Wednesday, December 06, 2006

169. Leonard Cohen - Songs From A Room (1969)

Track Listing

1. Bird On The Wire
2. Story Of Isaac
3. Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes
4. Seems So Long Ago
5. Nancy
6. Old Revolution
7. Butcher
8. You Know Who I Am
9. Lady Midnight
10. Tonight Will Be Fine


If you thought Leonard Cohen's debut was depressing, you have to listen to this one. Cohen takes it up a notch in this collection of beautiful yet extremely sad songs. Cohen is relentless in his misanthropic lyrics, it's just sad, sad, sad, disappointed with mankind, sad.

Of course Cohen is a master at doing this. He never sounds trite or whinny, his voice is serious as are his subjects and his lyrics are as close to perfection as any. Story of Isaac is a great example of the complexity and beauty of Cohen's lyrics.

This being said, I have to say that I prefered his debut to this album, his first album had a little light at the end of the tunnel, here there seems to be none. The is no Suzanne to give you some nice image of humanity. There is just Seems So Long Ago, Nancy, where the woman is a whore and depressed and maybe dead to boot. Even the only cover in the album, The Partisan is depressing as shit. But it is beautiful, and expertly done and Cohen is a God. You can stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Lady Midnight
2. Tonight Will Be Fine
3. Story Of Isaac
4. Seems So Long Ago, Nancy

Final Grade



Leonard Cohen Documentary Trailer:

From Wikipedia:

The first track, "Bird on the Wire", described by Cohen as a simple country song, has been covered by many people including his one-time backup singer Jennifer Warnes, by The Neville Brothers on the soundtrack for the 1990 film Bird on a Wire, by Willie Nelson on the Cohen tribute album Tower of Song and by Johnny Cash for his 1994 album American I: American Recordings. It also appeared on the earlier tribute I'm Your Fan, covered by The Lilac Time.

"Story of Isaac" is based on the Old Testament myth of Yahweh's demand that Isaac be sacrificed by his father Abraham. It ends with an admonishment to fathers to no longer sacrifice their sons. Judy Collins' 1968 recording, which predated Cohen's, features slightly different lyrics. Suzanne Vega performed the song on the Tower of Song album.

"The Partisan" is based on the poem "La complainte du partisan" by "Bernard" (Emmanuel D'Astier), a prominent figure in the French resistance during World War II.

The 5th number on this album, "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" tells the story of Nancy Challies, a depressed young woman from Montréal, who committed suicide after being forced by her family to put her son up for adoption. However, in 1979 Cohen (perhaps disingenuously) told the filmmaker Harry Rasky that "Nancy" was only a waitress in an American juke joint with whom he had been slightly acquainted. (The interview is recounted in Rasky's book, The Song of Leonard Cohen.)

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