Friday, November 11, 2016

Master of Melancholy

Leonard Cohen was honest. His lyrics had some poetic elements but most of all they were honest and he sang honestly. Maybe he decided to memorialize only the melancholy aspects of his life, or maybe he was always melancholy. Either way, he demonstrated that with honesty and a few chords then you can make some music worth listening to. Karen Carpenter can sing melancholy, but I think she faked it. She was a good actress and her voice can capture melancholy in a way that is perhaps more poignant than Cohen, but Cohen was honest and melancholy in the way Bukowski mostly told fake stories but did it in a way that you knew he was bending the facts for the good of the story, not for his own benefit. He was often the villain of his stories but only because the truth wasn't that interesting. Cohen was not as gifted a singer as Dean Martin or Bing Crosby and his songs are not up to Cole Porter's or Burt Bacharach's standards and his melodies are monotonous, but they always suit the words. Cohen had his finger on the pulse of the broken heart. I'd like to record a cover song from his songbook but he deserves his own voice. Go search for a video with him singing. Somewhere, angels have stopped strumming on their harps because the real artist has arrived. Cohen is not smiling, he sits down, takes his time, grabs his guitar, tunes it slowly, strums a minor chord, and sings something true.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.