Leonard Cohen is undoubtedly a remarkable artist, who is still active with the release of a new album Popular Problems, having just hit 80. He has even joked that a follow up, Unpopular Solutions, is already in the can. But either way, his late career renaissance has been spectacular, albeit born of necessity, after his former close friend and manager ripped a big whole in his retirement plan.
Scott Matthews has said, “When I read Leonard Cohen’s poetry, I am presented with such a vivid picture in my mind. His ability to write beautiful music to such lyrical wordplay is something I aspire to greatly as a songwriter.” There’s no denying that he is a powerful lyricist, even if his dark velvety voice and willingness to explore bleak emotional terrain have seen him regarded throughout most of his career as the bard of bedsits’ bleeding hearts. Leonard was always a poet and novelist first, but a frustrated one, who finally tried setting some of his words to music, despite strong discouragement. Overcoming the negatives, his debut album, The Songs Of Leonard Cohen captured something that no one expected, as he used his limited vocal range to turn the songs inward, creating an enduring classic that still resonate almost 50 years after its release.
Seems So Long Ago Nancy is taken from the following album Songs From A Room, the album which gave Cohen the stripped back sound that he craved and cemented his status as the mordant master of dissecting the iniquities of love, life and death. In the case of this song that closed side one of the LP, it’s all three. The story of who Nancy was and her fate is out there, but even when the actual subject is known, there’s no diminishing in the potency of this song.
Scott’s version is truly beautiful, faithful and respectful of the original, but with the vocal layering adding an extra dimension that further enhances the introspective quality of the song. So happy birthday Leonard Cohen, his astonishing legacy and Nancy, through this song, live on. This is our Song of the Day: