On a chair with a dead magazine.....

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
Lilifyre
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On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby Lilifyre » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:01 am

I know someone had posted a question about this phrase a few months ago but to save myself, I can't find the thread. Anyhow, as I was on the road over the week of Thanksgiving....playing Leonard the whole 2000+ miles....my partner asked about/commented on several of Leonard's lyrics. As this phrase was played she spontaneously burst out with, "He's making love in a dentist chair????" :shock: :lol: I think I've successfully converted her to the religion of "Leonardcohenists". I nearly ran off the road with that one! Just thought I'd share it with the rest of you. :D

Lili
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brightnow
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby brightnow » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:06 pm

Here you go Lili:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=19903&start=0

Also, since you participated in that thread, you should be able to find it quite easily by clicking the "View your posts" link (aka "Ego Search").
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seadove
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby seadove » Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:07 pm

I want you on a chair with a dead magazine.

I always wandered what will he be doing with a dead mag, perhaps somebody knows?

:?
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hydriot
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby hydriot » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:53 pm

He doesn't do anything with the dead magazine. It's to show that the chair is lonely and unused ... so unloved and unappreciated that a magazine placed there just after publication is still there months later. So let's make love on the chair and cheer it up.
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby holydove » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:20 am

Hydriot, I really like your explanation. I had a similar (maybe slightly different) take on it - that the dead (very old, outdated) magazine is a reflection of how useless & abandoned he feels, since the woman he loves is no longer with him. It reflects his lonesome, lost state of mind, and as he sits there, in this chair, maybe even leafing through this magazine, which has been abandoned like he has been (maybe the chair has been abandoned too), he continues to long for this woman who, I believe, has commited suicide (as in, "the pools that you lift on your wrist").
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby GinaDCG » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:56 pm

I posted on the earlier thread about my image of the dead magazine. I was a sickly child and I spent a lot of time in a lot of grim waiting rooms in 1930s era office buildings in southern West Virginia. A room with dirty black and green tiles. The sound of a ceiling fan whose only function is to stir the dust around in the room below. A bunch of drab, hard chairs with gashes in what little upholstery they ever had. And a magazine which is so out-of-date it is "dead." If the narrator can envision you and having sex with you in THIS place, then he must be highly motivated indeed.
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby Cate » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:59 am

I like that... I also like the dentist chair one too, but I wish that that had not been mentioned as my dentist is fairly attractive and that's not the thought I want going through my head the next time I get my teeth clean.

I'm with Hydriot and Holydove . A chair with a dead magazine makes me think of a still room - lifeless as if the room has paused for some sad reason and the thought of making love there, bringing life there seems to be a way of easing this pain.
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mnkyface
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby mnkyface » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:19 am

I always had a more morbid take on this. I thought it hinted at death/suicide- someone slumped in the chair, the magazine being an automatic weapon part. (From dictionary: "magazine: an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm.") The magazine would be dead because its bullets would be spent...
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Lilifyre
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby Lilifyre » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:25 am

I know that to find out exactly what was meant by the phrase "on a chair with a dead magazine" we'd have to dig into the psyche of both Leonard and Garcia Lorca. Lorca because he wrote the original and Leonard because he translated it to English. But like all good poetry, I think it means what it means. That is to say, good poetry means something different, something unique to each person who reads it.

My partner's reaction, that they were making love in a dentist's chair, comes from her own experiences. Her brother is a dentist and who but doctors and dentists have an unlimited supply of old/"dead" magazines? It was an image that just popped into her mind. So I think truly that phrase means whatever you think it means. All the ideas expressed here are correct. They are each what the mind comes up with when the ears hear the words.

Now, personally, I get a mental picture of a long lost love. Perhaps one of the partners has died, or perhaps they have just drifted apart. But it appears to me that it's a pleasant memory of a love at a younger time of life. There's a sweetness to it. There is no regret, just a pleasant memory of a time gone by.

When Adam Cohen sings it, I get a much different feeling. That version is much more intense. There is more of a feeling of having lost something and regretting that loss. The sweet memory is not there. It's much more the wounded lover....wounded by his own clumsiness and perhaps self-centeredness.

I like both versions but they are so very different in feeling.

Lili
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby MaryB » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:22 am

I look at this line in an almost perverted sense. The phrasing suggests that the recipient of the attention will be in the chair. And the 'dead magazine' means that whatever held the reader's/recipient's interest originally, it is now being unread, therefore the person in the chair is giving their undivided attention to the act of love that is taking place and no article in that magazine, however salacious could compare to this moment.
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby mutti » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:04 am

This post has been edited... ;-)
Last edited by mutti on Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Steven
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby Steven » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:44 am

"Life" used to be a popular print magazine. Perhaps the poem and song are referring to that publication,
sarcastically.
seadove
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby seadove » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:29 pm

Maybe he means something nasty in the sexual field. :(
Arnold the Frog
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby Arnold the Frog » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:18 pm

"Magazine" (for bullets) is not in the original: it's "el libro muerto".
The thought that it might be taken to be a bullet-holder
took me so much by surprise I took a while convincing myself
that it couldn't really have been meant by Cohen either.
The magazine as bee, dying in fulfilment by bringing death -
cute, but not (I think) intended.

Surely the "chair" and the "hallway" are not meant to be quite
so thoroughly contrasted. The syntax suggests not: the chair
is introduced, and then the hallway as a natural extension,
more of the same. The magazine is "dead" as a parallel
to the loveless hallway.

Vienna is seen as exotic, decadent, a place of weird but
frozen treasures, a place of death and smiling decay. The
imagery here seems to be rather of the Hofburg than of
Die Fledermaus, but maybe that's just me.

Cohen the Unstoppable Sex Machine threatens to burst into it,
bringing urgent sweaty lust to shake up its dust. The counterposed
images of death are nowhere violent: firearms would shake the
place up in quite a different way. Moreover, they might
"work", in that they really might change the rules. As it is, trying
to escape by desire looks doomed (maybe that's just me again).
Every time we are invited to imagine sex, or rather to consider it
as a proposition (don't you just love the ambivalence of
"proposition"?) we are brought back to the waltz - a waltz which
is itself insinuating and demanding pity - which
ends up bringing everything ("it's all that there is") into
its courtly mime of desire. It may have a salt tail, but it
breathes inebriation and death over everything.
If anything, this is stronger in Cohen's version ("I'll never
forget you, you know" vs. "Te quiero siempre").

I had better stop here before I kill another virtual tree.
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Re: On a chair with a dead magazine.....

Postby Steven » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:33 pm

Hi Arnold the Frog,

Want to acknowledge your post. Interesting and a good use, i.m.o., of the resource of the virtual tree.
Even sex, can be a lifeless dance. I suspect that the bees and other non-human creatures in their procreatively
directed sex drives can be more gusto driven than humans, certainly those humans found in the song and the
poem it derived from.

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