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Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs [Paperback]

Leonard Cohen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 13 1994
Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs celebrates the astonishing career of Leonard Cohen, revered around the world as one of the great visionaries, writers, performers, and most consistently daring songwriters.

Cohen’s career began in 1956 with the publication of Let Us Compare Mythologies, and he has since published eight books of poems – including The Spice-Box of Earth, Death of a Lady’s Man, and Book of Mercy – and has made numerous albums, becoming one of the most popular and influential artists in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

His first record, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, released in 1967, was a remarkable musical début and introduced some of his most famous songs, including “Suzanne,” “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” and “Sisters of Mercy.” From then, and with each subsequent album, he earned the status as one of the most dazzlingly literate songwriters of our time.

Stranger Music brings together for the first time a comprehensive selection of Leonard Cohen’s song lyrics and his poetry, including some poems not previously published. This landmark edition demonstrates the range and depth of Cohen’s work, revealing an extraordinary gift of language that speaks with rare clarity, passion, and timelessness.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs + Book of Mercy + Book of Longing
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The publication of Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs brought Leonard Cohen's poetry, which had long been obscured by his intermittently prolific recording career, back into prominence. His poems will be instantly familiar to fans of his music or novels; they share the same cynical romanticism, morbid eroticism, and ironic humour. Many of his poems are spare and declamatory, relying on the intensity of their imagery and the wryness of their speaker to produce their effect. The opening lines of "The Drawer's Condition on November 28, 1961" are exemplary:
Is there anything emptier
than the drawer where
you used to store your opium?
How like a black-eyed Susan
blinded into ordinary daisy
is my pretty kitchen drawer!
How like a nose sans nostrils
is my bare wooden drawer!
How like an eggless basket!
How like a pool sans tortoise!
Cohen is such an old-fashioned bard that it is often difficult to believe he inhabits the same literary landscape that nurtures postmodern experimentalism. Most of his poems are richly lyrical, which made his turn to songwriting a natural one. Published collections of lyrics are seldom very satisfying, though, and even Cohen's best songs, such as the unforgettable "Suzanne" or the spare and sublime "Anthem," lose most of their intensity on paper. Stranger Music contains material from nearly all of Cohen's important works; even his experimental novel Beautiful Losers is represented. Cohen has published very little new material since 1983's Book of Mercy, and, unless he enters another period of productivity, Stranger Music will remain the definitive Cohen collection for a very long time. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Stranger Music brings together, at last, the words of a Canadian artist who has been anything but a stranger to so many of us for so long.…Cohen has woven a chain of words that binds us together.”
Calgary Herald

Stranger Music is a massive record of the poet’s imaginative journey through beauty, through horror, through the extremes of love and despair.…Cohen is always a poet of extremes: that’s where he lives, at the edges of them.”
Toronto Star

Stranger Music is a record of Cohen’s dispatches from the front, an invaluable record of a shining voice. It burns still.”
Ottawa Citizen

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"There is a mood for which Beethoven is too loud, and Bach too wise, and silence too good for a filthy heart such as beats in my breast." --It's Probably Spring
And for all of these moods, there is Leonard Cohen.
To many, Leonard Cohen is known only as a sub-mainstream musician and sometime theologian; yet the scope of his artistic genius reaches far beyond music and religious thought. Stranger Music, a collection of his works from 1956-1993, provides the uninitiated Cohen reader with a broad sampling of poetry and prose excerpts, offering everything from lucid and uplifting spirituality (a la Book of Mercy) to darker confessional stylings. Any fan of modern literature would be well advised to incorporate this anthology into his collection. At times conventional, at times avant-garde, Cohen is a writer that transcends genre and accurate definition, and in doing so probes the collective unconscious for themes which pertain to all of modern humanity. His questions, and many of his answers, all presented in his easily accessible style, are universally applicaple, and an experience well worth the reading. For any passionate-literate individual who seeks an artistic alternative to the nihilism of our time, this man speaks for you.
Spend the twelve bucks. You'll congradulate yourself on the investment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty Upon Beauty March 2 2012
In 1996, I received this book as a present from my (then) best friend. I remember being initially skeptical of "Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs", and wondering, 'What can this old man tell me about life?' Leonard Cohen could tell me plenty, apparently: life, love, beauty, sex, passion, death, religion. His words spoke to me and now they continue to resonate with me.

The friendship with my friend has since ended; however, this book has now become one of my most favourite and prized possessions. It's the perfect starting place for anyone who is curious about Leonard Cohen's work or is looking for poetry that is beautiful (and accessible), It is truly a wonderful anthology.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to My Hungry Eyes Sept. 11 2004
I've been reading Leonard Cohen since I was 13 and in love with the words "freakish nipples". In Stranger Music, I find myself presented with a feast of words by the man I crushed on from the first moment I heard his voice.
My copy is dog-eared and coffee stained after years of returning to it again and again. Covering everything he's ever written in as lush a way as a volume this tightly edited will allow, everyone will find something to fall in love with in this book.
Highly recommended and I'd say that even if I wasn't crazy in love with him. ;)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sing to me Lennie April 18 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The best of Leonard Cohen selected from his vast volume of work - an excellent sampler for the uninitiated. Brought back many memories of the Susannes of yesteryear.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stranger music : Leonard Cohen June 19 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
How can you not like Leonard Cohen ? I have been listening to his music for many years and he is also a great Canadian. Now, I'll be able to enjoy his words more and at my leisure.
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