For the first time in paperback--the selected work of the legendary singer, poet, and performer. Stranger Music presents a magnificent cross-section of Cohen's work--including 11 previously unpublished poems--and demonstrates definitively that Cohen is a writer of dazzling intelligence and a force that transcends genres.
Cohen is probably best known as the writer of the lyrics for the song ``Suzanne,'' made famous by Judy Collins, but has written a great many other songs, too, as well as poetry and prose poetry not set to music. In reading through this generous selection, one often hears the ghost of musical accompaniment, and sometimes its actual presence is missed. The writing alone, forthright in its rhythms, plain of speech, often rhymed, and almost immediately accessible, seems well suited to the ears of a live audience. So fans of the songs will be in luck, here; but readers who prefer slow subtleties, or a kind of poetry that gradually expands in meaning on rereading, or ambitious craft, won't find it in a piece like ``For Anne,'' which begins ``With Annie gone, / Whose eyes to compare / With the morning sun?'' Cohen's writing is oral in flavor, and asks us to ``read'' it mainly by hearing it. This works to the disadvantage of a book, where words stay put and aren't sung. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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November 01, 1994
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