Notes On And Recommended Analyses Of Take This Waltz
The Unrealized Potential of Cohen’s Take This Waltz in The Gin Game, a two-part discussion1 published earlier this year triggered interest among reader about the song itself. Now, in my personal edition of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the “need to analyze Take This Waltz” falls somewhere between the “need to distinguish between sierra gold and amber sunshine” and the “need to catch a bowling ball dropped from a five story building in ones teeth.” I can, nonetheless, offer some notes and direction toward an understanding of Leonard Cohen’s 1986 tribute to Federico García Lorca.
Leonard Cohen On Lorca
Take This Waltz is an especially important song in the Leonard Cohen canon, in large part because the lyrics derive from Pequeño Vals Vienès (“Little Viennese Waltz”), a poem written in Spanish by Federico Garcia Lorca (pictured on right).
Cohen has commented on his discovery of Lorca’s poem and its significance in numerous concerts and interviews. These quotations are representative.
I was fifteen when I began to read Federico Garcia Lorca. His poems perhaps have had the greatest influence on my texts. He summoned up a world where I felt at home. His images were sensual and mysterious: “throw a fist full of ants to the sun.” I wanted to be able to write something like that as well. A few years ago I wrote a musical adaptation of Lorca’s “Little Viennese Waltz .” Then I noticed what a complex writer he was: it took me more than a hundred hours just to translate the poem. Lorca is one of those rare poets with whom you can stay in love for life.2
- See Part 1: The Basics Of The Play & Its Add-on Dance Scene and Part 2:The Tragedy Of Love Touched But Not Grasped [↩]
- From ‘Gesprek met Leonard Cohen, de boeteprediker van de popmuziek; Het Oude Testament is mijn handboek’ [Talk with Leonard Cohen, the philosopher of pop music; the Old Testament is my guide] by Pieter Steinz, NRC: December 4, 1992. translated by Anja Deelen [↩]