Leonard Cohen followed up his debut album with another masterpiece, this collection of magnificent songs of solitude, despair and resignation. Besides The Partisan, a song about the French resistance with its beautiful French verses and female vocals, all compositions are by Cohen.
The most popular number here is Bird On A Wire that has been covered by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker, Judy Collins, Rita Coolidge, Tim Hardin, The Neville Brothers and Jennifer Warnes.
For some reason, the opening lines of Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes make me think of Frodo's journey to Mordor in Lord Of The Rings: "A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes/Were smoking out upon the open road." Other highlights include The Story Of Isaac and The Old Revolution, in both of which Cohen's characteristic Biblical imagery surfaces, and the somber Lady Midnight with its many layers of meaning.
Seems So Long Ago is a wistful confessional dirge whilst You Know Who I Am is a delicate love poem with esoteric undertones: "I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one". The mood lightens up on the former closing track Tonight Will Be Fine with its catchy melody, driving rhythm and erotic lyric, although even here the sadness is just a sigh away.
This reissue booklet includes liner notes by Anthony DeCurtis, one full-color and four black & white photographs plus a full-color painting of a chair. Both extra tracks were originally produced by David Crosby and for reissue by Bruce Dickinson. The first, Like A Bird, is an earlier version of Bird On The Wire. This version is less flowing, more halting than the familiar one. Nothing To One is the earlier version of You Know Who I Am.
Cohen's sublime music has a transcendent, spiritual quality. These haunting songs "from a room" have lost none of their poetic impact after 4 decades; their grace, elegance and beauty shine on.