Leonard Cohen, "First We Take Manhattan"

Here.
Incredibly great music by one of the most underrated musicians of the rock era. Hardly anyone has ever heard of him here in the US, and he’s never had a big hit, but he’s a glorious poet and a singer-songwriter. I always thought he was American, but it turns out he’s Canadian, and he’s quite famous in Canada, though certainly not in the US.
Sort of an aging beatnik type. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen – two great Jewish singer-songwriters of the rock era. But Cohen is much darker than Dylan. Not that Dylan can’t be dark. “Desolation Row” is virtually punk rock already in 1965!
Dig the Black chicks in the background, LOL. Check him out live. Old guy in fedora, he could be William S. Burroughs. He belongs in a Paris hotel full of Beat painters are writers. In the afternoons, after he wakes at noon, he’s lounging in Paris cafes on the sidewalk. In the evening, there’s always a bar in Paris if you have two legs and an extra five minutes.

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0 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen, "First We Take Manhattan"”

  1. He was a Zen monk for some years and his latest collection of poetry is often mystical and reflects a deep spiritual life. Actually, there have been religious themes in his music since the 60’s, such as surrender and worship, and there are often biblical references. ‘If it be your will’ is a prayer.
    He writes an awful lot about woman, relationships and sex too of course (you might say his other biggest concern in life) and often his songs or poems work on both levels.
    He can be dark too, of course, like you said (‘I’ve seen the future, brother, it is murder’), and a lot of his music has a melancholy tone. But he’s never other than brilliant and his poetic touch is unsurpassed.
    To me, he is the Byron or Blake of the 20th century, writing in the popular medium of the time.
    I saw him in concert in Manchester. He had a humble and gracious presence and he related to the audience directly and warmly. He was like a master romancer, very polished and very charming. He put on a show and made sure we got our money’s worth. He was funny too…he reeled off a long list of all the prescription drugs he had taken, all chemical names, and ended it with ‘cider’.
    I highly recommend ‘Leonard Cohen: I’m your man’. It shows live performances of his music by some known singers he influenced, who also give interviews, and throughout are clips of an interview with him where he talks through and reflects on his life. You can rent it through youtube for a couple of pounds, maybe a couple of dollars.
    p.s. You wrote ‘overrated’. No! Did you mean underrated?

  2. Such a great song! This is the first song I heard by him. I heard it on the radio in the car, half-listening, and then I was like, “Hey, these lyrics are pretty good! Who is this guy?” Then it was, “Oh, so that’s Leonard Cohen.” This might be heresy, but I don’t especially like some of his other famous songs. That one about the raincoat – eh. But I still love this song.
    He’s pretty popular in Israel, as you might guess.

    1. “And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
      And when she came back she was nobodys wife.
      Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
      One more thin gypsy thief
      Well I see Janes awake —
      She sends her regards.
      And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
      What can I possibly say?
      I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
      Im glad you stood in my way.
      If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
      Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.
      Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
      I thought it was there for good so I never tried.”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fMnF0Fvdpo

  3. He’s never had a big hit but Hallelujah is very famous now, in Britain anyway, since it was covered by the X factor winner Alexandra Burke. Here it is by Jeff Buckley, from the German movie the edukators (have you seen it? the main characters are Marxists. Really good film but not as good as Goodbye Lenin). This was the first Cohen song I heard, in the cinema, and…just wow.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPqeJ8WRpJM

  4. Unknown in the US, perhaps, but he’s practically been Poet Laureate of Canada for decades. He is a treasure here, one of the most important artists ever produced by this country, well-known, loved and respected. . Glad you just discovered him, he’s been around about 40 years. He also has a son and daughter who are both phenomenal singer/songwriters and have recording careers. Thanks for mentioning he’s Canadian, by the way.

    1. Watch it with the snarky remarks, Richard. You have been walking on thin ice for some time now. I ban on stuff like that. On the wrong kind of tone. Go reread the comments rules.

      1. I have been listening to Cohen for some time now, though very little. He does a song called, “The Chelsea Hotel” or something. I listened to that a long time ago.

        1. Yeah its about Janis Joplin. She is the one giving him head on an unmade bed as the limousines wait in the street. That was a real place where a lot of writers, artists and musicians lived, including Dylan.

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