Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate – 1971 – Columbia Records

Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate - 1971 - Columbia Records

I was about 16 when I first stuck the needle in the groove on this record and heard Avalanche and it was like, well, I’ve felt this before but no song has ever made me feel this. That was a great moment. It was the first time I’d heard Leonard Cohen. This was the first record of his that I owned. You’ve got to remember that growing up in the 80s there was no internet and not many people had CD players for a while (and CDs were really terrible back then anyway) so everything was either cassette, which was crap, or it was vinyl which was great, sort of… The sort of was because, you see, it cost a lot more to press a record than to make a compact disc so back then record stores mainly just had top 40 stuff and a just a few other things (not like now when you walk in and it’s pretty easy to find a lot of stuff you’re looking for) plus I was a teenager and didn’t have much disposable income. You could order stuff in but, hey, that cost money (plus 80s pressings of things tended to be pretty poor anyway compared to earlier pressings, the grooves didn’t seem as deep so they skipped a lot plus the cover art was normally not as well printed as earlier editions). So, I bought 95% of my records secondhand at record stores like Ashwoods on Pitt Street and at op shops like St Vincents. It meant that I’d read about someone’s work and think, hey, that sounds interesting, and then I’d search for their records (along with records by a whole lot of other bands I wanted to hear) and maybe 6 months, a year later I’d find some. I bought Songs of Love and Hate from North Rocks deaf and blind school markets for about 2 bucks. I didn’t know what to expect… It hit me quite hard… in a good way. A lot of my friends at high school thought he was crap and softly derided me for liking him though I showed my friend Paul Gregoire this record within a week of getting it and like me he’d never heard Leonard before and he understood it right away and had a very similar reaction. It was nice to know that someone understood. Those friends who derided me for liking Leonard Cohen soon were to sing his praises. I think the Natural Born Killers soundtrack plus Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah altered their thinking on the matter. Funny that.

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