Quote Number 1:

“Well aware that most of the musicians engaged to accompany him mocked his lack of experience and felt no love for his gloomy melodies, he preferred to record his own tracks alone in the studio, singing and playing guitar by himself and allowing the sound engineers to retroactively wed his work to that of the other musicians” (32).

This year for my In Depth project I chose to do songwriting. This quote is very relevant to me because my mentor made it very clear during our first meeting that song-writing is an experiential thing that should be done for oneself, not others. This ‘wise nug’ has stuck with me throughout my learning when I decide to share it with others. Much like Leonard Cohen at this point, I am not an experienced songwriter and although I do not feel as though I will be mocked by my peers, I still don’t feel confident in sharing my work. When I create recordings to track the progress of each of my songs, I tend to try and do it when no one is home to hear, similar to Cohen recording his tracks alone. This behaviour would not be put up with if Leonard Cohen wasn’t as talented as producers back then thought he was. This shows the values of society in producing good tapes that the public will enjoy, which would create more revenue. A genre of music has always been identifiable with specific periods of time, by studying each genre we can get a sense of the Canadian identity in each of those ages.

Quote number 2:

“And could I ask you, each person, to light a match, so that I could see where you all are? Could each of you light a match, so that you’ll sparkle like fireflies, each at your different heights? I would love to see those matches flare” (34).

This quote intrigued me because I read it to be a metaphor rather than just talking about a match. I’m not sure that this is what it was meant to be but what I took it as is that the match represents individuality and diverseness. Although not explicitly stated, this quote could have a deeper meaning as such that Leonard was accepting of everyone through the line “each at your different heights”. I think when he said “I would love to see those matches flare” he could mean he would love to see everyone feel inspired tonight by his performance. Many people, even Cohen’s own singing partners scoffed at him for telling a crowd of 6000+ people a “goodnight story”. This shows that there was already a divide in the Canadian identity at this point about equality. Most people nowadays in Canada support uniqueness as our country represents multiculturalism. This obviously wasn’t the case in the past, but this little passage of reading has shown some form of evolution in our Canadian values.

Quote number 3:

“It’s good to be here alone in front of six hundred thousand people. It’s a large nation but it’s still weak. Still very weak.” (38)

This quote was a little surprising for me to read because it surprised me that a public figure such as Cohen would announce something like this, especially when still very new in the music business. It is admirable to see that he says what he needs to say, and refreshing for the listeners because they had something actually substantial to listen to that night. While discussing Canadian identity in class we were having a hard time deciding on what it truly meant to be Canadian. We thought that part of this could be due to the fact that maybe there is no certain way to define a Canadian since we are all so unique. By Cohen stating this he is strengthening our argument that in a large nation such as Canada, we will still be very weak if we all cannot relate to one thing, this one thing must be the acceptance of diversity otherwise Canada will break apart at its seams.

Quote Number 4:

“On the dais, rabbis and community leaders sat gravely, ready to chastise Cohen for his impudence. But Cohen was gone” (87).

This left the chapter off at a really intriguing point. I tend to usually not want to continue reading a book unless the chapter ends off on a hook because I lose attention quickly. The line “but Cohen was gone” represents running away from problems. Much like in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo was forced to flee, running away from problems is an initial reaction that many people have. This relates to Canadian identity because it shows how our values have developed. Nowadays, chastising people for their actions isn’t how to deal with conflicts. We can deal with conflicts in judiciary ways rather than violence in the community.

Quote Number 5:

“It was like a sudden attack of amnesia […] I couldn’t learn what I had been able to do naturally” (143).

This was super intriguing for me to read because I could relate to this on some level. When I was younger I was able to do things better than I can do them now. Although, this doesn’t feel like it was a sudden attack of amnesia, it has more to due with I don’t practice those skills as much as I used to. Although not clearly directly related to the Canadian identity, this is still a powerful statement in that as Canadians we are always changing and must be open to personal change as well. Although it may be frustrating if you have decreased a skill level in a certain area; however, Cohen obviously still had a very successful career so as Canadians we are understanding and accepting of people’s faults.


So far one theme that I notice throughout this book is a forefront when discussing Canadian identity, multiculturalism. The fact that everyone is different and should be not only accepted for their differences but praised and loved just the same. Although as cliche as that sounds, this book presents it in a way that isn’t straight up. It explains the struggles Cohen faced as an upcoming musician and although he was different, he didn’t change his ways to fit other people’s wants, he made other people want what he already had. This message is also something that we learn about in our everyday lives ever since we are little; be kind to others and appreciate each others differences, because our differences is what makes life interesting. This book does a good job of capturing this idea of appreciating diversity, which is what Canada is known for doing.

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