Friday, May 11, 2012

Listening to Leonard Cohen

To the chagrin of my family, I've really been enjoying Leonard Cohen's new album.  He's the guy most famous for the "Hallelujah" song, which was a hit about thirty years ago, and he wasn't exactly young then.  He must be about 90 years old by now... OK, I just looked it up on Wikipedia: evidently he's only 78 (and I also see there that Lou Reed reckons Cohen among the highest and most influential echelon of songwriters).  But he sounds like he's 90.  And that is the source of the chagrin.  On this new album, I'm not sure that what he's doing should be called singing.  It is perhaps better described as the vocal equivalent of shuffling one's feet.  But it fits marvelously with the focus of the songs.  It sure feels like a swan song. And I'd like to think that I'm too young to be thinking about the end of life.  But I guess in the same way that King Lear is my favorite of Shakespeare's tragedies, the songs that probe into our mortality are the ones that ring true with me.  My favorite on the album is "Come Healing" (find it here).  Here's a snippet:

O gather up the brokenness
Bring it to me know
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow 
The splinters that you carried
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind 
Let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb 
Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of deserving
The cruelty or the grace 
O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind 
O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart
That's good, powerful stuff.

1 comment:

Nick Burton said...

I love Leonard Cohen and have really been enjoying the new album. Glad to hear I'm such good company!