Thursday, February 27, 2014

First We Take Manhattan by Leonard Cohen

First We Take Manhattan

They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin. 

First We Take Manhattan by Leonard Cohen Analysis

It is certainly not about terrorism (which, anyway, wasn't a significant force in the world at the time the poem was written). To me, the poem is about artistry that for years is not recognised or appreciated, and then suddenly there is a breakthrough. Very many poets are not truly appreciated until well after their deaths. Never forget that in his life-time van Gogh sold just one painting. Germany generally, and Berlin specifically, has always been the place where new bands go in search of recognition. John Lennon, for example, said that he was born in Liverpool but "grew up in Hamburg". I have always imagined that "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin" was probably something one of Leonard's early managers said to him, mapping out a plan of campaign (a tour) to promote him.  

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