Give Me A Leonard Cohen Afterworld: Confessions 4

I doubt I’m the only person from my generation to first hear of Leonard Cohen from the above Nirvana lyric (from “Pennyroyal Tea” on In Utero: “give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/ so I can sigh eternally”).  I also doubt I’m the only person to still not know what the hell Kurt Cobain was talking about even after becoming familiar with Cohen’s work.

Leonard Cohen at work
He’s your man.

As you probably heard, L. Cohen passed away last week (I think he heard that Democracy is coming to the USA).  I heard it from our pal Hal’s comment on the 007 post, where he also mentioned Robert Vaughn’s passing.  It wasn’t a total surprise, of course, to hear of Leonard Cohen’s passing, but damn, like John Oliver’s season finale end piece, it was just another thing to make us say fuck you to 2016!

I can’t remember what the first Leonard Cohen work I heard was.  Perhaps it was the John Cale version of “Hallelujah” on the Basquiat soundtrack (excellent song on an excellent soundtrack, btw!).  Perhaps I got an album out from a library.  I’m not sure.  At some point I watched the documentary about him that was made when he hadn’t started singing, but was known as a poet and writer in Canada in the mid-’60s.  I do know that I now own a few of his albums, including the Essential (3 disc version, highly recommended, possibly all the Cohen you need); his first album Songs of Leonard Cohen; The Future; and the 2 disc Live in London set from several years back, which I just dug out again (see more about that stuff below!).  That’s a great live set where he’s comfortably intoning his stuff (although he changes the one line from “The Future” about crack and…well, crack, sort of), and after I re-listen, I’ll write about that.  I’ve been intending to write about what I’ve been listening to, and I actually had listened to Songs recently.  I’d also taken a listen to his latest and final album, You Want It Darker, which showed he still had it.

The recent New Yorker profile was excellent.  My favorite part was where the author, David Remnick, describes being chastised by Cohen for being late to meeting up with him, which was wasting his time, and obviously he had little left.  You can also read some of what NPR had to say about him, as well as hear him interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

I’m not sure I can explain what I like about his stuff, except to say that his work was obviously grappling with larger questions than most pop music, and his voice, as has been said numerous times in the obits, has gotten deeper and more gravelly with every album, and I like that.

Another neat thing: in the bio of the man by Sylvie Simmons that I started reading (but didn’t get around to finishing), it mentioned that he read Superman comics as a kid.  And if I recall correctly, there’s a story where he ordered a booklet on hypnotism from a comic and used that to get the housemaid to undress for him.  So SOMEONE got that stuff to work for them!

Leonard Cohen, hypnotist
I command you to SLEEP!

And back when I tried getting a regular column going at the old place, I was going to call it “20 Years of Boredom”, from the opening lines of “First We Take Manhattan”: “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom/ for trying to change the system from within”.  I plan on explaining the significance of the lyric at the end of the year (ooh, the suspense!).

So yeah, 2016, fuck off, because we also lost Leonard Cohen, and he was a great writer and singer/intoner of his works.  RIP.

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Hey, remember how my columns are supposed to be about how I can’t get my stuff sorted and read and stuff?  Yeah, that’s the premise behind this, I swear!  Anyway, over the past week, I’ve been scrambling to find something important, but due to the massive amount of stuff stacked around, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where the hell I had that stuff.  Turned out that it was somewhere logical and non-stupid, but it took me too damn long to figure out where it was, mostly because I couldn’t easily maneuver stuff.

Oddly enough, though, I think it’s motivating me to get my ass in gear and start moving stuff around more.  Some of that is from necessity, because stuff is piled in weird places again.  I can’t get one bunch of stuff moved without another shifting funny.

But sometimes you just need the dam to break and open you up.  Hell, this column was just random thoughts in my head, but once I started typing them, they got turned into a column rather quickly.  Sometimes I just need to start and then once I do, I go like a bat outta hell!

That’s how I got through college, really.  I noticed after a few semesters that once I waited until the night before a paper was due to start writing it, my grades went up.  So weird!

Anyway, since next week is Thanksgiving (already?  This year not only has sucked but has gone by too fast!  PARADOX!), I’m hoping to get stuff gathered up that came out this year and take the time to plow through as much as possible to get a “best of” the year (as well as research for some other things we’ve got going on here).

Let’s see if that actually happens, though.

I’ve also got a backlog of other stuff that I SHOULD have written before now.  Some more book reviews, some comics reviews (some trades from the library and some single issues that I should get up over the weekend) (he says, fingers crossed, both hoping he’s not lying but if he is, hey, fingers were crossed!), and like I said above, CD reviews, with me talking about Leonard Cohen’s first album as well as eventually talking about the Live in London set.  That was something I came across in the great dig that I just did, so I had to get it ready for the next batch of CDs to listen to!

Did I cleverly disguise my lack of an actual column idea with this hodgepodge of stuff this week?

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In another “dammit, 2016, knock it the fuck off” moment, Zacherley, one of the early and most famous “horror hosts” passed away at age 98.  Lived a good long life, at least!

Zacherley
The horror!

Go ahead and take a look around at the site at the link.  It’s something I’ll talk about in the future as well, once I get caught up some on that stuff!  I even plan on eventually contacting the people there for an interview, so look forward to that…someday.  No promises as to when!

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A few quick bits from around the comics internet:

From the Previews website last week, under “Product Changes” for an upcoming Image book:

• Beowulf HC (MR) (OCT160654, $29.99) now runs 200 pages, not 200 pages.

I had to laugh!

If you like neat British comics, you may have been getting Meanwhile… from Soaring Penguin Press.  Apparently they couldn’t make money at the price they were selling at, so they’ve retooled and repriced, and holy shit, they’ve made the individual issues 25 bucks US!  However, thanks to everyone’s pal Rich Johnston, I was informed that a subscription costs about half that, and if you’re interested, you can check it outStrangehaven is being continued in that mag, so if you ever liked that book, you’ll want to seek Meanwhile… out.  I’m thinking about going for this myself!

If you like spending money, and you like Kickstarter, there are a couple Kickstarters you may be interested in.

Our pal Drew Ford has one going for his It’s Alive! imprint, to reprint Sam Glanzman’s Voyage to the Deep.  Plan on hearing more about this one from us in the upcoming weeks, but I wanted to mention it here, because I’m also mentioning another Kickstarter.

Some of you might know that I’m a big Cerebus fan, and I’ve been pledging for the Cerebus Archives, a portfolio of the type of stuff featured in IDW Artist Edition books, that Dave Sim has been doing in recent years.  The most recent one shipped rather quickly, so they’ve got another one coming, this time the first pages from Melmoth, with normalroach and the c-word.  Dave’s got an…interesting series of posts over at A Moment of Cerebus right now, but if you just like a portfolio of the original art, with Dave’s commentary, you can look at the Kickstarter link.  I’ll be pledging again!

And finally, over at CBR/CSBG, Brian is running the Comic Book Runs poll.  You’ve got to email him with your list (no more ACBC?!), and once I put in the link, I’ll see how much longer we’ve got…ah, until the end of the month!  I know my first few choices, and damn, I can get a column out of my list!  YES!

See you next week, if not over the weekend!

45 Comments

  1. tomfitz1

    Your “generation”, just how the hell old are you? 65? 70? 🙂

    Since you’ve mentioned Dave Sim and Cerebus, I guess you know that a 4-issue mini-series, Cerebus in Hell will be out in January, 2017.

    Apparently, it’s the 40th anniversary. Joy.

    1. I believe I mentioned Cerebus in Hell? (with the question mark) in Flippin’! I’m going to review the zero issue here…sometime. Over the weekend, I hope.

      My generation is…well, I think I’m too young to be a Gen Xer, and a bit too old to be a Millennial. I like being in that in-between area. I’m 37 now and was…damn, still 14 when Kurt Cobain died. Oy.

      Thanks for making me feel old now, Tom!

  2. M-Wolverine

    Not to ignore all your other interesting stuff in the column, but OMG how is a poll going to work emailing the votes and then having hardly any comments to speak of going to work? That’s probably one column that should have died with the format change over there.

      1. Well, essentially we were “emailing” our votes before, posting them as unseen by the masses comments, so that part seems like no problem. It’s not being able to have a robust discussion in the comments that’s going to be the problem (although the most recent Line had plenty of comments on it).

        But hey, without the destruction of the comments, we wouldn’t be here, so 2016 wasn’t totally bad!

        1. M-Wolverine

          Was that the Trump Line? I can imagine. Which I have to because the comments don’t appear on my mobile. Another downgrade. But other than the update posts that got maybe one or two most of the old articles got at least 2 or 3 dozen, and the big ones could go into the 100’s. The few times I’ve check and 2 dozen would be a huge amount of comments for a current article.

          Which is a shame because I still like Brian’s angle on column topics. But a blog without any healthy commenting on it just seems like Internet masterbation.

          1. John Trumbull

            But a blog without any healthy commenting on it just seems like Internet masturbation.

            It’s still pretty masturbatory. It’s just with commenting, you have people watching. 🙂

          2. Hal

            “It’s still pretty masturbatory. It’s just that with commenting you have people watching…” MR TRUMBUUUULLLL! What an image, I will have to scrub my brain clean of that hideous image!

          3. M-Wolverine

            Well, it is exactly like that, because you can do it all you want, but you only really make money if a lot of people are watching. And you generally make more if they’re interacting.

            Or so I’ve heard….

          4. Hal

            “…or so I’ve heard…” Ha! A likely story!
            I think that commenting is much more elevated than that as you are writing to communicate and with luck to stimulate (uck, not in *that* way!) others to respond. It is a conversation. But then, I would say that wouldn’t I?!

          5. M-Wolverine

            So I took a look at it. And the most incendiary of topics listed 21 comments, and in actually had a bit over 60. (How they don’t match is another indictment of the system). You could get 60 comments on the most bland, old time, 3rd tier publisher CBL columns, no more the juicy stuff. And THIS topic is the kind of thing that gets 4000 even in your local paper website. So they commenting system isn’t working as well by any stretch over there.

            The only comment on the column I’ll make is all the others are make of it what you will, but the one with the Dark Knight assuming Frank Miller, the DKR world, or DK Batman would be all bent out of shape over Trump seems like a piss poor interpretation. Even back in the less out there days of Miller when this was published he was pretty much making fun of both the left and the right pundits and political figures. That one could have been the perfect venue to really poke both sides, deservedly so, but man, that one missed the boat big time.

  3. Jeff Nettleton

    I first encountered Leonard Cohen in a joke by Neil, on the British comedy show The Young Ones, where he said. “….We’ll all be dead, yet still alive, like Leonard Cohen!” I was in college (back when MTV first brought it to these shores) and had no clue who Leonard Cohen was. Then, someone of my floor played one of his songs. I didn’t have another brush with him until th movie Pump Up the Volume, when Concrete Blonde did a cover of “Everybody Knows.” Great cover, too, with Johnette Napolitano’s great voice really inhabiting the emotions of it.

    I’m in for Glanzman; I just want to see a nice reprint of his Hercules stories, from Charlton. Those were beautiful. The Lonely War of Willy Schultz would be nice, too.

  4. Simon

    – “I also doubt I’m the only person to still not know what the hell Kurt Cobain was talking about”

    Fact: When you’re sad, “happy” music can be annoying (which may be why so many depressives hate XMas). But some beautiful sad music can still reach you, and possibly uplift you, because beauty saves.

    Fiction: Cobain always felt glum, so much he imagined he’d still feel so as a departed soul. His song thus hopes for an afterlife of beautiful sad songs to keep him company. His ideal for that was Cohen, apparently.

    – “He’s your man.”

    I didn’t know Leonard Nimoy had played a Mafia don.

    – “I heard it from our pal Hal’s comment”

    Did you miss Jude Terror’s obit at BC? (And the manufactured brouhaha about it?)

    – “his work was obviously grappling with larger questions than most pop music”

    Maybe why various people objected to Dylan’s Nobel on the grounds that this prize wasn’t intended for that, and even so, it should have been Cohen?

    – “he ordered a booklet on hypnotism from a comic and used that to get the housemaid to undress for him. So SOMEONE got that stuff to work for them!”

    Wait for the PC Police to decide you’ve just praised a rapist, heh. (Or was that a cunning plan to “go viral”?)

    – “I noticed after a few semesters that once I waited until the night before a paper was due to start writing it, my grades went up.”

    So you need a whip to get it up? …Wait, that came out wrong!

    – “I’m hoping to get stuff gathered up that came out this year and take the time to plow through as much as possible to get a “best of” the year”

    Why, you live in hope! http://dakotamcfadzean.com/comic/the-dailies-1282/

    – “Beowulf HC (MR) (OCT160654, $29.99) now runs 200 pages, not 200 pages.”

    Noticed that too, checked Previews, original was 208 pages. (I find amusing and amazing the amount of typos in Diamond’s pages and lists, for data that should come straight from their database. Apparently, they pay one of their sloths to type stuff everyone else automated in the 1990s.)

    – “Strangehaven is being continued in that mag, so if you ever liked that book, you’ll want to seek Meanwhile…”

    The three volumes we got are great, but we can also want to wait for that fourth and final volume. (Including its torrented version if they just make an omnibus to double-dip suckers.) To quote the late George Sprott, “At my age, I’m not reading any serialized stories!”

    – “no more ACBC”

    Always wondered where that came from, idly musing it may be:

    * Averted Content for Brian Cronin
    * Automatically Concealed for Brian Cronin
    * Another Comment for Brian Cronin
    * Anonymized Comment for Brian Cronin
    * Another Comic Ballot for Cronin
    * Anonymous Comic Book Comment

    (Or maybe not.)

    1. I always assumed that ACBC was some setting that could be done in the comments to automagically prevent it from showing on the site, and was chosen as it was a 4 letter combo that wouldn’t be used otherwise.

      My favorite part of those poll posts were when people would either forget the ACBC entirely or put in something completely different (I’d always jokingly put in ACDC). Invariably, those people chose the shittiest comics for their choices. Coincidence?

      1. Simon

        But when you posted a ballot with ACBC, you could still see it “awaiting moderation”. So I’m assuming it was just some combo added to the list of “bad words” that got a message always sent to moderation. However, why that combo rather than “HIDEMYBALLOT” or such?

        (As for people forgetting ACBC, I’ll blame… Cronin! I mean, why didn’t he ask people to copy-paste and fill a template including “DO NOT REMOVE: ACBC IS THE WORD”? Liefeld’s and Balent’s fans have a right to vote, too!)

  5. Hal

    Thank for the mention, Travis it’s always nice to be acknowledged, *narcissism/needy mode engaged* – today Atomic Junkshop, tomorrow ze Vurld!
    The deaths of Messrs. Cohen and Vaughn seem telling; yes, they were dying but…
    Cohen was a unique artist, a great lyricist, had a marvelous distinctive non-singer singing voice and a gift with the ladies. What a guy! A poet, a monk, and a ladies’ man too. No Taylor Swift/Justin Bieber creepy blandroid he.
    I recommend the Robert Altman movie McCabe and Mrs Miller not simply for itself – a post-Sixties fever dream of a western – but for its use of Leonard’s songs.
    Cohen’s amazing run of at least three different eras of great songs with different musical incarnations and tones is remarkable. Few artists have songs as indelible as So Long, Marianne, Sisters Of Mercy, Famous Blue Raincoat, First We Take Manhattan, Tower Of Song and those are just some of the best-known. Incroyable. Oh, and he also had fantastic hair and wore a bad ass hat! Nuff said.
    Two Thousand and Sixteen CAN INDEED fuck off. When the *real* 2016 comes it’ll be great! Screw the one from the darkest timeline…
    Thanksgiving… *ahem*
    “Beowulf…now runs *200 pages*, not 200 pages.” Bwahahaha! Incompetents. That reminds me of a recent event, people who ordered the steelbook edition of the British sitcom Red Dwarf’s eleventh season on blu-ray received a card with the episodes on within it, however they were the episode titles from the TWELFTH season which doesn’t air for the better part of a year and whose titles won’t even be revealed until just prior to that! Clusterfudge!
    Nice column, Travis, despite your self-disparaging remarks. You’ll get in gear, don’t worry!
    Yer pal, Hal

    1. Thanks Hal, and now I’ll have to seek out McCabe and Mrs Miller. I’ve heard of it, certainly, but didn’t know that there were Cohen songs in there.

      Yeah, I happened to be coming here to the blog first in my internet wanderings that day, saw your comment, said fuck that means…, then checked elsewhere and saw he’d passed. Again, fuck you 2016!

      1. M-Wolverine

        So I had to immediately check out John Cale’s version. I don’t know that I have a favorite, but that’s a pretty frickin’ awesome version. Though the video is kinda creepy.

        I let it slide before because of my man Hal, but I have to warn you McCabe and Mrs. Miller is an acquired taste. If you’re a big Altman fan you’re probably good, but it’s the anti-Western Western. It’s not for everybody. And it may have the most unsexy gratuitous nudity scene ever. But he’s right, you can’t complain about the music.

          1. Hal

            It’s worth it though, Travis. As long as you are prepared to be a little depressed… Golly, that sells it, doesn’t it? *raises eyebrow*
            Oh, and think about it, if you start with McCabe (the original title, fact fans!) you can work your way back through all the other things on which you need to catch up. (Now, we’ll see if that logic works… )

        1. Hal

          I don’t know if you have seen them but I’d recommend The Long Goodbye (Elliott Gould as a cat-loving Marlowe adrift in the Seventies, Henry Gibson, a great postmodern theme by John Williams, and the one of the most shocking scenes of violence I’ve ever seen) and, of course, Nashville. But then, I also like Popeye up to a point as it is so darn peculiar. If one can get past Altman’s sometimes annoying and abrasive hipsterism (not the modern Grizzly Adams-bearded bullshit) many of Altman’s movies – particularly in the Seventies – are well worth watching, even the flawed ones. California Split, A Perfect Couple, Gosford Park (Helen Mirren, Kely MacDonald, Emily Watson, Bob Balaban, Kristen Scott Thomas, etc. Forget that Downright Crappy stuff from the same writer, THIS is the stuff), all good to a greater or lesser degree while the likes of Buffalo Bill and the Indians or The History Lesson, Brewster McCloud, A Wedding, Three Women have many fine moments and that distinctive Altman tone and look. Dodge O.C. And Stiggs, Pret A Porter (Ready To Wear), Kansas City (despite Jennifer Jason Leigh being present) and The Gingerbread Man tho’…
          Apologies for longwinded gibbering…

  6. The first I heard of Leonard Cohen was when Don Henley’s cover of “Everybody Knows” hit the radio; I believe it was part of a tribute album. It was a great song that Henley didn’t really deliver the way it deserved, and it felt a little self-serving, given his prior scandal involving naked underage girls and drugs and a hot tub.

    Of course the second thing I heard was Rufus Wainwright’s heart-breaking rendition of “Hallelujah” in ‘Shrek’.

    I have to admit, I prefer him as a writer rather than a singer.

    1. Yeah, I have that tribute album with Don Henley, as well as another one with the John Cale Hallelujah and Pixies and REM and stuff. The Henley one also has Tori Amos doing Famous Blue Raincoat.

      I don’t remember the Henley version, which isn’t a surprise, because like the Dude, “I just really hate the Eagles, man”!

      As M-Wolverine says below, the fact that so many people can do pretty damn good versions of his songs is the mark of how good a writer he is. I can certainly understand preferring his songs to his singing.

    1. Yeah, I totally miss LouReedRichards! Such a great user name, and a really great, smart guy, too. I don’t think I caught his email in the great comment form screw-ups, but I’ll check and see. I was thinking about trying to catch a few more people with another email blast.

      And I’ll have to take a look at those Hallelujah covers later.

      I think I forgot to mention about John Cale’s cover. From what I read, he asked Cohen if he had any more verses to it, Cohen gave him some, and Cale rearranged them some to turn out his magnificent (and probably still MY favorite version) of the song.

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