Two Very Raw, Unreleased Leonard Cohen Songs "Puppets" And "Book Of Longing"

Yep, More Leonard Cohen Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

cohen-anjani-standing

The KCRW Interview With Leonard Cohen And Anjani

On June 24, 2006 Leonard Cohen and Anjani were interviewed on KCRW.  While the primary topic was their collaboration on the Blue Alert album, the show also featured two songs by Leonard Cohen that were written for possible use in an album on which he was then working.

The good news is that the entire interview was revealing, interesting, and insightful.  Of special interest was the discussion of the unusual process by which the songs in the Blue Alert album were created.

The bad news is that, although the link to the program listing is still intact, the archived recording of the interview itself is no longer available.1

The good news is that the two Leonard Cohen songs played during that interview are available today for your listening pleasure.2

The Forthcoming Leonard Cohen Album

The songs are demo versions described as part of a “forthcoming” Leonard Cohen album then (i.e., June 2006) being developed during the same time Cohen was writing Book Of Longing and producing Anjani’s Blue Alert.3 As Cohen puts it, “… I have dozens of lyrics I’m setting to music now.”

He goes on to say, speaking  specifically of these two songs,

I don’t even know if these tracks are going to survive [to make it on the album], although people like them.  Well, ‘people’ is like my son and my daughter.

… They [the two songs] are very raw, both in the presentation and in the delivery and in the subject matter. It’s a kind of uncovered emotion that surprised me too when I listened to it. It sounds real.

Both songs evolved from poems published in Book Of Longing by Leonard Cohen (Ecco, May 9, 2006).

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The verses of those poems are listed below (along with the illustration that appears on the same page as “Book Of Longing.”) The lyrics Cohen sings, however,  are not identical to the words of the poems. The final lines of “Book Of Longing,” for example, lines have been changed from present tense in the poem to past tense, “That was my longing, and this was my book,” in the song. Finally, some of the lyrics sung on the broadcast are unclear, at least to my ears.

Puppets By Leonard Cohen

German puppets
burnt the Jews
Jewish puppets
did not choose

Puppet vultures
eat the dead
Puppet corpses
they are fed

Puppet winds and
puppet waves
Puppet sailors
in their graves

Puppet flower
Puppet stem
Puppet Time
dismantles them

Puppet me and
puppet you
Puppet German
Puppet Jew

Puppet presidents
command
puppet troops to
burn the land

Puppet fire
puppet flames
feed on all the
puppet names

Puppet lovers
in their bliss
turn away from
all of this

Puppet reader
shakes his head
takes his puppet
wife to bed

Puppet night
comes down to say
the epilogue to
puppet day

Puppets – Leonard Cohen

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Note: The melody played in the background of “Puppets” is  Havah Nagilah (literally, “Let us rejoice”), a song of celebration.

The Book Of Longing By Leonard Cohen

I can’t make the hillslonging-il
The system is shot
I’m living on pills
For which I thank G-d

I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart

I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock

My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn’t write
What the night pencilled in

My animal howls
My angel’s upset
But I’m not allowed
A trace of regret

For someone will use
What I couldn’t be
My heart will be hers
Impersonally

She’ll step on the path
She’ll see what I mean
My will cut in half
And freedom between

For less than a second
Our lives will collide
The endless suspended
The door open wide

Then she will be born
To someone like you
What no one has done

She’ll continue to do
I know she is coming
I know she will look
And that is the longing
And this is the book

Book Of Longing – Leonard Cohen

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Note: The knocking sound that can be heard  in “Book of Longing” is, according to Tom Sakic, commenting in leonardcohenforum, caused by Leonard Cohen striking the keyboard of the synthesizer with enough force to result in the “clop”  heard on the recording.

  1. At least, I can’t find it. When I click on the appropriate buttons, I get a popup box reporting “This media cannot be found.” If anyone has better luck, please let me know. []
  2. The other good news is that I believe I have secured a recording of the rest of the interview as well, but that’s for another post … []
  3. In the interview, Cohen agrees that the album is “forthcoming,” but, no doubt hearkening to previous problems with record companies, wisely  declines the host’s request that he predict when the album will come out, noting only “It’s hard to say.” []

0 responses to “Two Very Raw, Unreleased Leonard Cohen Songs "Puppets" And "Book Of Longing"

  1. loved the post – loved the tunes
    Thanks!