Songs of love and hate

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
kjetil
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Songs of love and hate

Postby kjetil » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:08 pm

Hello. I`ve recently been listening a lot to the album "Songs of love and hate". I am a great fan of Leonard Cohen and have been listening to other albums before. However, the songs of love and hate album has left me wondering. It seems so depressing but there are some strange qualities to it. Because it`s very original, for one thing. Well, I would like to ask, does anybody know something about the album? About the lyrics, about the time it came out and so on.

All the best, Kjetil.
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hydriot
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby hydriot » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:54 pm

It was his third album and came out in 1971. Avalanche remains one of the favourites of many people, not just me. But I think the title 'Love and Hate' is a misnomer. To me the main emotion of the songs is anger.

In 1968 he said (to the New York Times):
"Of course it's a revolution. But I want to see the real revolution. I don't want it siphoned off by the mobilization people. It's got to take place in every room. Revolutionaries, in their heart of hearts, are excited by the tyranny they wield. The lines are being drawn and people on both sides are beginning to terrorize each other. Somehow we have to break out of this process, which can only lead to both sides becoming like each other. I'm afraid that when the Pentagon is finally stormed and taken, it will be by guys wearing uniforms very much like the ones worn by the guys defending it."

Of course, that was in reference to the near-revolution in France in May 1968 and the civil unrest in the USA. But it is still stunningly prophetic, considering it was said forty years ago.

For me, that paragraph sums up the sentiment behind Songs of Love and Hate.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
kjetil
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby kjetil » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:13 pm

Yeah. Interesting what you say about anger being the main emotion. I didn`t think of it like that, but it seems right. Avalanche is great, it`s perhaps the most angry and dark song I`ve heard. Which have some sort of meaning. I`ve been thinking a little why Cohen recorded such an album. What was the philosophical meaning.

Kjetil.
John Etherington
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby John Etherington » Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:23 am

Hydriot - Thanks for reviving that quote. - it's a great one. I'd forgotten it, but remember it now from way back.

Kjetil - I agree with Hydriot about the anger in "Songs of Love and Hate". I always associate the album with Leonard's book "The Energy of Slaves" which was published the following year (1972) and in which there is also a lot of anger. It should be noted however that the lyrics for at least two of the songs were written much earlier. "Avalanche" first appeared as a poem in "Parasites of Heaven" (1966) and "Dress Rehearsal Rag" was recorded by Judy Collins, in the same year.

For more thoughts on "Songs of Love and Hate" check out Joney's thread "Songs of Love and Hate - Should It Have a Warning?" - currently on page 2 of this "Leonard Cohen Music's" section.

All good things, John E
astranger
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby astranger » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:36 am

I was thinking while listening to Dress Rehearsal Rag for the millionth time today that I should ask a question I've never felt has fully been answered. What exactly is the "rag" referring to in the song? A magazine? That's the only thing I can think of in terms of slang. I get the dress rehearsal part, but the rag line has always left me racking my brain
Jake.........Durham, NC 11-3-09; Brooklyn, NY 12-20-12
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mnkyface
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby mnkyface » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:13 pm

I always thought it meant...a rag...a piece of music...as in ragtime music. Of course the song is anything but. There's that LC humor again...
"In this world of shallow, he is the abyss."~ YouTube commenter greg450318
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astranger
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby astranger » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:27 pm

mnkyface wrote:I always thought it meant...a rag...a piece of music...as in ragtime music. Of course the song is anything but. There's that LC humor again...
aha! that makes a little more sense
Jake.........Durham, NC 11-3-09; Brooklyn, NY 12-20-12
GinaDCG
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby GinaDCG » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:42 am

One of the earliest observations of Songs of Love and Hate is that supposedly, side 1 in that old vinyl LP format was supposed to be the "hate" side and side 2 the "love" side. Personally however, I agree that anger is the predominant emotion.

And, on the subject of Leonard's misgivings about the efficacy of revolution: he was not the only artist at that time with similar misgivings. The Who: "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss." And (I find it amazing that so many people misinterpret this song) The Beatles "You say you want a revolution? well, you know, you oughta free your mind instead," and "we all wanna change your head."

I have always admired Leonard for his ability to be engaged and caring, but keep himself reserved and aloof just enough to keep his objectivity. Now THATS something we need a lot more of: objectivity.
John Etherington
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby John Etherington » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:49 pm

Hi Gina,

Like you, I respect the postion that Leonard takes when talking about such matters as revolution. Though, at the same time, I admire artists like Neil Young who with "Living With War" dared to put himself on the musical frontline. Ironically, the songs by the Who and Beatles that you mention here, are in the top ten of The National Review's list of "Top 100 Conservative Songs" (even though many of the artists concerned would not have anticipated this!). Here's the link:

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Nz ... RjYTk4YjE=

Anyway, it's not my intention to provoke political discussion in this thread (as efc is trying to do in the "Other Music" section). Any further discussion should best continue in the "troll-hole" at the bottom of the board! So, back to "Songs of Love and Hate"...

All good things, John E
GinaDCG
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby GinaDCG » Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:33 am

Avalanche: I have a vague memory of hearing this song at some social gathering when I was a college student. Someone challenged me to explain the song and, after hearing it once and feeling decidedly "on the spot" I suggested that the song is written by a someone pointing out the obvious theological contradictions inherent in Christianity's doctrine of the Trinity. I had forgotten all about this, (in fact I hadn't even remembered -- or known?-- who the artist was) until I purchased Songs of L&H earlier this year. When I heard the song that vague, on-the-spot moment came back.

So . . . was the freshman English major far off?
John Etherington
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby John Etherington » Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:20 am

GinaDCG said (above) " I suggested that the song [Avalanche]is written by a someone pointing out the obvious theological contradictions inherent in Christianity's doctrine of the Trinity".

Hi Gina, This is interesting...could you please expand on what you say above?. "Avalanche" cropped-up before in a religious discussion, here. Here's the link:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10285&p=112725&hili ... ic#p112725

My main contribution comes in slightly more than halfway down the page.

All good things, John E
GinaDCG
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby GinaDCG » Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:53 pm

Thanks for the link, and yes, you summarized my argument precisely -- albeit, my knowledge of theology when I was a freshman was tiny. But what struck me then were the obvious references to "humpback" -- which certainly describes the appearance of Jesus on the Cross found in many churches. From this image of "humpback" as Jesus on the Cross, and re-enforced by the "struck my side" I, in my sweaty panic, made by interperative guesstimate.

I will follow up with more when I have more time -- Family is now (mostly) awake and plans are to be made.

Happy Black Friday!
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hydriot
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby hydriot » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:34 pm

astranger wrote:I was thinking while listening to Dress Rehearsal Rag for the millionth time today that I should ask a question I've never felt has fully been answered. What exactly is the "rag" referring to in the song? A magazine? That's the only thing I can think of in terms of slang. I get the dress rehearsal part, but the rag line has always left me racking my brain
From COD, one of the definitions of 'rag' is 'a prank' ... and 'ragging' is defined as ' make fun of, loudly and boisterously'. Every British university has a Rags Week when the students are allowed to run wild collecting money for charity (e.g. setting up roadblocks and levying a toll, kidnapping the mayor and demanding a ransom, etc). They let off steam, but in a constructive way that generates tens of thousands of pounds for good causes.

For me, that is the dress rehearsal 'rag'. The whole thing has been a joke, a stunt, a prank, and he never meant it ... at least for now.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
Parsifal
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby Parsifal » Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:35 pm

Dress Rehearsal Rag is my favourite Leonard Cohen song: I'd always assumed that the titular 'rag' was a play on the traditional (ie, Scott Joplin sense) in which the word is used. No other meaning had occurred to me until I read that suggestion about student rag week. I'm not sure LC would have picked up on that when he wrote the song in the mid-sixties (?), as - I believe - most of his visits to the UK at that time had been strictly for tourism. I stand to be corrected on this, but I'd be surprised if he was acquainted with 'rag weeks' when he wrote the song.
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QueenofSolitude
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Re: Songs of love and hate

Postby QueenofSolitude » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:38 pm

I'm afraid that when the Pentagon is finally stormed and taken, it will be by guys wearing uniforms very much like the ones worn by the guys defending it."
WOW!!!! I recently saw a documentary called Zeitgeist which claims that the entire 9/11 tragedy was created by the government to create a reason for America to get into the middle east for the oil. And, we are now in the middle east, military bases will be established soon...so, I find that quite stunningly possibly true.

Whenever I read something like this quote, I am becoming increasingly convinced that he is some sort of modern day prophet. It's dark and disturbing but washes over me with so much love for this man.
and you sank beneath her wisdom like a stone

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