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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sick with Leonard

For the last three nights I've been delirious with fever, wracked with throbbing aches and pierced with chills. Each night it starts about 7pm and lasts until 4 or 5 in the morning when I wake up from fever-dream and find that the horror has switched off; the fever and delirium are gone, the ague dissipated.

During the day, I just feel sluggish and congested... I even tried to go to work yesterday since I felt halfway decent in the morning. Probably, this was a mistake. Today I was smart enough to stay home. First I emailed my doctor. Then I slept. Then I checked the mail. Luckily Netflix arrived so I have something to occupy me.

I watched I'm Your Man in the bathtub earlier. A few observations about the documentary/live tribute concert for Leonard Cohen:

It would be weird to be famous in Montreal, where nasally rat-boy Rufus Wainwright and his twitchy, scoliotic sister Martha skulk around following you. At least Martha can sing. And they do seem devoted.

Antony, of Antony and the Johnsons, gives the single best performance with his version of If it be your Will.

Leonard is at his most charming when he laughs at his own foibles: First when he can't come up with the term "punk". He is trying to talk about a music "movement" that embraced his album Death of a Ladies Man and stumbles trying to think of which movement it was. When he finally remembers, his smile is perfect. Later he talks about a moment of indiscretion when he told an interviewer that his (somewhat graphic) song Chelsea Hotel was about Janice Joplin. He says that Janice wouldn't have minded, but that he was sure he offended his mother. I interpreted this to mean that his mother didn't mind him writing a song that included reference to oral sex, but that it was shameful to dishonor that woman by later naming her. I thought that was sweet.

Bono is a hyperbolic bore during his interview scenes, but the final musical number Tower of Song (featuring U2 as Leonard Cohen's backing band) is pretty cool.

Mr. Cohen's two long-time back up singers Julie and Perla (who go back at least as far as the 1988 Austin City Limits recording) finally get to stand center stage as they tackled Anthem. This track, like a few others, was overdone. Cohen's lyrics lose their all-important humility and honesty when turned into such large productions. The line, "There's a crack, a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in," stops sounding profound when repeated 20 times during the song's finale.

Jarvis Cocker is still trying too hard.

Nick Cave has stopped trying hard enough... although his Vegas-style take on I'm Your Man is the show's only touch of humor.

Cohen's pet symbol, that Star of David that's made up of two overlapping hearts rather than overlapping triangles, shows up a lot on scraps of artwork or correspondence that he has written.

Beth Orton is utterly forgettable. I think her song Galaxy of Emptiness (which I REALLY like) will be the only thing she does that I'll care about.

The Handsome Family (husband and wife Brett and Rennie Sparks) appear, but Rennie just stands there. Brett is the singer/guitarist (Rennie writes the lyrics) but rather than only have Brett appear, Rennie comes out and simply stands there for the duration of the song. I don't think they even gave her a tambourine.

Leonard Cohen is pretty damn good songwriter.

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At 3/06/2007 09:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gratis pax virus. Get well soon...it should take about a week.

Agree with your critique of the Leonard Cohen film. The Handsome Family was truly wasted, what about that? Me seeing it on the bigger screen at the Harvard Exit garnered only a 5% increase in value-added.

Leonard Cohen is the best, and somebody can stil do him right documentary wise.


At 3/07/2007 11:55:00 AM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

Yeah, get well. I've staved off K's sickness--she's just now recovering from it--with a steady disciplined diet of Emergen-C and Airborne. So I haven't gotten sick. Just depressed.

Cohen is one of those guys I want to do a week's worth of posts with just the lyrics of some of his songs. I've always found the simpler the presentation of Cohen, the better, although I remember one performance at a tribute concert in Canada of "Everybody Knows" as a snarky lounge song worked really well. Would like there to be a k.d.lang all-Cohen disc some day. I have a treasured Jennifer Warnes/Cohen disc that generally is very good, although she over-does a couple of them.

At 3/09/2007 11:14:00 AM, Blogger molly said...

I'm kicking myself over not going to see the live stage show last year during the Dublin Theatre Festival. It featured Anjani, Antony, Laurie Anderson, Perla Batalla, Steven Bernstein, Rob Burger, Charlie Burnham, Nick Cave, Julie Christensen, Jarvis Cocker, David Coulter, Don Falzone, Gavin Friday, The Handsome Family, Robin Holcomb, Briggan Krauss, Maxim Moston, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Beth Orton, Lou Reed, Chris Spedding, Kate St John, Teddy Thompson, and Kenny Wollesen live and in person.

Stupid, stupid me.

At 3/09/2007 02:02:00 PM, Blogger John said...

I could do without the Lou Reed, but John Cale (also of the Velvet Underground) does a nice stripped down piano version of Hallelujah.

I'll have to check out the Jennifer Warnes covers, Yojimbo.

At 3/10/2007 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

I could "harrumph" "send" them to you...


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