A Request for Mr. Cohen

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by Lostlyric » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:51 pm

Dear Mr. Cohen:

As you probably know *now* better than ever before and better than anyone else on this planet that people do indeed love poetry, especially yours. This has been proven abundantly by now from the sold out (and last minute added on “one more night”) performances that you have are still giving relentlessly throughout the world, with sweet and enduring generosity. To my mind Mr. Cohen the world has finally clued in on your decades old admirers’ well kept (though not closely guarded) secret of a ”Leonard Cohen wavelength”. Perhaps it is one of those new satellites they have put into orbit…that has led the rest of the world to finally tune in. Of course there are admirers, and then there are admirers of your body of work, nay your sensually and spiritually incendiary body of work, which curls and swirls like smoke into realms of mystic abandon. But let me get to the reason I write to you.

On behalf of others like myself, “oppressed by the figures of beauty”, I wanted to request you, implore you …and if necessary grovel before you to please please (twice on purpose) publish some of your songs and poetry in YOUR spoken voice. I have heard your spoken voice many a time and most recently on your “Live in London” track referred to quite simply as “Recitation”. To say nothing of your spoken word version of “Democracy” years ago on the CD titled “The United States of Poetry”. They are all quite incredible.

You can be sure Mr. Cohen that your spoken voice has infinite meanings for the admirers of your work. Perhaps as the few initiated (for lack of a better word) we do not share the view that responds to a singing voice that can hit the high notes etc. etc. Because no one else, truly no one else can compare to your spoken word interpretation of your (or any other poet’s) work in fact. Many of us heard your work from the “Book of Longing” performed by artistes working with Mr. Glass…..it was a disappointment to many of us to say the least…except of course the track you performed. I commented elsewhere on this forum about it and I wasn’t alone in my disappointment. This is another reason for publishing your work in your voice Mr. Cohen. And besides it will be more convenient to do esp. when compared to your present touring.

Through the years your voice has been characterized in many different ways, some not too kind, but others have described it as smoke scarred, whisky soaked, baritone and so on…..but for us the descriptions of your voice have little meaning. We want to hear your voice. We often read of your notoriety for taking years to finish a song because you work and re-work your lyrics over and over until they have given of themselves in a state of surrender and become yours. Publishing your work in your spoken voice will not require re-working as it is already published in print. But it will bring countless hours of joy to millions of us…I am sure there are millions of us by now.

Anyhow, Mr. Cohen my request is simple. And I do not want to take up any more of your time because I know you are incredibly busy with your tour commitments….but from the deepest recesses of my heart (dare I say our hearts…I think I can…) please Mr. Cohen please do publish your work in your spoken voice….ideally with similar stirrings of pregnant music which never quite bursts forth as there are on your performances of “Democracy” and “Recitation”.

In closing I am including an email I sent to you at the beginning of January 2008 which made the same request as I do now. Incidentally, years ago I had shared my thoughts along similar lines in one of my posts on this forum to which others had responded favourably.

With the deepest of ardent hopes that if for nothing else you will publish your poetry and songs in your spoken voice for the sake of poetry if not for admirers of your work.

Thank you for reading Mr. Cohen,

With love and admiration,

Biraj Khosla

From: Incandescent Skylight [mailto:skylight@sympatico.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:18 PM
To: info@5042mail.com
Subject: Requesting Mr. Cohen

Dear Mr. Cohen:

Like millions of others I know you well, very well, or as well as one can from being a lover and admirer of your work for the past 37 years or so. And well.. I am just an e-mail with a sender's name to you :-)

The reason I decided to write to you is that like me all admirers of your work do indeed believe that you have the "gift of the golden voice" (though we know you meant it differently). Is it at all possible for you to publish your poems and ideally all your writings as an audio series *in your voice*. There are many times I have watched the "The Tibetan Book of the Dead " mostly just to hear your narration of the video.

I also found your spoken word version of "Democracy" with some background audio effects hauntingly beautiful. In fact it would also be wonderful if you were to read the work of poets whom you admire, like your friend Irving Layton, and publish those as well. Forgive me, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself here.

Please Mr. Cohen please, do publish some of your writings in your voice. I can assure you that admirers of your work all over the world will embrace your spoken word work as we have embraced all the work you have done over the decades. In fact even if you read the phone book out loud and published it I am sure we would welcome even that. But I earnestly hope that in the foreseeable future you will publish any of your poems in audio read by you.

I will not take any more of your time.

With love and in enraptured admiration of your work,

Biraj Khosla
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by John Etherington » Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:46 pm

What an excellent idea! I can't remember anyone else suggesting this, and yet it's such an obvious thing to do. It would also be a relatively easy way for Leonard to make some money. Some years ago, I wrote to Leonrd suggesting the idea of some poetry performances if he didn't feel up to a full-blown music tour (what did I know?!), yet even then the idea of recording some poems didn't cross my mind. To the best of my knowledge the only thing that exists to date is an unreleased compilation of early poems.

All good things, John E

P.S. One friend has told me that his favourite track on the new live album is the recital of "A Thousand Kisses Deep". Another good example of Leonard's more mature voice reciting verse is "Villanelle for our Time".
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by margaret » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:41 am

A great idea.

I feel sure there would be a market for recordings of Leonard reading his work. There was some discussion a couple of years ago around the time of the Philip Glass production. It seems, if I remember correctly, that Leonard recorded all the poems in Book of Longing to give to Philip Glass for use in his theatrical work. So a couple of cd's are in existence already. It might not take too much work to improve these for a commercial release. That would be a good start, if and when Leonard takes a break from his tour!

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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by linda_lakeside » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:31 am

I too think this is a wonderful idea/request/suggestion. Master Poems works so well for me as it's in the author's own voice. Only the author would know which phrases should be 'emphasized'. It may very well give an entire new meaning to otherwise familiar works. A Thousand Kisses Deep was so very poignant at the 'Hall of Fame' recitation, as it was in the 'author's voice' - thus giving it another layer of meaning. I love the idea, and with 'my' concert ;) coming up, the chance to hear Leonard recite any of his works, thrills me. I think a 'Master Poems' type of recording with new material, would be an addition to all we 'Leonard lovers'. I thought also, that there was talk of the Book of Longing, being a recorded work with Leonard reciting. Not having been at those shows, it would be a very welcomed addition to my collection.

Come to think of it, it was 'Tower of Song' he recited at the Hall of Fame Awards show. But, I have heard 'A Thousand Kisses Deep'. Where? I don't know. All the more reason to have them on a set of discs...they make a an impact one can't forget.
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by Andrew McGeever » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:57 am

This is a wonderful idea/project :D
Everyone should have the opportunity to hear Leonard read "How to speak Poetry", "My Poor top ten", "Democracy", "In the eyes of men", and readings from his first book of poetry, "Let us compare mythologies".
There is so much spoken material which needs to be collated, set on disc for an ever-growing audience who deserve to hear Leonard Cohen, the poet.
Leonard's rendition of "Tower of Song" was his acceptance "speech" when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year: well, that's one for a start 8)
It wouldn't be difficult to produce an official album of Leonard reading Leonard.
No guitars, no backing singers......just the writer reciting his work......dream on.... 8)

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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by lizzytysh » Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:19 am

We did talk about it awhile back here, John... along with the idea of his touring being all about his merely coming on stage and reading/reciting his poetry... and it is something I think of every time I listen to Leonard say anything, speak anything, recite anything. As Biraj has so well said, there is no one ~ no one ~ who can come close to giving Leonard's words the meaning that he can. He gives them eternal life... and that's exactly how it feels when he recites his poetry.

I'm praying along with everyone else that Biraj's pleas and our supporting messages will find their way to Leonard and that he will consider giving us this gift. Especially for someone who has considered himself a poet first and a singer second, please speak to us with your original art, Leonard. Please trust us when we assure you that these cds will find many homes in many hearts all around the world... your poetry will live on best through you. No one could ever do it better.

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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by Steven » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:43 am


I don't want to be greedy, but I'd love to hear recordings by Leonard Cohen, of not
only his own poems, but also those of other poets. But, his own would be
a fine place to start. :) The beauty of his voice, heart and artistry
is a gift... and if it be his will to do so, the recordings would be appreciated
for a long time to come.
Last edited by Steven on Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by linda_lakeside » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:48 am

Yes, Andrew, "speech". So much is being acquired and has been read, refered to and generally enjoyed by all. I would like to have it on disc, so that when I am old, I won't have to get up, and walk across the room to 'do' something. Just put on a day's worth of "speaking". That would be nice.

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~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by linda_lakeside » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:50 am

Hi Steven,

This is a "Leonard forum' :D - you're right. Other poets can come later or in their respective 'fan sites'. I want to hear that 'Golden Voice'. 8)
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by Steven » Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:03 am

Hi Linda,

Leonard reading others would still be Leonard. :D A wonderful thing about some great readers of poetry: their own unique "voices" enter into poems -- their own and those of others. (Of course, others' particular poems have to be compatible with the readers.) So, the "Golden Voice," heart, and artist would all be there in fine glory. :)
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by howthelightgetsin » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:19 am

It would be lovely if this request would become a reality :)
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by anneporter » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:39 am

I echo this plea:
Please release audiobooks of poetry, Mr. Cohen!
Remember, some of your fans are blind!
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by Judy » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:43 am

Oh yes ... that would be REALLY wonderful !!!
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by Paula » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:08 pm

We did discuss this ages ago and decided it would be a good idea but that was when we thought Leonard had given up touring.

I think this is something he should consider when he reaches the twilight of his years not while he is in such fine health and voice.
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Re: A Request for Mr. Cohen

Post by suzanneorange » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:53 pm

Wouldn't he need fine voice to make the recordings?

I think there is no time like the present!

Fingers crossed!

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