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Songs of Leonard Cohen

4.7 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 13, 1989
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Editorial Reviews

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Time has been extraordinarily kind to Songs of Leonard Cohen. While it attracted considerable fanfare upon its release in 1968, not everyone was immediately captured by its dusky charms. Randy Newman, for one, couldn't resist the temptation to parody "Suzanne," the album's brooding opener, on his 12 Songs album. (Conversely, director Robert Altman brilliantly drew upon the dirges here for the soundtrack to his classic anti-western, McCabe and Mrs. Miller.) But what some once found to be pretentious and affected has come to feel penetrating and ageless. Seeded with what have become signature songs of the Canadian wordsmith ("Sisters of Mercy," "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye," "So Long, Marianne"), the album has a narcotic quality that owes as much to producer/musical director John Simon's inspired folk-baroque soundscapes as to Cohen's lofty lyrics and earth-bound vocals. --Steven Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 13, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B0000024TT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,146 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
When a friend of mine asked me to make a "Best of Leonard Cohen" CD for her, I had to fight the urge to simply copy this album for her and tack a few later gems like "Everybody Knows", "Chelsea Hotel #2", and "Waiting for the Miracle" onto the end. As an English scholar, I firmly believe that this man is the most evocative lyricist modern music has yet produced. This album is not marred by the lackluster filler songs (think of "Jazz Police") that his later albums contain. For whatever reason, he has hit the mark with every song here, and when Leonard Cohen hits the mark it reminds me of why I believe humans create art in the first place. My memories of this album are chiefly associated with hearing it while driving through Indiana in the middle of the night, with flatness all around me, smoking a whole pack of cigarettes in two hours and being unable to find a motel with any vacancy. This album made me think, "Someone else out there knows what I'm feeling and expressing it even better than I could." And I felt more alive and human knowing that there was someone who I could make that emotional connection with. And that is why I think humans create art.

Cohen's most sincere poetry is here, in songs like "Suzanne", "So Long, Marianne", and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye". Somehow, while giving these women names and very specific personalities, Cohen paradoxically makes you feel that he is singing about the woman who just left you, or whom you just left. This is not an album to listen to lightly or at parties, unless they're two-person wine-and-weep parties with your closest friend in the world.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In the late 1960s, Leonard Cohen was one of those fabled individuals of whom most serious music lovers had heard but who had not actually been much heard except through the voices of better-known singers who tirelessly promoted his songs. Over the years, Cohen became better known and has since become a cult hero in the world of those who like their music decidedly deep and decidedly dark.
I first became aware of Cohen back in the 1960s when I heard Judy Collins' haunting rendition of Suzanne. I liked that and I liked some other Cohen covers I later heard but never got around to actually buying a Leonard Cohen recording until some ten years ago. Since that time, I have gradually added to my collection of his music but did not acquire his first album until it was recently remastered. And what a piece of work it is!
Many have compared Leonard Cohen to Bob Dylan because both are masters of the English language and both are masters of poetic imagery. And like Dylan, Cohen has a peculiar talent for the blending of the sacred and the profane. You might even say that Leonard Cohen is Canada's answer to Bob Dylan. The last picture of Cohen in the attractive booklet that accompanies the CD even looks like Dylan does today! Despite the flattering comparison, however, Cohen is absolutely an original.
I like the dark, the brooding, and the bittersweet when eloquently and intelligently expressed, so its almost only natural that I am a confirmed Leonard Cohen fan. Every song on this CD, including the bonus cuts, is a winner. Suzanne is obviously the most famous cut closely followed perhaps by Sisters of Mercy. Good as they are they are not my favorites.
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Format: Audio CD
I remember first hearing his gravelly voice wafting out of a friend's dorm room late one wintry night, and invited myself in to listen to Cohen's music the last semester before I graduated, and was blown away by the way this guy sang and by what he had to say. Needless to say, I've been listening ever since, for this is a quite unique album, a first effort by Leonard Cohen, the Canadian Jew who is a poet and novelist turned songwriter and folk singer. He known as the "poet of existential despair", a man of soaring visages and terrible nightmares, all put to beautiful and classic melodies. This album is the stuff of legends, with "Suzanne", "Hey, that's No Way To Say Goodbye", "So Long, Marianne", "The Master Song", "The Stranger Song", "Sisters of Mercy", and a number of others. His voice is painful, hypnotic and gravelly, literally oozing with the kind of deep desperation his evocative lyrics blend perfectly with. The guitar work is clear, and immaculately appropriate, and the rest of the arrangements are spare and fit the folk song style he employs.
Others like Judy Collins made hits out of a number of these songs, especially "Suzanne", but no one sings them with the same kind of heart struck originality Cohen delivers. He is still around, by the way, newly emerged from a few years in a Zen monastery as the master of all he touches, and is considered a kind of elder statesman of folk-rock. Quite a mysterious and interesting soul, as they say. Almost everyone has recorded some of his stuff, and there is a tribute album that is a best seller. But this is where the rubber first hit the road, and after you've listened to this a few times, preferably late at night with a bottle of good wine half down your gullets, you'll understand why there's been over thirty years of excitement fuss about Leonard Cohen
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