Monday, September 15, 2008

The Smart Set - Music Therapy

I love Leonard Cohen, partly because he is a Buddhist, but mostly because he is a brilliant song-writer with a unique voice. So, of course, I really like this article from The Smart Set on Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2."
Music Therapy
Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2."

Never has a blowjob sounded so sad. But Leonard Cohen is the sort of man who could read Mother Goose aloud and make it sound like Swinburne. The blowjob in question is rumored to have come from the lips of Janis Joplin, an extraordinary thing to ponder in the first place. The song, of course, is “Chelsea Hotel #2.” The lines in question go:
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,

giving me head on the unmade bed,

while the limousines wait in the street.
Cohen once said, "My voice just happens to be monotonous, I'm somewhat whiney, so they are called sad songs. But you could sing them joyfully too. It's a completely biological accident that my songs sound melancholy when I sing them." Well, I think that's bullshit. Leonard Cohen is great because he captured the sound of sadness. Real sadness. Meaningful sadness. Meaningful sadness is just to this side of stupid, pointless. That's because real sadness comes from the realization that nothing really matters, that the world is simply too big to be grasped, metaphorically or otherwise. We go back into the world anyway, sometimes with gusto, but we're changed by having stared for a moment at that mute truth. Cohen was able to put this feeling, this terrible insight, into a specific sound.
Go read the rest.

Here's a video of Cohen performing the song.

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