Could it be that academic poets resent Leonard Cohen’s popular success, or nah?

57 thoughts on “Could it be that academic poets resent Leonard Cohen’s popular success, or nah?

  1. .

    Cohen was never taken very seriously as a poet. He wasn’t much of a singer, either; but the gravelly renderings of his lyrics gradually attracted a mass audience that seemed more like a cult. Many found him a bit much, his heart-on-his-sleeve misery no more appealing than plunging your hands into boiling tar. Still, songs like “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire” and the rather preposterous hymn of praise “Hallelujah” have been so widely covered as to be nearly inescapable. At any moment of the day, “Suzanne” is probably playing in an elevator somewhere.

    Such songs now form the hoarse, moaning soundtrack to countless movies and television episodes. When a Cohen song rises from some awkward silence it’s a good bet the director has run out of ideas. The religiose sentimentality and painful growl, like a halibut with strep throat, have patched a lot of plot holes. He’ll give an emulsified version of everything the scriptwriter left unsaid.

      1. Here's another taste. This guy's really got a hardon against ol' LC:

        Cohen loves “poetic” lines that are nearly excruciating (“And now that I kneel / At the edge of my years / Let me fall through the mirror of love”), rhymes that would cripple a musk ox (plug/enough, sword/2005, art/Marx), and passages the C.I.A. should use only during enhanced interrogation (a couple “waving at desire / as it rests in the foreground / foothill-shaped, peaceful, / devoted as a dog made of tears”).

        The lyrics follow in cornucopian abundance, as if Cohen were possessed by a Dionysian mania forever unassuaged. Genial, sloppy, full of conventional lines, they sometimes have little twists that save them from disaster. Heavy on parallels and antitheses, they’re even heavier on abstractions, the words just a syllable or two, on rare occasions three, almost never four:

        The parking lot is empty
        They killed the neon sign
        It’s dark from here to St. Jovite
        It’s dark all down the line.

          1. In fairness he concedes Cohen's a pretty good songwriter, and it is true that song lyrics and literary poems are two different things. But the overall mean spirit of the review seems unduly harsh. It's like saying, "The frightfully commercial jingles these four mop-tops from Liverpool have produced on a disk with the painfully punning title "Rubber Soul" lack the chromatic richness and melodic complexity of Mozart's Symphony No. 41, K. 551, 'The Jupiter.'" No shit.

      1. It couldn't possibly be envy of a man who grew up in a wealthy family, lived on Corfu for years, published novels and volumes of poetry before becoming a world-famous singer/songwriter, and had romantic liaisons with Margaret Trudeau and Rebecca De Mornay. No no, it's just serious lit-crit.

    1. We got 2 inches of rain today, the front has just moved through and it's finally ending. We're supposed to be hit with a series of storms over the coming week.

      we need the rain

        1. it's been gusting into the 40 MPH range and a bit above, but PG&E I think cut down or trimmed back any tree that could mess power lines up around here this past summer so they don't get slammed with another lawsuit like from the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa in the fall of 2017

      1. Highway 395 is closed for a long stretch leading to Mammoth Lakes from either direction due to heavy snow and zero visibility. I hope it clears up by Tuesday, I have an appointment up there.

      1. the wall's going to be paid for by not having to pay for entitlements for all those illegals! Right- also think of all the money the illegals pay into the system with wage taxes/SSI they never get back

        damn people are stoopid

        I regret reading the comments

          1. Two or three sentences into her stuff I always begin to feel dirty, and not in a good way.

  2. Pot-pie heir |loses it:|

    Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.

    1. What makes our country great is that we have a regulated capitalism, the envy of the world — at least for now. Greed, thru right wing propaganda, is quickly eroding the whole thing.

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