A selection of new material by the late Leonard Cohen will be released under the title “The Flame” next October. The selection and order of the poems were handpicked by Cohen himself before he passed away last November 2016.
The Very Reverend Freud
Born in Canada on September 1934, Leonard Cohen started his career as a poet an novelist during the ’50s and ’60s. He released three poetry collections and two novels prior to his music career: “Let us compare mythologies” in 1956, “The Spice-Box of Earth” in 1961, “Flowers for Hitler” in 1964, “The Favorite Game” in 1963, and “Beautiful Losers” in 1966.
Themes of political and social justice, religion, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships greatly reflected in his works. His beautiful use of imagery is a sound to behold; in the track “Bird on the Wire,” he sings of humanity’s challenge to be free. “Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.”
He speaks of his real-life friendship with bohemian dancer Suzanne Verdal in “Suzanne,” the opening track of his debut album. Cohen illustrates a comparison between women and religion; he was so spellbound by her that he was willing to “travel blind” with her, showing a huge amount of trust and complete faith, much like having complete faith in a god.
“Is This What You Wanted” describes Cohen’s mismatched relationship with Suzanne Elrod in a series of comparisons—Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen, Jesus Christ and the money lender, the promise at dawn and the morning after. He then asks, “And is this what you wanted, to live in a house that is haunted by the ghost of you and me?” in the chorus. Miles Kane and Alex Turner’s super duo project “The Last Shadow Puppets” covered the song for their “The Dream Synopsis EP.”
His career spanned nearly 50 years and is considered as one of music’s most influential visionaries next to Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Manager Robert Kory detailed that Cohen was determined to complete the book during the final months of his life and was able to do so, a few days before his unexpected death. A month before his death, Cohen did an interview with the New Yorker where he mentioned his knowledge of the inevitable end.
“The big change is the proximity to death,” he said. “I am a tidy kind of guy. I like to tie up the strings if I can. If I can’t, also, that’s O.K. But my natural thrust is to finish things that I’ve begun.”
An extensive selection from his notebooks will also be included in the book, offering an “intimate look inside the life and mind of a singular artist and thinker.” “The Flame” is due for release October next year and is the last book we will ever get from Leonard Cohen, so do yourself a favor and grab a copy.
Featured image from SSG Music