What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
holydove
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby holydove » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:56 pm

TineDoes wrote: Or does he know that awful thruth cannot be revealed to the ears of youth; perhaps he knows they may not listen. The young have to discover for themselves.
TineDoes, it's certainly possible that he is saying that the young would not be able to hear the message, even if he tried to tell them - good point. . .
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Kush
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Kush » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:39 pm

In "Closing Time," there's an "Awful Truth which you can't reveal to the Ears of Youth." What do you take this
to be?
Hi Steven,

"All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie" in Things Have Changed (Bob Dylan). There you go. That's the awful truth which you can't reveal to the ears of youth.

p.s.
In passing I ought to mention that I think both of these otherwise fine and distinguished gentlemen often have a slightly gloomy outlook on life.
Steven
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Steven » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:14 am

Hi Kush,

I like Dylan's "Things Have Changed." That song has some commonalities with "Closing Time." Until you
mentioned the Dylan song, didn't notice this. The danceable music of "Closing Time" offsets the gloominess
of some of the song's lyrics. Dylan's music doesn't do the same for the lyrics of "Things Have Changed."
On the whole, Leonard's song's don't have a gloomy feel to me. Back to the awful truth, there are some
that can take a truth from cradle to grave and have it remain true for them. When it's a truth that's life-supportive,
it's a blessing. And not finding that blessing/truth to be untruthful or a lie, well, they're
fortunate.
Cate
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Cate » Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:27 pm

Steven wrote: there are some
that can take a truth from cradle to grave and have it remain true for them. When it's a truth that's life-supportive,
it's a blessing. And not finding that blessing/truth to be untruthful or a lie, well, they're
fortunate.
I like that. It's funny we don't seem to appreciate those truths that seem to be a constant - we just take them for granted and assume that they will always be there (like an old marriage) .

~~
Perhaps Leonard was speaking of the ultimate truth which is of course - 42 shhhh...... (sorry - geek in me just couldn't resist :D )
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Kush
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Kush » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:18 am

The danceable music of "Closing Time" offsets the gloominess
of some of the song's lyrics.
You are right about that. Like reggae.

I was just having some fun with the play on words. If these two gifted wordsmiths are both right then the awful truth must be a lie. Unless of course if only one of them cannot be wrong. Ok never mind I will not interrupt the quest for the awful truth again. :)

p.s.
Back to the awful truth, there are some
that can take a truth from cradle to grave and have it remain true for them. When it's a truth that's life-supportive,
it's a blessing.
This reminds me of an English poem about a hundred young lads and only a few that will carry their looks and their innocence/truth to the grave or something like that. Cant remember the name of the poem.
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Kush
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Kush » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:33 am

what a wonderful thing the internet is? This is the poem I was talking about.

The lad in their hundreds by A.E. Housman


The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell
And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.

But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan;
And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,
The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.

Have a Happy 4th.
Steven
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Steven » Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:49 am

Hi Kush,

The A.E. Housman poem sounds as if it could have been inspiration for both Dylan's song and Cohen's.
Wasn't familiar with the Housman poem and am glad you put the trinity of similar themed works together
in this thread. There's a Gospel hymn, "Where You'll Never Grow Old," covered by Johnny Cash. It's
on Youtube. The Houseman poem reminded me of it, though the hymn is not on point about any Awful Truth. :)
You too have a Happy 4th.
Last edited by Steven on Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Steven
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Steven » Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:53 am

Hi Cate,

Yes, people tend to become complacent and unappreciative about things that are taken to be constants.
beokii
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby beokii » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:25 pm

It's the truth some rich people do not want you to know about.

It's coming from the feel that this ain't exactly real, or it's real, but it ain't exactly there. (democracy Leonard cohan)
It means that EMOTION! is the difference between thinking and the truth.

It's the scene that he can't stand.
beokii
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby beokii » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:28 pm

Leonard knows it, he is a genius, but why doesn't he tell anyone else?

It's the same secret UB40 sings about in Until my dying day.

Now I know your secret
I promise that I'll keep it
So confidentially
Between just you and me, I'll never leak it

I'm the specialist
I know you can't resist
I'll bypass your alarm
No need to twist my arm, I insist

If you're looking for a war
There's a market for betrayal
Don't ask me what I saw
Y'know my secrets not for sale
Don't ask me what I heard
Y'know I promised not to say
I said I'd never breathe a word
Until my dying day

Well seeing is believing
No use it in your deceiving
For now I know it's true
It's you that holds the clue, I'll be leaving

Now I've got to say goodbye
You know I have to fly
When you get the third degree
And the truth don't set you free, You've got to lie

If you're looking for a war
There's a market for betrayal
Don't ask me what I saw
Y'know my secrets not for sale
Don't ask me what I heard
Y'know I promised not to say
I said I'd never breathe a word
Until my dying day
lazariuk
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby lazariuk » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:27 pm

holydove wrote:
TineDoes, it's certainly possible that he is saying that the young would not be able to hear the message, even if he tried to tell them - good point. . .
My thinking about that line took a turn one day while drinking a cup of coffee. It occurred to me that when I was very young I thought that the taste of coffee was awful, as in unpleasant. Then I thought of the many other things which I like that I once thought was awful. Beer being another example. Both beer and coffee are bitter and the taste for bitter is an acquired taste.

There is a quote that I am almost certain that Leonard has come across that goes ""the taste for the truth is an acquired taste that few acquire" I think it is the bitter aspect that understandably isn't easily acquired.

In one of the songs that Leonard sings we hear the words "From a bitter searching of the heart we rise to play a greater part"

There is no easy and quick way to give anyone a taste for the bitter and so that is what I think is meant that it can't be revealed to the ears of youth.

An appreciation for the bitter might also change the meaning of the word awful for the listener. The more archaic meaning of the word is "amazing, full of awe, awe-inspiring, awesome"

Jack
Everything being said to you is true; Imagine of what it is true.
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hydriot
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby hydriot » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:12 am

lazariuk wrote:In one of the songs that Leonard sings we hear the words "From a bitter searching of the heart we rise to play a greater part"
These are not Leonard's words but those of Frank Scott, from his Villanella For Our Time, which Leonard recites on Dear Heather. A villanelle is an extremely rigid type of poem, and therefore very really seen. The only other one I know is Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
Steven
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Steven » Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:47 pm

Hi,

Bitter searchings of the heart are probably more likely among those that are beyond being almost young and are
probably less likely among those very old and are probably more likely to take place among artists of genuine
substance. That being said, an ecompassing "awful truth" (not sure if it's the truth being spoken of
by the song's protagonist) could be that there's a nearly universally occurring human survival mechanism
(adaptive and maladaptive) to construct and maintain conceits.
imaginary friend
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby imaginary friend » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:34 am

Geeze Guys,

Perhaps when Leonard wrote of lifting his glass to the Awful Truth, he had something a wee bit more pedestrian in mind...

So much effort and energy is expended in the quest to get laid; the bar scenario is the perfect metaphor for the sense of desperation to find a partner – at least for the night – before closing time.

Maybe the Awful Truth is that in maturity ( :roll: ), we realize that the frenzied chase is just a waste of time and that so many meaningless encounters leave you feeling pretty empty... or do they?

I love the song, and was lucky to be at the San Jose concert last November to witness the world's best blouse throwing event.
Steven
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Re: What do you think is the "Awful Truth"?

Postby Steven » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:24 am

Hi Imaginary Friend,

You could be right. Could be the more pedestrian meaning. The frenzied chase, though, could also be
metaphor for "grasping." Grasping is said by Buddhists to be a cause of suffering. I, too, love the song and probably would have enjoyed witnessing the world's best blouse throwing event. :)

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