C – is for Leonard Cohen, The Ridiculous to the Sublime

Friday 21st November

After the riotous attempt at rock’n’roll of “Death Of A Ladies Man” we were all ears for Leonard’s next record.  But it was so different it was unbelievable.  Recent songs sounded as if a new grown-up Leonard had emerged from the chaos.  Here were ten immaculate songs, delicate and humble and possibly his greatest collection.  ‘One by one the guests arrive’ he sings on opener “The Guests” then Leonard is “Humbled in Love” (forced to kneel in the mud, next to thee), ‘Come over to “The Window”, where he “Came So Far For Beauty” sings this “Canadien Errant.”  “The Traitor” sings of his “Lady of Solitude” who may well be “The Gypsy’s Wife”.  He settles for a remarkable duet with Jennifer Warnes singing of “The Smoky Life” and lamenting  his loss in “The Ballad of the Absent Mare.”  Simply beautiful, the songs roll together, filled out with violin and piano  a fuller richer sound.   At the time I was breaking up with Joy and this record saved my life….

Another five year wait before “Various Positions” which Columbia refused at first to release in the States; the President of the label saying to him, “Look Leonard, we know you are great, but we just don’t know if you’re any good.”  The album used synthesizers, creating a more modern sound and Jennifer Warnes duet-ted on every track with him.  At the time it was seen as a flop but has grown in stature with time and the song “Hallelujah” is now considered to be maybe his best ever.  Not my favourite record at the time, but I am beginning to like it…hahaha.

Then four years later (obviously a perfectionist) came I’m Your Man which was critically acclaimed and almost relaunched his career…… Actually his back catalogue had continued to sell and all us old hippies still loved him, whatever he decided to do next.