Despite all his progress as a producer/arranger since he first recorded, Leonard Cohen is still spinning variations on that same old theme, lamenting the scorn of a woman who hardly deigns to hear his plaints. His dense, sarcastic stories of broken love affairs still suggest a sad world whose inhabitants scream, kill, and climb immense walls in their attempts to speak to each other and be understood. Humans become fumbling mammals trying to control their bad impulses and do the right thing and failing a lot. Some would call this vision bleak and negative. But assuming the imperfectability of humans makes forgiveness possible, and that’s positive. No matter how angry Cohen’s song persona gets at one of those faithless women, you always sense he’d welcome her back in a minute. After all, he knows she’s just as much a victim as he is. I could go on, but you get the point: Cohen’s always been what’s known in the pop music world as “deep,” someone whose records probably have inspired more late-night pot-fueled discussions in college dormitories, bars, and elsewhere than there are grains of sand on North Avenue beach. Which is a good thing for his career, because his singing voice surely hasn’t improved any. But, you ask, what about the new LP, I’m Your Man? Oh, it’s just great. Monday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dominique Issermann.