lundi 9 juin 2014

Notes on Cohen #5: A Singer Must Die

This takes me right back, to the back seat of my parents' car when I was a very tiny child.  To be fair, so do certain songs by Dire Straits and The Bangles.

We are a family of Cohen fans all, but his is not really appropriate driving music.  That's not a drive I want to go on, anyway.  So in the car, we used to listen to 'Famous Blue Raincoat: Jenny Sings Lenny', an album of covers sung by Jennifer Warnes.  They were made with the blessing and collaboration of 'Lenny' and it sounds like they had a lot of fun (although of course - of course - there is sadness there) and he even illustrated the inside sleeve.

It's so much slicker and full of 80s production, but it still has a different kind of soul, and it's no less for that.  This one would come on towards the end of the album and - particularly on a late-night drive home from somewhere - the opening chords were sinister enough to make me shiver every time.  Even the title scared me a little bit.

Here in our little Hydra house, one of the few records in the cabinet (along with Prince's 'Diamonds and Pearls' and, bizarrely, something by Boyz II Men) is, probably by virtue of tourist tokenism, 'New Skin for the Old Ceremony'.  The original version once again.  The more interesting one, in this case.

He sounds impassioned, rather than louche, for once.  I know I am prone to A Lot of Feelings when it comes to Leonard, but something very primal crashes up from my when he gets to:

It's their ways to detain,
Their ways to disgrace.
It's their knee in your balls,
It's their fist in your face.

And now when he sings "and all the ladies go moist", these days I find it much funnier than I did when I was a wholly oblivious child.

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