Sunday, February 8, 2009

I've heard there was a secret chord

For reasons that will soon become apparent, I have been immersing myself in the work of Leonard Cohen lately. It's a pleasure to delve deeply into the catalog of one of the great masters of songwriting. We can all learn a lot from the way he shapes a melody line and turns a phrase.

Some of the things I've found poking around on the Internets:

Here is a fascinating interview from the 90s, where Cohen describes his writing process at great length. Some songwriters just blurt it out in complete, spontaneous bursts of pure inspiration, while others ruminate, rewrite, cut, edit, question, and analyze. Leonard Cohen, of course, is famously in the second category, and it's good to read in detail how his mind works.

I found this as well: Leonard Cohen and Sonny Rollins together doing "Who By Fire" on the Jools Holland show. This is so many kinds of awesome. Check it out:



UPDATE: Subject line changed from "The little Jew who wrote the Bible" (a lyric from "The Future") because we decided some people who weren't familiar with the song might misinterpret our intent and get bent out of shape.

8 comments:

Ian Schultz said...

Good old Lenny Cohen, absolute legend.

Righteous Bubba said...

Seen this John Cale fan site? He did a pretty good Hallelujah...

Ian Schultz said...

John Cale's version of Hallelujah is the one most people know, it's got different lyrics because Lenny sent him the complete lyrics which is different from his version and John Cale picked the ones he liked the best and Jeff Buckley based his on that arrangement

J Neo Marvin said...

I love me some Cale for sure (and thanks for that link, Bubba), but I'm part of that minority who believe Cohen's own version of "Hallelujah" is by far the best. Nobody else delivers the line "But you don't really care for music, DO YA?" as well for my money.

Ian Schultz said...

I think Cohen's version is great but I think John Cale's and Jeff Buckley's are better and on John Cale, I need to see John Cale since his shows are always cheap unlike a certain Lou Reed's and has been much more consistently good than Lou Reed.

Ian Schultz said...

Nobody else delivers the line "But you don't really care for music, DO YA?" as well for my money. I do agree Leonard Cohen's delivery of that line is the best delivery

J Neo Marvin said...

The last thing Lou Reed did that I liked was Songs For Drella, and of course we know who helped him out there.

To bring it back to the topic, I'm starting to have a new take on Berlin: Lou Reed tried to write a Leonard Cohen album, and failed spectacularly, for better or worse.

Ian Schultz said...

I think the reason Berlin happened was Lou Reed got depressed about the fans of Transformer and wanted to a album that was the complete opposite, same with Sally Can't Dance and Metal Machine Music.