Tag Archive: Leonard Cohen

new_skin_for_the_old_ceremony As a gift to a friend of mine who is retiring soon, a group of friends and colleagues have been asked to write articles about a poem or song.

These texts will be connected by the themes of one, or more, of the four elements – fire, earth, water and air.

I have chosen to write a piece on Leonard Cohen’s Who By Fire which, as you may know or recall, goes like this:

And who by fire, who by water,
 who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
 who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
 who in your merry merry month of may,
 who by very slow decay,
 and who shall I say is calling? Continue reading 

INTIMACY directed by Patrice Chéreau (UK, 2001)

intimacy-POSTERSex in movies or music videos is mostly more concerned with titillation than realism while in porn its primary function is stimulation.

The makers of Intimacy, based on a short story by Hanif Kureishi, adopt a less glossy and therefore more adult perspective.

In the movie, scenes of coupling are explicit, including un-simulated fellatio. Little is left to the imagination but, equally, nothing is particularly arousing.

On the contrary, the sex act is reduced to the level of a basic human need (like eating and sleeping but more energetic).

This is fucking not lovemaking and seems more akin to an act of penance than passion. Once the desire is satiated, words are unnecessary and the two go their separate ways arranging only to meet again the same day (Wednesday) the next week. Continue reading


LOU REED’S BERLIN directed by Julian Schnabel (USA, 2008)

What’s the saddest record you own?

Some contenders from my collection would be Leonard Cohen’s Songs From A Room, Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night, Richard Buckner’s Devotion And Doubt, Joy Division’s Closer, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s I See A Darkness and Gorecki’s Symphony No 3.

Top of the list, though, would have to be Lou Reed’s Berlin.

I bought this on vinyl when I was 17, and to this day there’s not an album that can touch it for unremitting bleakness.

The songs are fearlessly uncompromising, covering topics like domestic violence, suicide, drug abuse and distraught kids in broken homes.

Reed writes of personal grief without filter and drags you into a world of pain with no attempt to make this suffering seem glamorous or cool. Continue reading

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