Sunday, April 09, 2006


My dad, a teacher by trade, has always tried to foster an appreciation for poetry in me, and I have to say I think he was successful. Both parents always wanted me to appreciate music as well, and I spent years learning to play piano and flute. I think it's because of their insistence that I have pretty whacky taste in music of almost every variety.

Where my dad and I disagree is that he thinks the perfet love child (my words, not his) of poetry and music is Leonard Cohen. I have to respectfully disagree.

To be fair, he is unquestionably an amazing poet. I have no objection to him writing songs as well. Where we disagree is in his performing ability. I'm of the too-blunt opinion that he has none. His voice, ravaged by years of smoking rarely changes tone. If he were billing himself as a spoken word artist, then maybe, but he's apparently a singer. And has many successful albums that will clearly show my dad is part of a loyal fan base.

That being said, there are others who sing his poetry who are incredibly evocative. k.d. lang is one of them. She sings "Hallelujah" (this one is live at NPR I gather) and "Bird on a Wire" on her "Hymns of the 49th parallel" album (written by Canadians, sung by a Canadan) and, in my estimation, it's really music you have lie down to in a dark room, exhausted after a long day to appreciate. You can listen to snips of the songs on the album (and there really isn't one I don't like) here. What I'd to to have her voice.

(And yeah, this post is pretty geeky. Whatever.)


glenda said...

kd lang has also got the pipes that cohen does not have, besides the fact that he is so dark-street 1960s.
but i love the song Suzanne, although thinking about the lyrics, he must be a nihilist. What can I say, it was Bay of Pigs and everyone was freaked about being incinerated.
thanks for stopping by my site. Come back anytime.

Heather said...

I think Suzanne is one of my dad's favourite songs. Thanks for stopping by, I'm sure I'll be back at your blog as wel.

elaine said...

aaahhhhhh......two words people: closing time....ahhhhhhhhhhhh

TB said...

There are some really amazing covers of Cohen's Hallelujah sung by Lang, Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainright. It is a near perfect song. I recently heard Cohen's greatest hits album for the first time and I was amazed at how different Hallelujah sounds when he sings it himself. I have to agree, he's a better songwriter/poet than a singer.