The Partisan and more

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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DBCohen
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The Partisan and more

Post by DBCohen » Thu May 14, 2020 7:08 am

“The Partisan” is a song strongly identified with Leonard Cohen, although not written by him. It is one of only ten non-original songs he covered on his various studio and live albums, and the one which stands out most noticeably among them. A particularly exciting moment for me in following him was at the Olympia in Paris, with the audience going wild over his rendition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX1XQE1NYw8

And here’s an earlier concert in Paris (among many other videos available to watch):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKhp0fjaLIA

The original song, titled “La Complainte du partisan”, was written in 1943 by Emmanuel d'Astier de La Vigerie, a member of the French Resistance (lyrics), and the Russian-born Anna Marly (music). It was adapted into English in 1944 by Hy Zaret, a song writer from New York. When he was fifteen, Leonard Cohen first came across it in The People’s Songbook, a collection of folk songs published in New York in 1948, which unabashedly introduced itself as follows:

“Simple tunes with a lifting quality – these songs have been tested in the fire of the people’s struggle all around the world. They emerged quietly and anonymously in the vanguard of apparently lost causes, where men of good will have fought to keep this a decent world to live in. This collection features 100 folk, union, and international songs with guitar chords and piano arrangements, including: Go Down Moses * Los Cuatro Generales * We Shall Not Be Moved * Which Side Are You On? * and more. This is a folio of freedom folklore, a weapon against war and reaction, and a singing testament to the future”.

Decades later Leonard Cohen could still recite enthusiastically many songs from that book, as told by his biographers Ira Nadel and Sylvie Simmons. It also kindled his enthusiasm for learning to play the guitar.

The English version of “The Partisan” is quite different from the original, which specifically mentions France and the Germans, while the translation makes the song more universal. There is also a conspicuous difference in the ending; in the original French, after the return of freedom, On nous oubliera / Nous rentrerons dans l'ombre (Everyone will forget us / We will return to the shadows), while the English is: “Then we’ll come from the shadows”.

In his rendition Leonard Cohen sings five verses in English, three in French, and then repeats the fifth English verse. Here also is the original recording from his second album, Songs from a Room:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs5hOhI4pEE

Recently I’ve been reminded of several other resistance songs that keep playing over in my head, and may serve as good tonic for our times. I know very well it’s pathetic to try to come up with songs against brute force (and Tom Lehrer made a scathing parody of this back in the 60’s, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tDZ5lriIIc), but as Leonard Cohen experienced in his youth, in the right frame of mind these songs become irresistible. Following are a few of the most outstanding examples.

*
The classic resistance song of the Spanish Civil War is “Ay Carmela!”, the lyrics of which have several different versions. There are also different versions as to who exactly wrote the lyrics for the song’s arguably most famous version, “Viva la Quince Brigada” (Long live the Fifteenth Brigade). First, here it is from the film Ay, Carmela! by Carlos Saura:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzpA-iEjnzs

And here is a somewhat different adaptation (it is the “Fifth Brigade” in this version):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNP4aTqDQ7k

*
The Italian partisans’ song “Bella Ciao” regained wide popularity recently following its depiction in the Spanish TV crime drama series La casa de papel (renamed Money Heist in English), which has reached much of the planet through Netflix. Originally, this late 19th century folk song was a protest against the harsh working conditions of seasonal female workers in the rice paddies of northern Italy. It was modified and adopted as the anthem of the Partisans resisting the Nazi occupation between 1943 and 1945. It remains a classic folk song as its composers are unknown, and many versions of it are sung around the world. This is the “original” version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CI3lhyNKfo

There are countless renditions you can find on YouTube; here’s one impressive example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3v4V9i9d5Y

*
Less well-known, but also with many recordings over decades and versions in multiple languages, is the song of the Jewish Partisans in WWII. The melody was written in 1937 by two Jewish brothers, Dmitry and Daniel Pokrass, for a Soviet film; the lyrics in Yiddish were written to the popular melody by a young poet, Hirsh Glick, in the Vilnius ghetto in May 1943, and the song spread quickly; Glick died the following year. The Hebrew lyrics were written in 1945 by the leading poet Avraham Shlonsky. The first verse says something like this: “Do not say: this is my final road, / The light of day was hidden by the clouds. /The hour we wish for surely will appear, / And our marching will declare we are still here!”.

This is the song in Yiddish sung by Paul Robson during his famous concert in Moscow:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-6NNSWQ84g

This is the standard Hebrew version, followed by the Yiddish again:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2aliyK5lgc

*
Here’s the incomparable Maria Farandouri with Mikis Theodorakis in the Greek partisans’ song, for which I could find no information (can anyone help?):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgHWX-Kibtk

And for those unfamiliar with it as yet, I recommend this unique masterpiece, The Ballad of Mauthausen, including four arias sung by Farandouri with lyrics by Iakovos Kambanellis and music by Theodorakis, undoubtedly one of his greatest musical achievements. First, here is the second aria, “O Antonius”, which carries on the spirit of resistance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wstpRUp73iM

And here is the whole work; the first aria is the haunting “Asma Asmaton” (Song of Songs):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvNm0F8L96Q&t=35s

*
Finally, and from a different period and background, there’s the compelling “Hasta Siempre”, written by Carlos Puebla in 1965, in honor of Che Guevara as he was leaving Cuba to take the revolution elsewhere. There is an endless list of covers for this song. I like this one by Luis Franky:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJzgQfa ... zZ&index=6

The following one is by an ensemble that goes by the unusual name “Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXjK3BLyzPI

*
How would you like to add to the list, either different songs or your favorite renditions of the above ones?
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B4real
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Fri May 15, 2020 8:52 am

DB Cohen said: How would you like to add to the list, either different songs or your favorite renditions of the above ones?
Hello Doron, I really did wait as long as I could for someone else to dance to your liberty legends tunes :)
But as you know, I simply can’t help myself where LC is concerned, so here I go waltzing round and round again –
one two three, one two three one .... ;-)

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I was asked by a friend (I know he will be reading this :razz: ) to list the songs I knew that Leonard had learned or played from The People’s Songbook. As it was so recent, I figured it was an omen of sorts to repeat it here. I never asked him why he wanted to know at the time but here’s what I sent him excluding the last one – LC sang an impromptu verse from it.

Song of the French Partisan
Passing Through
Solidarity Forever
We Shall Not Be Moved
Beloved Comrade
Joe Hill
Kevin Barry
La Marseillaise
Go Down Moses

I should note here that the second song I’ve listed above I never found printed in The People's Songbook but LC told Harry Rasky in 1979 that he got it from there –
“The song “Passing Through” is a song I learned when I was fifteen, from a very devoted socialist that I knew. That particular version of the song comes out of “The People’s Songbook” which was a song book developed out of the interest that the socialists had at one time in Folk Music; still have. It came out of the “Almanac Singers” who later became “The Weavers”, that’s the group that Pete Seeger was in – the book was edited by John Lomax. The book itself was very influential in interesting me in song and songwriting. I came across it when I was about fifteen”.

There would no doubt have been more from the Songbook that LC has sung but I have no actual proof at the moment.
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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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Hartmut
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by Hartmut » Fri May 15, 2020 10:01 am

B4real wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:52 am
the last one – LC sang an impromptu verse from it.

Go Down Moses
Indeed he did! - You mean in Dublin 2012?
DBCohen
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by DBCohen » Fri May 15, 2020 11:35 am

I have an update for the above “Greek Partisan” song, thanks to information sent to me privately by a good friend. It turns out that it is not an authentic partisans’ song, but a song titled Ποιός δε μιλά για τη λαμπρή, “Poios den mila gia tin Lambri” from the album Enas Omiros, containing poetry by Brendan Behan, translated into Greek by Vasilis Rotas and composed by Theodorakis (1963). The poem’s English title is “Who fears to speak of Easter Week?”. When I first found it on YouTube I was misled by the title to believe it was a Greek partisans' song from WWII. I hope I got it right this time. Live and learn.
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B4real
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Fri May 15, 2020 12:17 pm

Hartmut wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 10:01 am
B4real wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:52 am
the last one – LC sang an impromptu verse from it.

Go Down Moses
Indeed he did! - You mean in Dublin 2012?
Hehe! Hartmut – to use an Australia expression which I remember doing so in the PG years ago – “Come in spinner!” ....and thank you. I decided it would be nice to try turning this waltz between Doran and myself into a progressive barn dance :) by not posting all the info at once to those 9 songs as I have done with others in the recent quiz thread. It seems you are the first in line so, it’s partner found and partner (hopefully not) lost!

And off course, you are correct! Maybe you were there on the night and can remember hearing the whole verse? Here's an extremely short excerpt below (maybe Albert has the complete verse on video somewhere) that was sung between Hallelujah and Take This Waltz.
musicmania wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:06 pm

We all loved when before Take This Waltz Cohen quoted something which included the line "Let my people dance" This was obviously a comment to the stewards to allow us dance in the aisles during this song as we made our way to the stage for the encores.
Dublin 14th Sept 2012
Let My People Dance (snippet from Go Down Moses)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwM-fdAIseU

While I was looking just now for the above link, I came across this video below and roared out loud with laughter. I can’t believe that it has no comments – I’m not on YouTube. The short guard on the RHS is really feeling the beat! Note how the guards curb their enthusiasm when people pass by ;-) It definitely puts a new slant on First We Take Manhattan!

Dublin 11th Sept 2012
guards rocking it out at LC gig -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVj8qtpGSjw

EDIT: haha! Could it be this is why the security guards were still in the mood for dancing ;-)
majmunka wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:29 am
Many people tried to dance a waltz when Take this Waltz started. The security guys were there soon and stopped them. Most of these people went back to their seats but some of them took the security guys hands instead and took them for a waltz :D There was quite a laugh, not just from the audience but from the stage as well.
The seed for that Moses verse could have been planted above in LC's mind because he sang it a few days later ;-)

Gwen and Roman, thanks for your words in the link below. I have read that you were most surprised (who wouldn't be) when Leonard sang those words; the first and only know recording of them by him. https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... es#p314744

Maybe others know when and where the first, only or if any performances of the other previously mentioned songs took place?
----
Doron, I wouldn't have been any the wiser about that speculated "Greek Partisan song".
We are all here to live and learn, so no worries! These days, I'm simply glad we are here at all!
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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lschwart
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by lschwart » Sat May 16, 2020 3:44 am

B4real wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 12:17 pm
These days, I'm simply glad we are here at all!
Amen to that!

Louis
Louis Schwartz

"The sea so deep and blind/ The sun, the wild regret/ The club, the wheel, the mind,/ O love, aren't you tired yet?" Leonard Cohen, "The Faith."

https://english.richmond.edu/faculty/lschwart/

https://www.facebook.com/mysonthedoctorRVA/

https://www.youtube.com/user/mysonthedr
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Hartmut
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by Hartmut » Sat May 16, 2020 3:55 am

B4real wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 12:17 pm
[to use an Australia expression which I remember doing so in the PG years ago – “Come in spinner!”
I learned that phrase from you! (Didn't get much chance to use it though.)
B4real wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 12:17 pm
And off course, you are correct! Maybe you were there on the night and can remember hearing the whole verse?
Indeed, we were fortunate enough to be there. And we adhered to his suggestion. - Thanks for the video link! Those were the days ...
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Sun May 17, 2020 1:54 am

Hi Louis, nice of you to join in the dance here :) And yes, we just have to go with the flow!

Ah Hartmut, you have made me smile and remember that you under estimate yourself and could have used the "Spinner" phrase many times in both visually and verbal games we have played in the past!

I knew you were a lover of music and now I know you are a waltzer of music too ;-)

Ah, yes, the memories.... maybe you could recall being at a soundcheck (I think you know someone who was ;-) ) in Europe the following year when LC sang one of those songs on my list for the first and only time that I know of.
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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Hartmut
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by Hartmut » Sun May 17, 2020 2:28 am

B4real wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 1:54 am
maybe you could recall being at a soundcheck (I think you know someone who was ;-) ) in Europe the following year when LC sang one of those songs on my list for the first and only time that I know of.
Hm ... No, I don't know. Help me out, please.
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Sun May 17, 2020 3:16 am

Hartmut, that was a quick reply and here’s one in return!

Joe Hill
written by Alfred Hayes and in The People's Song Book 1948
(Odense 17th Aug 2013 soundcheck)

https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 15#p336609
Oblivion said:
we listen to two hours soundcheck!!
… to songs I’ve never heard him singing,
Joan Baez was singing this long time ago
but Leonard was singing
“I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night”...
and he went on singing a lot of bluesy songs
never heard before…
Oblivion, as I said in the thread at the time (and I'll say it again now :) ) thanks for this info!

https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 30#p336613
B4real said:
and an Australian conection: http://unionsong.com/u017.html
"Joe Hill, a great organizer and poet, was executed in 1915 on a murder charge universally considered to be a frame-up.
"The Preacher and the Slave", one of his most famous songs, is also in this collection. Small packets of Hill's ashes were sent to Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) branches around the world. The packet that came to Sydney was confiscated by police who burnt it in Central Police Station!"

Of course we know that one song, Never Gave Nobody Trouble from the same soundcheck at Odense did make it onto the official album of Can’t Forget – A Souvenir of the Grand Tour 2015.

I would love to hear LC singing Joe Hill or any songs from that soundcheck 8) Maybe someone can hopefully, pretty-please, oblige? What a bonus for those there at the time and I wonder what other songs he sang then besides NGNT? Excluding it, maybe those “lot of bluesy songs” were from The People’s Songbook too!
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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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by Hartmut » Sun May 17, 2020 9:32 am

Hi Bev,

"Joe Hill": I see. Very interesting! - I didn't know that. Or had forgotten about it.

Odense ... I thought about going there, but I think I'm glad I didn't. (No seating etc.)

Yes, I'd love to hear Leonard sing that song as well. Maybe a recording will surface someday. - In the meantime, we could try playing Joan Baez's version really slow ...
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Mon May 18, 2020 12:24 am

Hartmut wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 9:32 am
Yes, I'd love to hear Leonard sing that song as well. Maybe a recording will surface someday. - In the meantime, we could try playing Joan Baez's version really slow ...
:lol:

B4real wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 3:16 am
I would love to hear LC singing Joe Hill or any songs from that soundcheck 8) Maybe someone can hopefully, pretty-please, oblige?
As well as having an association with LC, maybe this plea will help our quest ;-)

pretty-please.gif
pretty-please.gif (221.78 KiB) Viewed 1529 times
Puss the part-time Partisan with his most persuasive pose.
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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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Wed May 20, 2020 5:30 am

Enough of the blatant grovelling here
but hopefully maybe someone
will make my plea a reality
And me I’m “down here”
waiting for the Miracle to come ;-)
(btw - I am open to bribes or barter!)

So seeing that I’ve somehow managed to turn Doron’s written thread into a visual pleading pussycat one I feel I should rectify that now!

Continuing on from the songs left in The People’s Songbook that I know LC has sung are –
Solidarity Forever, We Shall Not Be Moved, Beloved Comrade, Kevin Barry and La Marseillaise.

Some links for those who haven’t heard LC sing these songs .... and for those who wish to relive the experience:

Solidarity Forever https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gceYKMRWNBw

We Shall Not Be Moved https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KPPQJrr-0s
The same above song, Solidarity Forever is listed here as The Union Makes Us Strong.
Listen at 54:45 mins for it and then continuously following at 59:00 mins is We Shall Not Be Moved

Beloved Comrade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml85ZzGdsdY

Kevin Barry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ4INuSYr28

La Marseillaise –
Unfortunately no link but LC did sing an impromptu excerpt from it at a concert in 1979 in France.
Here’s the official song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIxOl1EraXA

https://www.historywiz.com/marseillaise.htm
National anthem of France. The instrumental version of the national anthem of France, La Marseillaise, French national anthem, was composed in one night during the French Revolution (April 24, 1792) by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain of the engineers and amateur musician.
https://hmcec.org/wp-content/uploads/20 ... ources.pdf
In France, since the national anthem ‘ La Marseillaise ’ (The song of Marseille) was banned by the Nazis, ‘Le Chant des partisans’ was used instead as the official ersatz national anthem by the Free French Forces, and after the war it became a temporary national anthem for France. It also became customary to sing the song after a Resistance fighter was killed, followed by ‘La Marseillaise’
Le Chant des partisans://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUZWlf_vuKg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chant_des_Partisans
The Chant des Partisans was the most popular song of the Free French and French Resistance during World War II.

The piece was written and put to melody in London in 1943 after Anna Marly heard a Russian song that provided her with inspiration. Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon wrote the French lyrics. It was performed by Anna Marly, broadcast by the BBC and adopted by the maquis. The lyrics of the song revolve around the idea of a life-or-death struggle for national liberation. After the war the Chant des Partisans was so popular, it was proposed as a new national anthem for France. It became for a short while the unofficial national anthem, next to the official La Marseillaise.

Anna Marly also wrote and performed a more introspective song, La Complainte du Partisan, which was later adapted and translated into English as "The Partisan". It was most famously covered by Leonard Cohen. The two songs are sometimes confused.

In Korea, the melody of the song was adopted as the march of the Korean Liberation Army.
March of the Korean Liberation Army - Korean Independence Song://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLvrQd9kHsg
Last edited by B4real on Wed May 20, 2020 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by DBCohen » Wed May 20, 2020 11:08 am

B4real,

Thanks for all those links; a real treat.

As for La Marseillaise, my favorite rendition is, of course, from Casablanca:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOeFhSzoTuc

At the beginning of this thread I said that "it’s pathetic to try to come up with songs against brute force", but here it is (a) a song against song, and (b) a Hollywood movie, so anything goes. Still, an unforgettable scene.
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Re: The Partisan and more

Post by B4real » Wed May 20, 2020 11:31 am

My pleasure Doron, I figured I should get back to the script :)
Ah, and how could anyone who has seen that movie possibly forget that scene!
Thanks for the memories!

Digressing here a little as I am wont to do ;-) just thought I'd add another LC connection, this one relating to Casablanca. He has sung the main song from it, As Time Goes By, on at least four occasions at concerts in 1972.
Here he is singing it at the Dublin concert - turn up the volume, listen and enjoy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-9EmNFBhvg
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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