Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye! R.I.P. Leonard Cohen (and 3 other songs)

Just received the news last week that Leonard Cohen is no longer alive. Since he also released a new song recently, I will do the honors of reviewing his latest (and last) song. What a major loss for this year! Before that, though, here are 3 more songs:

"Follow the Leader" by Foxygen: You never know what to expect with Foxygen, and perhaps that's what's made them so big among indie fans. They debuted back in early 2013, and highlights from their debut album included the avant-funk-rock song "Shuggie" and the Velvet Underground-esque "No Destruction". "Follow the Leader" marks the third time I've heard a Foxygen song and the first time I'm reviewing one. The results end up sounding like a cross between an Electric Light Orchestra song circa 1976 and a Beck song circa 1996. Also, who is "the leader" that we are supposed to be following here? Well, according to the lyrics of this song, "the leader is you". That's great advice for the modern era!

"Human" by Rag N Bone Man: Between the hip-hop beats of this song and Rory "Rag N Bone Man" Graham's deep, soulful voice, it's not surprising to see that many of the YouTube comments for this song were "I can't believe this guy isn't black". Well, he isn't. He isn't even American, actually. He's a large, white British dude. But so what?! Black, white, large, short, British, American, when it all comes down to it, he's only human, as he states so powerfully and emotionally in his debut song! In addition to transcending racial barriers, "Human" also transcends genre barriers, with its hip-hop and R & B influenced sound currently racing up the predominantly rock dominated alternative charts. Music, after all, is colorblind, and it doesn't judge people in any other ways either.

"Lost On You" by LP: It's been 4 years since LP last had a hit song. She broke through in the summer of 2012 with a free-spirited folk-rock tune called "Into the Wild", which, in addition to its iconic sound, contained equally iconic lyrics, like, "Somebody left the gate open", "Come save us a runaway train goin' insane", and "How do we not fade away into the wild?" Its use in a Citibank commercial throughout that summer solidified the song's popularity during that time. She didn't have any other hits that year or the next, so I thought "Into the Wild" pretty much sealed the deal for LP and that there was no way she could top it. It appears I may be wrong with the release of her latest song, "Lost On You". Like "Into the Wild", "Lost On You" is a sprightly, earnest folk-rock song, though its sound and lyrics are both a bit more melancholy than that one was. True to its title, "Lost On You" has been lost on American audiences so far, at least in comparison to the massive airplay its gotten in European countries like Greece. Let's hope that American audiences will catch onto it just as quickly!

"You Want It Darker" by Leonard Cohen: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. You should know that with a title like "You Want It Darker", dark is exactly what you're gonna get. This song is a gothic tinged folk-rock tune of sorts, a bit like the songs Cohen typically did in the 1980's. As ominous as it may sound instrumentally, though, it's a very sad song lyrically. Like David Bowie's "Lazarus" from late last year, Leonard Cohen's "You Want It Darker" is a song that deals with a person who knows that they are going to die soon (This is most certainly where the "I'm ready, my Lord" parts of the song come from). Like Bowie, Cohen inspired generation after generation of alt and indie rock musicians. People that Cohen has influenced include R.E.M., The Smiths, Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, and Bon Iver, all of whom mix a folk-rock sound with lyrics about isolation and loneliness. R.I.P. Leonard Cohen. You will truly be missed!