By Lauren Sloss | August 11th, 2011
Leonard Cohen’s album Live At the Isle of Wight is one of those all-time great performances. His voice, thick and deep and almost sleepy has a hypnotic effect, lulling you, the listener, into a state of listening that is so all-encompassing that the cessation of his voice comes as a jolt, a shock.
One of the more searing moments of that album is the stunningly beautiful and tragic song “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.” It’s an accurate depiction of love coming to an end, or at least an impasse; Cohen sets heartbreak to poetry, and poetry to music.
The Decemberists cover of this track works nicely because they don’t simply try to replicate Cohen’s effect — doing so would inevitably fall short. Instead, they combine male-female vocals and a slightly more upbeat tempo, maintaining the track’s folksy roots. The lovely addition of slide guitar gives it a slightly country sound; it preserves Cohen’s essence while making the song The Decemberists’ own.