Cohen and Goannas

Got a letter from Davie just the other day
Living in Queensland was not okay
Said he can’t find the money just to pay the rent
And the food and the herb they’re just heaven-sent

He’s been living on the razor’s edge
Trying to touch the sun
He won’t fall for that same old trick again

Kathy’s all right
She just gets lonely every day
She’s living in a dream world of yesterday
And there she is and there she’ll stay

She’s been living on the razor’s edge
Trying to touch the sun
She won’t fall for that same old trick again

Lulu’s tired of living down beside Torquay
She’s getting herself together financially
says “one of these days I’m gonna lie in the sun
But right now I’m wondering if that day’ll ever come”

She’s been living on the razor’s edge
Trying to touch the sun
She won’t fall for that same old trick again

Got a letter from Davie just the other day
And the note read “please come to Byron Bay”
The heart says go but the head says stay
And the big wheel just keeps turning every day

Don’t go living on the razor’s edge
Trying to touch the sun
You’ll just fall for that same old trick again

We’re all living on the razor’s edge
Trying to touch the sun
We won ‘t fall for that same old trick again.

Lyrics from one of Goanna’s more poignant songs. Great band great band. Whoever said Australia doesn’t have culture? Remind me of Gang-a-Jang and Canefields for a later post.

A friend of mine lent me two books written by Leonard Cohen, recently. Yes, the very same. The lyrics of his songs are so understated and strained, the emotion deep because it is repressed. The books are both an orgy of sex and violence and Yiddish angst and Canadian (specifically Quebecois) politics and semen and blood and chaos and cars.

The two of his books that I’ve read or part-read, too, are both concerned with triangles: close, intimate relationships between two men, with a woman or women on the periphery. In one case the relationship between the men was sexual and intense, and they both shared the love of a woman who suicided before the book opened (“Beautiful Losers”), and the other the relationship between the male friends is not sexual at all, but it is no less intense for that (“Favourite Game”) as the two youths try to find what happiness they can.

I read “Beautiful Losers” first, enthralled with the pseudo-history, the religious torment, the stuff you can’t really describe as violence as it seems to cross the line into torture, the shuttling between the 1600s and the present, the heterosexual sex with both Catherine and Elaine, (usually not my thing), the homosexual sex between the ever unnamed narrator and “F” which again is not my thing (and who will ever forget the two of them jerking off in a speeding car, and coming at the moment of impact with a brick wall?)

I was used to Cohen’s music and how his world-view was full of pain and cynicism, but I was used to it being contained, restrained, dark, controlled and wonderful. In this book it was uncontained, unconstrained (“With your unconstraining voice / Still persuade us to rejoice!”) unutterably dark, and about as controlled as steaming streams of semen are when it’s just too late.

So when I started reading “Favourite Game” today, given that I had unexpected time up my sleeve, I decided to try something. MP3 players are forgiving, and one of mine (I have one for every purpose) has all my Leonard Cohen on it. Favourite turned out to be slower-paced and less sado-masochistic than Beautiful, but still rattling and fast and vicious for all that. I read his loud, out-there prose silently in my mind, while my ears absorbed his paced, controlled, restrained music at the same time. I had two whole, different worlds in my head simultaneously, and I lived in them simultaneously, and experienced them utterly separately, for all that I experienced them at the same time. Wonderful. I really, really recommend it.

I love his poetry, and of course he’s put the best of it into his songs.

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One Response to Cohen and Goannas

  1. flights rhodes says:

    ahhhhhh very good, bookmarked 🙂 keep it up, JusyKassy. http://www.flightsrhodes.org

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