Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leonard Cohen: That's No Way To Say Goodbye

Whoa -- what a week! My brain is still wrapping itself around election news, so my vote for now is to forgo a political post (notes on the president-elect and his victory coming soon).

At the end of a fun client dinner in Orlando on Thursday evening, I read the sad breaking news of Leonard Cohen -- a.k.a. the "godfather of gloom" and the "poet of pessimism" or "the prince of bummers" and composer of "music to slit your wrists to" (according to CTV's obituary) -- who died on Monday in Los Angeles.

Just last week, "Fresh Air" aired a critical review of the poet/singer/songwriter's latest release "You Want It Darker" and, man, it sounds like a Grammy contender (it is dumbfounding Cohen has all sorts of honors but does not have a single Grammy already).

The segment and dissection of some of Cohen's later life lyrics took me back to my introduction to the Canadian during the late 1990's -- at that time my Uncle Scott requested a CD copy of "The Best of Leonard Cohen" (the 1975 greatest hits compilation) and after one listen I was hooked!

Of course, hearing that CD helped me go back with a new appreciation for Cohen's "The Future" and "Waiting for the Miracle" (both aptly chosen for the soundtrack to "Natural Born Killers") and "Everybody Knows" (remade by Concrete Blonde).

When the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic opening ceremony rolled around and k.d. lang performed the heck out of "Hallelujah" there was not a dry eye in the dome, as noted in my post from just hours after the event (the previous year I also wrote about Cohen's literary work of the day). Here's the live Olympic broadcast:


In general, "favorites" are something to avoid, but one of Cohen's songs that made a great impression was "In My Secret Life," discovered in the music collection of my 2010 Winter Olympic apartment landlord (only a few days after the Opening Ceremony performance).

I smile when I'm angry, I cheat and I lie. I do what I have to do to get by. But I know what is wrong, and I know what is right. And I'd die for the truth In My Secret Life.

The simple guitar and storytelling in Cohen's cover of "The Partisan" also stuck with me.

But the Leonard tune that makes me most misty-eyed is "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" -- one of several songs used to describe the better parts of a 13-year long-distance relationship.

Last year, there was an opportunity to experience Leonard Cohen live in concert on his visit to Atlanta. Sadly, it was an event I chose to skip at the last minute, thinking "maybe next time he's in town." The new album release gave me hope that opportunity may come in 2017. Oh, well.

Borrowing from another of his works, "So Long, Marianne" (about which Cohen and his muse shared a remarkable correspondence, according to the Associated Press -- see last few paragraphs of this report), "You left when I told you I was curious. Did I ever say that I was brave? So long, [Leonard]. It's time that we began, to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again."

Photos from various Leonard Cohen fan sites that did not provide attribution to original source material. 

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