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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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Sweeping up the Jokers: Leonard Cohen’s “The Stranger Song”

Sweeping up the Jokers: Leonard Cohen’s “The Stranger Song”

(p.225) Sweeping up the Jokers: Leonard Cohen’s “The Stranger Song”
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

Brian Howe

University Press of Mississippi

The Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, known for his songs “Suzanne” and “Bird on a Wire,” won major literary prizes for his poetry and fiction before embarking on a music career. He incorporates poems into his songs and has written two books, Beautiful Losers and The Spice-Box of Earth. “The Stranger Song” (1967) was an early career ars poetica that vividly illustrates the strong influence of the forms and practices of verse on Cohen’s songwriting. This chapter examines the tangled weave of poetry and song in Cohen’s body of work, highlighting the peculiar poetic thrust of “The Stranger Song.”

Keywords:   fiction, Leonard Cohen, songs, poetry, Stranger Song, verse

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