The gift of music #1 ~ Leonard Cohen

“I’m your man” is the first CD from my birthday present stash I have listened to. I promised that I would share, and what a stunning one to begin. Thanks Sue and Frank.

Hal Willner says this about Cohen on the album notes:

I was aware of him while growing up, but what I heard was like food that you spit out as a kid — though you knew it was good for you; you’d taste it again every few years, and eventually it became one of your favourite things to eat. His music has depth of emotion, passion, and humor that is entirely his own.

This sums up my reaction to Cohen. Although I loved Suzanne, it was separate from other things I heard when I was younger. Those other songs seemed to be dark and full of angst.  But thinking back, I never listened properly to his work. Once I started to really listen I recognised his emotion, passion and humour in the songs. Also I realised that many of my favourite songs are Leonard Cohen ones. It’s a bit like reading Shakespeare for the first time and noticing that so many of our cliques and sayings come from Macbeth and Hamlet.

“I’m your man” is from a movie of Leonard Cohen songs sung at concerts at the Brighton Dome, the Sydney Opera House and The Slipper Room in New York. So this album has an added bonus ~ it is others singing the songs too. I love cover versions. Each artist interprets a song differently and the good artists will bring out an aspect of the song that you hadn’t noticed before. And boy, these artists are way beyond good. Nick Cave, Teddy Thompson, Perla Batalla are there, as are some of the very talented Wainwright clan ~ Martha, Rufus, Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Cohen and U2 sing Tower song as the final track.

I hoped that the CD gifts would encourage me to expand my music beyond what I know. Wow! Has this done that! I have listened to all the tracks a few times now, immersing myself in Cohen’s words and music, and really listening. But I have also explored some of the artists and found other songs and performers to enjoy and want to hear more of.

Anthony is one. I knew nothing about him, and still know very little. His version of If it be your will is an immediate standout on the album, haunting, simple, complex. Don’t just take my word for it; listen to this clip.

I have found other works of his, and am interested in finding out if I want to listen more. Really listen!

Martha Wainwright is another performer I need to listen to more. This album illustrates how different artists bring out different aspects of a song. Her version of Tower of song is the first track; the last is Cohen singing it. Both wonderful, but you wonder if it is really the same song. This is Wainwright’s version.

And to finish off….the amazing Nick Cave, singing “I’m your man”. Nick Cave, now there is someone else to listen to. I have started something that I am going to enjoy. I wonder what I will discover with my next CD.

Do you have a favourite Leonard Cohen song?