Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs

Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs

by Leonard Cohen
     
 

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With the appearance of his first record album in 1967, Leonard Cohen - already well known in his native Canada as a poet and novelist - was introduced to audiences in the United States, where he quickly took his place among the preeminent singer/songwriters of the time. Over the years, and through the release of eight more albums, Cohen gained a reputation as a…  See more details below

Overview

With the appearance of his first record album in 1967, Leonard Cohen - already well known in his native Canada as a poet and novelist - was introduced to audiences in the United States, where he quickly took his place among the preeminent singer/songwriters of the time. Over the years, and through the release of eight more albums, Cohen gained a reputation as a dazzlingly literate and consistently daring songwriter. His status as a cult artist grew and solidified, not only in North America but all across Europe; singers of enormously diverse styles recorded his songs; his influence could be charted in every new wave of recording artists that followed his emergence. In 1988 the release of his album I'm Your Man thrust him back into the mainstream spotlight; and his latest recording, The Future, has brought him renewed widespread acclaim as one of our most enduring poet/songwriters. Now Stranger Music brings together, for the first time in one volume, a generous selection of Leonard Cohen's song lyrics and poetry. Stranger Music reveals the range and depth of Cohen's work. And it is a long-overdue celebration of his extraordinary gift for language that speaks with rare clarity, passion, and timelessness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cohen is probably best known as the writer of the lyrics for the song ``Suzanne,'' made famous by Judy Collins, but has written a great many other songs, too, as well as poetry and prose poetry not set to music. In reading through this generous selection, one often hears the ghost of musical accompaniment, and sometimes its actual presence is missed. The writing alone, forthright in its rhythms, plain of speech, often rhymed, and almost immediately accessible, seems well suited to the ears of a live audience. So fans of the songs will be in luck, here; but readers who prefer slow subtleties, or a kind of poetry that gradually expands in meaning on rereading, or ambitious craft, won't find it in a piece like ``For Anne,'' which begins ``With Annie gone, / Whose eyes to compare / With the morning sun?'' Cohen's writing is oral in flavor, and asks us to ``read'' it mainly by hearing it. This works to the disadvantage of a book, where words stay put and aren't sung. (Dec.)
Library Journal
To appreciate these poems, we must suspend any notions of poetry as an intellectual art form and approach this work as one would a rack of greeting cards. Rhyme abounds, frankly showing Cohen at his best because it holds his didactic nature in check. Although there are few surprises, such as the wonderful early poem ``Beneath My Hands,'' the songs from Cohen's first album, written over 30 years ago, are still his finest displays of outrageous yet stunning imagery. The presence of woman as lover, prostitute, or slave, celebrated in these early songs, continues into his latest work, making over 400 pages seem remarkably flimsy. That these women never seem to exist as individuals will possibly offend readers with a feminist bent. Yet despite almost pornographic descriptions, this Jewish poet still will not write outG-d's name. The Buddhist element in his 1984 poetry collection, Book of Mercy , is now scarcely evident. Despite its flaws, this book is recommended for popular collections.-- Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York
Donna Seaman
Cohen is known best as a songwriter--everyone's heard "Suzanne"--and a performer, but he is also a poet with eight collections to his credit. This fine volume brings together a great number of Cohen's striking poems and memorable song lyrics from 1956 to the present, including lyrics from his newest album, "The Future," which is one his most powerful and exciting releases. Reading Cohen is just as pleasurable as listening to him, especially since his writing has an aural energy. Cohen is direct and precise, a no-fuss-no-muss sort of poet who gets the maximum meaning out of homey words and an invigorating jolt out of clashing images. By turns caustic and charming, Cohen is often caught between the magnetic poles of love and art, claiming in an early poem, "The reason I write/is to make something/as beautiful as you are." He's too experienced to be truly romantic, but he still longs for innocence and purity and frequently writes about faith and redemption. Politics creep in when Cohen muses over class differences and war, but he most often focuses on the subtle palette of emotions from loneliness to passion, bitter humor to serenity.
From the Publisher
Stranger Music brings together, at last, the words of a Canadian artist who has been anything but a stranger to so many of us for so long.…Cohen has woven a chain of words that binds us together.”
Calgary Herald

Stranger Music is a massive record of the poet’s imaginative journey through beauty, through horror, through the extremes of love and despair.…Cohen is always a poet of extremes: that’s where he lives, at the edges of them.”
Toronto Star

Stranger Music is a record of Cohen’s dispatches from the front, an invaluable record of a shining voice. It burns still.”
Ottawa Citizen

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307794680
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/25/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal in 1934. He received his B.A. from McGill University and pursued graduate studies in English at Columbia University. Soon thereafter, he returned to Montreal and worked in his family’s clothing business while he continued to write poetry.

His artistic career began in 1956 with the publication of Let Us Compare Mythologies. He has published nine collections of poetry, most recently, Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs (1993), and two novels, The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). During the sixties he achieved national and international acclaim as a composer-singer. He has made seventeen albums, the latest being Dear Heather (2004). Numerous tribute albums, in many languages, have celebrated his songs.

Cohen was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991, and promoted to the rank of Companion in 2003. He received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 1993, and has won numerous Juno Awards.

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