judaism, I will always appreciate the lessons from those who are!

What I can say is I am loving this autumn gift from Leonard. Adam and Patrick Leonard have done an amazing production on this album. On initial listen If I Didn't Have Your Love immediately appealed to the nature lover in me! Now many, many listens in I can't pick a favourite, nor can I pick a least favourite. I LOVE every song on this record.

I've listened so many times I was in fear that my neighbour living in the apartment over mine would be losing patience. However, while my own stereo was off one evening I could hear in the distance the songs, and initially thought it was in my own head, but it slowly dawned on me my neighbour was listening to the album! I managed to ask him about it yesterday, and his eyes lit up. He is loving it too! It is no secret how much I love Leonard, for I am known by some in our town as "the Leonard Cohen fan", but the fact my immediate neighbour does too was enlightening! There is also another neighbour who owns a couple of the earlier albums, but now we are three :D
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Judy » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:15 pm

Judy, my take may be somewhat "out there" but Jubilee's most common definition is the celebration of an event measured in years-such as Diamond Jubilee, Golden Jubilee etc. While we don't know what Jubilee year this would be for the release from the Babylonian Captivity, we do know that involved with the Captivity was the paying of tribute to Nebuchadnezzar-hence my thoughts that this is somehow connected to the line, "We sold ourselves for love, but now we're free."
Thank you Joe!
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Goldin » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:13 am

Looks like Traveling Light is a standout:
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jerry » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:30 am

Bennyboy wrote:I like how he sings 'fart by fart' in 'Steer Your Way''
Where in the song do you hear this? I've listened and I don't hear anything close. Maybe if your speakers aren't very detailed or muddy sounding you might think you're hearing this but on a decent set of speakers you can clearly hear thought by thought.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Bennyboy » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:29 am

jerry wrote:
Bennyboy wrote:I like how he sings 'fart by fart' in 'Steer Your Way''
Where in the song do you hear this? I've listened and I don't hear anything close. Maybe if your speakers aren't very detailed or muddy sounding you might think you're hearing this but on a decent set of speakers you can clearly hear thought by thought.
It's definitely fart by fart - I believe Leonard is making a comment about wind powered energy being the best way to 'steer' the world into better times.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Vicomte » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:10 pm

I seem to be on my own here. For me the jury is still out on this album, I will listen at intervals to see if I like it more but as it stands, my own thoughts are that the songs on the new album don't come close to the great stuff Leonard Cohen has written and performed in the past. It's very different but that doesn't make it better but hey, there you go, perhaps for me LC was overdue one that I wouldn't immediately like.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby JudasPriest » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:25 pm

This album feels like Old Ideas done right.


Which is harsh given Old Ideas is a fine album and part of a fairly spectacular late career trilogy (or "run" may be a more accurate term) but it did feel to me to be slightly less than the sum of its parts and a little too stilted in places by comparison with the two that have followed. That said, Amen is magnificent and there are several other highs that go close. However, YWID just feels perfect in so many ways - a richer, smoother cup of biblical tea.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby DBCohen » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:05 pm

I’ll try to convey some of my thoughts regarding the second song, “Treaty”. The music for it was written by LC himself (unlike the first song, credited to Patrick Leonard), and as already noted by some people before, the melody somewhat resembles “Anthem”, although the lyrics are dissimilar.

My impression is that the song implies despair of religion (my take on it might be somewhat different than Joe’s, although we are proceeding somewhat along the same lines). Once again, there is a strong presence of Jesus here (as in songs nos. 1, 3, 7 & 8, at least); the song begins with the famous changing of water into wine, and continues with the unfamiliar changing of it back to water, which is something a simple conjurer at a circus might do but is not expected of God (unless a mischievous one). The third line mentions the table, a very loaded word for LC (as part of his very intimate vocabulary, together with “room”, “window” and a few other words). A table can be a substitute for an altar, so the religious context is invoked, as well as the nights spent in searching (familiar from Book of Mercy and several songs), leading to a disappointment: “I try but I just don’t get high with you”.

The refrain talks about the wish to sign a treaty “between your love and mine”, probably a wish to find a way to reconcile conflicting wills, unsuccessfully. A “treaty” is usually signed between states; the Bible speaks rather of a “covenant” between God and the whole of humanity (Genesis 9:8-17), and later on specifically between him and the Patriarchs, and the People of Israel. LC referred to it in BoM, for example: “Blessed be the covenant of love between what is hidden and what is revealed” (chap. 14, and see also 27); there he seemed somewhat more optimistic than here.

“Jubilee” – In the Bible (Leviticus, 25:8-17, the original Hebrew word is “Yovel”) the Jubilee occurs once every 50 years, and in that year all the slaves should go free and all the fields revert to their original owners. I think that for LC it might have symbolized his release from the shackles of depression, as also expressed in the song “Born In Chains” on the PP album, a song on which he worked for many years, and probably didn’t record until he felt it was truthful. However, here he seems to say that he sold himself into slavery for the love of God, but now that he is released it turns out that only he himself is real; still, he apologizes for making him into a “ghost”, so does he in fact wish to continue the relationship?

“I haven’t said a word…” – the second verse speaks about feeling lost after something that was so safe is gone. “I heard the snake…” – the third verse seems to say that even recognizing your sin is no guarantee for salvation, and there’s no sense in being “born again”.

The song ends on a somber note: “It’s over now, the water and the wine”. I find the following line particularly interesting: “We were broken then, but now we’re borderline”; “broken”, of course, is another of those words very special to LC (I talked about it in Amsterdam in the context of “If It Be Your Will”). In spite of the word’s basically negative meaning, LC regards it positively, as sometimes a desired state to be in. Here this positive state of being broken is also a thing of the past, and instead, now we are “borderline”, neither here nor there.

So on the whole, whichever way we look at it, it is a very sad song, expressing deep disappointment. That said, at least two more points should be made; first, as Joe indicated so aptly, each song should be regarded in the context of the whole album (I’ll have to come back to it later on). Second, the rich imagery, the biblical references and the whole structure of the song give it a sort of pleasant feeling which may even disguise the sadness and compensate for its writer and speaker being “angry” and “tired”. The fact that this song was chosen for the reprise that ends the album with the beautiful string arrangement must be meaningful too. (Of course, it can also be interpreted as speaking about a woman, but that wouldn’t make it happier).
Last edited by DBCohen on Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joe Way
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Joe Way » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:57 pm

"“Jubilee” – In the Bible (Leviticus, 25:8-17, the original Hebrew word is “Yovel”) the Jubilee occurs once every 50 years, and in that year all the slaves should go free and all the fields revert to their original owners. I think that for LC it might have symbolized his release from the shackles of depression, as also expressed in the song “Born In Chains” on the PP album, a song on which he worked for many years, and probably didn’t record until he felt it was truthful. However, here he seems to say that he sold himself into slavery for the love of God, but now that he is released it turns out that only he himself is real; still, he apologizes for making him into a “ghost”, so does he in fact wish to continue the relationship?"

Thank you, Doron-we are so fortunate to have your knowledge and insight of the Bible and how it relates to Leonard's work.

I'll write a little more about "Treaty" after I've listened and thought about it a bit more.

Joe
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Bennyboy » Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:15 pm

49 years since his debut album, and the ghost is surely of the Holy variety by implication.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Malcolmpordes » Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:59 am

This is the first album of his since Songs of Love and Hate that's brought me to tears on the first listening. Beautiful.
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby hadley » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:48 pm

Annemieke wrote:
Joe Way wrote: Then comes a really important passage “I’m sorry for the ghost I made you be. Only one of us was real and that was me.”

If indeed, he is talking to the “creator” this represents the “doubt” that the whole story isn’t real. Only the narrator is real.
I read this part as that he used to make a ghost of God in his past, with God not actually being real in his mind. And that he now apologises for this.
Most of the time when I hear this I think of it myself as a more straightforward point where the singer makes a woman out to be something in his mind that she isn't (I guess we all have different images of people in our minds to what they really are) although recently I thought maybe it also works from the perspective of God or the Self making a 'ghost' out of the person in terms of an ego which isn't the 'true self' and which causes suffering.

I love the way a lot of Leonard's work sounds so personal and yet at the same time is so ambiguous that listeners themselves have many different interpretations of what things mean ; it almost invites the listener to participate in the creative process for his or herself and sometimes leads to profound discoveries about things which the listener may not be capable of making solo. Which IMO is almost another form, or at least another level, of art itself.

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