The Darker Album and the Songs

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

Postby hadley » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:53 pm

I must say the CD sounds a lot richer and more 'alive' than original stream. I'm no audio sonic snob by any means but the CD does sound a lot more vibrant with splashes of colour that the stream didn't have for me. The String Reprise at the end sounded almost flat on the stream in comparison to the far richer (and thus moving) sound on the CD.
JudasPriest
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby JudasPriest » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:28 am

Such a graceful album - I like to frame vinyl versions of albums that mean a lot to me and think this puppy will be coming to a wall near me in the coming months.
Bennyboy
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Bennyboy » Tue Nov 01, 2016 11:05 am

JudasPriest wrote:Such a graceful album - I like to frame vinyl versions of albums that mean a lot to me and think this puppy will be coming to a wall near me in the coming months.
It needs to be on a jet black wall.
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Joe Way
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Joe Way » Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:43 am

Well, I don't know if I have many other insights.

The song "Treaty" seems so crucial and is such a beautiful song that I can't help feeling that there is much here for us to ponder on.

I look back to some of Leonard's songs from Various Positions and Ten New Songs that seem to deal with this subject matter. Both "Coming Back to You" and "If it Be Your Will" seem to address Leonard (or the narrator's) position in regard to his feelings about a higher power. The lines about the water and wine seem to take us back to when his view of the Divine trended toward a certain transcendant aspect. Now I would say that Leonard (or the narrator) was involved in a quarrel with his Maker. I still think that the narrator isn't even convinced that it is a valid argument.

"I seen you change the water into wine."

Despite the bad grammar, it certainly indicates that Leonard or the Narrator has participated in a transcendent experience.

"I seen you change it back to water too."

Water is just water when it all come down to it, but the change shakes us up.

"I sit at your table every night" How many of you remember the photo that Lorca took of Leonard on his 70th birthday, holding a glass of ceremonial wine, that she called, "Sabbath Dad."

"I try but I don't get high with you." My Mom who loved wine, gave it up toward the end of her life as it just didn't do it for her anymore.

I still think that this song is a description of an argument between Leonard and his Maker, or Leonard wondering whether his Maker truly has that position.

I've quoted some of these things before. Jim Harrison who Leonard has quoted many times wrote a novel whose main character is dying of ALS. I quote him here:
I could hold a ninety pound corner block out straight and now I can scarcely hold my arm out. These things happen to people but some days it can be hard to handle. So this morning my reality broke down and I wasn’t sure of anything. Just before I got sick I finally made a three day fast, which I’d failed to do four times before I succeeded. What you do is go up into Ontario to a certain mountainside and spend three days without food, shelter or water. I’m not going to talk about my religion because it’s too private. Maybe a little. There’s another hillside from which you can see Lake Superior where I’m going to be buried. You can’t think of a thing that lives that’s not going to die. I had hoped in these three days to find out how I was going to get rid of my fears and how to grow older with grace. I found out in a hurry! Here I am on my way.
I think that Leonard (or his narrator) has begun to intensify his feelings about the end of life. The anger and pain seems to take over the philosophical thoughts that guided him earlier in his journey.

"I'm so sorry for the ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real and that was me."

This passage still mystifies me. I orginally thought it involved a renunciation of the idea of a Supreme Being, but now I'm not sure. Perhaps, it is an apology for attributing the "ghostness" to G-d, but the resolution that "one of us was real-and that was me" still makes me think that the narrator has doubts as well.

I've really given up trying to understand the verse about the snake. I think obviously it relates somehow to original sin, and the the words "born again" resonate in some degree of modernity quite like his line from Democracy-"the heart has got to open in a fundamental way."

"I haven't said a word since you've been gone
That any liar couldn't say as well."

We come down again to who "You" refers to. I really think that it refers to the Maker/Divine. And the next lines explode with longing.

"I just can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground-my safe and sound
You were my aerial."

It seems that the Narrator is feeling somehow betrayed. No wonder a treaty is desired.

This reminds me of one of Leonard's lines from "Book of Longing."

"The Lord is such a monkey when
You’ve got Him on your back."

Doron says that the song is very sad, but it is so beautiful that I find it uplifting. One of my questions involves the movement from "broken to borderline." I heard this as an improvement in the narrator's condition, but I might certainly be wrong.

But if it is an improvement, I believe that the String Reprise/Treaty is an uplifting work that somehow suggests that there is a shot at a treaty between Leonard/the narrator's love and the Lord.

I'll give you one last quote from Rilke who I think has influenced Leonard (in particularly "The Window").
We play with obscure forces, which we cannot lay hold of, by the names we give them, as children play with fire, and it seems for a moment as if all the energy had lain unused in things until we came to apply it to our transistory life and its needs. But repeatedly... these forces shake off their names and rise...against their little lords, no, not even against--they simply rise, and civilizations fall from the shoulders of the earth..
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
DBCohen
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby DBCohen » Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:46 pm

Joe, thanks for your further thoughts on “Treaty”. It is no doubt a kind of dialogue, but not a friendly one (an argument, as you say). The need for a treaty indicates a state of belligerence; however, a treaty cannot be reached: “I wish there was…”.

It may be possible to read the line “Only one of us was real – and that was me” as self-reproaching; he wishes to recognize the absolute as real, but fails to do so. He therefore apologizes for making that reality into a “ghost”. LC has always indicated his being in a state of openness to accept and to serve – down to his most recent appearance at the album’s introduction in LA when asked about “Hineni” (I’m quoting from the video):

“…readiness, whatever the outcome… deep appetite to serve even though we are not able to locate that which we are willing to serve.”

So I guess we must assume that this readiness is still with him, even if in this song he makes the impression of being impatient and unfulfilled.

We can linger on, but perhaps it’s time to move on to the next song (we will probably look at the wider picture once we’ve reached the end).

Incidentally, I’ve just noticed that this is my 10th anniversary on the Forum… I remember fondly the warm welcome I received on joining (after long hesitations whether to do so). So many great experiences since then, and in particular the priceless friendships I would never have been able to strike if not for the Forum. So deep gratitude to all and in particular – again and again – to the “chairman of the party” as LC has dubbed him, the one and only Jarkko, who made it all possible.
Last edited by DBCohen on Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
another
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby another » Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:26 pm

Does anyone else hear a creation story in Steer Your Way?

Steer your path through the pain
That is far more real than you
That smashed the cosmic model
That blinded every view
And please don’t make me go there
Tho’ there be a god or not
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

They whisper still, the ancient stones
The blunted mountains weep
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jerry
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jerry » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:08 pm

"I just can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground-my safe and sound
You were my aerial."

I'm not quite sure why but this verse just sounds awkward and forced to me.The lyrics on the entire album are perfect but this verse sounds like it doesn't belong there.
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
Leonard Cohen
Bennyboy
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Bennyboy » Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:16 pm

another wrote:Does anyone else hear a creation story in Steer Your Way?

Steer your path through the pain
That is far more real than you
That smashed the cosmic model
That blinded every view
And please don’t make me go there
Tho’ there be a god or not
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

They whisper still, the ancient stones
The blunted mountains weep
No, it's about his back problems.
JudasPriest
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby JudasPriest » Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:58 am

jerry wrote:"I just can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground-my safe and sound
You were my aerial."

I'm not quite sure why but this verse just sounds awkward and forced to me.The lyrics on the entire album are perfect but this verse sounds like it doesn't belong there.
It works perfectly to me when interpreted through the Shakespeare character rather than tv image
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jerry
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby jerry » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:18 am

Wouldn't aerial be capitalized if he were referring to Shakespeare? In the official lyrics it's not capitalized.
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
Leonard Cohen
Bennyboy
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Bennyboy » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:41 am

jerry wrote:"I just can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground-my safe and sound
You were my aerial."

I'm not quite sure why but this verse just sounds awkward and forced to me.The lyrics on the entire album are perfect but this verse sounds like it doesn't belong there.
It's one of the best, most naked lyrics in the album. So sorry, but i am diametrically opposed.
Bennyboy
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Bennyboy » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:10 am

Here's a new Rolling Stone piece, which offers a few new crumbs - the tastiest of which is that there are at least 3 songs which could go on the next album... Perhaps 'Happens To The Heart' is one?

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/featu ... ph-w447921
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Joe Way
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Joe Way » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:59 am

Yes, Doron-the Forum has been a wonderful gift, it has changed Anne & my life in a way that I never could have imagined prior to Jarkko's foray into the inter webs back in 1995. I can still fondly remember asking Anne if she would like to visit Hydra, Greece and her enthusiastic reply and then the silence after I added "and meet about 150 to 200 Leonard Cohen fans."

But let's move on to the next song. I wish that I was more proficient and could add an image of Leonard's poem from "Book of Longing"

Dear Roshi,
I'm sorry that I cannot
help you now, because
I met this woman.
On The Level's music was done by Sharon Robinson and it is a light rhythmic treatment done in 6/8 or triple time. The phrase, "on the level" means straightforward, honest. And I think that this describes this song very well.

To me, it sounds like a very straightforward description of one of Leonard's late relationships. He is an aging man who is still desirable to attractive young women. I'm not sure where I read it, but my understanding of Leonard's break-up with Rebecca De Mornay involved her desire for children and his realization that he was past that stage in life and wanted her to have a more age related relationship with someone which would allow her to fulfill that desire.

The narrator certainly pats himself on the back (They ought to give my heart a medal) for his unselfishness about this. The lines about temptation are just great and so "Cohen like."
I was fighting with temptation
But I didn't want to win
A man like me don't like to see
Temptation giving in.
I also admire some of the rhymes.
Your crazy fragrance all around
Your secrets in my view
My lost, my lost was saying found
My don't was saying do
I think musically and dramatically that this song is somewhat of a break after two very powerful, deep songs.

Of course, I could argue that the levels relate to Axis Mundi, but I won't :D
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
JudasPriest
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby JudasPriest » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:10 am

Love the groove on that track and its jauntiness is perfectly placed after the weight of the first two and of course before the might of Leaving the Table announces itself.
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Joe Way
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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Postby Joe Way » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:55 am

JudasPriest wrote:Love the groove on that track and its jauntiness is perfectly placed after the weight of the first two and of course before the might of Leaving the Table announces itself.
Yes, I, too believe that Leaving the Table is a major song, but want to let Doron comment on On The Level before I give my thoughts.

Joe
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."

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