Saturday, January 21, 2012

Layer 506 . . . Inheritance Tracks, Wax, Laughs, Hardy and Even More Cohen

It's often worth listening to Saturday Live at 9.00 on Radio 4, if only for the feature called "Inheritance Tracks". This morning featured Ruby Wax, who gets better as she gets older.
"The piece of music I inherited was the first time I ever heard The Beatles' "Twist & Shout" - and I almost fainted on the floor. John Lennon's voice was the sexiest thing, and I didn't even know what that meant. I grew breasts overnight. Boy do I wish I'd met him. I only came to England to marry one of The Beatles."
This is something that people who don't 'get' the Beatles' fame and music fail to understand. Lennon's voice (and the band) was capable of being raw, raucous and totally compelling - especially back then - when Britain on the whole hadn't discovered rhythm and blues or soul music, and the musical idols of the day were people like Cliff, Adam Faith, Billy Fury and others too bland to mention.
"The music that I would hand down is James Taylor's 'You Can Close Your Eyes'. The reason I want my kids to hear it is because I want them to understand how deep and profound our music was - in comparison to the stuff you get on X-Factor."

Ruby also mentioned 'Frontier Psychiatrist' - "The video is NUTS!"

To listen to Ruby's bit go straight to minute 49.30 (out of 58.00) if you don't have time to listen to the rest of the programme.

[47.35 - an amusing piece of poetry by Elvis McGonagall ]


Jeremy Hardy at the Watford Palace Theatre

I don't want to say anything bad about Watford, so I won't say anything at all. Jeremy, on the other hand, was brilliant. Funny, political and passionate. Catch him when you can.


Here's another mention of Leonard from this week's Guardian:
Leonard Cohen shows there's life in the old dog yet with launch of new album
by Alex Needham
His detractors may sarcastically call him Laughing Len, but Leonard Cohen kept a roomful of journalists entertained on Wednesday night as he launched his first album in eight years.
"Old Ideas" proves that Cohen's long-term preoccupations with sex, death and salvation have endured. The inside cover features a drawing, by Cohen, of a naked woman and a skull.
[Cohen said] songwriting involved "perseverance, perspiration, but also a certain kind of grace and illumination."
[Jarvis Cocker asked] how Cohen felt about being awarded the PEN New England award for literary excellence in song lyrics.
"The thing I liked about this award was that I'm sharing it with Chuck Berry," said Cohen. "'Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news' – I'd like to write a line like that."
Once questions were opened to the floor, Cohen revealed that he is likely to tour after the album's release. The singer said he had been "invigorated and illuminated" by his last tour, which took in 247 shows over two years to huge audiences and ecstatic reviews.
Before he'd started the tour, Cohen said, "I hadn't done anything for 15 years. I was like Ronald Reagan in his declining years. He remembered he'd had a good role – he's played the president in a movie and I felt somewhat that I had been a singer. Being back on the road really re-established me as being a worker in the world and that was a very satisfactory feeling."

Comments on Len from the Guardian's feedback this week:

Lovely article. Laughing Len is truly a living legend. Would have to say that I felt blessed to see him twice on his world tour in 2008. The atmosphere at the 02 was electrifying. He wears his learning lightly but he speaks so much truth, beauty and wisdom, he is impossible not to appreciate.

For anyone interested in LC, a fascinating and revealing recent speech by him at the Prince of Asturias awards.

Seeing Mr Cohen in a concert hall in Vienna, where he sang for over 2 and a half hours and even the normally reserved Viennese were literally "dancing in the aisles", will always remain one of the top 3 moments of my concert experiences. When the audience showered him with roses was special too.

Of course, when he played "Take this Waltz" the Viennese audience went "mental" in their own sweet peculiar way.

I want more.

For someone who can't sing, he is the master of melody, of tune, of song.

And then there's the lyrics.

The widest, most heartfelt, most gregarious tip of the hat to Leonard.

Leonard Cohen is the real thing: a poet in an era--and especially, in a country--that does not value poets. He is not a scribble of mediocre lines, he is not simply self-absorbed, he is not a relentless self-promoter. As noted in the excellent interview described above, he cares but is not didactic.

His poem/song "Democracy" is in many ways the theme of our time, the struggle to bring people back to the integrity of self-rule. He never fails to suffuse his work with a vulnerable tenderness that is only accentuated by his unmusical voice.

Thank you, Leonard Cohen, for your life and your life's work. Some of your songs are among the most important I've ever had the good fortune to hear. Bless you.

It feels like a privilege, a blessing, to live during the time that Leonard Cohen is recording and performing. Generations to come will tell me how lucky I was. And they will be right.

Only Dylan, who is more musical, has in my lifetime even attempted to yoke together the concrete and the abstract, the personal and the political, in the same line.

Cohen is a poet who was forced to make recourse to music to create an audience.. Dylan is a musician who was forced to make recourse to poetry to stand up and be heard.

They are the best of our times; but Cohen is the real poet.

Commit suicide listening to Cohen's lyrics? More chance I would have committed suicide because I had never heard his voice.

Thanks for everything you gave.

Whither thou goest, I will go...

He reduced the political choice of mankind to 4 lines without mentioning poltics:

I saw a man on a wooden crutch 
He said to me, 'You ask for too much.' 
And a woman in her darkened door 
She said to me: ''Hey, why not ask for more?'

I too want to add my gratitude for being alive in the same era as the great man.

I love his voice, his words, his humour, his wit, his dryness, his darkness, his generosity as a thinker, poet, song-writer, performer.

The thing I have found most inspiring about leonard cohen is his stoic approach- the balance of ego, incredulity and honesty. It's like he has nailed the scientific formula for how to address and express ideas. I think everyone can benefit from that, it is a gift we are all fortunate that he can share, including him. He strikes me as a fully realised individual - his ascension is a community event.

Leonard is of course your man and (as has been said) is along with Dylan the best songwriter of the last fifty years. i would just like to put in a word for Ten New Songs
one of his most neglected masterpieces, absolutely wonderful. Alexandra Leaving is one of his best songs ever. Not to be missed.

For me, the best Cohen album is the recording of his concert at the O2 in 2009

I was at that concert - wonderful show, awful arena (like a 10,000 seater cinema) but the performance was magnificent in many respects. Also the most musically-literate audience I've ever seen - they appreciated every minor tweak, every slightly-changed lyric, every phrase of a solo instrument that made delicate reference to a different Cohen song. Probably the best concert I've heard.

Consummate performer........The man is perfect in every respect........

I'm so glad Cohen is still with us and still recording and touring (and hopefully I'll get to see him). Such brilliant writer - I don't know anyone who can tie up love, despair, sex, politics, and theology in quite the same understated way. Some of his lyrics - Love Itself, or If It Be Your Will - are the most astonishing fusion of Jewish, Zen, and Christian thought, with his own wisdom and experience driving them. And he doesn't hit you over the head with how clever he is, either.

Just extraordinary.

Leonard Cohen is the greatest singer-songwriter of them all. When I first heard 'Songs of Love and Hate' as a teenager, I realised: here is someone who feels everything , who suffers everything, who understands everything, and yet it does not destroy him. He's kept me going for nearly forty years, and I treasure his life and work as a blessing.

I am not a "fan" of anyone else, but Cohen is simply incredible. Had the great luck of hearing him at the jazz festival in NIce three and a half years ago...have never, ever seen an audience (for anything or anyone else) that was as profoundly reverential, hanging on every note, waiting for the revelation of the next song, as this one. Left deeply moved, as I think did everyone there.

Saw him twice on last tour - he has the most amazing charisma. Brilliant song writer and as sexy as hell.

I've been a fan of Leonard Cohen for more years than I care to remember and he has always been my hero. I had the great privilege of hearing him sing at the O2 and it was just amazing how he could make that vast hangar feel intimate, holding the audience in the palm of his hand.

I met the man twice long ago. Even then he was charming, droll, gracious, self-deprecating, patient. I would always go and see him on tour in the 60s/70s. He was always impeccable.

His songs are full of self deprecation and sly wit.
How about: I don't trust my inner feelings; inner feelings come and go.

I've always thought that in interviews Leonard appears as kindly, avuncular, and amused, but above all, detached. He doesn't seem to believe in his own mythology. As the mighty Ian Dury once said, 'Never explain' - it shouldn't be necessary. 

When Leonard toured here in 08 and 09 the demand for tickets and the size of the venues he played came as a pretty big shock to me (as well as the price of the tickets!) Never realised there were so many fans. A very big cult audience I suppose combined with the fact that a lot of us had thought that seeing Leonard Cohen live in concert was something we were never going to see - so pretty much everyone who likes LC wanted a ticket. I wasn't really expecting that much to be honest - thinking LC was pretty old and his voice would be gone. Thought I'd just be there for the fact of seeing him. But he surpassed all expectations - really great shows. And as someone said earlier he managed to bring an atmosphere of intimacy to very large venues. Very much enjoy watching the DVD of the O2 performance also 

Being there [at the interview with LC] does mean you have to endure the monotony of waiting for a considered response. I have every sympathy for those who find silence so threatening - unfortunately in this media-driven cacophony it's a rarity. It's the wall to wall din that conceals the vacuousness of content, empty-headed superstars with verbal diarrhoea and not an intelligent thought they can call their own. That's why LC and his like are difficult for some to appreciate - they think before they open their gobs, and what they say is well worth the wait. 

Leonard will assuredly go down as one of the great creators from our time - a Shakespeare or Botticelli. I've been listening since '68 - how great to have Cohen play through my life as a grounding rod. 

We called him Laughing Lenny because he was funny from the beginning, not the miserable cliché which lazy music writers came up with..

The New Yorker is streaming the new Leonard Cohen song 'Going Home', the first time they have ever streamed a song. They also publish the lyrics.

'I have been satirised as suicidal and self-indulgent' – a classic Leonard Cohen interview from the vaults


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