Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Hair apparent

I've been somewhat obsessively listening to The Songs of Leonard Cohen on my MP3 player recently.  I am, by the way, true to the principles of the Perverse Adopter in this respect, in that neither this, nor any other device I possess, is marked with the sign of the Apple.  Anyway -  pressing on - a number of the songs on this undeniably accurately-named album (the working title was apparently The Wardrobes of Alan Jenkins) describe hair, using ornate images which, as sometimes happens even within the lyrical realms of Anglophone popular music's only true genius, place at least the smallest toe of one foot over the border-line of pretentiousness.

We go from the elegantly understated, folk-like repetition of:

I met a woman long ago
her hair the black that black can go,
Are you a teacher of the heart?
Soft she answered no. 

I met a girl across the sea,
her hair the gold that gold can be,
Are you a teacher of the heart?
Yes, but not for thee.

via the slightly more purple:

She used to wear her hair like you
except when she was sleeping,
and then she'd weave it on a loom
of smoke and gold and breathing.

into the bizarre simile:

your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm.

I have deliberately omitted to specify from which songs these lines come because (a) you darn well ought to know and (b) if you don't, it will do you an enormous amount of good to visit the official web site and brush up on your Cohen.

This is not, lest so ye think, in any way a complaint; these threads of subject and imagery are one of the many phenomena that make Cohen's albums fascinating and able to bear repeated and close attention.  Fire crops up quite a bit, as does dance and (blushes slightly) oral sex.  This semi-apologetic paragraph will not, I suspect, preserve me from being ambushed, cornered and pointed at witheringly by the local cadre of the Leonard Cohen militia.  Yes, they are everywhere.

Your homework is to describe the top thatch of your loved one in as vivid and original a way as possible. The best work will be displayed on the walls for parents' evening.

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