I was as deeply affected by learning Leonard Cohen died as I was by the election results. Maybe more. I can’t name an artist whose songs mean more to me than his. Not Dylan, not (I’m thinking…) anybody. (Here’s how he lifted me one time when I was sick a few years ago.)
Through the soundtrack of my life, nobody else taught more about how to be a man, a lover, and a human being with one foot in the temporary world and the other in eternity.
A couple weeks ago, I was driving to the Peets on Upper State Street in Santa Barbara when some station on the radio played the title song of Leonard’s new album, You Want It Darker.
I didn’t make it all the way. Had to pull over. There was no way I could listen and keep driving. It was too deep, too right. I had never heard it before, and it demanded full attention. Still does. The lyric begins,
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
I’m ready, my lord
And he was.
I heard today, somewhere in the links below, that he recorded that final album in his Los Angeles apartment, on what turned out to be his death bed.
- Explaining the Hebrew word, hineni.
- Leonard Cohen’s Montreal, in The New Yorker.
- A Vogue recollection.
- The Hindu’s.
- Rolling Stone’s.
- David Remnick’s recent interview with Leonard at home.
- Leonard’s final interview, with KCRW. Another link.
- His 2008 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where, with a humility as close to absolute as can be, he recited the lyrics to Tower of Song.
Please listen to audio links. Leonard’s voice was so deep and worn; and his humor was, if anything, sharper than ever, right to the end.
Having so much of his music in my life makes me miss him more, not less.
- Bonus link. Best. Rendition. Ever.
- Close second, also by the great kd lang.
- Backstory on Suzanne, the muse for the famous song. She lives in Venice Beach now.
- Dunno if this is the Marianne, but here’s the video from way back then.
- And here’s a new one, apparently created on the occasion of Marianne Ihlen‘s passing in July. Backstory.
- Leonard Cohen, early years. A documentary.
- A 1993 interview on MTV.
- Interview in 2001. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
- A 2009 CBC Q interview.
- His Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction.
- His 2011 Prince of Asturias speech.
- Leonard Cohen’s son Adam pays heartfelt tribute to his father.
- And, finaly(ish), The Future, recorded 23 years ago. It is here now. We just elected it.
Genesis 22 King James Version (KJV)
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, הנני.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, הנני, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, הנני.
thank you for sharing.
Doc, I witnessed KD Lang in Winnipeg Canada performing at the Junos. Hair was standing on the back of my neck and arms. The standing ovation was deafening.
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