Small Demon
Feb 262009
 

Leonard Cohen gave his first US concert in 15 years the other night down in New York. I don’t really go to concerts any more, but this is one I’d have tried to go to if I had been just a bit closer. (Cohen will be up this way, in Ottawa in late May, but I’ll be in Vietnam.) Anyway, I’ve been a fan for many years — Cohen writes great songs and performs them with a hint of self-deprecation that I find very attractive. Like his fellow Canadian Neil Young, Cohen can write the occasional rhyme so awful that it’s unintentionally funny and he can be bathetic on occasion, but his best songs imply narratives or settings without fully specifying them in a way that is genuinely mysterious. There is also a kind of existential joy in the midst of Cohen’s usual gloom that creats a satisfying sense of irony in his work. NPR is going to make some of the songs from the concert available starting today — I’ll have to be satisfied with that.
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*Neil Young is much the worse offender in this regard, but rock is more forgiving than Cohen’s folk / cabaret mode, which puts more emphasis on the words.