Posthumous album

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DBCohen
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Posthumous album

Postby DBCohen » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:00 pm

It’s been quite a while since I last contributed to the Forum or initiated a new thread, but lately I’ve been feeling the need to say the following.

It is so good to hear LC’s voice in new songs, and to expect the coming album. Still, I am probably not the only one to have certain reservations. The new album will not be “by Leonard Cohen” in the strict sense of the word. LC was always very meticulous in working on each song and album and on getting everything just right. When he was not satisfied with a song, he would suppress it for years or abandoned it completely. The coming album will be based on sketches in his own voice, but he did not have the chance to complete the music, and certainly not to see to the arrangements and everything else. As indicated by some people already, we can’t even be sure that the lyrics we are hearing are in fact the final lyrics he would have used on the album had he had the chance to work on it as he always did. So, while I’ll no doubt be thrilled to hear these new creations, I will always have to place an asterisk next to the album’s title.

And as for the video version of “Happens To The Heart”, my reservations are even stronger. In principle there is no problem when video artists find inspiration in a certain LC song and create their own images, but we must not be given the impression that this is an “official” release, because LC had nothing to do with it, unlike previous promotional videos in which he was involved in creating them. More importantly, what does this video wish to say? It is indeed beautifully shot, but what is the idea behind it? And how does it reflect LC’s ideas, if at all? Why does the figure in it shed a certain outfit (which I will not try to label, although the intention seems clear) in favor of another (supposedly Buddhist), and not, for example, the other way around? And why does this change of outfit lead to the figure’s levitation? Does this New-Agey, “spiritual” treatment of the song do justice to what LC had to say? Personally, I don’t think so.

I realize these things cannot be avoided, but it saddens me somewhat. Undoubtedly it is merely the tip of the iceberg when thinking of what happens to the legacy of a deceased artist and how people all along the coming generations are going to use it and abuse it. I will await the coming album and will listen to it carefully, but I hope there will be no more videos; at least not “official” ones.
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Geoffrey
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby Geoffrey » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:13 pm

DBCohen wrote:
>And as for the video version of “Happens To The Heart”, my reservations are even stronger. In principle there is no problem when video artists find inspiration in a certain LC song and create their own images, but we must not be given the impression that this is an “official” release, because LC had nothing to do with it, unlike previous promotional videos in which he was involved in creating them. More importantly, what does this video wish to say? It is indeed beautifully shot, but what is the idea behind it? And how does it reflect LC’s ideas, if at all? Why does the figure in it shed a certain outfit (which I will not try to label, although the intention seems clear) in favor of another (supposedly Buddhist), and not, for example, the other way around? And why does this change of outfit lead to the figure’s levitation? Does this New-Agey, “spiritual” treatment of the song do justice to what LC had to say? Personally, I don’t think so.
----------------------------------
part of the video is directly taken from the brilliant 2015 movie 'youth' (fast forward to 1:10).
https://youtu.be/bkjcrw1kNDI
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby LisaLCFan » Sun Oct 27, 2019 5:17 pm

DBCohen wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:00 pm
...The new album will not be “by Leonard Cohen” in the strict sense of the word... So, while I’ll no doubt be thrilled to hear these new creations, I will always have to place an asterisk next to the album’s title...
Anyone familiar with Leonard Cohen and his work -- as well as his work ethic -- will know that, and thus will also place that asterisk there. Most of us around here, I should think, are under no delusions about this new album and its provenance.

As far as I can ascertain, nobody has tried to present this new album as anything other than what it is: a labour of love by Adam Cohen and others (some of whom have worked with Leonard previously), to bring to fruition these formerly unfinished songs in a way that will honour and respect the style and integrity (and legacy) of Leonard Cohen. Based on the two tracks thus far released, I would say that they have accomplished that task admirably, tastefully, and beautifully, in ways that, to me, seem to capture the essence of Leonard Cohen's work.

As for the video, I did not actually watch it -- to me, it has nothing to do with the music.
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WiTS
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby WiTS » Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:38 am

DBCohen wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:00 pm
And as for the video version of “Happens To The Heart”, my reservations are even stronger. In principle there is no problem when video artists find inspiration in a certain LC song and create their own images, but we must not be given the impression that this is an “official” release, because LC had nothing to do with it, unlike previous promotional videos in which he was involved in creating them. More importantly, what does this video wish to say? It is indeed beautifully shot, but what is the idea behind it? And how does it reflect LC’s ideas, if at all? Why does the figure in it shed a certain outfit (which I will not try to label, although the intention seems clear) in favor of another (supposedly Buddhist), and not, for example, the other way around? And why does this change of outfit lead to the figure’s levitation? Does this New-Agey, “spiritual” treatment of the song do justice to what LC had to say? Personally, I don’t think so.
I guess the director of this video doesn't know that Zen somehow didn't work that well on Leonard. And that levitation is certainly a laughable part. :lol:
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lschwart
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby lschwart » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:56 pm

DBCohen wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:00 pm
And as for the video version of “Happens To The Heart”, my reservations are even stronger. In principle there is no problem when video artists find inspiration in a certain LC song and create their own images, but we must not be given the impression that this is an “official” release, because LC had nothing to do with it, unlike previous promotional videos in which he was involved in creating them. More importantly, what does this video wish to say? It is indeed beautifully shot, but what is the idea behind it? And how does it reflect LC’s ideas, if at all? Why does the figure in it shed a certain outfit (which I will not try to label, although the intention seems clear) in favor of another (supposedly Buddhist), and not, for example, the other way around? And why does this change of outfit lead to the figure’s levitation? Does this New-Agey, “spiritual” treatment of the song do justice to what LC had to say? Personally, I don’t think so.
I agree with the reservation expressed above. I don't see any connection between the narrative of the video and what the song has to say, and I think it's also an example of a tendency some listeners have--a tendency to see something more optimistic or spiritually certain in Cohen's late songs than is actually there. The dying spark in this case was--or I should say, is, since it's still there for us to see--very bright indeed, but it's the bright afterimage of something that fell inevitably into darkness, and that's what these late songs want us to gaze at directly, without any rose-colored glasses or any secure sense of a final transcendence.

There is something deeply moving in that, especially in the song's insistence that the filthy beggar blesses his condition despite the fact that there's no fable or lesson to be found in it or made from it. And there's comfort in the fact that an artist can leave us with something so moving (and so useful), but that's not the same as leaving us with the representation of a pure levitation above a painful condition (which is what I think the ending of the video suggests or represents). Moving as the ending of the video is in it's own way, it's not Cohen's way.

Louis
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DBCohen
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby DBCohen » Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:56 am

Thanks for all the comments. Here are some quick rejoinders.

Geoffrey,
Thanks for pointing out the “quote” from the film Youth (which I would not go as far as calling “brilliant”; true, it grips you while you are watching it but it does not leave you with much, just like this video).

Lisa,
If you can avoid watching the video that’s fine, but I find it hard to do, especially when it is promoted all over the place and being sent to me by various friends and well-wishers (perhaps I need a better discipline).

WiTs,
Yes, it is indeed hard to imagine LC levitating… And I appreciated your comments on the other thread about this song.

Louis,
Thanks for this thoughtful comment. Indeed, a rosy interpretation never suits LC’s songs; neither was he pessimistic as some people tend to think. While being open to the mystical, he was always a realist who looked life straight in the face, which was one of his great qualities, in my view, especially as he was able to give it such sublime expressions through his art.
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby LisaLCFan » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:48 am

DBCohen wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:56 am
...Lisa,
If you can avoid watching the video that’s fine, but I find it hard to do, especially when it is promoted all over the place and being sent to me by various friends and well-wishers (perhaps I need a better discipline)...
I just close my eyes and listen! Works every time!

How nice that people are sending it to you, though -- it shows that they're thinking of you! Could be worse!

Cheers!
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Mary72
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby Mary72 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:22 pm

I am not certain when, hard for me to keep track of everything said and written, although I recall Patrick Leonard saying there was more material to put out when he collaborated with Leonard on the making of Old Ideas and Popular Problems. There was this idea of a blues album that could happen at any time.
You Want It Darker only happened due to the insistence of Adam, is that one a less official album, Doron?

Now I'm living in this temple
Where they tell you what to do
I'm old and I've had to settle
On a different point of view

What about The Flame? I haven't seen your oppinion on that. Sorry. I am not being pedantic and I do respect your point of view and your thoughtful insights on LC but I have to say that the word "official" does apply to whatever is coming from his legacy and what Robert Kory is planning for a near future. It's up to us to judge it of course, to like it, to dislike it, to keep it or to throw away.

You got me singing
Even though the world is gone
You got me thinking
I'd like to carry on

All good things
DBCohen
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby DBCohen » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:02 pm

Mary,

Thank you for your comment. Of course, I have no wish to argue (I still shudder remembering those times when the Forum was torn apart by fierce disagreements, or worse, and was saved only due to Jarkko’s wisdom and tolerance), but since you’ve asked me some questions I’ll try to answer.

Needless to say, LC was an artist; everything he made public had received his final approval, judged by his inner eye (except, famously, for the Phil Spector album). This is no longer the case. Yes, he received his son’s collaboration on his final album, and Patrick Leonard’s on the two previous ones, but he had the final say in those cases. Once he was gone this process exists no more. There is no sense asking what LC would have said on this or that, all we can say is that we don’t know, but very likely every song would have sounded somewhat different.

You wrote, “What about The Flame? I haven't seen your opinion on that.” In fact, I did post my (partial) opinion on it when it came out, and to save you the search I’ll copy here what I wrote then:

“I just received my copy of THE FLAME in the British edition; the quality is very disappointing: the paper is too thin, the font is much too small, and on the whole, there is a feeling of a second-rate job, especially when compared with Book of Longing. Since the book is divided into several parts, a table of contents could have been expected but none is given. Following the title page there is a page with an illustration and the title THE FLAME again, but this should have come after the Foreword and Editorial Note, not before them. These are perhaps small things but they add to the feeling that it could and should have been done better. I guess I’ll have to ignore all this and focus on the contents, but it is a shame.”

And reading it didn’t make me feel any better. Of course, it has beautiful lines, but my feeling is that had LC had the chance to edit it himself, the result would have been quite different. Book of Longing is a book you can feel totally satisfied with; The Flame isn’t, unfortunately.

Yes, with every great artist there the question of the canon, what is included in it and what is left out, and this is always hotly debated. There is much more to say about this, but enough for this time.

All good wishes.
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Mary72
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby Mary72 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:20 pm

There is no sense asking what LC would have said on this or that, all we can say is that we don’t know, but very likely every song would have sounded somewhat different.
It might have sounded somewhat different but not completely different. Many thanks for your reply Doron.
yopietro
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby yopietro » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:09 pm

Whether this upcoming release ultimately would have turned out differently would Leonard have been here today in the studio is a very secondary consideration to my mind to the fact that we get to hear more of Leonard's voice and poetry. This release, perfect or imperfect, is a gift. We can only hope that there is more in the archive to one day be shared with us and to trust that those releasing it have the utmost respect for Leonard's art and legacy.
hadley
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby hadley » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:15 pm

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in ;-)
its4inthemorning
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby its4inthemorning » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:52 pm

I would expect that, over the next couple of years, there will be several "official" releases of songs. Some may be unreleased songs, or versions of old ones, that were recorded by Leonard, but which for various reasons never saw the light of day (think "Storeroom"). There may also be "official" releases of songs for which most, if not all, of the music, came into being after Leonard's death, like those on TFTD. As long as whoever is making the final decisions (Leonard's children and others that he trusted deeply) honestly feels that Leonard would not disapprove, that should be good enough for us. Each of us will have our own opinions about these releases, that is always the case. But isn't it preferable to have the opportunity to experience a little bit more of Leonard's work than not to?

The only place I would draw a line is if we started to see new mix-and-match albums offering nothing new, but simply shuffling Leonard's songs around for the almighty dollar. That is something I do not expect to happen.

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panjandrum
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby panjandrum » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:11 pm

There is no doubt I was anxious about this when I first heard about it. But these first two releases have assuaged my worries. I think they both sound like they treat Leonard's vision with the respect that is due.

I actually like both videos. Something I rarely do, even when it is Leonard. The only other video of his I can point to actually liking off the top of my head is Closing Time (but I'm sure I'm forgetting a few). I feel the What Happens to the Heart video is strikingly beautiful and IMHO it does a good job of portraying his journey from angry young man through his later life equanimity. Even the last line, about fighting for, in effect "that one truth" (and don't you DARE disagree!) - I'm sure we all remember that hot-headedness of youth; I think the video works quite well with that in juxtaposition. And it certainly follows relatively common Leonard themes quite well. Also brilliant that the used a woman (Leonard loved to make us expect one thing and then give us something else.)
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Joe Way
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Re: Posthumous album

Postby Joe Way » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:31 am

Dear Doron, I certainly appreciate your concerns. I would respectfully point out that both Leonard and Adam discussed this and Adam encouraged Leonard to record the lyrics with a metronome so they could be transformed into a song. This indicates to me that Leonard wanted his finished and unfinished work to go out into the world.

From what I understand there is a plan to release things every two years. That is probably more a business decision but who are we to reject Leonard’s work even though unsanctioned.

Sylvia Simmons received an advance copy of “Thanks for the Dance” and said it immediately brought her to tears. So I am really looking forward to it.

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

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