Bob Dylan & Alan Ginsberg Sing Back-Up On Leonard Cohen’s Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On

leonard-cohen-death-of-a-ladies-man

When Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan showed up during the recording of Death Of A Ladies’ Man in 1977, Phil Spector ordered them to sing background vocals on “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on.” They complied, and the resulting version of the song became a track on the album.

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Leonard Cohen’s 5 Best Collaborations According To The Houston Post

collab1

Cohen Collaborators: Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson, Phil Spector, Webb Sisters, Bob Dylan & Alan Ginsberg

Read the full story at Leonard Cohen’s Five Best Collaborations by Corey Deiterman (Houston Press: Sep. 17 2014). Be aware that The Houston Post subscribes to a broad definition of “collaboration.” .

Note: Originally posted September 17, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Allen Ginsberg On Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen

allen_ginsberg_and_bob_dylan_by_elsa_dorfman

quoteup2
Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’squotedown2

Allen Ginsberg

 

Many articles refer to this quotation, but this excerpt from Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo has the advantage of offering context:

Like Dylan, Simon, and few others, Leonard Cohen has expanded the vocabulary of the popular song into the domain of poetry. And like both Simon and Dylan, Cohen will work and rework his songs until he achieves a kind of impossible perfection. He didn’t need Dylan’s influence, however, to inspire his poetic approach to songwriting. He’d already written much poetry and two highly acclaimed novels by the time Dylan emerged, leading the poet Allen Ginsberg to comment, “Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s.”

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Credit Due Department: Photo by Elsa Dorfman – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted April 29, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The angel is merely a channel for the will” Leonard Cohen on Angels In Poems

You once said that “the angels of mercy are other people.”1 What does that mean? And what is the relationship between angels and language?

quoteup2
I don’t know. One of the things I always liked about the early Beatnik poetry — Ginsberg and Kerouac and Corso– was the use of the word ‘angel.’ I never knew what they meant, except that it was a designation for a human being and that it affirmed the light in an individual. I don’t know how I used the word ‘angel.’ I’ve forgotten exactly, but I don’t think I ever got better than the way that Ginsberg and Kerouac used the word in the early fifties. I always loved reading their poems where they talked about angels. I’ve read a lot of things about angels. I just wrote a song with Lewis Furey called ‘Angel Eyes.’ I like it as a term of endearment: ‘Darling, you’re an angel.’ I mean the fact that somebody can bring you the light, and you feel it, you feel healed or situated. And it’s a migratory gift. We’re all that for other people. Sometimes we are and sometimes we aren’t. I know that sometimes it’s.just the girl who sells you cigarettes saying ‘have a good day’ that changes the day. In that function she is an angel. An angel has no will of its own. An angel is only a messenger, only a channel. We have another kind of mythology that suggests angels act independently. But as I understand it from people who have gone into the matter, the angel actually has no will. The angel is merely a channel for the will.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen: Various Positions as interviewed by Robert Sward Montreal 1984. Note: Originally posted Mar 6, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

______________________

  1. See “The angels of mercy are other people” Leonard Cohen []

Video: Leonard Cohen Recites “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” (1966)

turtleneck2

“God is Alive, Magic is Afoot” – The Origins

For those unfamiliar with the origins of this prose-poem, the following explanation from Take This Longing From My Tongue by Sean Elder (Salon Jun 15, 1999) is helpful in providing context:

Indeed, his first poetry collection was called “Let Us Compare Mythologies,” and his celebrated second novel, “Beautiful Losers” (1966), told the story of three (or maybe four) lovers who seemed to exist in a world of their own making. The narrator, an amateur anthropologist trying to reconstruct the myth of his life long after the others are gone, is driven and vexed by the memory of his best friend, F. — who, true to his initial, fucks everything that moves: the narrator, the narrator’s wife, the last surviving female members of a Native American tribe the narrator is studying. F. ends up “in a padded cell, his brain rotted from too much dirty sex,” but before he dies he leads the narrator to a revelation, “the sweet burden of my argument”:

God is alive. Magic is afoot. God is alive. Magic is afoot. God is afoot. Magic is alive. Alive is afoot. Magic never died. God never sickened. Many poor men lied. Many sick men lied. Magic never weakened. Magic never hid. Magic always ruled. God is afoot. God was ruler though his funeral lengthened. Though his mourners thickened Magic never fled …

In this ecstatic passage (which Buffy St. Marie later recorded as a sort of incantation), Cohen has it both ways — god and shaman, mystic and the pagan — and he didn’t need Timothy Leary to guide him. (Hydra, where he wrote “Beautiful Losers,” was full of pleasure-seeking expatriates then, with visitors that included Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, and Cohen had made the acquaintance of LSD back in New York.) He had his own myths. He didn’t need anyone else’s.

 

beatloisersThis passage1 was itself later published as an illustrated book called “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot.” The blurb for that volume includes this description:

In the middle of the novel comes a short section that begins with the words. ‘God is Alive. Magic is Afoot.’ The 400 or so words that follow are arguably some of the finest Cohen has ever written. In them he has created an inspirational mantra that explores the real meaning of Magic and God.

Leonard Cohen Recites “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot”

The words Leonard Cohen recites in this 1966 performance are from a passage from his 1966 novel, “Beautiful Losers.” This passage was itself later published separately as an illustrated book called “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot.”

God Is Alive; Magic is Afoot by Leonard Cohen (2000); Illustrations by Sarah Perkins & Ian Jackson

God Is Alive (2000); Illustrations by Sarah Perkins & Ian Jackson

God Is Alive; Magic is Afoot by Leonard Cohen (2012); Illustrations by Clare Gibson

God Is Alive; Magic is Afoot by Leonard Cohen (2012); Illustrations by Clare Gibson

Because Leonard Cohen’s recitation is taken from the “Beautiful Losers” instead of the book, “”God is Alive, Magic is Afoot,” it  includes a final section absent from the Buffy Sainte-Marie version:

Old friend, aren’t you happy? You and Edith alone know how long I’ve waited for this instruction.
–Damn you, Mary Voolnd spits at me.
–What?
–Your hand’s gone limp.

Leonard Cohen – “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot”
Video by Allan Showalter

Buffy Sainte-Marie Sings “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot”

BuffySainteMarieIllu
Buffy Sainte-Marie first released “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot” on her album, Illuminations, in 1969.

magicis

Buffy Sainte-Marie – “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot”

Credit Due Department: The images of the three books and the liner notes from Buffy Sainte-Marie’s album were contributed by Dominique BOILE.

Note: Originally posted Feb 3, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
______________________________

  1. The complete passage follows:

    God is Alive, Magic is Afoot
    Lyrics by Leonard Cohen

    God is alive, magic is afoot
    God is alive, magic is afoot
    God is alive, magic is afoot
    God is afoot, magic is alive
    Alive is afoot, magic never died
    God never sickened
    Many poor men lied
    Many sick men lied
    Magic never weakened
    Magic never hid
    Magic always ruled
    God is afoot, God never died
    God was ruler
    Though his funeral lengthened
    Though his mourners thickened
    Magic never fled
    Though his shrouds were hoisted
    The naked God did live
    Though his words were twisted
    The naked magic thrived
    Though his death was published
    Round and round the world
    The heart did not believe

    Many hurt men wondered
    Many struck men bled
    Magic never faltered
    Magic always lead
    Many stones were rolled
    But God would not lie down
    Many wild men lied
    Many fat men listened
    Though they offered stones
    Magic still was fed
    Though they locked their coffers
    God was always served
    Magic is afoot, God is alive
    Alive is afoot

    Alive is in command
    Many weak men hungered
    Many strong men thrived
    Though they boast of solitude
    God was at their side
    Nor the dreamer in his cell
    Nor the captain on the hill
    Magic is alive
    Though his death was pardoned
    Round and round the world
    The heart would not believe

    Though laws were carved in marble
    They could not shelter men
    Though altars built in parliaments
    They could not order men
    Police arrested magic and magic went with them
    Mmmmm…. for magic loves the hungry
    But magic would not tarry
    It moves from arm to arm
    It would not stay with them
    Magic is afoot
    It cannot come to harm
    It rests in an empty palm
    It spawns in an empty mind
    But magic is no instrument
    Magic is the end
    Many men drove magic
    But magic stayed behind
    Many strong men lied
    They only passed through magic
    And out the other side
    Many weak men lied
    They came to God in secret
    And though they left Him nourished
    They would not tell who healed
    Though mountains danced before them
    They said that God was dead
    Though his shrouds were hoisted
    The naked God did live
    This I mean to whisper to my mind
    This I mean to laugh within my mind
    This I mean my mind to serve
    Til’ service is but magic
    Moving through the world
    And mind itself is magic
    Coursing through the flesh
    And flesh itself is magic
    Dancing on a clock
    And time itself
    The magic length of God
    []