93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Songs
I once spent the whole of a night in Vancouver, B.C. filling a small apartment with balloons as a gift to the woman I lived with at the time. I imagined her delight at opening the door to find the rooms crowded with inconvenient color. But she didn't come home that night.
Leonard Cohen's Songs From A Room played continuously until the sun rose. It was a perfect...
Published on June 30, 2000 by Vyvyan Brunst
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it feels hard for me to say this..
but i dont get this album,the songs are not as good as his first and "songs of love and hate", 3 stars from me because,it's an uneven record,and that makes it hard to listen to,it sound's like some songs are 10 years older then others. best songs: Story of issac,lady midnight and tonight will be fine.
Published on November 8, 2006 by Mikael Jonsson
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Songs,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)I once spent the whole of a night in Vancouver, B.C. filling a small apartment with balloons as a gift to the woman I lived with at the time. I imagined her delight at opening the door to find the rooms crowded with inconvenient color. But she didn't come home that night.
Leonard Cohen's Songs From A Room played continuously until the sun rose. It was a perfect Cohen moment: pathetic but also comical, lonely but not altogether lost, in turn full of bright buoyant images and pale, creeping light.
He likes his rooms more spartan, but he would have appreciated the irony: Cohen's heroes often balance on a knife edge between sacrifice and suspicion; ready to give it all up for love one moment, and caught in wry resignation the next.
Although overshadowed by its haunting predecessor, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs From A Room is probably my favorite of Leonard's albums. It is - unbelievably - more personal than the first. It seems to begin and end in resolute introspection. As Cohen fans may agree, one almost wonders after living with his songs for years whether Leonard wrote them and sang them for you, or whether you wrote them and gave them to him - so much do they become a magnetic North for our own emotional compasses. In Songs Leonard seems to explore every human relationship: that of lovers certainly ("Tonight Will Be Fine"), but also father and son ("Story of Isaac," "The Butcher"), patriot and country ("The Partisan," "The Old Revolution"), and ambiguous, erotic friendship ("Seems So Long Ago, Nancy").
In this album more than in any other, one of Cohen's most consistent themes repeats: that of the revolutionary. Specifically, how revolutionaries embody an awkward convergence of the saintly, the solitary, and the social. As the heroine in "Joan of Arc" (Songs of Love and Hate, 1971) declares,"..."I'm tired of the war,/I want the kind of work I had before,/a wedding dress or something white..." Like Joan, these heroes are often betrayed by the forces they fight for, and they tend to disillusionment. "I fought in the old revolution/," sings the narrator of "The Old Revolution", "on the side of the ghost and the King./Of course I was very young/and I thought that we were winning/I can't pretend I still feel very much like singing/as they carry the bodies away." To what does the song refer? The Vietnam War? Rock and Roll? It doesn't matter. We know what it feels like.
Love is a revolutionary act. It may overturn countries, or it may not. But it does overturn us.
The sixties saw the appearance of a phenomenon called the "singer-songwriter." We were told that in the best of their work, popular singers were writing and singing poetry. Only a bare handful - among them Paul Simon and Bob Dylan - were legitimate contenders. Leonard Cohen, despite the self-consciousness of his early work, will join Dylan as the best of these. Stack any line of Yeats against this from "The Stranger Song:" "And while he talks his dreams to sleep/you notice there's a highway/that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder..." (Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1968). The image in its compactness chills.
In "The Butcher" the protagonist comes upon a man slaughtering a lamb only to recognize that the butcher is his father. We are always at the mercy of what we love, Cohen seems to say. And betrayal is just around the corner when we dare to love - whether it is a country or a woman. But in the end, however pointless the exercise seems - like a roomful of balloons - we sometimes find ourselves surrounded by beauty. I recall that when Jennifer Warnes put out Famous Blue Raincoat, a compilation of Cohen's songs, the master himself seemed astonished that in her mouth his songs were so "beautiful." They are beautiful, Leonard. They're just not pretty.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)Cohen followed up his debut album with another masterpiece, this collection of magnificent songs of solitude, despair and resignation. Besides The Partisan, a song about the French resistance with its beautiful French verses and female vocals, all compositions are by Cohen. The most popular number here is Bird On A Wire that has been covered by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker, Judy Collins, Rita Coolidge, Tim Hardin, The Neville Brothers and Jennifer Warnes. For some reason, the opening lines of Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes makes me think of Frodo's journey to Mordor (in Lord Of The Rings): "A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes/Were smoking out upon the open road." Other highlights include The Story Of Isaac and The Old Revolution, in both of which Cohen's characteristic Biblical imagery surfaces, and the somber Lady Midnight with its many levels of meaning. Seems So Long Ago is a wistful confessional dirge whilst You Know Who I Am is a delicate love poem with esoteric undertones:"I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one". The mood lightens up on the closing track Tonight Will Be Fine with its catchy melody, driving rhythm and erotic lyric to end the album on a more optimistic note, although even here the sadness is just a sigh away. Cohen's sublime music has a transcendent, spiritual quality. These haunting songs "from a room" have lost none of their poetic impact after 3 decades; their grace, elegance and beauty shine on.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cohen does it again,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)This album is one of Cohen's classic albums and contains many brilliant songs. Still I prefere "Songs of Leonard Cohen" and "Songs of love and hate"over this one, but that's merely a matter of taste. Songs like "Bird on a wire", "The Partisan", "lady midnight"," You know who I am" and "Story of Isaac" are all classic and superb Cohen songs. No Cohen collection can do without this album. No bad songs on this one either. Buy it, love it, treasure it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous,
By A Customer
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)Cohen is pleading yet matter of fact. Husky and lucid. His voice conveys the mood as his simple flamenco guitar melodies bring forth the full impact of the songs. The combination of his delicate hands and voice allow the listener to feel the power of this Norton Anthology poet. This is his second album and was recorded in Nashville around 1967. This is one of those albums where you can play it over and over again and never grow tired of it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Id put him next to Dylan,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)I Dont know how I came to adore Leonard Cohen, I remember watching that movie "Pump Up The Volume" with Christian Slater and wondering who sang that song "Everybody Knows", and then later when I was searching through my fathers old record collection coming across him again. His voice is so deep and soothing and his lyrics are absolutely amazing. I read somewhere that Leonard was a accomplished poet and one can definitely tell. Ive tried to get into his later work but they just dont have the same beauty as this one. This album will never get old, its a necessity to every music lovers collection. Every song is wonderful.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows",
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)Although not as good as his debut, Songs From A Room is an even darker and more melancholy affair. Cohen's near-monotone, backed with the sparse, vague musical accompaniment delivering Cohen's stark, bitter, heart-wrenching lyrics make for a near-claustrophobic atmosphere. Bird On A Wire still stands as one of Cohen's best compositions, and it has been covered countless times by other artists. Other standout tracks include Story of Isaac and Lady Midnight. The rest of the songs are good, especially when taken in the context of the album, but, personally, I don't like this as much as his other albums that I own. This is not a detriment to the album, it is a testament to the quality of Leonard Cohen's catalog as a whole. Leonard Cohen once wrote a book called "Beautiful Losers." It was in the pre-recording artist stage of his career, but it might as well have been describing his songs. As another reviewer has said, "They are beautiful; they're just not pretty." Many people still don't know Leonard Cohen, but, some day, he will be recognized right up there with Bob Dylan as one of the greatest songwriters of the century; this album being another gem in his canon.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)I once saw a documentary about Cohen in which he explained that he refused to get out of bed in the morning until he was "in a state of grace." This is quite interesting, and I would encourage everyone to follow this approach. However, preaching aside, I would say that Cohen was certainly in some state of grace when he wrote this gorgeous album. We have all "tried in our ways to be free." (sic.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leonard's solid 2nd album--an intriguing set of songs and effectively stark production,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)Leonard Cohen's 1969 album "Songs From a Room" kind of picks up where his debut "Songs of Leonard Cohen" left off, offering another dose of Cohen's mysteriously poetic lyrics, his precise and carefully considered acoustic guitar parts, & his and warm and earnestly expressive vocals. Oh, and the album-closing whistling.
What's different about it? Well, John Simon, producer and musical director of the debut, is gone, and the producer this time is Bob Johnston, legendary for having previously produced Bob Dylan. Although "Songs of..." is overall quite spare, "...Room" is even more so. When that fuzzy electric guitar on "A Bunch of Lonsome Heroes" makes its first appearance, the effect is jolting, as if its been beamed in from another planet; it's also the only track on the album to prominently feature drums. Other embellishments include the string arrangement on "Bird on the Wire" and the female vocals on "The Partisan", the latter of which is partly sung in English and partly in French and is also the only song here that Cohen didn't write. A Jew's harp, of all things, adds its boing-y sound which runs pratically non-stop throughout nearly every song on the album. It generally manages to not be too prominent or distracting, and somehow it even works well when it IS mixed prominently on "The Old Revolution", but it comes across as an eyeroll-inducing gimmick on "Tonight Will Be Fine". There's also excellent atmospheric organ work lingering in the background on "Story of Isaac" and "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy".
Ironically, the weakest song here is the relatively famous "Bird on the Wire" where Cohen actually sounds like he's dumbing things down a bit in attempt to get a hit song--it's rather dull, and it's weighed down by the syrupy string arrangement and Cohen's strained melodramatic vocals.
But overall, his songwriting is strong, with his sorely underrated talent for melody being very much in evidence. "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" is something of a eulogy--it's a terrific song that's supremely haunting, yet calmly reflective and strangely uplifting. Also terrific are the creepy "Story of Isaac", which draws parallels between the Vietnam War and religion; and "Lady Midnight", an upbeat-yet-mysterious tune along the lines of the first album's "So Long, Marianne". The weirdly upbeat album closer "Tonight Will Be Fine" has an irresistibly fun sing-songy melody, and it's also quite amusing, especially Cohen's little laugh just before and leading into the 3rd verse.
So, there are some gripes with "Songs From a Room", but it's a must-have for any Cohen fan--it's an effective mood piece and an engaging collection of songs from this incredibly unique artist.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't leave it on your dashboard.,
This review is from: Songs From a Room (Audio CD)This album came into my life mysteriously . I don't where it came from, who gave it to me, or when I started listening to it, but somehow in a box of my tapes was a black, plastic, coverless cassette of "Songs From A Room."
I kept it in my car, played it over and over and over again--for years--and then, just as oddly as it had come into my life, I left it on the dashboard of my car on a hot day, and it softened and melted into a warped, unplayable curl.
That was a temporary tragedy for me. The songs on this album are stripped-down simple--usually only bass, guitar, jew's harp, and Leonard's sinister vocals--but the sere background only emphasizes the otherworldlyness and the beauty of the lyrics. Leonard Cohen is a poet, and the songs on this album are poetry.
"Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried
In my way
To be free."
"Sometimes I find myself
Thinking of the past
And how we swore to each other
Our love would surely last.
You kept right on loving,
I went on a fast.
Now I am too thin
And your love is too vast."
These songs are beautiful, mysterious, and haunting. This album is cohesive and a thing in itself: the way the album starts and end with a blip, and the feel of all the songs when next to each other. ...Songs made of words and pain and sorrow and love and the emptiness after something good has ended. ...Songs that drift into your life and then melt away and that never ever truly leave you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work by a master,
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This review is from: Songs from a Room [Vinyl] (Vinyl)Leonard Cohen never wrote a bad song, but this album is one of his best. Every note, every word, is just pure poetic perfection. Do yourself a favor and get this album immediately.
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