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Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  2,687 ratings  ·  129 reviews
In the decades since he recorded his first album, Leonard Cohen has evolved into an international cult figure--and one of the most literate, daring, and affecting poet-songwriters in the world. Stranger Music presents a magnificent cross-section of Cohen's work--including the legendary songs Suzanne, Sisters of Mercy, Bird on a Wire, Famous Blue Raincoat, I'm Your Man, and ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  2,687 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ahhh-poetry
Rest in Peace Mr. Cohen.

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled King composing Hallelujah


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your
Yumiko Hansen
Here is my favourite...

-- As a falling leaf may rest

A moment in the air

So your head upon my breast

So my hand upon your hair

And many night endure

Without a moon, without a star

So we will endure

When one is gone and far

True love leaves no traces

If you and I are one

It's lost in our embraces

Like stars against the sun

Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Here's the way it works. If you're male, and if you appreciate art, poetry, music, and a lifetime of serious, powerful work...well, you want to be Leonard Cohen. You can't be--- and he does it better than you'll ever do it anyway: the tailored suits, the beautiful actresses and models who've thrown themselves at him, the shatteringly brilliant poetry and music, the years as a Zen roshi. Accept that. And then read these poems and just be...enthralled. ...more
John Anthony
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry

1 Let Us Compare Mythologies (8 poems)

2.The Spice-Box of Earth (22)

3. Flowers for Hitler (28)

Includes the moving poem 'Hitler' and the more whimsical (but no less serious for that) 'Queen Victoria and Me'.

4. Parasites of Heaven (5)

5. Songs of Leonard Cohen (9)

Includes 'Suzanne,' ' So Long, Marianne', 'Sisters of Mercy'.

6. Selected Poems 1956-68 (6)

7. Beautiful Losers (7)

8. Songs from a Room (5)

9. Songs of Love and Hate (4)

Includes 'Joan of Arc'

10. The Energy of Slaves (40)

Includes '1967
tiger lily
Unpopular opinion: I thought most of this was trash.

Disjointed, senseless, silly trash.

It isn't easy to say that, but wow I was disappointed, this, after all, is Mr. Fucking. Cohen, but I need to be honest, I outright disliked about 70% of it. Is there something wrong with me? Do I have no taste? Am I not clever enough? Am I coming down with something? I don't know. All I know is that I cringed so hard at times due in part to the following:

- Random crude bizarre sexual references, some of whic
M. Sarki

It took me so long to read this book that in the process I read a few biographies and memoirs with Leonard Cohen as the subject. In other words I came to know Leonard too well. Now I had too much information and thus I began to not like him so much. So instead of continually devouring everything Leonard Cohen, I began to distance myself and perform a deep self-cleanse. I have yet to see the damning documentary film recently released that focuses on his rel
Erik Graff
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This arrived in the mail as an unexpected gift from Stockton, a fellow I met at Chicago's Volume II Cafe over our coincidental readings of Hegel. He was studying philosophy at DePaul, while I was doing similarly at Loyola. The friendship was immediate.

Years later, Stockton moved to Britain, but still came to stay at my place--at first annually, then tapering off so that it's been several years since last we saw him. It was towards the beginning of this period, while he was still visiting regular
Raegan Butcher
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The selected works of Leonard Cohen. As usual with collections like this there are a few exclusions that I'd quibble with--several of my favorite poems from "Flowers For Hitler" are not here, for instance, but aside from things like that this collection is a fine book and is the only form in which the poems from his early books can be found as they are now long out of print. As such this provides a fascinating glimpse into hard-to-find Cohen books like "Death of a Lady's Man" and "The Energy Of ...more
Galen Green
Dec 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Liked this collection bc it has his songs and poetry - interesting bc I think overall his songs are more poetic but there’s a rawness to some of his poetry that’s really cool/not apparent in his songs. Loved some of the excerpts from beautiful losers that’s gonna have to get read soon
Feb 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2022, folk
i was initially just going to pick a single poem/work of his to constitute this whole review because really his poetry speaks for itself, but how do i! it proves really very difficult as all of his works are so masterful i'm in awe of all of them i don't know how to pick just one... i think one of the most impressive things about going through all his poems and lyrics successively is just how good they all are—and how much each single one just as easily deserves the height and praise his most we ...more
Ah Leonard, your low nasal has rung in my ear so long I'm low and nasal myself. Poet of unequalled eloquence, who not only wrote like a bad angel but also succeeded in making the bible sexy -- for that alone, you belong in one of Dante's Cantos. ...more
Oh, Leonard Cohen, why do you rock my world so much? This book is STUNNING. (I love that it includes song lyrics mixed in with the poetry; based on "Sisters of Mercy" and "Hallelujah" alone, Leonard Cohen is my favorite poet of the 20th century.) I use his religious poetry in a class I teach at my Catholic church; it reads very much like a modern version of Augustine's "Confessions" or the Book of Job . . . painfully visceral and gut-wrenchingly human. If you come to Leonard Cohen in the right f ...more
Erica English
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another book a friend gave to me. He bought it for like a quarter at a book sale and gave it to me because he knew I liked and wrote poetry. I was in high school at the time and the only thing I knew about Leonard Cohen was that Jeff Buckley did a cover of his "Hallelujah" song. This book and Leonard's poetry and music have come to be some of the most precious gems in my life. I have a sort of silly ritual of reading "It's Probably Spring" somewhere around the beginning of spring every year now. ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I gave my copy of this away to a loved one, give it back! No...kidding. It was appropriately gifted to a marvellous boy who I hope thinks better of me for parting with this treasure. Love the title for this collection.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent - but what else can we expect from one of the greatest artists of our time?
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Cohen has clear tact and ability with poetic writing, but this collection was definitely 50/50.

Some were so exquisite I teared up (namely Beneath My Hands), and some I just raised an eyebrow, sat back and thought, really? I put this down to the fact that Cohen has been somewhat co-opted by fake deep, artsy fuckboys, who want to impress girls by knowing poetry. While I hate to think that has any influence on my taste, it's sure to seep in somewhere. Some of the poems struck me as exactly the kin
Tyler Jones
cynical romanticism?
I suspect Mr. Cohen was actually very sincere, even when he seemed to be pretending not to be.
This is a fairly comprehensive book of the best poetry Cohen produced, but having been published in 1993, it does miss the last productive years. In does not include his masterful Kanye West is Not Picasso (2015) for instance. But you can read that one here:


Kanye West is not Picasso
I am Picasso
Kanye West is not Edison
I am Edison
I am Tesla
Jay-Z is not the Dyla
Mar 09, 2022 rated it it was ok
didnt rlly like 70% of the poems but the songs are 🤌🏻
Daniel Viramontes
In the book Stranger music, the world renowned Canadian poet Leonard Cohen gives us a deep, personal glimpse into his life through his poetry. This book contains 432 pages of poetry and songs that fluctuate with emotion throughout.

Stranger music chronicles the life of Leonard Cohen through his poetry. This book is almost biographical as the poems in the book were written in the span of 30+ years of Cohen’s life. Each chapter reflects a different feeling Cohen felt during that time period of 3
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Many of these poems are wonderful. Cohen writes on themes of love, sex, loss and depression. His poetry expresses his Judaism and Zen Buddhism, combining an earthiness with a deep spirituality. There is a Zen aesthetic that comes through many of these poems. Like Japanese haiku, Cohen's writing captures moment, feeling, and image in a few simple words (albeit in a different poetic structure). Some of Cohen's lines are like koan, the seemingly non-sensical questions posed by Zen roshis in order t ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book has an assortment of song lyrics, poems dating from before LC's singing career, and excerpts from his two early novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers. As a teenager growing up in Toronto, I read Cohen's poetry and I was surprised to find many lines that had engraved themselves in my brain. Lovely lines... Then came Suzanne and the singing career. I didn't connect this directly to the poetry; it seemed a separate career, and it still does, in many ways. The two novels also wer ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Better sung than read
Alexis Hall
I love this so much I accidentally dropped it in the bath one time, and now it is all wibbly and curly. It's exactly what it says on the tin - a collection of poems and songs by Leonard Cohen. If you love Leonard Cohen, then you'll love it. It's really that simple. I find him utterly enthralling - he's profound, beautiful, bitter, melancholy and exquisite by turns, occasionally simultaneously.

From Beneath My Hands:

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want my body and my
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
I love Leonard Cohen's songs, but the poems here were not for me. I didn't find there to be much substance to his verse. There are also some excerpts from some of his experimental, very bizarre novels of the 60s. This could only be recommended to Cohen super fans, I guess. Or folks who love everything Cohen wrote. I just like his songs. ...more
Nov 27, 2022 rated it liked it
An okay collection overall, but nothing outstanding.

Some of Leonard Cohen's lines are truly luminous, but this book paled in comparison to The Flame (although it's been a while since I read that one; perhaps it's not as great as I recall). Regardless, there are specific symbols/themes/ideas that Cohen seems to reprise repeatedly in his poems to the point where it gets boring.

His depictions of women are always a bit demeaning and obnoxious. Like what is this poem?

I perceived the outline of you
Mike Futcher
May 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been impressed by Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing, I sought out another collection of his poetry to enjoy. Stranger Music is not as overpowering as Book of Longing, though it still has a sizeable number of gems peppered throughout. Unlike the leaner and more focused Book of Longing, this collection draws from a number of sources, including previously-published poetry collections like Let Us Compare Mythologies, The Spice-Box of Earth, Flowers for Hitler and Book of Mercy, and Cohen's albu ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Mostly excellent overview of Cohen's career--as of 1993, anyway. I very much like that it covers both books and records, and even at times offers alternate versions of the same piece, as when for example a poem ended up being converted into a song later. The song lyrics are not always exactly as on the records, however. There are some odd bits, such as the inclusion of excerpts from what I am pretty sure was marketed as and is still thought of as a novel, Beautiful Losers. The most odd (and I wo ...more
Diana Raab
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ever since I lived in Montreal, I've been a fan of Leonard Cohen. His lyrics celebrate our uniqueness and sameness, the political issues that pull us, the sexuality that entices us, and the relationships that inspire and haunt us. He has a way of merging melancholy with joy. For example, his poem, "Song," does just that: "I almost went to bed/without remembering the four white violets/I put in the button-hole/of your green sweater/and how I kissed you then/and you kissed me/ shy as though I'd/ne ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
Definitely a Must Buy for your collection

I've known this book for many years now and find that it's a familiar touchpoint. It has all of my favorite poems by Leonard Cohen: "Dance Me to the End of Love", "Isaiah", "All There is to Know About Adolph Eichman", "Slowly I Married Her", "Lovers" and so many more. A simply arranged index and organized by the original collection the typography is well laid out and one can easily browse and select a few poems to fit your mood, or find the lyrics for one
David Miller
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
All this Leonard Cohen in one volume, and you really get a sense for the breadth of his work. Certainly, he has his preoccupations, but he expresses them in styles ranging all the way from erotica to prayer. Sometimes, he'll write a Hallelujah and make you wonder if he's really trying to do both at the same time. And he definitely is, the horny old bastard.

Starting with his earlier works, it took me a while to really get into the poetry, and hear the voice I've come to know from his records. It'
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Leonard Norman Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963.

Cohen's earliest songs (many of which appeared on the 1968 album Songs of Leonard Cohen) were rooted in European folk music melodies and instrumentation, sung in a high baritone. The 1970s were a musically restless period in which his in

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“And I'll dance with you in Vienna,
I'll be wearing a river's disguise.
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder
my mouth on the dew of your thighs.
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
with the photographs there and the moss.
And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty,
my cheap violin and my cross.”
“A heavy burden lifted from my soul,
I heard that love was out of my control.”
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