Search Results for Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen (1934- ) is a Montreal-born writer, poet and musician. Around the time of the release of his record, The Future (1992), Cohen was likened to an Old Testament prophet by a Canadian reviewer. And this might not be too far off. Cohen’s lyrics and retrospective asides seem to dance around the idea that he’s a mouthpiece for the Divine as well as a humble guy, just like anyone else.¹
Along these lines, Cohen seems content with his combination of Jewish and Buddhist beliefs.
Cohen lost his father when he was nine years old. But he was left with a modest trust fund so didn’t have to worry about money in his younger days.
He bought a house and spent his formative years in Greece, this influence discernible in much of his music. A former ladies man, he openly tells of forays into drink, religion and whatever else might have sustained him. He once held the unconventional notion that the Nazis were defeated by music. And he speaks of a creative spark that apparently those “who are there” know about and those “who are not there” do not.
The following lyrics from “Bird on the Wire” (1969) speak for themselves:
Like bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way
To be free.
And from Susanne (1967):
And Jesus was a sailor… Only drowning men could see him.
In “The Tower of Song” (1988) he sings:
Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor.
And in The Future (1992) he takes an even darker route:
I’ve seen the future, brother:
it is murder.
However, The Future also contains some humorous and hopeful elements.
Apparently bilked out of his fortune in 2005 by former manager, Kelley Lynch, Cohen filed a suit and was also sued. Still standing, his comeback tour, cds and verse have proved that he’s a survivor. His latest album, Old Ideas, has received 4 and 5 star reviews from critics and fans around the world. Not bad for a guy nearing 80 yrs.
¹ See for example, “Going Home” from his latest cd, Old Ideas » http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/poetry/2012/01/23/120123po_poem_cohen
- Canada: Leonard Cohen: The Future (jobblog2011.wordpress.com)
- Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah (towriteistowrite.wordpress.com)
- Review: Leonard Cohen (mercurynews.com)
- Sasha Frere-Jones: Leonard Cohen, at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. (newyorker.com)
- Famous Blue Raincoat and Black Hat (brandsandfilms.com)
- Leonard Cohen: Paying rent in the tower of song sounds divine (theglobeandmail.com)
- storyboard: On the Road with Leonard Cohen Once “the proverbial… (shortformblog.com)
- Leonard Cohen Returns To Nokia Theatre (thescenestar.typepad.com)
- Leonard Cohen Concert All Access Pass New Beacon Theatre 2009 (ephemera.typepad.com)
- How Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ Became Everybody’s ‘Hallelujah’ (theatlantic.com)
Bruce Cockburn (1945 – ) is a Canadian, Ottawa-born folk and rock musician. He sang about Christianity through natural metaphors well before it was considered cool to do so. Despite this, Cockburn managed to survive and even thrive in the Canadian record industry.
In one interview¹, he said that it’s fine to sing about God, but if the music’s not happening, then the message doesn’t really connect. This was probably an oblique reference to the contemporary Christian pop of the time, so much of it being formulaic and arguably not too original, musically speaking.
At cockburnproject.net he’s quoted as saying:
I am a Christian songwriter. I just don’t fit the Christian music scene.
As the years went by, Cockburn became increasingly critical of what he saw as hypocritical political and religious practices. In “The Gospel of Bondage” (1988) he denounces the selective use of Biblical quotations to justify questionable acts:
God won’t be reduced to an ideology…God must be on the side of right, not the side that justifies itself in terms of might.
Perhaps due to music’s unique ability to move the body and arouse passion, his “Rocket Launcher” (1984) single was sharply criticized:
If I had a rocket launcher… Some son of a bitch would die.
Cockburn responded to his critics by saying there’s a difference between (a) the artistic representation of anger and (b) advocating angry practices (see sublimation).
With regard to “Rocket Launcher” he claimed to merely represent his outrage in response to the bloodshed of innocents in South America.
Signing with the SONY label, Cockburn’s sound became bigger but he never really cracked the American market as, perhaps, anticipated.
Back with his former True North label, however, his electronically enhanced acoustic sound has returned, along with some noteworthy retro-style experimentation.
Like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morisette, Celine Dione, Glenn Gould and Justin Bieber, Cockburn is something of a culture hero in a country that is finally growing out of its national identify crisis.²
The following tune, “Wondering Where the Lions Are” is a reference to the Old Testament story of Daniel in the Lions Den and, according to Wikipedia, is his most popular single to date on the US but not the Canadian charts.³
¹ From a magazine article. Source cannot be located. Probably somewhere between the late 80s and the new millennium. In recent decades, Christian pop has undergone a serious reboot, some of which is arguably just as “cool” or “good” as anything else out there.
² This was especially prevalent in the 1980s, when entire university departments in the Humanities spent countless hours (and taxpayers dollars) looking at how Canada differed from the US and beyond.
- Michael Buble, Deadmau5 And Bruce Cockburn Honoured For Songwriting (contactmusic.com)
- Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award (o.canada.com)
- Bruce Cockburn…a creativity to help us see (thewearypilgrim.typepad.com)
- Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award (vancouversun.com)
- Mary Had A Baby by Bruce Cockburn – Christmas Songs 2012 Day 21 (garyware.me)
- Bruce Cockburn, deadmau5 feted at SOCAN gala (cbc.ca)
- “People see through you” Bruce Cockburn (jeffrozier.wordpress.com)
Homer is an Ancient Greek poet (Homeros) of uncertain identity.
He or she was believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to have authored the classic epics of the Odyssey and Illiad around the 8th-7th centuries BCE, the former epic likely predating the latter. Today, most people will tell you that Homer is the outstanding author of the Odyssey and Illiad but, in reality, this authorship isn’t solidly established.
Not unlike the uncertainty concerning the originality and authorship of some of the works of Shakespeare, Homer probably borrowed from existing mythological tales which were transmitted through oral tradition. And with a particular poetic genius, he or she depicted the enduring characters of the Olympic pantheon.
Contemporary scholars say that the two Homeric classics may have been authored by several persons.
The ancient Greeks saw Homer as an impoverished, blind minstrel. And a contemporary minority view suggests that Homer was a woman. Regardless of the poet’s gender, his or her lasting impact on Western culture is undeniable.
The 33 Homeric Hymns, likely written after the two epics, are no longer attributed to Homer.
In more recent times, a Homeric strain is arguably discernible in the works of the Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen, who took up residence in Greece during his formative years.
- Illiad (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- What did Homer do that was important the ancient greek civilization (wiki.answers.com)
- Hermes (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- How are Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ and L Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ alike (wiki.answers.com)
- Summary of reaction paper of Odyssey (wiki.answers.com)
- Who wrote the Iliad (wiki.answers.com)
- Book Discussion: The Odyssey by Homer (alleganylibrarycollections.wordpress.com)
- Sounds Like Epic Bull to Me … (rogueclassicism.com)
- Ancient Greek punishments: the 8-bit Flashgame edition (boingboing.net)
- 10/7 The Dark Ages and Homer (not Simpson!) (dohertyforwesternciv.wordpress.com)
Implied throughout the I Ching‘s worldview is the notion that one’s individual condition is intricately linked to the dynamic workings of nature (to include the cosmos and the Will of Heaven).
The earliest surviving version of the I Ching evolved out of Chinese nature philosophy and was written on bamboo strips. As legend has it, this first incarnation of the I Ching dates back to the mythical Emperor Fu-hsi, c. 2850 BCE. It was composed of eight trigrams (three lines each), which themselves might have been of foreign origin.
Around 1150 BCE, King Wen, who became the Duke of Chou, composed 64 hexagrams of six lines each (two trigrams) with short commentaries. Each hexagram apparently represented an archetypal situation. And each line of the hexagram is based on a binary system (either a solid or broken line) and is attained by selecting a single yarrow stalk from a randomly arranged heap and going through a specific set of operations.
The I Ching influenced Lao Tzu’s composition of another great Chinese work, the Tao-te-Ching, around 500 BCE. During the fifth-century BCE Confucius turned his attention to the I Ching and contributed to the “Ten Wings.” Each Wing is a commentary on an aspect of each hexagram.
Since then, the tyrant emperor Ch’in Shih Huang Ti ordered the burning of the I Ching and all Confucian commentaries, but some copies survived.
Around the third-century the scholar Wang Pi refashioned the book, emphasizing its wisdom instead of divinatory purposes (in contrast to the opportunistic court magicians of the day).
In the 17th century a Jesuit priest introduced the book to the philosopher Leibniz. Leibniz substituted the solid and broken lines of the hexagrams with “0″ and “1″ and found them to be arranged in a binary system that counted up from 0 to 63.
It’s noteworthy that computer programming uses binary code—the same ancient logic found in the structure of the I Ching.
In the 1960′s the I Ching became popular in the West, and tossing three Chinese coins six times became a viable (and marketable) alternative to the ancient method of selecting yarrow stalks.
Just before this, the psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote a forward to the sinologist Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching. Jung also mentions the I Ching in relation to his concept of synchronicity.
The Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen and other notables have, at some time in their lives, became fascinated with the I Ching’s attractive combination of depth and simplicity. Numerous interpretations and self-help books based on the ancient texts are available today and recent attempts have been made to connect the underlying philosophy of the I Ching with the notion of karma as found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
As for the ever skeptical John Lennon, he had this to say in the song “God” on the album, Plastic Ono Band:
I don’t believe in I Ching… I just believe in me.
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