lundi 26 mai 2014

Notes on Cohen #3: The Partisan

There's such a thing as stretching a metaphor too far, particularly in song.  Conceptual, role-playing songs have rarely been a success, at least to my limited knowledge.  Not so for Field Commander Cohen.  Given the shady facts of his life, this extended metaphor seems apt.  "The frontiers are my prison."

Interestingly, it's one of many references here that LC makes to changing his name - a common theme, maybe a fantasy.  Here, rather touchingly:

I have changed my name so often,
I have lost my wife and children.
But I've many friends.

Although you suspect in reality this state may be more self-induced than he's prepared to let on.

Pure speculation on my part, but I think this song sums up how he saw himself at this stage in life - a mixture of the cowardly and the heroic.  "I took my gun and vanished."

Cohen wasn't an old man when he wrote this, but there's a line in here that feels prescient to me - how I imagine I might feel when I'm my grandmother's age (if I'm that lucky) and pretty much the age the great man is now.

There were three of us this morning.
I'm the only one this evening.
But I must go on.

I can all too easily imagine a night when writing lines like "oh, the wind, the wind is blowing/Through the graves the wind is blowing/Freedom soon will come" seems like a good - the only - idea.  Even when that metaphor is stretched out to breaking point.

I believe LC himself even says he still likes to listen to this one.  Only to look forward to the bit when the kids start singing.

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