Nöjesguiden, Sweden
October 12, 2001

Bedroom Poetry: The Girl, the Bottle, and the Forest

by Patrik Forshage

Contributed and translated by Jarkko Arjatsalo

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Leonard Cohen is so full of bottled-up sexuality that he sometimes cannot control himself. This can lead to drastic steps. Probably age makes the eruptions come more and more rarely, but without any decrease in power.

Sometimes he steps back and goes to a monastery attempting to learn how to control his lust, but this is of course doomed to fail. Then he returns to music, a world in which he does not at all feel forced to hide the sexuality but will be able to just let it go.

"I'm turning tricks / I'm getting fixed / I'm back on Boogie Street" he whispers trying to explain, just like there would have been another alternative. Leonard Cohen has always been more a poet than a singer, and just like in the past he varies his pitch very little to follow the melodies. Instead he whispers and hisses close to the microphone with his darkest loser's voice and lets Sharon Robinson take care of such details like melodies, harmonies and production. Her synths, machines and choruses are hardly up-to-date, but it is of no great importance, it is The Voice that counts.

Leonard Cohen is still haunted by the same inspiring demons from 1968 on Songs of Leonard Cohen: the girl, the bottle, and (maybe to less extent) the wood. His way to handle the demons with great elegance and grace even when he is drunk and with quite a number of writer's tricks very carefully investigated, made it clear that he was not at home with the protest singers of the era. Even so, he got his message through to longing ladies and home-woven poets of both genders. Another generation with the same hallmarks got hooked in 1984 with Various Positions although "Hallelujah" touched even more the young like Echo & The Bunnymen and Prince fans. After Jeff Buckley's unconditional praise the next generation of romantic home-made poets is ready to fall, and Ten New Songs is just as good a red wine consumption album than any of Cohen's earlier records.

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