You would think, having listened to these songs for two decades, I’d already have by-hearted a fair few, but it would appear that I am one of those people who takes in the aggregate of a song, with only the odd line sinking into the memory bank.
How many of Leonard Cohen’s songs truly stand up as poems? Is this because his lugubrious delivery so indelibly pigments the words that one can never recite them again without feeling locked into his rhythms and melody, fettered as it were in the Tower of Song (do-dumb-dumb-dumb/da-doo-dumb-dumb)?
Or did Cohen’s lyrical poems become more watered down and less linguistically adventurous as he transformed into a songwriter? Even the great ‘Anthem‘, with that oft-quoted line about the “crack in everything /That’s how the light gets in” reads off the page a tad light and doggereled at times:
The birds they sang
at the break of day
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away …
This is not the case with Queen Victoria – a cracking poem (but an extremely leaden song).
So what Cohen songs work well as poem for you? Suggestions welcome.
[Heather’s novel, The Vanity Game can be purchased for the price of a cuppa from this purveyor of electro-words. “The Vanity Game eviscerates celebrity culture with the incisiveness of an expert surgeon – but with a giddy, over-the-top pleasure that’s exhilarating.” – Megan Abbott