Archive for Leonard Cohen

Songs from the Vault

It’s been about a couple of months since the last SFTV so it’s time for another. And none too soon, as I’ve got some great tunes for you…

First up is Slowdive with the first track off their 1993 album Souvlaki, Alison. It’s got that massive dreamy, shoe-gazing sound that I’ve a soft spot for. Souvlaki only made it to #17 in the album charts, receiving a mixed reception. It’s had a re-appraisal in recent years, which is good to know, especially as it passed me by in ’93.

In contrast to Souvlaki, 69 Love Songs (1999), by The Magnetic Fields, didn’t pass me by. Moreover, unlike Souvlaki, it received widespread critical acclaim. While, regrettably, I didn’t pay it an awful lot of attention at the time, I’m glad it’s since come to my attention. One of the album’s highlights is The Book of Love, a song as stripped back as the lyrics are poignant.

Sticking with the subject of love, I first heard the next tune via a cover version by Beck, totally unaware of its provenance. True Love will find you in the end, is a track off 1990, an album by the recently deceased Daniel Johnston. If it’s stripped back you want, it doesn’t come any more stripped back than this. Johnston recorded most of the album in his own home; ongoing mental health issues preventing him from recording in a studio. It’s a heartfelt tune that, like The Book of Love, is powerful in its simplicity.

This blog seems to be developing, albeit unintentionally, a theme or certain shape. Leaving the Table is one of my favourite tracks off of Leonard Cohen’s final album, You Want it Darker, which was released three weeks before his death on 7 November 2016. The song is supposedly about the death of a ladies’ man but it’s hard not to read more into it as Cohen’s affecting swan song.

I normally do five songs for SFTV but that seems like the perfect place to end things. I hope you’ve enjoyed these selections.

Album review – You want it darker

One of the best albums of 2016 was David Bowie’s Blackstar.  Blackstar was made more poignant by the death of David Bowie only a matter of days after its release.  Leonard Cohen‘s final album, You Want it Darker, shares this mournful circumstance, being released three weeks after Cohen’s death on November 7, 2016 at the age of 82.  The album’s therefore not new, but it’s one that I keep coming back to.

At 9 tracks and 36 minutes long, Darker doesn’t last long.  Why should it?  Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On is even shorter, at 35 minutes, but is up there with the best of them.  What I’m saying is that it’s refreshing to listen to a whole album which can fit on one side of a 90 minute tape – remember that!

I only really got into Leonard Cohen having loved Nevermind, the main theme to season two of HBO’s True Detective.  How could I not with such a great song and stunning visuals.  Darker includes equally memorable tunes, including the album’s title track.  Every song sounds different but still part of a whole, joined by the golden thread of Cohen’s deep and evocative tones.

It was reported that Cohen wanted to make more albums after the release of Darker.  It’s regrettable that he wasn’t able to do so.  Not least as he appeared to be at the height of his powers.  But we can be grateful we have Darker and, for me, quite a back catalogue to explore.