My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Everything about Leonard's 2006 book of poetry and Anjani's album
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Joe Way
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My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by Joe Way » Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:20 am

At the outset, I want to say that I am not writing this to try to make anyone a fan of either, Philip Glass or Leonard Cohen. I’m simply trying to express my own experience with this work. I’m not a trained music professional-at best I’ve had a rudimentary course in music theory and a course on introduction to symphony. My own poor musical endeavors are simply for the possible enjoyment of a few friends and family.

Though with all that said, I have to say that music as an art form is thoroughly the equal of literature or visual arts. Further more there is such a close connection with so many concepts that dominate the heart of all of these works. I’ve talked a lot (probably too much) about Northrop Frye’s theories in our thread about “Book of Mercy” and I’ll refer to it here as well.
The whole texture of music so lends itself to the notion of levels of reality that one can’t help but notice how artists use these concepts to script and illustrate their particular visions. With music, one has the musical scale ranging from high to low, the instruments give their particular coloration to a work, the pace and rhythmic structure place the work in time and space and indicate a sort of placement that fixes a work and gives it a particularity with which one can, hopefully, identify.

Glass’s “Book of Longing” (BoL) begins with the prologue and it seems to me that it contains most of the themes both musically and poetically that are explored throughout this work.

Glass establishes a musical figure that is really not a true arpeggio but is a two note alternating theme. It is, like almost all of the work, in duple or 4/4 time-sort of like a march or a long walk. This is distinguished from much of Leonard’s work which is in triple time or 3/4 or some variation. Duple time seems much more like a progression-one can almost decern footfall after footfall leading from one point to another. Perhaps a bit like Monks marching as we’ve seen in some movies from Mount Baldy. And, indeed, Leonard’s opening poem seems to suggest a lifelong journey. One of the more curious aspects of Leonard’s poem is the transistion to female gender:
My animal howls
My angels upset
But I’m not allowed
A trace of regret

For someone will use
What I couldn’t be
My heart will be hers

She’ll step on the path
She’ll see what I mean
My will cut in half
And freedom between.
I’m not sure if the female gender refers to the animal, the angel, or some third entity. All this is portrayed in a minor key, with rapid accompaniment-that sounds portentous, establishing serious notes that would signal a major work.

The next work, “I Came Down From The Mountain” starts, of course, with a line that establishes a serious Biblical reference that echoes Moses coming down from the mountain with the law. The line is delivered by the baritone/bass voice that I suspect is most associated with Leonard’s own voice. It also pauses to re-introduce a variation of the musical figure that sounds appropriately like a person descending down an incline. Then, at about the time that the lines:
in the old cabin
where I had sat so long
and slept so little,
A bell is introduced. This one is probably electronic from one of the keyboards but as the song progresses, a triangle is struck which recurs frequently. It reminds me of the bell struck that we hear in either one of the Stina interviews or the Armelle Brusq movie that calls the monks. We will hear this frequently in many parts of the work and it remains a strong part of the overall musical theme. I think we will also find the notion of sleep repeated often-probably as a symbol of changing realms.

The next song, “A Sip of Wine” starts out in the same portentous manner, with the alto, Tara Hugo taking the lead. The opening words to this song are perhaps the most unpoetic, jarring lines that Leonard has ever written. And to hear a trained voice singing, “I tidied up the kitchenette...I’m back on boogie street” so adds to the contrast that if one wasn’t Leonard Cohen or Philip Glass who chose this particular poem one would question the credentials that placed them as lyricist and composer! I suspect that when the vocalists were practising, that these lines were used as a joke to poke fun at themselves and the work. Add to this that it is a very long song and one wonders how so much space could be used up by this. But gradually Tara sings, “Bewildered by your beauty there I kneeled to dry your feet” and the language begins to rise up out of this morass. Then suddenly, the most crucial moment of the first part takes place and the whole ensemble sings:
So come my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
in love we disappear.
Tho’ all the maps of blood and flesh
are posted on the door,
there’s no one who has told us yet
what Boogie Street is for.
At this point the music soars, As a quick aside, when “Ten New Songs” came out, Marie used these lines in her email annnoucing the work because they are so beautiful and they speak so directly to what is at the heart of Leonard’s work. The early parts of the song resonate in the bass range with contra bass and English horn. It would be impossible to talk about the music without acknowledging the greatness of the poems. These lines, which introduce the theme of death or more properly disapperance, focus around the tale from Exodus how God “passed over” the homes of the Israelites who marked their doors with blood from the sacrificed lamb. Musically, at this point there is movement toward the treble clef by the chorus that seems to indicate a move from one realm to another. But the underlying bass is still present and predominent throughout the song. There is a musical interlude that changes the musical figure from a basic duple time structure to a synchopated phrase. This is a close as it gets to the 3/4 time signature that characterizes Leonard’s songs like “Dance Me To The End of Love” or “Take This Waltz.”

Right after this song, Glass gives us the first extended instrumental break done in this case by the cellist, Wendy Sutter. The cello bridges the gap between the low range and the high range and the first part of the piece examines the lower registers. However, it ends with the cello reaching its highest range and just before the end, there is a distinctive dissonant note. (Another aside here-the visual aspects of Leonard’s drawings were, of course a very prominent part of the whole production-Lizzytych recounted how someone she spoke with remembered that there was a nude in a mastabatory posture during this interlude that would add additional meaning to this phase).

After this interlude, we get Leonard’s first light poem:
The Paris sky is
blue and bright
I want to fly
with all my might

Her legs are long
Her heart is high
The chains are strong
but so am I
This reading, done in Leonard’s voice, serves as a bridge to those higher transcendental realms, but includes the elements of comedy that so often characterize Leonard’s work.

This is followed by “The Light Came Through The Window” which in many ways is the first dramatic climax of the work. We have certainly reached the upper levels symbolized by the use of the higher range instruments like the flute. The first introduction of the key phrase,
I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself was gone
is sung by the soprano, Dominique Plaisant. It is then echoed, later in the piece by the bass/baritorne, Daniel Keeling. The music is ethereal and signals a breakthrough from the narrative voice of the poet. The poem is so key to an understanding of Leonard’s work that I would like to add something that I’ve recently read that I think says in a different way, what Leonard is saying in this great poem. It is from “Returning to Earth,” a novel by Jim Harrison about the protagonist, Donald, who is part Indian and part Finnish descent, and is dying of Lou Gerhig’s disease; it is written in Donald’s voice:
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.
So Leonard the poet, tries to tell us a little more about these so private experiences that one needs to go to the mountain to learn about. And the music is appropriately ambiguous, mixed with luscious overtones and atonal dissonance.

Next comes a complete divergence in both rhythm, tone and philosophy-”Puppet Time.” After the transcendental passages of the last piece, this song shocks us back to another realm. With heavy percussion, strident tempo and interludes that re-enforce the strong arpeggio structure of the song, “Puppet Time” serves as a sonic wake up call in the midst of this work. Despite its powerful delivery, it seems to somehow let eveyone off the hook. “Puppet Germans, puppet Jews” and its reference to the Holocaust seems to reduce the sense of personal responsibility. The last two stanzas:
Puppet reader
shakes his head
takes his puppet
wife to bed

Puppet night
comes down to say
the epilogue to
puppet day
is delivered in a slower more sedate voice by the tenor, Will Erat. Taking the wife to bed might be the antidote and the epilogue to puppet day.

The next song, “G-d Opened My Eyes” has become my favorite song on the first cd. The lovely music of the strings with the English horn playing counterpoint along with the light hearted but insightful lyrics is wonderful. The imagery reverts back to so much of Leonard’s earlier work-most especially the line “and the merest foothills of her small breasts” to his line from Spice Box of Earth: "Beneath my hands / your small breasts / are the upturned bellies / of breathing fallen sparrows" but seen repeated in multiple image in the mirrors of the restaurant. All of the imagery is spacial and the line “turned me like a spindle” along with the music is extraordinary. I love the culmination of the association of the ruler of the world (G-d, perhaps) and the waitress who calls him, “Honey..”

Then there is the brief spoken word piece:
You go your way
I’ll go your way too
which we are not sure to whom it is addressed and it is this peculiar ambiguity that lends it its charm.

This is followed by another tour de force poem, “I Was Doing Something.” The song is divided musically into three parts-the first part is done as a choral with the soprano, tenor and bass singing mostly about an uncertainty that the narrator can’t quite place:
I was doing something
I don’t remember what
I was standing in a place
I don’t remember where
I was waiting for someone
but I don’t remember who
it was before or it was after
I don’t remember when
And suddenly or gradually
I was removed. I was taken
to this place of reversal
and I was separated
and in the place of every part
there was the name of fear
and for a vast memorial
there was the name of grief
This dramatic narration that moves indistinctly toward fear and grief and mentions a vast memorial mirrors the fears that live in the hearts of the human race. As this section ends, there is a musical interlude that includes beautiful string sections with an underlying structure that at one point includes three beats, then four.

The next section is sung by the soprano in a very beautiful fashion:
If you know the prayer
for one who has been so dislocated
please say it or sing it
and if there is among the words
an empty space or among the letters
an orchard of return
please say my name firmly there
with a voice or hand
which only you command
you righteous ones
who are concerned with such matters
I don’t know a lot about Kabbalism but I suspect that Doron could highlight some of these passages. My only comments aside from the lushness of the musical arrangement at this point, is that the antidote to fear and grief seems to come with the prayer that needs to be spoken in a particular manner-and firmly. I don’t know what is meant by an “orchard of return” but it seems a beautiful concept.

There is then another musical interlude with a strong bass line and the return of another variation of the predominant musical figure that seems to charge now rather than simply walk.
But hurry please
for all the parts of me
that gathered briefly around this plea
are dispersed again
and scattered on the Other Side
where the angels stand upside down
and everything is covered with dust
and everyone burns with shame
and no one is allowed to cry out
When the soprano sings “where the angels stand upside down and everything is covered with dust” there is a beautiful mix of dissonance and melody. I’m sure that it is classic Glass moment. And look how this harkens back to “The light came through the window” where even the dust is busy in the sunlight. But the poet adds those last two lines about shame and the permission to cry out that returns us again to this world, this realm. The bass is very strong in this section.

I’m going to stop here for now and I’ll continue within a few days.

Last edited by Joe Way on Sat Dec 12, 2020 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by DBCohen » Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:03 pm


What an impressive work, thank you very much for it. Unfortunately, I don’t have the music yet, but once I get hold of it, I’ll follow it with your introduction. And it was a pleasure to read even without knowing the music. Thanks again.
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by Diane » Tue Jan 01, 2008 9:59 pm

Wow, Joe. At last I have some idea of what Glass was trying to convey. Like you, "portentious" was a word I used to describe the feeling of some of the music. The singing was not to my taste and switched me right off, but I will listen with the sound down, by reading the rest of your posts with interest. Thanks.
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by Joe Way » Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:37 am

Hi Doron & Diane,

If this has any value as a guide, it would be an extreme bonus. I've mostly been waiting for people to tell me how full of shit they think I am. Music is such an emotional issue and the process with which we decide what we "like" and "don't like" is much more involved than this poor intellectualizing seems to provide.

After re-reading my post, I think that I have not given enough credence to the humor that both Glass & Cohen have imbued within the work. It is, of course, quite easy to see Leonard's lightheartedness, but I am not as confident in talking about the musical notation of humor. For one instance, a composer of Glass's stature certainly knows what "portentiousness" involves. It is certainly as clear as Leonard using that non-poetic language in "A Sip Of Wine." For them to intentionally put these characteristics into the work seems to me that they will use it as a counterpoint or contrast to some future aspect. As I mentioned, the whole notion of a trained voice singing something like "my own asshole" which appears in a song on the 2nd cd, is startling and certainly intentional-which to me indicates a strong desire to provide a contrast with what one would consider traditional "classical" music. How one translates these contrasts into musical phrases that provide humor is something that I am working on. Movie music, in which Glass is an expert, is certainly a good example. How can one, not be affected by the music in a cliff hanger? These things become conventions and composers are able to play with our expectations and provide a reversal which might cast a whole new light on a scene. I remember reading somewhere how Leonard watched, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" before the musical soundtrack had been added. From what I remember-he hated it and couldn't understand how he had been convinced to be a part of it. Once he saw the finished work with the soundtrack intact, he realized not only what a good movie it was, but how his songs helped create the atmosphere that was such a crucial part of the whole experience.

I listened to the 2nd cd today on my way to go cross country skiing with my daughter, Emily and her husband, Jim, and I haven't even finished talking about the first cd, but I absolutely love this work.

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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by lizzytysh » Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:49 pm

. . . but I absolutely love this work
Hi Joe ~

This is, again [as it was with Kush's comments], very encouraging. In an odd little way, it reminds me of when I had a job selling furniture. People would [for example] sit in a chair and have a bit of a confused look on their face as to what to think about that one vs. the others of the same, general type. As soon as I started to say, "Notice how you/your . . . " with pointing out positive features of the particular chair, as it related to their sitting experience or the visuals, they would relax and smile and say, "Oh, you're right! It does!" since 'now' they had something specific on which to focus their attention. It was amazing the difference it made. As they went on, if I weren't already doing it, they would begin to ask for my opinion on one vs. another. From what I'm seeing here, you may not be trying to 'sell' a product, but sometimes the appreciation process is enhanced simply by knowing how to focus on and frame specific aspects. Thanks for your time, attention, and observations, Joe.

~ Lizzy
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by Diane » Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:56 am

Joe, the only Glass music I had heard and paid attention to before the BoL Glass concerts was the score to The Hours movie, and I thought at the time I saw it that the music was very important to the atmosphere the film; that it 'made' the film, even (similar to Leonard's experience that you mention), and I liked it a lot. So, although I don't like the Glass production of LC I am still interested in how he enhanced BoL for people who did enjoy it. I would have liked to have been able to appreciate this 'gestalt' production of LC, so I guess I'm trying to do it vicariously. Keep going, do.
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by blonde madonna » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:25 am

Diane wrote:I would have liked to have been able to appreciate this 'gestalt' production of LC,
What a perfect word to use Diane. :D

Joe, I am enjoying your breakdown of the music. I have the chance to familiarise myself with the music before I see the live production here, although I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing. I was only familiar with Glass's film scores before listening to this but I don't dislike it. 'Want to fly' with the cello is an immediate favourite, and 'I enjoyed the laughter'. I like the way Glass has provided these beautiful segues into Cohen's little snippets.
Joe wrote:Then there is the brief spoken word piece:

You go your way
I’ll go your way too

which we are not sure to whom it is addressed and it is this peculiar ambiguity that lends it its charm.
I can’t read/hear the lines without thinking of a song by an Aussie band ‘Mental as Anything’ called If you leave me can I come too? so I think he is addressing a woman (in the book the poem has the title The Sweetest Little Song) but it could as well be Roshi.

the art of longing’s over and it’s never coming back

1980 -- Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by Joe Way » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:20 am

Hi Blonde Madonna,

You are right, "Gestalt" is an excellent word for Glass's treatment-though I've looked a bit into his background and learned that he spent six months as a crane operator for Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore to pay for his extended education. I can imagine how operating that crane influenced his notion of arpeggios or things going up and down. I also learned that Glass supported himself as a plumber and cab driver in NYC, even as he was writing his early masterpiece works. There are a couple of great stories that I read-one of how after the premier of "Einstein on the Beach" he gave a matron a ride in his taxi and she looked as his name as the driver of the taxi and commented that there was also a great young composer by the same name! Another story that I read involved a famous critic, who after reviewing one of his works, recognized him while he was installing a dishwasher in his apartment and said with great concern, "Philip, How can I help?" Philip reportedly replied that he could get out of the way so he could finish the installation and move to the next job.

I've had to take a little break based on some personal situations, but I should be able to continue my contorted analysis shortly. Just as an aside, Blonde Madonna-I love your take on things! Great to have you here.

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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by dick » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:24 pm

We are all lucky to have your insights Joe. I find them brilliant. Please continue as time allows.
Thanks good friend!
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by Joe Way » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:26 am

Well, here I am again-after a long break-with more personal impressions. Thanks to Dick and Lizzy, in particular for your interest in this.

The “Not a Jew” poem is certainly brilliant in the way that it mutes the criticisms of both those camps who hold that Leonard is a closet Christian because of his interest in Jesus. Those Jews who feel uncomfortable with “Jesus” in his work are answered directly as are any Christians who feel that Leonard has gone over to that side.

What is particularly interesting in the musical afterthought is that it seems to indicate a musical curiousity in the treble cleff with a plodding bass footfall. This seems so indicitive of the path that Leonard has chosen to explore-deeply Jewish themes and inquisitive ventures into the teachings of Jesus and Zen Buddhism.

The next song, “How Much I Love You,” starts out in the same constant footfall pattern that is introduced earlier and replicated in the preceding instrumental interlude. Over this rhythmic pattern, the bell makes its arbitrary presence known. After establishing this pattern in the first two stanzas, the tone changes to reflective over this verse:
Yes, I have given up a lot things
in the last few minutes
including the great honour
of saying I love you.
The music changes briefly to the footfall pattern and then resumes the reflective tone on this verse:
I’ve become thin and beautiful again
I shaved off my grandfather’s beard
I’m loose in the belt
and tight in the jowl.
Then the music changes again to a subtle tone with some dissonant notes:
Crazy young beauties
still covered with the grime
of ashrams and shrines
examines their imagination
in an old man’s room.
It devolves more over this verse:
Boys change their lives
in the wake of my gait
anxious to study
elusive realities
under my hypnotic indifference
Another dramatic musical change takes place over the verse:
The brain of the whale
crowns the edge of the water
like a lurid sunset
but all I ever see
And then more dramatic change at this puzzling passage:
is you or You
or you in You
or You in you
Of course, musically we are not permitted to notice the changes in capitalization. But it sets up beautifully this great comic, yet truthful confession:
Confusing to everyone else
but to me
total employment
The footfall pattern resumes (and the bell) and the comic image of the young having been introduced to the young danc(ing) away in misery (what a great self-deprecating image!). And the poem and song ends with the mystery of the Arabian sea and how another poet gets to say “how much I love you.” It makes me wonder if this poem was written for Anjani.

The next song is “Babylon” which was given its own musical treatment on “Ten New Songs” as “By The Rivers Dark.” I would encourage anyone who has the sufficient curiousity to read Judith Fitzgerald’s “Notes on the Making of a Masterpiece” for what it has to say about the relation of this song with Dante’s “Commedia,” in particular the “rivers dark” relation to the rivers of hell. The musical treatment is, not surprisingly similar to the dark version on Ten New Songs. In keeping with the spirit of the axis mundi from Northrop Frye-that vertical line that divides the cosmos-we would certainly find ourselves groveling around the bottom right now. In fact, it reminds me of an old joke-the punch line is-”well, you are really not going to like Wednesdays!”

The Psalm it is based on is Psalm 137 which states:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion
It is concerned with the exile and and, in this case, with those who have become comfortable with the circumstances of the exile.

The song begins with a choral treatment and a strong bass line. At the fifth verse, the alto sings:
and he covered me
and I saw within
my lawless heart
and my wedding ring

I did not know
and I could not see
who was waiting there
who was hunting me
Then there is a very strong descending intstrumental break that takes the listener ever lower to those gates of purgartory and hell.

The music becomes intense-”and he struck my heart with a deadly force” and the next line is punched out: “and he said, ‘This heart it is not yours.’””

The song regains its musical composure, and adds the line “and he circled me with everything”-that line that evokes so clearly both the observation of the world and the relationships that the mind by necessity must create to place the world in context. The bass/baritone sings wonderfully on this part of the album and how can one not be affected by the notion of the beauty of “a wounded dawn.”

There is probably much more to say about both this poem and musical treatment, but let’s move on to the next violin musical interlude.

I can’t help but associate this with Itzhak Perlman and the music from Shindler’s List. I have no poetic reason, but the musical treatment reminds me so much of this very dramatic and affecting music. It is primarily descending, but there are times when the quick notes (which must be 64th notes) take over and dramtically infuse the work with a vigor that helps an audience regain its sense of action.

After this infusion of energy, Leonard is heard reciting his poem, “I Enoyed The Laugter.” I think that the two notions of welcome and duration (but I won’t staying here for long), with its admonition of “You won’t be either” is not only directed to old poets but those mis-directed souls (like me) who care about these arcane matters. Very soon we find ourselves placed back into the mainstream of life with all of its panorama of sensual events.

The next song, “This Morning I Woke Up Again”, is a true “Tour de force” both lyrically and musically. Dick Straub recently posted a great piece that includes an interview with Philip Glass that mentions this song. The quotations from Glass are very informative:
Glass and Cohen share a Jewish heritage and both are drawn to different strands of Buddhism. Cohen, Glass says, has retained Jewish traditions alongside Buddhism, and his poems and lyrics refer to them. One poem that Glass has set to music, but which isn't in the book(not true-it is in the book-JW), describes Jewish custom: "This morning I woke up again/ I thank my Lord for that/ The world is such a pigpen/ That I have to wear a hat."

"If you've ever wondered why people wear these hats," Glass says, "well, he's just told you. These things are surprising, because you never thought of them that way. I've heard other explanations, that you're supposed to have something between you and the divine. But his explanation was far more descriptive: it's a way of separating yourself from the samsara. A Zen teacher might have called it samsara, he calls it a pigpen.
Musically it is infused with two rhythms that somehow compliment each other. One of the rhythms is the march tempo that Leonard used in “Democracy” but there is also another rhythm (and couterpoint is not the correct term since it seems that they arrive at the same place but in different time). This song is so energized that the musical treatment made me grin while hearing it for the first time in Toronto. It was at this point that I knew that Glass had truly created a work that not only worked well with Leonard’s poem but exhibited a deep understanding of his work.

The line:
The Lord is such a monkey when
You’ve got Him on your back.
is so delightful with its sense of the bother that spirituality can inflict on all these flesh & blood frames that souls are forced to carry with them-that it still makes me laugh out loud whenever I hear it.

I am really curious about the line, “May E crash into your temple” and at first thought it might be a misprint, but it is the same in the book. I don’t know if it has to do with Jewish tradition or is related to Einstein’s “E” that equals MC squared.

The arpeggios are seen in their most dominant form right here-the musical figure is complete with its round shape with descriptive trills and repetive pattern. Love=despise (And make you fall in love/With everybody you despise), how could anyone hearing this not believe that Leonard creates such joy in “allowing Him to live.”

“I Want To Love You Now” is a rich musical dessert. The rhythm pattern is standard with with the rhyming pattern of:


Here is a good spot to point out how different this work is from traditional popular song. The poem, itself, has a regular rhyme and rhythm. Ordinarily this would result in a work that has verse, refrain, verse (etc.) to add a certain emphasis. Perhaps there would be a portion that would serve as a bridge to add musical interest. Glass, however, treats this in a very straightforward fashion. The poem is treated as it appears on the page. The variations appear verse to verse in a subtle way. The first two verses seem to form a certain musical statement, but by the time that we reach the third verse some things begin to change musically so that there is a subtle yet recognizable change between the pattern of the first two verse. By the time we reach the 5th verse, it is clear that, not only are there are variations, but that the changes keep adding to a growing richness that is continually introduced into the music.

In the 11th verse, the line, “I see that we are meant for change/Though every atom’s free” begins a certain dissonance again. Then remarkably, the line is repeated (by Leonard) and the musical treatment rights itself to deliver the lines:
And even beauty keeps an edge
As one can plainly see
The final two verses are almost iconic in their musical beauty-the first delivered by the tenor-then the second by the bass/baritone. All this beauty about summer, autumn and juicy feasts-and forming again which echos the pattern of the dust mites from “Love, Itself.” Then, what rarely happens-the two verses are repeated in an even richer, more beautiful fashion.

Poetically, I would like to point out some relationships with “The Traitor” as a reintroduction of the “rose” and the “yawn” that got them through the summer. This summer has “your golden hair” and the autumn has “your ghost.” I haven’t figured out the meaning of all this, but this is one of my favorite songs in the work and I think Glass’s treatment is outstanding.

Dramatically, the two songs, “This Morning I Woke Again” and “I Want To Love You Now” begin the crescendo of emotion that help define the structure of this work. The prettiness and melodic musical treatment seem to draw one in at this point and capture one’s attention for the concluding parts of the work.

I’m going to pause here now and I hope to return soon and finish this.

"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by dick » Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:45 am

Please keep them coming Joe!
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by dar » Wed Feb 06, 2008 6:04 am

I want to add my appreciation for all the effort you are putting into these posts re the Glass production.
I like your insight into this work. Thanks!

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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by lazariuk » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:34 pm


I too am one who appreciates all that you have done to make the work more accessible. I have no knowledge of the makings of music and hearing Glass at first sent me for a bit of a loop with how unexpected was his treatment of Cohen. You are helping me come to grips with it.

You wrote:
I am really curious about the line, “May E crash into your temple” and at first thought it might be a misprint, but it is the same in the book. I don’t know if it has to do with Jewish tradition or is related to Einstein’s “E” that equals MC squared.
If that is the E that Leonard is referring to and it leads to making you fall in love with everyone you despise then I think it is worth being accurate with the wording.
People say that E = MC squared but what is more accurate is E = MC to the second power. The square was an arbitrary choice used because some wanted the cube to stand for volumetric unity. The choice could have been the tetrahedron and then we wouldn't be saying "MC squared".
E operates in a second power way and that is why the attracting part of E is multiplied by 4 when you divide distance by 2. You can try this at home or at the office. Cut the distance in half between you and someone you dispise and see if the attraction between the 2 is fourfolded.
Everything being said to you is true; Imagine of what it is true.
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by dick » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:06 pm

At last

Instead of the usual warning, "You CAN try this at home!"

Thanks Jack :D
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Re: My take on the BoL (Glass) cd

Post by lazariuk » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:22 pm

Dick wrote:At last

Instead of the usual warning, "You CAN try this at home!"
Thanks Jack :D
Glad you enjoyed that Dick but the advice probably should come with SOME warnings. You probably want to figure out how far away you are before cutting any distance in half and that might involve getting far enough away that the person quites saying "Get the fuck out of my face Jack" Maybe far enough so that what once felt like boulders dropped on toes now feels like the sand at the beach.

May all your bitches, I mean beaches, be sandy
Everything being said to you is true; Imagine of what it is true.
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