Thursday, April 3, 2008

GMVW # 13: "Poetic Justice"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 13: Poetic Justice
Song: Closing Time by Leonard Cohen
(Songwriter: Leonard Cohen)
April 3, 2008

In the 60’s, a number of cultural centers sprung up out of nowhere.  We all know about Swinging London, Greenwich Village, and the San Francisco scene.  These locations experienced an explosion of music, arts, poetry, and fashion.  However, there were also lesser known hubs, including Montreal, Quebec.  One of the most influential poet/musicians of the era, Leonard Cohen, came out of this Montreal scene. 

For a city so close to Boston, Montreal seems worlds apart.  It’s a great place to visit if you want to experience something different.  A dead giveaway is attending a Canadiens hockey game.  When you look around, you notice the crowd are dressed in suits and ties.  There's a sense of Old World (Continental Europe) priorities, including the lyrics to song, which are more poetic than standard Rock music.  This was the back drape to the Montreal that Cohen came out of in the 60’s, and it’s this era that he seems to gain lyrical inspiration for this weeks Gem Music Video ‘Closing Time’ from his 1992 album ‘The Future’. 

Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame this past month (Lou Reed gave the induction speech), which was long overdue.  He’s an intense and highly influential figure who has gained far more popularity in Europe and Canada than in the States.  In the late 90’s he spent 5 years in seclusion at a cloistered Zen center.  He’s more of a poet than a musician, which is likely why he’s been banned from the music box at the annual Blob Squad gatherings in Humarock. 

I’ve also included a Gem Light still-shot video of an early Cohen song ‘So Long Marianne’.  The contrast in his vocals between the 2 songs, spread out between 25 years, is striking.  Below the URLs are a few of Cohen's lyrics that have stuck with me over the years.

- Pete

Gem Music Video: Closing Time

So Long Marianne

"They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
for trying to change the system from within.
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin."
-- First We Take Manhattan (1988)

"I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
is fastening my ankle to a stone."
-- So Long Marianne  (1967)

"But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet" -- Democracy (1992)


About the video: Made for MTV style video (although rarely if ever shown)  The Gem Light is a still-shot video put together by a fan.

Video Rating: 1


About the video: Made for MTV style video (although rarely if ever shown)  The Gem Light is a still-shot video put together by a fan.

Best Feedback:  Amy

Not to take even one of these gems for granted...this one took me by surprise.  Not only had I not heard it before, but I'm pretty sure I've never laid my eyes on this musician.  So, I thank you for that.  He's raw, unglamorized, husky talent.  And this gem was a learning experience for me.
Molly and Jack can't wait for this weekend.  I'll see you at our usual spot around 11:30 on Sat.

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