Leonard's Voice

Ask and answer questions about Leonard Cohen, his work, this forum and the websites!
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B4real
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Leonard's Voice

Postby B4real » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:55 pm

"It is a voice raked by the claws of Cupid, a voice rubbed raw by the philosopher´s stone. A voice marinated in kirschwasser, sulfur, deer musk and snow; bandaged with sackcloth from a ruined monastery; warmed by the embers left down near the river after the gypsies have gone.
It is a penitent’s voice, a rabbinical voice, a crust of unleavened vocal toasts - spread with smoke and subversive wit. He has a voice like a carpet in an old hotel, like a bad itch on the hunchback of love. It is a voice meant for pronouncing the names of women - and cataloguing their sometimes hazardous charms. Nobody can say the word "naked" as nakedly as Cohen. He makes us see the markings where the pantyhose have been."

That is what Tom Robbins has to say about Leonard’s voice. I think he was referring to how he perceived Leonard sounded in the nineties.

An interesting observation don’t you think? Is that how you see it too, or is there something you might want to add or subtract? Do you prefer the way his voice sounds now or how it was earlier in his singing career? Does a little “shouty Lenny” get you going? Maybe his voice calms you down, maybe it does the opposite.
Could it be that he actually didn’t have a choice and really was born with the gift of a golden voice!
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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kwills
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby kwills » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:19 pm

Wow you can't top that description can you :lol:

I must admit I prefer his voice now. There's nothing better than to lie on the sofa with the lights off listening to Dear Heather, and Leonard's voice like a warm blanket enveloping,and soothing me like malt whisky on a cold winters night.Phwoar,he gets me going and relaxes me at the same time!His voice just gives me a warm tingling feeling like no other.I like his younger voice too but he has definitely improved with age in my opinion.

" It is a voice meant for pronouncing the names of women - and cataloguing their sometimes hazardous charms. Nobody can say the word "naked" as nakedly as Cohen. He makes us see the markings where the pantyhose have been."

Superb line that. :D
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Rain
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby Rain » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:58 pm

That is, undoubtedly, one of THE BEST descriptions I've EVER heard of the voice of Leonard Cohen.....absolutely accurate and full of sensuous imagery........ :shock: WOW.....
imaginary friend
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby imaginary friend » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:12 pm

'deer musk' ...???? :roll:
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lightasabreeze
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby lightasabreeze » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:19 pm

Kwills - I absolutely agree with your comments. I do like to listen to his early ones too, but yes, to lie back and just savour that voice now, and how he just caresses you with his words.....OOOOO....
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby Rain » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:41 pm

imaginary friend wrote:'deer musk' ...???? :roll:
True, maybe just 'musk' would've sounded better....but nevertheless...the voice IS musky.

And to lightasabreeze....

..yes, that voice DOES caress you....ohhhh does it ever. I've also noticed that if Leonard Cohen is played at a higher volume, as in, his older, deeper voice, it has the same "rumbling effect" that you can feel in your chest when you hear a cello being played......or at least, that's what I've experienced. It's a strange, but pleasing sensation! That's the musical instrument with which I equate his voice.....the finest, most expensive cello being played by The Master......
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby LisaLCFan » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:28 am

That is definitely a very interesting description of Leonard's voice, quite accurate if not somewhat incomplete. I think that it focusses a bit too much on the ragged qualities of Leonard's voice (which are certainly there), but his voice is so much richer than that! I would probably like to add a few sensuous and somewhat more positive images, as Rain, kwills, and lightasabreeze have also suggested. I love the cello comparison (his voice totally has the resonance and tone of a cello!), and the whisky comparison (ah, yes, the warm tingling sensation!). When we are being caressed (and that is a perfect word for it!) by Leonard's sublime voice, we are certainly being caressed by something more enjoyable (and softer) than old carpets, crusts, claws, and sackcloth!

(Perhaps the original description lacks some of our sentiments because it was made by a man?) ;-)
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby Lilifyre » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:02 pm

Since I was the recent recipient of a treasure of Leonard's concerts, recorded over several decades, I have noticed that his voice has actually gotten much stronger in the last 10-15 yrs. In several of the concerts from the 80s and 90s, he seems to be struggling to maintain a range that appeared quite comfortable in his earlier years and have shown a rich, fullness in his recent recordings. I noticed in one (sorry, I forgot to note which concert it was, but from the mid 80s I think) that he actually went off key and his voice seemed to crack at times. I'd say that his voice now is at its best....very full and "rubbed" to a fine patina that takes years to achieve.

Lili
Lili
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby MaryB » Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:53 pm

Lilifyre wrote: I noticed in one (sorry, I forgot to note which concert it was, but from the mid 80s I think) that he actually went off key and his voice seemed to crack at times.
Hello Lili,
I also have been listening to my gift of jewels. What a joy to be able to follow the progression of his concerts from the early days. So much has changed and yet much has remained the same.

Could you be referring to the Oct. 30, 1979 concert in Paris? I am up to 1985, but this one has been my least favorite so far. Specifically, I am talking about his rendition of 'Our Lady of Solitude'. His voice was very low and in many instances, off key. He had problems with the same song in Birmingham in Dec. 8, 1979. In between, the Bonn concert of 12-3, is a gem. There is no yelling out of lyrics as in his early concerts (except for Memories where he gets a little loud), every note is pitch perfect (no 'OLOS' on this one), and there is a gentleness in his voice that goes with his demeanor. Beautiful version on this one of 'The Stranger Song' and 'A Singer Must Die'.

With the Feb. 1, 1985 concert in Munster, his voice had dropped in octave and started to approach his deep mellifluous tones of today. He was definitely 'born with the gift of a golden voice', but it took a while to get to this level.

Warmest regards,
Mary
1993 Detroit 2008 Kitchener June 2-Hamilton June 3 & 4-Vienna Sept 24 & 25-London RAH Nov 17 2009 NYC Feb 19-Grand Prairie Apr 3-Phoenix Apr 5-Columbia May 11-Red Rocks Jun 4-Barcelona Sept 21-Columbus Oct 27-Las Vegas Nov 12-San Jose Nov 13 2010 Sligo Jul 31 & Aug 1-LV Dec 10 & 11 2012 Paris Sept 30-London Dec 11-Boston Dec 16 2013 Louisville Mar 30-Amsterdam Sept 20
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby Lilifyre » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:43 pm

Hi Mary B. I failed to mark the CDs that had the problems, so it's possible that we are thinking of the same one for the overly low and/or off key. I just this morning finished the first round of listening to all the gems in this treasure. It has taken quite a long time to do so, but very well worth the effort...if you want to call it an effort.

If you got some of the DVDs, check out the very young, cool, Bob Metzger on (I think) the Austin City Limits one. :shock: :D

I didn't really care for "The Stranger Song" or "A Singer Must Die" until I heard it from some of these concerts. There are several other songs that I've fallen in love with from various times. I like the arrangements at certain times and can't stand ones from other times. I really need to go thru now and take notes on each one. The Vienna, Austria July 6, 1985 (one of the last 2 that I listened to is the only reason I know it was on that one) certain songs are magnificent....best arrangement of all time IMHO....while others I can barely listen to all the way thru. It's not just his voice, but the band and "Angels" as well. Sometimes his voice is overwhelmed by the "Angels" at different periods. Generally, Julie Christensen (sp?) and Perla Batella (sp?) blend with his voice nicely, as do Jennifer Warnes and Sharon, but there are some female singers who go unidentified who really don't seem to fit with him. That's just my opinion and others may not have the same reaction I do.

But definitely, Leonard's voice is like a fine wine. It has matured to a full richness that is unequaled by anyone else....IMHO.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby LisaLCFan » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:41 am

Lilifyre wrote:But definitely, Leonard's voice is like a fine wine. It has matured to a full richness that is unequaled by anyone else....IMHO.
Lili
I totally agree (I also agree with your earlier comment that Leonard's voice is better now than it ever was)! His voice is beautiful and amazing and unique, and there is no-one else that I can listen to all day, every day, and still want more!
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby MaryB » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:34 am

Lili,

There are so many songs I've 'discovered' while listening to these concerts. So many times, I find myself focusing on one particular song and can't seem to get past it. Then I hear another and I am hooked again. That, in part is the beauty of having these concerts to listen to - all these discoveries.

I only have 5 songs from the 85 Vienna concert. I had to go back and listen to 'Memories' (a personal favorite - shows LC's humorous side) because I had written 'bad version AWFUL' next to it. This is one of those where the singing, to put it delicately, is not pitch perfect. I did get a kick out of the fact that LC asked everyone to leave as he was playing the last song, DMTTEOL, because for once, he did not want to be the first one to leave.

You probably already know, but if you go to the LC files, under 'Tours and Musicians', Jim Devlin did a wonderful list of all the musicians and vocalists for all the tours. This will help you figure out who the vocalists were.

The videos, I am saving for last - they will be my dessert. I have seen the ACL, made a copy of it when it was on PBS (know what you are saying about Bob Metzger ;-) and I saw him perform live in 93 :D ), but my video gifts included the second appearance on ACL which I have not yet seen - what treats I have in store for me!

Re: LC's voice. When he did the '93 duet with Elton John, 'Born To Lose', talk about a low voice. I remember the first time I heard it when it came out and thought that oh my gosh, he's losing his voice. I love his lower timbre, but that was really, really low. Then thankfully, after quitting smoking, that wonderful rebound to this 'golden voice' :D

Warmest regards,
Mary
1993 Detroit 2008 Kitchener June 2-Hamilton June 3 & 4-Vienna Sept 24 & 25-London RAH Nov 17 2009 NYC Feb 19-Grand Prairie Apr 3-Phoenix Apr 5-Columbia May 11-Red Rocks Jun 4-Barcelona Sept 21-Columbus Oct 27-Las Vegas Nov 12-San Jose Nov 13 2010 Sligo Jul 31 & Aug 1-LV Dec 10 & 11 2012 Paris Sept 30-London Dec 11-Boston Dec 16 2013 Louisville Mar 30-Amsterdam Sept 20
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somewhat_nifty
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby somewhat_nifty » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:31 am

It's interesting to read these comments - while I do love Leonard's voice now, I actually prefer the sound of his voice when he was younger - I once read it described in an article as 'a pleasing wail', which though not entirely kind, has stuck with me. There is something very plaintive about his younger voice, which has been lost over the years to full maturity. For me it's at it's best on Songs of Love and Hate, it's so expressive on that album. I do agree though that when you listen to some of the concerts from late 70s/80s it's like he's struggling to retain the higher register, so obviously the shift down was necessary. I echo MaryB's comment about being relieved that he stopped smoking - I think it's so noticable on The Future that his voice is suffering, definitely the worst album vocally for me.

But whether higher pitched or lower, his voice was and always will be utterly unique :D
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vlcoats
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby vlcoats » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:53 am

What a wonderful list of attributes! My favorites were "spread with smoke and subversive wit", because I love Leonard's sense of humor , and "Nobody can say the word "naked" as nakedly as Cohen...", because I have also been quite taken with the way he always said that word.

I love the entire scope of his vocals over the years, but I think I would have to say that Leonard's voice in the 80s (as in 1980s, not his 80s) is my favorite. I feel he was in his prime then.

Vickie
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B4real
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Re: Leonard's Voice

Postby B4real » Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:59 pm

I've recently read but can't remember where that someone said LC's voice is "like a velour foghorn" :)

And yes, I also confess I do favour his voice around the time that the Recent Songs album was released in 1979.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!

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