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on 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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on November 10, 2001
Leonard Cohen is one of the best rock poets going. He has received less aclaim than some of the other rock poets like Jim Morrison, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan. That is really a shame because Cohen has produced a pretty extraordinary body of work.
He published his first volume of poetry in 1956. His first album of music came out in 1967. Stranger Music is a selection of poems and lyrics from his entire career. It provides 400 pages of material. One will quickly realize that Cohen has had an amazing career. I especially like the lyrics. "The Future" is a CD that seems to find its way into my player a lot. Even though, the lyrics are on the CD sleeve, it is nice to see them in a book. One will gain an appreciation for how poetic Cohen's lyrics are. (The same is true for Dylan. There is something special about great poetic lyrics getting placed in book form.)
This book also contains generous samplings of his early books like "Beautiful Losers" and "Flowers For Hitler". Cohen manages to straddle the line between emotional intensity and sheer intellectualism. This collection will allow one to examine a great, often time underlooked career. It is some of the best English language poetry of the 20th Century.
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on August 4, 2001
Leonard Cohen is... I cannot find a single word to describe him. He is enigmatic. He is eclectic. He is iconoclastic. He is all of these things, and many, many more. Read this book and you will understand. This book includes a wide variety of his poems throughout the years, including selections from all 8 of his original volumes of poetry (The Energy of Slaves and Death of A Lady's Man are particularly well represented), as well as poems from his first anthology, selections from his novel Beautiful Losers, and 11 previously unpublished poems. Also included are lyrics to songs from all of his wonderful albums, many of them nicely represented, including The Future, his most recent album, which has all of it's Cohen-penned lyrics included here. These are particularly convenient as Cohen's albums, sadly, have been virtually ignored by record companies and during their re-packaging onto CD most of them do not include lyrics. This is a monumental collection, over 400 pages and including several hundred poems, some of which are not available elsewhere, and almost all of which are very hard to find at any rate. This is an absolute must for a Leonard Cohen fan. He is perhaps my favorite poet, his words tug at your heartstrings like so many other poets are claimed to be able to do, but which few can. His writing has always been honest, he's not fooling anybody, and these poems and lyrics touch you deep in your soul. Cohen strikes a chord. This is masterly, masterly writing. If you are a fan of Leonard Cohen's music, then you owe it to yourself to further your experience by buying this book. I cannot give it a higher reccommendation.
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on July 8, 2001
Even if you aren't familiar with Cohen as a musician, you've probably heard his music -- "Suzanne" (who "takes you down by her place near the river"), "Bird on a Wire," "Famous Blue Raincoat," "Joan of Ark." Rufus Wainright sang a haunting version of "Hallelujah" on the soundtrack of Schreck. John Cale did an earlier cover of "Hallelujah." I listened to Hallelujah over & over again, hitting the move back button on my CD player time after time. Later, I discovered that Hallelujah was penned by Leonard Cohen. Interesting -- I'd never heard of Leonard Cohen. Out of curiosity, I bought a couple of his CDs. I can't stop listening to them.
I bought this book because I wanted to see the lyrics written out (obviously, this is not an endorsement for the rather lame liner notes on the CDS I bought, which do not include lyrics). This treasure trove contains so much more here than the lyrics to the familiar songs. This isn't a feel-good collection; rather, it's a feel-alive collection, piercing and painful and brutal in its honesty. Cohen's poetry is perfect for when you want to crawl into yourself & wallow in introspection. This book contains 401 pages of poetry -- deeply spiritual, often sexual, sometimes funny, usually haunting. Most of the poems dig at your inner core, causing you to think. I am so amazed at the breadth of this man's talent, at his insight and intelligence and honesty. The poems are real rather than pretty, troubled rather than calm.
If you like Bob Dylan/Joan Baez type of music, you'll like Cohen's poetry. If you've read (and enjoyed) the poetry but haven't yet heard the music, do yourself a big favor and check out one of his CDs.
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on September 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. ;)
Feith
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on November 6, 1997
Leonard Cohen's early books of poetry are difficult to find even second-hand, and "Stranger Music" fills the gaps ranging from his first book of poetry "Let Us Compare Mythologies" (1956), all the way to his haunting CD "The Future." Readers will discover powerful poems as well as selected lyrics from all his albums. For those who enjoy Mr. Cohen's music, and have a love for literature, "Stranger Music" is a treasure. And with his early books of poetry difficult to find, "Stranger Music" gives you a taste of 37 years worth of material. An exceptional book!
Trey Smith
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on May 3, 2002
As a man once said, "James Joyce is not dead. He's living in Montreal under the name of Leonard Cohen."
Stranger Music is an amazing book. I can't stress this enough, it's poetry in action and Cohen's words sing themselves off of the page and into your mind. This is the type of stuff that stays with you. This is the type of stuff that people can live their whole lives and only hope to write.
Stranger Music is an excellent book, even for people whom might otherwise be down on poetry.
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on July 7, 1997
Leonard Cohen's Stranger Music is as strong as it is diverse. Bringing together a collection of the artist's prose , lyrics, and verse spaning four decades it shows one of the world's great artists at his best. His powerful work runs the emotional gamut from exultant tales of lust to melancholic ballads . Much has been written over the years about the beauty and significance of Cohen's work but perhaps the best tribute to it is that it has given enough strength to people such as myself to write ourselves
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on March 18, 1997
That's all I can say about this book -- WOW. I'm sure a poet as brilliant as Leonard Cohen could phrase it better, but that's the most concise review I can give.
You're very aware as you read this book that you're discovered something special. And its all here -- the poems, the prose and the lyrics. Reading each poem or lyric is exhausting because it takes you on an emotional journey that stays with you long after you leave. Do youself a favour and discover Canada's best writer -- Leonard Cohen.
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on January 16, 2002
I usually hate "mushy" stuff. "Sense and Sensibility" makes me nauseous, poetic descriptions of nature bore me to tears. Early exposure to "romantic" poetry convinced me that it's not my cup of tea. However, I must admit that I misjudged the genre. L.Cohen writes beautiful and touching material. It was absolutely wonderful. Even if you (like me previously) admire only Dr.Seuss, give it a try.
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