Did you Know – Cohen’s Spoken Word

A consummate master of trades, Leonard Cohen is a rare breed of artist. Gifted with poetical talents, Cohen, who needs no clipped sound bitey introduction, is also a musical prodigy, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and a novelist. Yet, what is it about this linkage between songwriter and poet that can appear so non-existent in contemporary culture? Could it be that the ever heroic poet butts heads with the often idealized image of sex charged rock symbol?

Although it is supremely easy to shrug and assume the twin occupations to be just feather’s in Cohen’s cap, there is something more at play here. The dual roles of song writer and spoken word aficionado play off each other much like free jamming musicians. One bounces energy, arching it through thin air like so much lightning, to a partner who in turns transfigures it back into something grander. Yet, wouldn’t thinking of the two roles as almost one and the same only amplify this jam session, internalizing it?

‘Where have all the poets gone?’ is a sentiment I often encounter. Perhaps they are simply overshadowed by their near cousins, the song writers. But the two need not be mutually exclusive or competing. Both are word smiths working in the same office, only separated by a thin cubicle wall.

Look to Leonard Cohen for inspiration in how spoken word transcends distinctions.

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7 thoughts on “Did you Know – Cohen’s Spoken Word

  1. I fell in love with him at age 14 when I saw him perform on a PBS special. I was a total punk at the time listening to the Sex Pistols. I heard his words with the flows of music and was immediately swept off my feet for life. He is one of a kind and foremost a poet. A talented man that brings his poetry to life within music.

    I have often thought that some songwriters are really poets that don’t want the label of poet. There was a day it was cool to be a poet if you were a man. That is not the usual case today but being a songwriter is thought cool. I don’t mean people are that superficial. It would depend on who they associate with in life. Don’t get me wrong someone can be a songwriter and a poet. I happen to date one. 🙂

  2. “Because he touched her perfect body with his mind.”

    Ever since I heard these words in that song i’v e idolized Leanard Cohen but could never seem to get enough.

  3. A sign of our times right? You listen to music, go out to hear bands, CD’s, radio, etc. However, I don’t recall going to go listen to poetry. I think you read poetry in America/just my background. That would be wonderful if that were changing, something to get ourselves in touch with HOW we feel. I think the two are absolutely connected.

  4. I can totally relate to this article (not that I am even close to being a Leonard Cohen but) I have written lyrical poetry that has been misunderstood by some in the poetry world and criticized as being “too wordy” or “too much telling and not enough showing.” I have a lot of learning to do but this is something I am very interested in. I think rap artists, such as Eminem, are good examples of spoken word poet-musicians as well.

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