"Diamonds in the Mine" -- Viet Nam Verse

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rmura
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"Diamonds in the Mine" -- Viet Nam Verse

Post by rmura » Tue May 16, 2006 11:19 pm

During at least one show, a long time ago, Cohen sang the "I thought I told you all about it in the days of Viet Nam..." verse for "Diamonds in the Mine" 3 or 4 times, interspersed among the regular verses.

Does anyone know the date of one of these performances with multiple "Viet Nam verses"?

Thanks.

Ron
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margaret
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Post by margaret » Tue May 16, 2006 11:32 pm

check out the website Diamonds in the Lines

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/pilgraeme/

Look up any song for variations or introductions when they were performed live.
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic » Wed May 17, 2006 10:04 am

The best version is available at Diamonds in the Minefield bootleg CD (recorded at Montrex Jazz Festival, 1985). I always think of this performance as the ultimate version of the song:

I told you all about it in the days of Vietnam
when your poets marched for Uncle Ho
And your sons for Uncle Sam
But which side you're gonna take now,
which song you're gonna sing?
With the mega stench of corpses that is blowin' in the wind


etc. to the old verses (but in rearranged order).

And I like this Bob Dylan reference.

As far I can recall, this new first verse was sung already in 1979 (maybe even 1976). In any case, it was usual in 1985, and you can start with this bootleg (or circualting complete Montreux Jazz Festival 3-CD soundboard recording), and the shows quoted on site Margaret linked.
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Post by rmura » Wed May 17, 2006 6:45 pm

Thanks for the tips. I just listened to the July 9, 1985, Montreux performance and it is indeed a good one.

What I'm looking for, however, are the date(s) of performances in which Cohen sings the Viet Nam verse *more than once*. Years ago, I heard a performance in which Cohen sang the new verse, then the standard first verse ("The woman in blue...") and chorus, then the new Viet Nam verse *again*, then the regular second verse ("You tell me that your lover...") and chorus, then the new verse for a *third* time, etc.

Would anyone know which show that would have been at?

Ron
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Post by tomsakic » Thu May 18, 2006 10:43 am

Oh, that. Maybe it was Hannover, November 11, 1979. I can check it at home. Namely, that was pretty awfull performance (at least for me) - Leonard started new verse (Vietnam one), and - my impression - messed up the new verses with old ones, and then repeated the same verse (Vietnam's, I think - but I am not sure, I will check) all over again, many times, and fill in "woman in blue" verse... I was so sure he forget it all at the very moment so he improvised the whole song with the pieces which he could remember. But the band was excellent, it is one of the best shows on tour (and excellent soundboard recording in high quality, although incomplete).
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Post by rmura » Fri May 19, 2006 7:39 pm

That's it! Thanks, Tom. You have a better memory than I.

I like it, although it's definitely a wild and sometimes sloppy version.

He seems to get the original verses OK, but he jumbles up some words on the new verse a couple of times and has a couple of problems with the chorus. I would guess that singing the new verse multiple times is deliberate, especially since he sings it a fourth time at the end, after having completed all the regular verses.

Ron
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~greg
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Post by ~greg » Sun May 21, 2006 7:46 am

I was going to ask what Leonard's point was.
But I think I get it now.

And this is what I think his point was: . . .
-

'Diamonds In The Mine' was born wailing,
into this world of woe, cradled in the arms of the 1971 album:
"Songs Of Love And Hate" (one of my all time favorites.)

Devlin (in "In Every Style Of Passion") says of it:
Disconsolate...depressing...distressing - it's just one low
after another on this record; and it inversely peaks, bottoms out,
you might say, with 'Diamonds In The Mine'. {...} Jacques Vassal
compared it to Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' - but 'Ballad Of A Thin Man'
or 'Positively 4th Street' would be nearer the mark. Neither of these
Dylan songs (or any other, for that matter) comes within reach of
this subterranean seam of condemnatory disgust at no friends,
no letters, no grapes, no chocolates, no diamonds and, ultimately,
no comfort.
Cohen's most distressed vocal of all {...}
Wikipedia has a "List of protest songs" here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protest_songs
which lists "Diamonds in the Mine" (and "The Future")
under "Abortion".

Now, obviously, if "Diamonds in the mine" is * about * abortion,
then it is so in a much broader sense of the word than is usually
taken for it today. (Whereas, I'm guessing, all the other songs
on that Wiipedia list traffic strictly in the narrow sense of the word.)

(Incidentally, Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973,
so abortions were "underground" when LC wrote Diamonds in the Mine,
Which may help to understand better the lines:
"the only man of energy, yes the revolution's pride,
he trained a hundred women just to kill an unborn child".)


Now, the Vietnam war may very well be characterized
as the US's greatest abortion.

Which is what I think was LC's point.

---------

However, since Diamonds In The Mine appeared in 1971,
it remains to explain why the Vietnam-variation occurred in 1979,
and not before or since then (- unless also in 1988, but this isn't clear,)


Technically, for the US, the Vietnam war ended in 1975. (1960-1975).

Hollywood of course didn't touch the subject, very directly, for a couple of years.
As one Dr. Lawrence H. Suid says in his essay "Hollywood and Vietnam"
(here: http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airc ... /suid.html )
the first of the what-I'd-call-real Vietnam war movie was "Coming Home":
the Dr. wrote:WITH the release of Coming Home in 1978, however,
Hollywood finally indicated a willingness to deal directly
with the ramifications of America's experiences in a losing war."
( consider also this:
BY BRENDAN MINITER
Monday, March 4, 2002 12:01 a.m. EST

Sometime after the 1983 liberation of Grenada, Ronald Reagan observed that
one of the important achievements of the operation was that it helped get America
over Vietnam. No longer was every military campaign destined to be another lost, aimless war.

This weekend, Hollywood finally caught up to the Gipper.
No longer is every movie about Vietnam destined to portray the war as aimless and immoral.

Mel Gibson's new film "We Were Soldiers" ...

- http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnist ... =105001721
)



"Go Tell the Spartans", with Burt Lancaster, also came out in 1978.
(sort of a response to John Wayne's "The Green Berets" of 1968).

Also "The Deer Hunter" came out in 1978.

Then, finally, suddenly, sort of --"Apocalypse Now" came out
in early 1979. (Ebert's first review of it was on June 1
so "Apocalypse" had to have been out before June.)

(--All the other Vietnam war movies you can think of came out later,
mostly across the 1980s.)

And Cohen's 1979 tour began in October.

So I think it is remotely possible that LC saw
"The Deer Hunter" and "Apocalypse Now" just shortly before the tour.

In any case "the ramifications of America's experiences in a losing war",
as Dr. Suid put it, was a topic very heavy "in the air" all during LC's 1979 tour.

And I think that's why the Vietnam verse to Diamonds In The Mine
occurred in 1979.

-------

As I said I do not think Diamonds In The Mine
is about abortion, in the narrow sense.

A fortiori I can not, I do not, and I will not,
believe that Leonard Cohen wanted his Vietnam stanza to be understood
as him calling Vietnam vets
--"baby killers"!



Maya Ying Lin's (not to be confused with "My Lai's") Vietnam War memorial
was built in 1982. Many people have called it the beginning of a very long
"healing process" over that war (-a thing which hasn't completed even yet.)

Remember that "First Blood", the first Rambo movie, also came out in 1982.
In an odd way this was actually sort of the first sympathetic portrayal
of a vietnam-vet, although really just another stereotype.

My point is that all through 1979 and the early 1980s
Vietnam veterans were still widely regarded by the media
as being widely regarded by many
as being "baby-killers",
--and the issue was particularly high profile in 1979.

---

And it still is, apparently,
a very sensitive topic for some.

To the extent that one might argue that Clinton did not close down Al Quida
on account of being hassled about a blow job, it can be argued
that this Iraq quagmire is an unforeseen consequence
of the expression "baby killers".

Looking for this expression on the net,
I just now listened to this:
(the "SEE VIDEO - John Kerry Called Vietnam Vets Baby Killers" link
here: http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnkerry.com/ )

What struck me odd about the title of the clip
is that John Kerry does not use the expression "baby killers" in the clip.
( I am not usually in the least bit interested in, or impressed by, this kind of semantic quibbling,
--- the truth is that the acquisitions that Kerry does make in the clip
(which were not fabricate or unusual, -Kerry just spoke them, in words,
more coherently than most other vets could manage to do, resorting
instead to far less constructive means,)
--- are very much of a feather with "baby killers".
But it is the specific expression, "baby killers", that's relevant here.)

Then I found this:
Filling in as host of Rush Limbaugh's radio show on August 25,
radio host and former San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock said
Senator John Kerry "coined the phrase 'baby killers'"
in reference to soldiers fighting in Vietnam. While Hedgecock
claimed that Kerry "first brought up that phrase" in his 1971 testimony
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry did not use this phrase
in an audio clip from the testimony that Hedgecock played on the show,
at any other point in his testimony
or, apparently, at any other time.
http://mediamatters.org/items/200408270003
---

Vietnam was a subject very difficult to get a mental handle on in 1979.

Cohen's effort in Diamonds In The Mine
reminds me of Bowie's silly line "busting up my brains for the words"
in "Moonage Daydream".
Tom wrote: that was pretty awfull performance (at least for me)
- Leonard started new verse (Vietnam one), and - my impression - messed up
the new verses with old ones, and then repeated the same verse
(Vietnam's, I think - but I am not sure, I will check) all over again,
many times, and fill in "woman in blue" verse...
I was so sure he forget it all at the very moment so he improvised the whole song
with the pieces which he could remember.
Ron wrote: I like it, although it's definitely a wild and sometimes sloppy version.

He seems to get the original verses OK, but he jumbles up some words
on the new verse a couple of times and has a couple of problems
with the chorus. I would guess that singing the new verse multiple times
is deliberate, especially since he sings it a fourth time
at the end, after having completed all the regular verses
Well, I haven't heard it.

However, that war was a sloppy and meaningless thing,
and so I think that every reference to it ought, properly,
to be sloppy and meaningless, --or else be a lie.
And Cohen doesn't lie.

My Lai occurred on March 16, 1968,
(around when "Songs of Leonard Cohen" came out)

However the My Lai incident was covered up and didn't break
into public consciousness until November of 1969.

In 1971 Calley became the total scapegoat.

Songs Of Love And Hate came out in 1971.

Usually people correlate Cohen's works with the events in his own personal life.

However no man lives always on an island, to coin a phrase.
And back then Vietnam occupied about 90% of * everyone's * consciousness,
(--100% of their subconscious.)

I do not mean to claim that Vietnam was already in "Diamonds In The Mine"
from the very beginning.

Just that a large part of its energy
- its "subterranean seam of condemnatory disgust" (-Devlin),
- "was Vietnam".

And it does have that conceit - "no diamonds in the mine".

Which does remind me of the
--- no weapons found in the boat ---
scene in Apocalypse.

Ebert wrote: Another wrenching scene -- in which the crew of Martin Sheen's Navy patrol boat
massacres the Vietnamese peasants in a small boat --
happens with such sudden, fierce, senseless violence
that it forces us to understand for the first time how such things could happen.

Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" is filled with moments like that,
and the narrative device of the journey upriver is as convenient for him
as it was for Conrad. That's really why he uses it, and not because of
literary cross-references for graduate students to catalog.
He takes the journey, strings episodes along it, leads us at last to Brando's
awesome, stinking hideaway ... and then finds, so we've all heard,
that he doesn't have an ending. Well, Coppola doesn't have an ending,
if we or he expected the closing scenes to pull everything together
and make sense of it. Nobody should have been surprised.
"Apocalypse Now" doesn't tell any kind of a conventional story,
doesn't have a thought-out message for us about Vietnam,
has no answers, and thus needs no ending.

I am not saying what I'm trying to say very well.

I just think that if Cohen seemed to mess up the inclusion of his Vietnam verse
in any way, then that was exactly the right thing for him to do with it,
--entirely appropriate. Any more polished, typical, expected song-structure
inclusion of the verse would have made of it "a conventional story, ... a
thought-out message for us about Vietnam, "
- which would have been all wrong for it,
(in 1979, that is.)
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic » Mon May 22, 2006 11:01 am

Excellent, Greg, thank you very much. You're right about everything, I'd say. I was dealing a little with Vietnam War history and how it came to public recognition in 1978-early 80s period (Actually, my first published professional scholar work was "Representation of Vietnam subject in Hollywood Cinema"; I was dealing with complete cycle of movies from Coming Home to Stone's trilogy, ending with We Were Soldiers. I still watch every was movie in cinema, like Jairheads, connectiong it with that theme. It seems it's the complex which will never end.). I like how you made connections between new 1979 version of the song, with open Vietnam reference, and also 1971 events with album version of the song. I think "Love and Hate" is indeed one of the first albums, which announced later songs which corresponded with political and social context. Although we can't forget Stories of The Street, which resonates with the period of "significant silence" (as they called it) of the Vietnam War period ("significant silence" ended in 1978-79, exactly, as you wrote).

I can make mp3 of Hannover version and email it to you. I don't quite remember the song (my recalls are it was mess), so I still, like, prefer structured version from 1985, where Vietnam verse opens the song.
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Joe Way
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Post by Joe Way » Mon May 22, 2006 4:53 pm

Yes, Greg, let me add my voice to Tom's enthusiastic approval of your insights into what may have caused the timing of Leonard's new verse.

As luck would have it, yesterday's Wisconsin State Journal contained a story about a new book being written about the relationship between popular music and Vietnam veterans. The books authors, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner,
emphasize that the Vietnam Vets experience with music is quite different than those of us who were not "in country"-as the saying used to go.
"Werner says that 1960s rock music was different than music of previous generations because it reflected larger social trends toward freedom of expression and the willingness to challenge authority.
"The music of the Vietnam era created this deeper connection with people because the 1960s were so defined by the music," said Werner. "We continue to be defined by it to this day."
Bradley and Werner got the idea to write this book two years ago when they met at a veterans gathering in Madison. They quickly recognized that a certain set of songs had a powerful hold on the memories of a particular time and place for Vietnam War veterans. "
None of Leonard's songs appear in the top ten that they have listed resulting from their interviews with veterans:
1. "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," The Animals

2. "Chain of Fools," Aretha Franklin

3. "Fortunate Son," Creedence Clearwater Revival

4. "(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay," Otis Redding

5. "These Boots Are Made for Walking," Nancy Sinatra

6. "The Fightin' Side of Me," Merle Haggard

7. "What's Going On," Marvin Gaye

8. "Nowhere to Run," Martha Reeves and the Vandellas

9. "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag," Country Joe and the Fish

10. "Purple Haze," Jimi Hendrix
You can read the whole article here:

http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/enterta ... 57&ntpid=1


But as Greg says,
Usually people correlate Cohen's works with the events in his own personal life.
So, too, must I.

Most of you have probably read my account of how the Wisconsin Student Association, brought Leonard to Madison in October, 1970 to be the headliner for the "Bring 'em home from Vietnam" Homecoming celebration. So somehow a significant portion of those people on the homefront felt Leonard was a voice of protest. It certainly appeared to me that his was a very reluctant voice-perhaps because he is Canadian or perhaps, at the time because he was particularly distracted by the turmoil in Quebec that was occuring.

For those of you who may not have read the article which Marie so graciously posted on her "Speaking Cohen" site, you can find it here:

http://www.webheights.net/speakingcohen/joeway0.htm

Joe
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