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Leonard Cohen - Dear Heather

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Dear Heather

Leonard Cohen

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There is an air of finality on Leonard Cohen's Dear Heather. Cohen, who turned 70 in September of 2004, offers no air of personal mortality -- thank God; may this elegant Canadian bard of the holy and profane live forever. It nonetheless looks back -- to teachers, lovers, and friends -- and celebrates life spent in the process of actually living it. The album's bookend tracks provide some evidence: Lord Byron's bittersweet "Go No More A-Roving," set to music and sung by Cohen and Sharon Robinson (and dedicated to Cohen's ailing mentor, Irving Layton), and a beautifully crafted reading of country music's greatest lost love song, "Tennessee Waltz." Cohen's voice is even quieter, almost whispering, nearly sepulchral. The tone of the album is mellow, hushed, nocturnal. Its instrumentation is drenched in the beat nightclub atmospherics of Ten New Songs: trippy, skeletal R&B and pop and Casio keyboard- and beatbox-propelled rhythm tracks are graced by brushed drums, spectral saxophones, and vibes, along with an all but imperceptible acoustic guitar lilting sleepily through it all. But this doesn't get it, because there's so much more than this, too. That said, Dear Heather is Cohen's most upbeat offering. Rather than focus on loss as an end, it looks upon experience as something to be accepted as a portal to wisdom and gratitude. Women permeate these songs both literally and metaphorically. Robinson, who collaborated with Cohen last time, is here, but so is Anjani Thomas. Leanne Ungar also lends production help. Cohen blatantly sums up his amorous life in "Because Of": "Because of a few songs/Wherein I spoke of their mystery/Women have been exceptionally kind to my old age/They make a secret place/In their busy lives/And they say, 'Look at me, Leonard/Look at me one last time.'" "The Letters," written with Robinson, who sings in duet, is a case in point, reflecting on a past love who has been "Reading them again/The ones you didn't burn/You press them to your lips/My pages of concern...The wounded forms appear/The loss, the full extent/And simple kindness here/The solitude of strength." "On That Day" is a deeply compassionate meditation on the violence of September 11 where he asks the question: "Did you go crazy/Or did you report/On that day...." It is followed by the spoken poem "A Villanelle for Our Time," with words by Cohen's late professor Frank Scott that transform these experiences into hope. "We rise to play a greater part/The lesser loyalties depart/And neither race nor creed remain/From bitter searching of the heart...." On "There for You," with Robinson, Cohen digs even deeper into the well, telling an old lover that no matter the end result of their love, he was indeed there, had shown up, he was accountable and is grateful. Cohen quotes his own first book, The Spice Box of Earth, to pay tribute to the late poet A.M. Klein. "Tennessee Waltz" is indeed a sad, sad song, but it is given balance in Cohen's elegant, cheerful delivery. If this is indeed his final offering as a songwriter, it is a fine, decent, and moving way to close this chapter of the book of his life.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Dear Heather

Leonard Cohen

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1
Go No More A-Roving Album Version
00:03:40

Lord Byron, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Sharon Robinson, Producer - Sharon Robinson, Engineer - Sharon Robinson, Vocal - Sharon Robinson, Performer - Sharon Robinson, Arranger - Bob Shepard, Tenor Saxophone - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

2
Because Of Album Version
00:03:00

Anjani Thomas, Background Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Arranger - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

3
The Letters Album Version
00:04:44

Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Sharon Robinson, Producer - Sharon Robinson, Vocal - Sharon Robinson, Engineer - Sharon Robinson, Composer - Sharon Robinson, Performer - Sharon Robinson, Lyricist - Sharon Robinson, Arranger - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

4
Undertow Album Version
00:04:20

Anjani Thomas, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Arranger - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

5
Morning Glory Album Version
00:03:28

Anjani Thomas, Background Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Arranger - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

6
On That Day Album Version
00:02:04

Johnny Friday, Drums - ed sanders, Engineer - Anjani Thomas, Producer - Anjani Thomas, Background Vocal - Anjani Thomas, Composer - Anjani Thomas, Piano - Anjani Thomas, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer - Stan Sargent, Bass

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

7
Villanelle for Our Time Album Version
00:05:55

Anjani Thomas, Background Vocal - Frank Scott (1899-1985), Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

8
There for You Album Version
00:04:36

Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Sharon Robinson, Producer - Sharon Robinson, Engineer - Sharon Robinson, Background Vocal - Sharon Robinson, Composer - Sharon Robinson, Performer - Sharon Robinson, Lyricist - Sharon Robinson, Arranger - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

9
Dear Heather Album Version
00:03:41

Anjani Thomas, Background Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Arranger - Sarah Kramer, Trumpet - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

10
Nightingale Album Version
00:02:27

Johnny Friday, Drums - ed sanders, Producer - ed sanders, Engineer - Anjani Thomas, Producer - Anjani Thomas, Vocal - Anjani Thomas, Composer - Anjani Thomas, Lyricist - Anjani Thomas, Piano - Anjani Thomas, Arranger - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Guitar - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer - Stan Sargent, Bass

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

11
To a Teacher Album Version
00:02:32

Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Arranger - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

12
The Faith Album Version
00:04:17

Jeremy Lubbock, Arranger - Paul Ostermayer, Flute - Anjani Thomas, Background Vocal - Mitch Watkins, Guitar - Henry Lewy, Producer - Roscoe Beck, Bass - Garth Hudson, Acordeon - Raffi Hakopian, Violin - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Composer - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leanne Ungar, Producer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Bill Ginn, Piano

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

13
Tennessee Waltz (Live at Montreux Jazz Festival) Live Version
00:04:04

Richard Crooks, Drums - PEE WEE KING, Composer - PEE WEE KING, Lyricist - Anjani Thomas, Vocal - Anjani Thomas, Piano - Mitch Watkins, Vocal - Mitch Watkins, Electric Guitar - Ron Getman, Vocal - Ron Getman, Steel Guitar - John Crowder, Vocal - John Crowder, Bass - Stephen Marcussen, Mastering Engineer - Leonard Cohen, Producer - Leonard Cohen, Vocal - Leonard Cohen, Lyricist - Leonard Cohen, Performer - Leanne Ungar, Engineer - Redd Stewart, Composer - Redd Stewart, Lyricist

(P) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

There is an air of finality on Leonard Cohen's Dear Heather. Cohen, who turned 70 in September of 2004, offers no air of personal mortality -- thank God; may this elegant Canadian bard of the holy and profane live forever. It nonetheless looks back -- to teachers, lovers, and friends -- and celebrates life spent in the process of actually living it. The album's bookend tracks provide some evidence: Lord Byron's bittersweet "Go No More A-Roving," set to music and sung by Cohen and Sharon Robinson (and dedicated to Cohen's ailing mentor, Irving Layton), and a beautifully crafted reading of country music's greatest lost love song, "Tennessee Waltz." Cohen's voice is even quieter, almost whispering, nearly sepulchral. The tone of the album is mellow, hushed, nocturnal. Its instrumentation is drenched in the beat nightclub atmospherics of Ten New Songs: trippy, skeletal R&B and pop and Casio keyboard- and beatbox-propelled rhythm tracks are graced by brushed drums, spectral saxophones, and vibes, along with an all but imperceptible acoustic guitar lilting sleepily through it all. But this doesn't get it, because there's so much more than this, too. That said, Dear Heather is Cohen's most upbeat offering. Rather than focus on loss as an end, it looks upon experience as something to be accepted as a portal to wisdom and gratitude. Women permeate these songs both literally and metaphorically. Robinson, who collaborated with Cohen last time, is here, but so is Anjani Thomas. Leanne Ungar also lends production help. Cohen blatantly sums up his amorous life in "Because Of": "Because of a few songs/Wherein I spoke of their mystery/Women have been exceptionally kind to my old age/They make a secret place/In their busy lives/And they say, 'Look at me, Leonard/Look at me one last time.'" "The Letters," written with Robinson, who sings in duet, is a case in point, reflecting on a past love who has been "Reading them again/The ones you didn't burn/You press them to your lips/My pages of concern...The wounded forms appear/The loss, the full extent/And simple kindness here/The solitude of strength." "On That Day" is a deeply compassionate meditation on the violence of September 11 where he asks the question: "Did you go crazy/Or did you report/On that day...." It is followed by the spoken poem "A Villanelle for Our Time," with words by Cohen's late professor Frank Scott that transform these experiences into hope. "We rise to play a greater part/The lesser loyalties depart/And neither race nor creed remain/From bitter searching of the heart...." On "There for You," with Robinson, Cohen digs even deeper into the well, telling an old lover that no matter the end result of their love, he was indeed there, had shown up, he was accountable and is grateful. Cohen quotes his own first book, The Spice Box of Earth, to pay tribute to the late poet A.M. Klein. "Tennessee Waltz" is indeed a sad, sad song, but it is given balance in Cohen's elegant, cheerful delivery. If this is indeed his final offering as a songwriter, it is a fine, decent, and moving way to close this chapter of the book of his life.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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