I don’t know much about Leonard Cohen. Hallelujah of course, everyone knows that, although they know the Jeff Buckley version much more than the original. I think the first time I heard that song was on The West Wing, but I’ve heard it many places since. Apart from that the only other song I know is Tower Of Song, and then only because of the U2 connection. Yet another connection they have made for me to another artist, and yet another that I haven’t even scratched the surface of. Which is interesting because from what I’ve read about Leonard Cohen and his music, I suspect I would like quite a lot of it.
Tower Of Song was performed by Cohen and U2 for a movie about Cohen, and it is them standing on a small stage and performing the song, no crowd or anything. It very much reminds me of The Wanderer, where Johnny Cash sings most of the lyrics and Bono adds a few wails here and there. In this case Cohen does most of the singing, and sounds a lot like Johnny Cash with the deep voice, and Bono sings a couple of verses at the end.
Larry and the sunglasses looks odd, inscrutable, whatever you want to call it, always looking like he’s embarrassed to be there. Adam looks much more contemporary to Leonard Cohen than to the rest of the band, something I talked about a couple of days ago, that he hasn’t aged very well. But he also looks like he’s having a lot of fun, enjoying playing with this man he has a lot of respect for. Bono and Edge are themselves, as always.
So is it a hymn? Even about religion? Or just a piece of poetry, which honestly I could see it being without even being a song. It is one of those lyrically great songs that make you want to think about certain things, to pull out a pen and start writing down your own feelings on whatever topic comes to mind. Add in the music which could be considered haunting, or deep, or something like that, and it really is good. Again I go back to The Wanderer, and I definitely get a similar sort of sound and feeling from both songs.
I think it’s a song about getting old, and perhaps the story of his life in music. Perhaps also something about romance, a woman (I don’t know anything about Cohen’s personal life), some of that history that he is thinking back on. You do see bits of it being just him trying to write a song, feeling that he is being forced (or forcing himself), perhaps for a record company. But then you see the whole lost love thing, especially in the part that Bono sings, about her being on the other side of the river, that he loved her way back when, and all the bridges they burnt. So maybe it is an ode to a lost love too, a failure in a relationship. Either way, it certainly sounds like a man coming to the end of his life and looking back at some regrets. A very nice song overall.
My rating for Tower Of Song: 6 / 10