Looking for the YOUNGEST first-time listener to LC

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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lizzytysh
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Looking for the YOUNGEST first-time listener to LC

Post by lizzytysh » Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:04 am

If you could answer these questions and add whatever you like, it'd be really appreciated.

(1) How old were you when you first listened to Leonard?

(2) How much did you understand of the sexual/violence references?

(3) How did hearing these lyrics cause you to feel?

(4) What age do you feel would be the most age-appropriate for children to first listen to Leonard?

(5) Should parental- or adult-guidance be a part of these initial listening experiences?


Thanks to anyone/everyone who answers these.


~ Lizzy
Beccka
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Post by Beccka » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:03 am

Ooh, I like this topic.

1) How old were you when you first listened to Leonard?
The first time I remember hearing Cohen I was four, but I'm pretty sure I'd heard him previously.

(2) How much did you understand of the sexual/violence references?
I remember 'Suzanne' first and didn't get the sexual references at all, even with the 'touched your perfect body' bits. But at the same time my mother was a naturalist and bodies weren't anything special. Other kids might have more of a clue.

(3) How did hearing these lyrics cause you to feel?
They were magical. I thought of Suzanne as my mother (and also wanted to grow up to be someone like her); my soon-to-be stepfather was a hero in the seaweed.

(4) What age do you feel would be the most age-appropriate for children to first listen to Leonard?
Any age, why not? There are some songs that might not be appropriate (Light As a Breeze, Chelsea Hotel #2, unless you're prepared to explain oral sex to a child), but most the songs can be understood on different levels. Like classic books - you can grow into them.

(5) Should parental- or adult-guidance be a part of these initial listening experiences?
Yes, but really only because I think it's an experience to be shared. The child can ask their parent questions about the songs if they don't understand, and it's very nice to hear how children interprete the lyrics. One of my nephews tells a wonderful story that combines the lyrics of "The Guests" with "The Secret Garden" and something about Power Rangers. :D

I do wonder what it would have been like to first hear Cohen as an adult. My dad says he first heard Cohen while getting drunk, stoned and laid. I think my understanding of Cohen would be very different if that was my experience.
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:34 pm

Thank you for your wonderful, precise answer, Beccka... including keeping to the numbering and repetition of the question 8) .

Even with "Light as the Breeze," could it not be describing an outdoor scene, at a river, a stream, a waterfall, in a child's mind:

[quote]So I knelt there at the delta,
at the alpha and the omega,
at the cradle of the river and the seas.
And like a blessing come from heaven
for something like a second
I was healed and my heart
was at ease. [/quote]

Just as with your "Power Ranger" example, we often presume a child's understanding to be so beyond what it often is... even when we're being literal, with the intention of being literal, with them.

I like your idea of the shared experience of listening... and it seems to me a lot of insight with regard to chidren's [different] interpretations of Leonard's lyrics would result from this.

Yes... I had friends in the Keys who were naturalists, and their children's perception of "naked body" would be quite apart from other non-naturalist-parented children their age... a given.

Yes... magical... and I feel you may have grown up to be quite like Suzanne in your way.

Does your Dad still like Cohen? I suspect he probably does. I'm glad, too, that this wasn't my first experiencing of Leonard's music. I was an adult and it was wonderful... even so, I still missed certain references :lol: .

Thanks, Beccka! I hope others will answer here, too... I know there are other 'young' ones out there because they've often made themselves known when they came here. Hopefully, they haven't just disappeared or, if so, more will be along soon.



~ Lizzy
John Etherington
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Post by John Etherington » Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:18 pm

1. 17

2. Virtually everything in the songs. However, I took the poetry on board very soon after and found that more difficult.

3. The religious components of the songs elevated them to a higher level of eroticism. I found the line "I need you to kill a child" slightly disturbing.

4. The age they're naturally drawn to them.

5. Well, since kids of today can probably buy "Bizarre" magazine over the shop counter, this question is probably not relevant! I also find it hard to imagine them secretly downloading and sharing LC songs!
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Post by Beccka » Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:28 pm

Dad still likes Cohen, although we argue over the relative worth of Dear Heather. Neither of us has read 'Beautiful Losers', so we'll be reading it together over my Spring Break. (As an aside, I love the translation of the introduction to the Chinese edition, "more of a sunstroke than a book.")

A child's context is key to what they'll understand of a song or story. Maybe I think "Light as a Breeze" as overtly sexual because I heard it when I was older and did undestand the triple meanings to Cohen's words. ('Triple' because of the aspect of worship in there.)

I know my nephews have listened to Cohen since they were infants, but only one of them has expressed any real awareness of it, and that was when he was about four as well. And none of them are old enough to participate in the forum. (I'm certain I'm not the youngest person here, though, and I'd really like to hear what other people's experiences were like!)
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:04 pm

I would really like to hear everyone else's perspectives, too, Beccka... I know that sometimes/often[?] some people focus on only particular sections here. That may be keeping responses to this more limited.

You have quite the Summer Break ahead of you, Beccka :shock: :lol: 8) . Your relationship with your Dad may never be quite the same :) .


Hi John ~

Your #4 response creates a quandary in that "The age they're naturally drawn to them" can't ever be known, or possibly even exist, unless they're exposed to the songs, prior to that point, i.e. "I heard them, but was never really drawn to them, until . . . " or "I heard them at age [. . .], and instantly loved the" still tells us nothing about what their reaction may have been had they heard them a year, five, or ten, earlier.

Your stance really does remain on the conservative side. Even if I were going to restrict children away from Leonard's songs, I would want exposure to come sooner than 17, as there are so many healthy and spiritual perspectives/principles inherent in Leonard's work that I would want a child to at least be privy to, in hopes they would be incorporated into their own.

Thanks for your openness in answering these questions. It really makes me want you to join in on DBCohen's thread regarding what you would want included in an LC Essential compilation.


~ Lizzy
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Post by John Etherington » Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:25 pm

Hi Lizzy,
If the parents are into Leonard, they'd probably do best not to try to convert their children. If the children hear Leonard's music playing and are interested, they'll check it out. I like to think the soul gravitates to what it needs. Both my parents were elderly, conservative, Capricorn baptists (!) and banned me from listening to pop music till I was ten. However by age 16, my musical taste had progressed to John Peel's "Perfumed Garden" with no help from anyone (except perhaps the music magazines that I read). Perfect compilations for someone such as Leonard are virtually impossible, since every album is near-perfect to start with. I think they did an exceptionally good job with "The Essential LC" but it still seems criminal to exclude "The Window" and "Joan of Arc".
All good things, John E
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Post by lazariuk » Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:21 pm

Beccka wrote:
I remember 'Suzanne' first and didn't get the sexual references at all, even with the 'touched your perfect body' bits. But at the same time my mother was a naturalist and bodies weren't anything special. Other kids might have more of a clue.
What at first seemed like sexual references later seemed to be something else
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Post by Beccka » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:19 pm

lizzytysh wrote: You have quite the Summer Break ahead of you, Beccka :shock: :lol: 8) . Your relationship with your Dad may never be quite the same :) .
I'm really excited about reading the book. The last book we read together was The Clockwork Orange....Beautiful Losers isn't in that category, is it?

lizzytysh wrote:Hi John ~

Your stance really does remain on the conservative side. Even if I were going to restrict children away from Leonard's songs, I would want exposure to come sooner than 17, as there are so many healthy and spiritual perspectives/principles inherent in Leonard's work that I would want a child to at least be privy to, in hopes they would be incorporated into their own.
~ Lizzy
This answer is for both John and Lizzy. Depending on the values you want to instill in your children, it might be a good idea to restrict a child from Cohen's songs - the same way your parents kept you away from pop music, John. You never know what they'll pick up.

I got a lot of my ideas of God, religion, and faith from Cohen, and his music is one of the reasons I became a Catholic when I left home, to the horror of my Pagan parents. Had they realized that Cohen would have led me towards that spiritual path, I'm certain they'd have banned him along with the Bible and the Narnia series.[/i]
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:04 pm

Hi Beccka ~

I haven't read the book, but saw the "A Clockwork Orange" film. I recall some sex scenes, but with people much closer to the same in age as each other. You're going to find "Beautiful Losers" far more explicit than you ever dreamed. I'll be interested in hearing how your reading goes and how the material gets processed between you and your Dad.

You and John are so right on how young people will rebel... period. So, who knows what child [6 out of 7, or 7 out of 8 ~ couldn't tell for sure how you were using siblings, literally, or just as a substitute for the word children ~ in your case, unless they still return to it later]. It would be a shame for children to end up missing out on Leonard's beautiful body of work simply due to rebellion.

I feel that the soul does get exposed to things at its own pace... however, parents already embracing Leonard's work may signal the preparation of the soul's path already being done or already accomplished... hence, time to proceed. It can be hard to say, I guess.

For me, I would trust the messages that children would take away from Leonard's songs... especially if I were there for their processing of them.


~ Lizzy
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Post by lazariuk » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:20 pm

lizzytysh wrote: You're going to find "Beautiful Losers" far more explicit than you ever dreamed. ~ Lizzy
I think I remember seeing somewhere where Leonard said that his daughter had never read "Beautiful Losers" I don't think he had a problem with that.
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:37 pm

I think I remember seeing somewhere where Leonard said that his daughter had never read "Beautiful Losers" I don't think he had a problem with that.
That would be a good quote to locate. I wonder how long ago it was said, and whether Lorca has read the book since. I can't help but think of having read somewhere that Eminem won't allow his albums to be played in his own house. Certainly, this is not and wasn't the case with Leonard playing and singing his own songs.


~ Lizzy
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Post by Beccka » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:43 pm

lazariuk wrote:
lizzytysh wrote: You're going to find "Beautiful Losers" far more explicit than you ever dreamed. ~ Lizzy
I think I remember seeing somewhere where Leonard said that his daughter had never read "Beautiful Losers" I don't think he had a problem with that.
:shock: Now you guys are making me *really* curious. At the least it should be a good antidote to grading the forty-seven midterms that got dropped on my desk this morning. Spring Break starts Friday. I can't wait.
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:55 pm

:lol: Let us know as soon as you get into the book and get your first inkling, Beccka :lol: ~ a break from mid-terms it will definitely be, as long as you don't get so distracted that you can't get back to reading them with a clear mind :wink: . "Beautiful" ~ "Losers" ~ it sounds so relatively benign, doesn't it? Just keep in mind that the 'society' at the time of its writing was overly conservative. Leonard definitely pushed some boundaries in some groundbreaking ways. That's the only hint you're getting from me. I could direct you to some quotes that would give you a better idea, but that's too close to telling you 'the ending of the movie.' Since your familiarity with it is so limited, at this point, better to let you discover it all for yourself.



~ Lizzy
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Beautiful Losers

Post by John Etherington » Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:34 am

Hi Beccka,
I'm interested to know two things - your age, and how reading the book with your father works. Do you read chapters simultaneously and then discuss them? Without giving anything away, "Beautiful Losers" interweaves various threads...it relates the history of a dead American Indian female saint and Leonard's fantasies about her, alongside the contemporary story of a triangular relationship between three people - the narrator (Leonard), his wife, and his male friend "F". Like Leonard's later songs, the book contains passages that are deadly serious, and some that feature outrageous humour - often black. The book at times breaks taboos in its use of language and sexual imagery. There are parts that out of context might be considered pornographic , but other passages that are highly poetic. I've read it twice (originally when I was about 20) and must read it again. The important thing is to persevere with it. If you think you're losing the thread, just carry on and everything falls into place. Parts of it are very easy to read. I look forward to hearing both yours and your father's verdicts. All good wishes, John E
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