Tag Archives: Leonard Cohen

From Lorca to Leonard Cohen and back again

It’s a marvellous thing to write music that suits the original flamenco Spanish of the Lorca  poem as much as your English translation:



Shakira: Suerte and the Dance of Translation

“She says she studied writing lyrics in English “when I could barely speak the language”, with the aid not merely of a dictionary, but the collected works of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Walt Whitman”

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Beware of the Beautiful Stranger

‘Stranger’ is one of the most powerful words in English. We humans learned to survive by treating the unknown with caution. A tiny part of our ancient brain twitches still whenever we hear the word stranger. Our defences go up. We pay close, wary attention.

When stranger is paired with beautiful, we’re in the shape-shifting land of myth and fairy-tale; the pull and push of dangerous attraction. We’d like to beware, but the problem is how?

William Maw Egley - "The Lady of Shallott."
William Maw Egley – “The Lady of Shallott.”

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Singing The End

One of the most disruptive mistakes you can make when you sing in English is to mispronounce the. One of the most wasteful mistakes you can make is to take the for granted.

The is a word of many colours – from a schwa sound the (hear it here) to the the that rhymes with thee. As a native English speaker, the choice between the two comes naturally. If English isn’t your first language, always check that you’re using the right kind of the when you sing. Otherwise you’re in danger of sounding like this.

Pronunciation isn’t the end of the. Like all small English words, the is available to be filled with feeling when you sing. Subtly. Listen to Jim Morrison making the most of every single the of The End – which, surprisingly, began life as a love song.

I’ve used this particular video (if you’d like a clearer, longer one, try this) so that you can hear the presenter introduce the song with a standard English pronunciation of The End. The presenter puts the stress on end. Jim invites the to the party:

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