“I Can’t Forget” – The Ghent Version
The 2012 Ghent concerts have produced a bounty of delectations that have surprised even long-time followers of Leonard Cohen. To this set of delights that have included a new and powerful arrangement of “Dance Me to The End Of Love,” a cover of the 1960s Drifters’ hit, “Save The Last Dance For Me,” and Leonard Cohen’s first live performance of “Light As The Breeze,” can now be added this version of “I Can’t Forget” with verses from two poems, one in English and one in French, expertly woven into the music to produce a rapturous effect.
Leonard Cohen – I Can’t Forget
Ghent: Aug 14, 2012
Video by Nnieuws Neteland
Yep, just another Leonard Cohen masterpiece.
While Cohen has frequently incorporated poems, both his own work and those written by others into his act, they are typically spoken as stand-alone pieces (such as “A Thousand Kisses Deep”) or as introductions to songs. This excerpt from a post about the October 7, 2010 Moscow concert, provides some examples of Cohen’s use of poetry:
“The Darkness” is, by my assessment, especially striking and is significantly enhanced by Leonard Cohen’s recitation of “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley as prologue. This is at least the third time Leonard Cohen has quoted from the works of other poets on the 2010 Tour. At Lissadell House, where Yeats, who spent his childhood in Sligo, lived and wrote during his stay there in 1894 and 1895, Cohen quoted the opening verse of “In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth And Con Markiewicz” by William Butler Yeats.1 In Stuttgart, apparently in response to civil unrest triggered by protests over the destruction of an area of trees, Cohen introduced “Born In Chains” with words from Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach.” … Cohen recited “Dover Beach” prior to “Born In Chains” at the Moscow concert as well.
In this case, Cohen recites a verse of “Dover Beach” in this rendition of “I Can’t Forget” – but the words of the poem are interlaced with the song itself rather than serving as its prologue.
Cohen also weaves into “I Can’t Forget” words from “À La Claire Fontaine” [At The Clear Spring], a classic French children’s song. The lyrics, in French and in English, can be found at Wikipedia. I’ve included the first lines (the line spoken by Leonard Cohen) below:
À la claire fontaine m’en allant promener
J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle que je m’y suis baignée.
(refrain) Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, jamais je ne t’oublierai
As I was walking by the clear fountain,
I found the water so lovely I had to bathe.
(refrain) I’ve loved you for so long, I will never forget you
Note: Originally posted Aug 17, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric