You Can Find Your Love. . .

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
holydove
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You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby holydove » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:27 pm

I've been puzzling over this line for years, so I decided to be brave and put it out there;

The line in Dress Rehearsal Rag: ". . you can find your love with diagrams/ on a plain brown envelope. . ."

If he said, IN a plain brown envelope, I would say he could be referring to receiving some kind of pornographic pictures, or even diagrams associated with tantric sex, in the mail. But because the diagrams are ON, rather than IN the envelope, for me that seems to change the meaning; and then it becomes more mysterious. . .

Anyone care to share their interpretation?
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hydriot
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby hydriot » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:03 pm

Yes, I always wondered about this line, and thought that perhaps it was just a plain old-fashioned mistake. 'In' makes so much more sense.

The only diagrams I see on plain brown envelopes are the logos of companies who stamp their own mail. But that doesn't get us very far.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
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remote1
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby remote1 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:59 am

"You can still find a job,
go out and talk to a friend.
On the back of every magazine
there are those coupons you can send.
Why don't you join the Rosicrucians,
they can give you back your hope,
you can find your love with diagrams
on a plain brown envelope."

I think it is meant to be ON rather than IN, because Cohen establishes a parallel with finding "coupons" ON the back of a magazine. If you join the Rosicrucians, you will need to write their address on an envelope; you will then gain access to Rosicrucian diagrams, the secret symbols which will guide you to love. It is a type of poetic ellipsis: you can receive mystical secrets of love with diagrams, by writing down their address on an envelope...

But the temptation of slitting your wrist with a sharp razor blade seems to be overpowering as a means of deliverance, of hope...

As an aside, I spent a bit of time sudying Rosicrucianism when I worked on Yeats, and I do not think it quite deserves this type of mocking tone (although I agree that some of it was ridiculous)! :D

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John Etherington
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby John Etherington » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:47 pm

Holydove - I've always interpreted the song exactly the same way as you do, and (like Hydriot) I think it was just a slip of the tongue. The original recording of "Dress Rehearsal Rag" on Judy Collins "In My Life" album (1966) uses the lyrics "in a plain brown envelope".
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remote1
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby remote1 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:59 pm

To support you guys, and because I am procrastinating like hell this morning, I did a bit of googling and I found this (on http://www.lib.ru/SONGS/cohen/faq.html):
Who are the Rosicrucians?
Vin Locke (vin@crl.com):

In the `50s and `60s (and maybe still?) the Rosicrucians used to advertise in the back pages of magazines -- fill in the coupon for more information (which arrives in a plain brown envelope). I always took the reference to them in this song to suggest a state of depression so severe that one would consider mail-order religion.
The 1968 live BBC recording in London also has "in a plain brown envelope".
(http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/song/Dr ... g/12622758)

So it seems that the "on" in Songs of Love and Hate was just a slip of the tongue...

Hope it helps! ;-)

And now I'll see if I can delete my previous post! :lol:
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remote1
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby remote1 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:04 pm

Oh well, looks like it's not possible to delete one's own posts. I shall have to live with my mistake! :oops:
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somewhat_nifty
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby somewhat_nifty » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:12 pm

I always thought that the 'on' fitted as I took it to mean someone doodling or obsessively drawing in a disturbed frame of mind, and then trying to work out some meaning from it. But I'm always amazed by the different things that people get from Leonard's lyrics - as many interpretations are there are listeners :).

In the sheet music book of the Songs Of Love and Hate album it also has 'on' rather than 'in', but there are a few mistakes in the lyrics printed in that anyway.
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holydove
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby holydove » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:49 pm

Thank you everyone, for your responses - all very interesting.

So it seems I have been puzzling for years over a slip of the tongue! - but "phew", what a relief. . . BIG thank you to JohnE & Hydriot!

Remote1, I also wondered if there might be a connection between the diagrams & Rosicrucian mysticism, but I didn't know about the magazine/mail order aspect, so I never would have thought of the address/diagram connection. Mistake or not, it's an interesting thought. . . And thank you for the quote & recording - very helpful!
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby GinaDCG » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:16 pm

I sent away for one of those "coupons" once; I don't recall many details, but I remember sitting in this walk-in closet which had been converted into my "playroom," reading the details intently, searching -- yes, even then! -- for a diagram which would reveal the meaning of life. I was disappointed, and came to regard my disenchantment with my "coupon" results as a realization that some adults were not wise and praiseworthy, but were, rather, even though grown up just as confused as me.

Then when I heard the line in Dress Rehearsal Rag a few years later I had to wonder if Cohen had a "toy room" as well and if he had ever sent away for one of those back-of-magazines ads. Or had he been looking over my shoulder?
holydove
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby holydove » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:37 pm

Gina, very funny. . .

Given Leonard's "enormous curiosity" and relentless seeking, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the "coupons" reference was autobiographical! He has claimed (in his inimitable way) that some of his lyrics are "just reportage"! And from the little research I've done on it, Rosicrucianism does offer some interesting ideas for contemplation. . .
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remote1
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby remote1 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:24 am

Blimey, I didn't realise they still existed! I associate Rosicrucianism with Yeats. I'm out of date!

Gina, I think Leonard was looking over your shoulder.

Holydove, here's a little present for you. ;-)
ecodex_23.jpg
mmg030107a3a.jpg
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John Etherington
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby John Etherington » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:48 am

A few thoughts following on from the posts above...I think Leonard must have intentionally worded the line that we're discussing to have both spiritual and sexual connotations. I also think that he must have been fascinated by coupons in magazines around 1966 - hence the coupons and ads (including water from Lourdes) on pages 107-8 of the hardcover "Beautiful Losers". Since Leonard was investigating different paths to enlightenment, I would not be at all surprised if he checked out Rosicrucianism. We know he developed an interest in astrology,the I-Ching and scientology during the 1960s. I remember a quote from around that time where he said that he would embrace anything that helped to clarify his position.

As an interesting aside, I was feeling my life was rather directionless in the mid-1970s and sometimes wondered whether to send in one of the Rosicrucian coupons. I went through a mildly depressive phase and (inspired by the Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf" and Mott the Hoople's line "don't wanna stay alive when you're 25"), I fantasised about departing the planet, at this time. Strangely two things happened that gave me a new sense of direction, and both happened in the proximity of Wilton Road, Victoria. First I got into an intense conversation on a street corner with a lady who I knew from the record store where I worked. We talked about life, death, the universe and everything, and I found she was a Rosicrucian (I jokingly quoted the line from "Dress Rehearsal Rag" to her). Soon after, on my 25th birthday, I met Leonard himself after attending a concert he gave at the New Victoria Theatre!

All good things, John E
holydove
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby holydove » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:43 am

JohnE, what a wonderful 25th birthday present, to meet Leonard! Would you care to share what took place in that meeting (only if you want to, of course, no pressure)? And very interesting "cosmic convergence" at that time in your life - (when the student is ready, the master appears. . .) Thank you for sharing some of your very personal experience. I'm very glad that you decided not to depart from the planet - we would clearly have been deprived of a very special person!

I agree that Leonard is probably alluding to sexual and spiritual phenomena in that line (you can find your love. . .), especially with its proximity to the lines about Rosicrucianism. Also, he seems to be contemplating the idea that salvation may manifest through sexual or spiritual experience (or both), with the suggestion that "you can join the Rosicrucians. . .", and/ or "you can find your love with diagrams. . ." - or maybe it would be more accurate to say that he is desperately reaching for anything that might raise him out of the deep dark abyss, be it sexual, spiritual, or both. . . And the use of the word "love" in that line, rather than many other possible words, I think is very telling, & supports the idea that he is not just trying to "get off" on pornography, but is searching for something much deeper, toward which sex and spiritual studies could both be paths. Sex and spirituality are always so interwined in Leonard's art, AND in reality - I see it as one of the very mystical truths that he reveals for us, in such incomparably beautiful ways. . .

Remote1, thank you for the gifts - very cool! But I couldn't enlarge them to read them (am I supposed to be able to do that?) But they are beautiful even if they can't be read - I love it!
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remote1
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby remote1 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:43 pm

Hi Holydove

The first one should be fairly easy to read by clicking on it. The second one is just very low quality because it is a copyrighted item for sale... I am sure it is possible to find a better quality one but one would need to be very keen and have lots of spare time...

I did a quick Google Books search and found this one in Popular Science, dated 1966. I love the way it is next to any other old advert for pool tables etc.; I think it gives even more meaning to LC's lines. :razz:
Popular Science 1966.jpg
There again, clicking on it will allow you to enlarge it.
Last edited by remote1 on Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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GinaDCG
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Re: You Can Find Your Love. . .

Postby GinaDCG » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:44 pm

Remote 1,

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane! I recall it wasn't just the Rosicrucians -- though they may have had the most street (mag?) cred in this market. The backs of lots of magazines and some comic books were sources of many "send this coupon for the secrets of life" ads.

Reminds me of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap labels. The soap is good for wilderness use as it is less harmful to the environment, and the label makes useful reading to lull one to sleep in cool, dank tents -- of course, one needs a very powerful flashlight as the print is quite small. Or, my girl scouts would take turns giving dramatic readings of the label during long car trips to and from exciting destinations.

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