Archive | June, 2019

Now It’s Come to Distances

New documentary about Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen. (CHT Gary Chartier.)

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe –

LEONARD COHEN: Your majesty, you inspire my work. You are my muse!

QUEEN VICTORIA: We are not a muse.

Leonard Cohen Month, FINALE: Songs 59-60

June 30:

And now we come to the end of (my blog’s unofficial) Leonard Cohen month. I can’t swear that every song I’ve included is one I prefer over every song I’ve excluded; I’m not at all sure that’s true. (“I don’t mean to suggest that I loved these the best ….”) But any alternative list of my favourites would probably overlap by at least 73.24% with the list I’ve offered. Certainly there were many frustrating omissions, though.

So anyway, here’s the first song for today:

Take This Longing (1974):

And for the second ….

Although I’ve posted the songs in no particular order (apart from trying to mix earlier and later songs, as well as more famous with less famous ones, and very occasionally attempting a thematic pairing) – and certainly not in either ascending or descending order of preference – from the start I never had any doubt as to which song I would pick to wind up this sequence. So without further ado, here are four versions of an especially beautiful song that I think may well be my favourite Cohen song of all, an apotheosis of longing. It’s a perfect superposition of a song – simultaneously joyous and tragic (at least in its later versions). (Of course the ambiguity of “end” plays a role in that; cf. Aristotle, Physics 194b29-33.)

The first version has a video with Cohen looking his absolute coolest ever – I mean, seriously:

Randian hero? Existentialist hero? European film star? Noir hero? Noir villain? Anyway, his coolest look.

and the second one has a Greek musical accompaniment that echoes his days on Hydra; but it’s the third and fourth versions that I find to sound the most lovely, haunting, heartbreaking:

Dance Me to the End of Love (1984):

And as an encore: a lot of good covers exist of these various songs I’ve been featuring, and I’ve resisted posting any of them (in order not to complicate my task); but these two covers of “Dance Me to the End of Love” are too good not to include:

a) Madeleine Peyroux’s version – I’m not crazy about the distracting musical accompaniment (though I’ve grown to mind it less over time) but I love her Billie-Holliday-esque vocal choices:

b) And finally, the Civil Wars’ version – simple, sweet, plaintive, an unexpected stab to the heart:

So will there be some sort of musical series to follow this Cohen series? Why yes, yes there will. Stay tuned. Hint: it’ll be thematically based rather than focused on a single artist; but a single artist will kinda predominate, at least at first. And you may pick him up on Channel 2.

Quand Vous Serez Bien Vieille

From Arthur C. Clarke’s Profiles of the Future:

One thing seems certain. Our galaxy is now in the brief springtime of its life – a springtime made glorious by such brilliant blue-white stars as Vega and Sirius, and, on a more humble scale, our own Sun. Not until all these have flamed through their incandescent youth, in a few fleeting billions of years, will the real history of the universe begin.

It will be a history illuminated only by the reds and infrareds of dully glowing stars that would be almost invisible to our eyes; yet the sombre hues of that all-but-eternal universe may be full of colour and beauty to whatever strange beings have adapted to it. They will know that before them lie, not the millions of years in which we measure eras of geology, nor the billions of years which span the past lives of the stars, but years to be counted literally in the trillions.

They will have time enough, in those endless aeons, to attempt all things, and to gather all knowledge. They will be like gods, because no gods imagined by our minds have ever possessed the powers they will command. But for all that, they may envy us, basking in the bright afterglow of creation; for we knew the universe when it was young.

Leonard Cohen Month, Songs 53-56

I apparently forgot to post the entry for June 27th! D’oh! So I’ll do two days in one post:

June 27:

Came So Far for Beauty (1979):

There For You (2004):

June 28:

Avalanche (1971):

Almost Like the Blues (2014):

We’re in the endgame now … just two days to go.

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