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Old 08-28-2008, 09:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Leonard Cohen-Songs Of Love And Hate

Leonard Cohen is the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Canada. Or really anywhere else for that matter. He can write a great love song, and he can write a song filled with hate and disgust. And he can do it better than almost anyone else. This album includes some of the darkest songs ever written, as well as some great love songs. Hence the title Songs Of Love And Hate. If anyone needs convincing that Leonard Cohen could quite possibly be the greatest lyricist ever, this is the album to get.

Some of the songs are almost disturbing in their darkness. For example, there is a song titled "Dress Rehearsal Rag." Guaranteed, this song is darker than anything ever written by any goth rock idol. The subject matter is disturbing, with lyrics about a man contemplating suicide. With lyrics like "If you can manage to get your trembling figers to behave/Why don't you try unwrapping a stainless steel razorblade?", this song may turn some people off. But listen closer and try to find a deeper meaning in the lyrics. The song is a poetic insight on a person's decision to end his own life and the kind of thought process that runs through a disturbed mind. The song is troublesome for sure, but it's also a great example of the kind of emotions Leonard Cohen can stir up, and why he ranks among the greatest songwriters of all time.

One of the more famous songs off this album is "Famous Blue Raincooat." This song is great to analyze. It is written in the form of a letter, with Leonard Cohen even ending the song "Sincerely, L. Cohen." He seems to be writing to his brother about an affair that his brother had with his "woman," Jane. The great thing about this song is it doesn't explain everything, and doesn't give reasons for every detail in the song. For example, in the beginning of the song, he explains he's writing to his brother to see if he's better. He never explains what was wrong with him or elaborates on very much. Although, it can be implied that he may have had a breakdown. One thing is for sure, the song is about a love triangle. One line that makes this clear is "You treated my woman to a flake of your life/and when she came back she was nobody's wife." "Flake" obviously meaning "piece" of his brother's life. He also later says "What can I tell you/my brother, my killer?" He uses the word killer to describe his brother because he was obviously very in love with Jane, and his brother stole her away. The song has a very dark tone to it, but it could almost also be taken as a love song, since he was also very in love with Jane, and is having a hard time forgiving his brother.

Listening to this album is almost like listening to a poetry reading. This may have something to do with the fact that Leonard Cohen is also a poet. His poetry writing talents are really shown in his songwriting. This album is filled with metaphors and literary devices. He never lets his songs get by with mediocre lyrics to decribe emotions. An example is contained in the great love song, "Joan Of Arc." He is in love with this woman and his feelings are very powerful. He uses lines like "I'm glad to hear you talk this way/You know, I watched you ride everyday. Something inside me yearns to win/a cold and lonesome heroine," to decribe these strong feelings towards this woman. He can also use his talents to tell of strong feelings of disgust, such as in "Avalanche." This song is filled with disgust and hatred. In fact, it opens the album, and really sets the tone for the rest of it. It is extremely dark, and somewhat depressing. The lyrics are strange and he refers to a "hump" throughout the song. Whether this is decribing an actual deformity, or a metaphor for something, it's hard to tell. No matter what the song is about, it's still obviously about someone's hatred for another person. The way Cohen sings the song is enough proof of this. His voice is filled with anger, and his vocals even tremble at some points in the song. For a musician to sing with this much emotion is unreal. The song contains lines such as "Do not dress in those rags for me/I know you're not poor. And don't love me so fiercly now/when you know you are not sure." Rarely do musicians sing with such hatred, and even if the song isn't about anyone in particular (which I don't know if it is or not), the listener feels like it is.

I can't stress how important this album is. The songwriting, the vocals, the guitar, everything is completely perfected. Everyone should recognize Leonard Cohen as one of the most important figures in the singer/songwriter genre. This album can be analyzed to the deepest degree, and every song is a classic example of the great songwriting talents of Leonard Cohen. His lyrics create vivid images in the mind that stay with you long after the album is over. He is a living legend, and has created a flawless bunch of songs on Songs Of Love And Hate. It is essential that anyone remotely intersted in music should own this album.

Last edited by SammyJay; 08-28-2008 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Very nice review, I have recently acquired this album, last week in fact, but not yet played it. Looking for some time where I can lay down and listen all the way through.
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Old 08-28-2008, 01:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Very cool. You will be amazed.
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Old 08-28-2008, 01:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great review! Classic album. "Avalanche" one of my all time favorite Leonard Cohen songs.
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Me too. Such a great song.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The whole album to me is pretty flawless; the lyrics are profound and his guitar playing can get remarkable at times, like in Avalanche especially. It's hard to pick but Diamonds In The Mine is probably my favorite song.
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Old 12-04-2009, 08:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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"he explains he's writing to his brother to see if he's better. He never explains what was wrong with him or elaborates on very much. Although, it can be implied that he may have had a breakdown..."

In "Famous Blue Raincoat" the 'illness' that Cohen's brother suffers is made very "clear". He asks his brother if he ever went "clear". Going "clear" is a slang term for getting clean, or 'getting clear' of drugs.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Great review! Classic album. "Avalanche" one of my all time favorite Leonard Cohen songs.
Same. One of my favorite songs of any artists actually.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Great review! Classic album. "Avalanche" one of my all time favorite Leonard Cohen songs.
Ditto, Cave tried to beat the original with no success.... still, he did a damn good job though. Anyway, yes, Leonard is one of my favorites.

For me, Cohen is kind of hit and miss. It's not that any of his songs are bad, it's that some of them are good. Which if you think about it makes Songs Of Love And Hate not a solid album. It's just some of the songs on that album are so emotionally strong and blindingly moving that the rest of the album looks pale in comparison... maybe he should have put them in order of worst to best. Great review Sammyjay, and since I missed your introduction thread welcome to MusicBanter.
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