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"The rain falls down on last year's man..."

"Commonly considered Cohen's grimmest representation of the squalor of the achingly impoverished and incomprehensibly surreal marginalisation of the contemporary individual, "Dress Rehearsal Rag" is, no doubt, music to eat a gun by."
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Songs of Love and Hate is the third album from Leonard Cohen. It is considered by many to be his masterpiece. It is also the darkest and most introspective of all his albums and was the product of a very bleak time in his life when he wrestled with depression, suicidal feelings and drug abuse. Thematically it is the most coherent; eight songs that echo and contrast with each other with imagery in binary pairs: love and hate but also hot and cold, summer and winter, morning and afternoon, clothed and unclothed.

Like its predecessor this album was recorded and produced in Nashville by Bob Johnston, with the exception of "Sing Another Song, Boys" which was recorded live at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

The album was listed at #295 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.


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Tracklist:

Side One

  1. "Avalanche" - 5:07
  2. "Last Year's Man" - 6:02
  3. "Dress Rehearsal Rag" - 6:12
  4. "Diamonds in the Mine" - 3:52

Side Two

  1. "Love Calls You by Your Name" - 5:44
  2. "Famous Blue Raincoat" - 5:15
  3. "Sing Another Song, Boys" - 6:17
  4. "Joan of Arc" - 6:29


Tropes of Love and Hate:

  • As the Good Book Says...: "Last Year's Man"
    And we read from pleasant Bibles that are bound in blood and skin
    that the wilderness is gathering all its children back again.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: "Famous Blue Raincoat"
    New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
    There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
  • Cain and Abel: A recurring motif
    • "Last Year's Man"
    Some women wait for Jesus, and some women wait for Cain
    So I hang upon my altar and I voice my acts again
    And I take the one who finds me back to where it all began
    When Jesus was the honeymoon and Cain was just the man.
    • "Famous Blue Raincoat"
    And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
    What can I possibly say?
  • Character Title: "Joan of Arc".
  • Creator Cameo: At the very end of "Famous Blue Raincoat" the letter is signed
    Sincerely, L Cohen
  • Darker and Edgier: Did you think the previous two albums were rather gloomy? This one is positively Stygian.
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  • Deliberately Monochrome: The cover is in black-and-white on both sides. There is no track listing on the reverse, just Cohen's short poem They Locked Up A Man.
    They locked up a man
    Who wanted to rule the world
    The fools
    They locked up the wrong man.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Dress Rehearsal Rag", though averted at the last moment.
    And then the cameras pan
    The stand in stunt man
    Dress rehearsal rag
    It's just the dress rehearsal rag
  • Face on the Cover: Monochrome head-and-shoulders photograph, looking in need of a shave. And he's smiling, would you believe! The only one of his albums in which he is seen to do so.
  • Genuine Human Hide: A recurring symbolic motif
    • "Avalanche"
    It is your flesh that I wear
    • "Last Year's Man"
    And when we fell together all our flesh was like a veil
  • Gray Rain of Depression: "Last Year's Man"
    The rain falls down on last year's man
  • Love Triangle: "Famous Blue Raincoat". The song takes the form of a letter written by the narrator to the man who has evidently had an affair with his wife.
    And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
    And when she came back she was nobody's wife.
  • Man on Fire: Well, Woman on fire anyway. "Joan of Arc", of course, and willingly too. The whole dialogue between Joan and the fire comes from Catholic theology.
    It was deep into his fiery heart
    He took the dust of Joan of Arc
    And then she clearly understood
    If he was fire, oh then she must be wood
  • One-Word Title: "Avalanche".
  • Ouroboros: Referenced in "Last Year's Man":
    And when we fell together, all our flesh was like a veil
    That I had to draw aside to see the serpent eat its tail
  • Rage Against the Reflection: "Dress Rehearsal Rag". It's all about the singer contemplating slashing his wrists.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Dress Rehearsal Rag", "Diamonds in the Mine"
  • Santa Claus: Comes bearing gifts, of a sort, in "Dress Rehearsal Rag"
    Cover up your face with soap, there now, you're Santa Claus
    And you've got a gift for anyone who will give you his applause.
  • Shout-Out: To Federico García Lorca in "Famous Blue Raincoat"
    Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
    One more thin gypsy thief
  • Sinister Shades: Santa dons these in "Dress Rehearsal Rag"
    Now Santa Claus steps forward, that's a razor in his mitt
    And he puts on his dark glasses and he shows you where to hit
  • Slumming It: "Avalanche"
    Do not dress in those rags for me, I know you are not poor
  • Stylistic Suck: "Diamonds in the Mine"
  • Wedding Day: Another recurring motif
    • "Last Year's Man"
    I came upon a wedding that old families had contrived
    Bethlehem the bridegroom, Babylon the bride
    • "Joan of Arc"
    "Then fire, make your body cold
    I'm going to give you mine to hold"
    Saying this she climbed inside
    To be his one, to be his only bride

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