Buku Wordy by Simon Schama

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Wordy by Simon Schama

Author:Simon Schama [Schama, Simon]

Language: eng

Format: epub

ISBN: 9781471185441

Google: wNZnDwAAQBAJ

Amazon: 1471180107

Goodreads: 43909755

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Published: 2019-05-01T23:00:00+00:00

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Wordy by Simon Schama

LEONARD COHEN

Tea and . . . what? Toast? Sympathy? No, oranges. From the start Leonard Cohen was out to surprise by cunning. No wonder, then, that he had to struggle for attention in the golden age of screamers. Janis’s ecstatic rasp, Hendrix’s maddened guitar, Lennon’s glottal roar, even Dylan’s adenoidal faux-country all made sounds through which their lyrical inventions had to fight for air, and if not quite up to snuff, those words could hide behind the wall of noise. But Cohen’s minimalist drone was the drowsy couch on which his poetry lay, fully exposed, with nowhere else to go.

In the ’60s, his lyrics grabbed attention through teasingly incongruous unions: ‘Like a worm on a hook/Like a knight from some old-fashioned book’. For all I know, Suzanne did feed Leonard tea and oranges, but it was the coupling of the prosaic and the exotic (oranges, as Cohen well knew, did indeed come originally ‘all the way from China’), the yoking together of serenity and sharpness, that makes the line jump from the chant. Suzanne is, after all, ‘half crazy’, so when she ‘takes you down to her place near the river’ it may not be entirely for a picnic. On the other hand, ‘that’s why you want to be there’. Okay, then, peel me an orange.

 

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Wordy by Simon Schama

Author:Simon Schama [Schama, Simon] , Date: July 10, 2019

,Views: 56

Author:Simon Schama [Schama, Simon]

Language: eng

Format: epub

ISBN: 9781471185441

Google: wNZnDwAAQBAJ

Amazon: 1471180107

Goodreads: 43909755

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Published: 2019-05-01T23:00:00+00:00
LEONARD COHEN

Tea and . . . what? Toast? Sympathy? No, oranges. From the start Leonard Cohen was out to surprise by cunning. No wonder, then, that he had to struggle for attention in the golden age of screamers. Janis’s ecstatic rasp, Hendrix’s maddened guitar, Lennon’s glottal roar, even Dylan’s adenoidal faux-country all made sounds through which their lyrical inventions had to fight for air, and if not quite up to snuff, those words could hide behind the wall of noise. But Cohen’s minimalist drone was the drowsy couch on which his poetry lay, fully exposed, with nowhere else to go.

In the ’60s, his lyrics grabbed attention through teasingly incongruous unions: ‘Like a worm on a hook/Like a knight from some old-fashioned book’. For all I know, Suzanne did feed Leonard tea and oranges, but it was the coupling of the prosaic and the exotic (oranges, as Cohen well knew, did indeed come originally ‘all the way from China’), the yoking together of serenity and sharpness, that makes the line jump from the chant. Suzanne is, after all, ‘half crazy’, so when she ‘takes you down to her place near the river’ it may not be entirely for a picnic. On the other hand, ‘that’s why you want to be there’. Okay, then, peel me an orange.

More than many great singer-songwriters of his generation (Dylan excepted), Cohen made no bones about reaching for the heavy literary hitters for inspiration. Lorca gave him the spooky, beautifully sinister ‘Take This Waltz’ – although Cohen’s free translation of the Spanish arguably makes a more unsettlingly powerful poem than the original – ‘a forest of dried pigeons’ (Lorca) becomes ‘there’s a tree where the doves go to die’ (Cohen); ‘take this waltz with its closed mouth’ (Lorca) turns to ‘take this waltz with the clamp on its jaw’ (Cohen).

When Cohen did invoke the canon it’s usually with a shrewd knowledge of how it’s been used and abused through the generations. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘Sail On, O Ship of State’, the anthem on which Cohen’s ‘Democracy’ builds to the marching beat of a snare drum, was written in 1850 as fears for the endurance of the Union were grave. After the civil war, the poem, set to music for choral performance, accompanied routine displays of patriotic chest-beating. But the tone of Cohen’s ‘Democracy’ could scarcely be less rah-rah; it’s more a scalding spit in the eye. ‘It’s comin’ . . . from the fires of the homeless, from the ashes of the gay . . . From the homicidal bitchin’/That goes down in every kitchen . . . From the wells of disappointment/Where women kneel to pray.’ Compared to the freakshow ferocity that dominates ‘The Future’, in which Cohen turns porno-totalitarian: ‘Give me absolute control/Over ev’ry living soul’; ‘Give me crack and anal sex/Take the only tree that’s left/And stuff it up the hole in your culture’. Democracy is, if not exactly warm and cuddly, at least a qualified redemption: ‘I love the country but I can’t stand the scene’.

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