Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crush Wednesday: Leonard Cohen

by Madeline Moore

Slowly you come to me/ Slowly we shed/
The clothes of our doubting/and slowly are wed

Famous Troubadour

It’s four in the morning
but everything's okay
I’m writing you now just
to say ‘Happy Birthday’

Toronto is steamy
I like where I’m living,
they’re busy on Clinton St.
all through the evening

I hear that you’re working
writing your poems, singing in Europe
You were robbed of your savings, G-d!
I hope you’re keeping some kind of record

Yes, and John came by just to drop off the girls
we’re finished as lovers, for sure
It’s been good for us, we have grown
Apart, and for good.

I loved you, as John did,
your songs were about us,
destructive, creative
and tortured with love/lust

You were part of our courtship,
and part of our wedding
still we weren’t prepared for
the pain of our ending

And you treated all women
to a sip of your life
I took more than my share, now
I’m nobody’s wife

Well I see you, hair grey and wrinkly face
Silent One so full of grace
Well I’m dry again but
now I know how to wait

He took all of your albums
I knew they would help him
He cried all the time, just like me

It cost us so much
to be free of each other
a home and a whole family

It’s hard when you’re young
it gets soft later on
so much to collect, then
so much to be gone

Yes and thanks
for the trouble you took for us all
for showing us it's okay
to fall, rise, and fall

I’m so happy you’re happy
an old monk who’s still sexy
and living among us again

I said, ‘Leonard I love you’
at the time of our meeting
I feel like we’ve always been friends

John and I aren’t pals
No secrets, no sighs
but we talk and last night
we laughed at his lies

And thanks
for the poems and songs that you write
for helping us give up the fight
We're beautiful losers, like you.


M. Moore

Some of my favourite quotes from Leonard Cohen's work:

Boo hoo. Sob sob.

Confusion is a butterfly net for magic.

- novel - Beautiful Losers

I fought against the bottle, but I had to do it drunk.
Took my diamond to the pawnshop, but that don’t make it it junk.
I know that I’m forgiven, but I don’t know how I know
I don’t trust my inner feelings, inner feelings come and go.

That Don’t Make it Junk – Ten New Songs

And he gave the wind my wedding ring

– By the Rivers Dark – Ten New Songs

I followed the course/From chaos to art
Desire the horse/ Depression the cart

– poetry - Book of Longing

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this

You who were bewildered by her meaning
Whose code was broken, crucifix undone
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra gone.
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

- Alexandra Leaving - Ten New Songs

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in

-Anthem - More Best of Leonard Cohen

Visit this site for all kinds of information about LC.

Like love, I could go on and on, but that's enough out of me. I'm gone.
It's your turn to talk! Favourite quotes? Memories of Leonard? Anecdotes? Thoughts on his artwork or the movie soundtracks that use his work (there are 40 of them!)?

Oh! Just one more thing.

Leonard Cohen will be 74 years old on September 21. So, from all of us at Lust Bites to you, Leonard:


Janine Ashbless said...

This was beautiful Madeline. He's clearly touched you deeply.

Now that's what art's for.

Nikki Magennis said...

What a great choice for a Crush Wednesday! And a beautiful reworking of the song, Madeline.

I am in so much awe of LC that I don't really know what to write. His voice and his lyrics just tie me up in knots. I grew up listening to 'Suzanne', spent my teens angsting over 'The Sisters of Mercy', and lately am deeply in love with 'The Diamonds in the Mine'. Long may he live.

abc said...

Made me cry. Beautiful post. Thanks.

Janine Ashbless said...

I didn't even know which songs he'd written, to be honest. But for starters:

Hallelujah (which is possibly better without the scarily dated video!)

And First We Take Manhattan

Amazing talent.

Madeline Moore said...

Morning! Dawn is approaching in this part of the world. I'm not up for long - but on post day if you wake up, you gotta check that post!

Thanks for the lovely comments. Like Nikki, when it came time to write about Leonard Cohen, I was speechless. So an homage (to the melody of 'Famous Blue Raincoat') seemed the best approach.

Although John and I had actually memorized Famous Blue Raincoat, it wasn't until I wrote my version that I realized it has 3 melodies in it, not just 2.

At our parties, when it got late, John and I would put on the record and sing along with Leonard for the entertainment of our guests.
It invariably cleared the house, which wasn't our intention, at first. Later we used it as a substitute for cleaning ashtrays and washing glasses, to get our guests to go home.

When interviewed, post 9/11, about his prescience in the song 'First We Take Manhatten' he said, 'I take no pleasure in being right.'


Kate Pearce said...

I grew up in a house with 3 older sisters so Leonard Cohen turned up in my life before I really understood what the hell he was talking about.
But now I do.
Thanks for a wonderful post. :)

Madeline Moore said...

I was lucky enough to be a student of 'experimental Canadian lit' when Stephen Scobie was teaching the course. We were assigned 'Beautiful Losers'which I adored, for the language, but had no idea what it was about. Scobie had just written a book about it, though, so he led us through it. So Kate! If Scobie was correct, I know what BL is about!
By the way, when Cohen was asked why he never wrote another novel he said, 'I set out to write the perfect novel, and I did.' (This was obviously before he became a monk...)

Laura said...

I really liked this, too.
I am romanian, and for 10 years I've been alone here in thinking that Cohen is a big part of the meaning of life. Until this year, when they announced he'll have his birthday here, and suddenly the media started to be preoccupied with him. So, this is from the end of an article about him (I never thought I'd live the day to see this in our newspapers!): "Probably that the most important contribution that Cohen brought to the good-functioning of the world are the real love stories lived by millions of people on the music of this incredible artist, rigurous and alone, who always dances to the end of love. Stolen seconds from a Tower of song..."
Oh yeah, and I lived a few of those stories myself. Sad at the end, happy for a while... Almost everyone I loved in the past 10 years came from the Cohen world, actually!

Madeline Moore said...

Hi Laura. I'd love to be in the audience on his birthday.

I was in the audience on kd lang's birthday (kd does a beautiful job of 'Hallelujah') and a huge cake was wheeled out with, I think. 34 lit candles on it. She puffed at the cake, much as one would puff at a match, and Fst! All the candles were snuffed. I think she might be an alien, from a planet where the people have four lungs.

Olivia Knight said...

This is such a beautiful post. I've been rushing around all day and longing to comment but reading or listening to Leonard Cohen's words has a way of silencing one. I just listened to Famous Blue Raincoat & sang your words alongside, Mad - when I learn to play that one on the guitar, I want to learn those as alternate lyrics. Worlds of pain & sorrow & happiness as distant and meaningful & folorn as the dying sun in The Magician's Nephew.

Just beautiful. Hard to be chatty or witty in the face of that.

Madeline Moore said...

Thanks everyone who commented today.
You've said lovely things about my little homage to Leonard Cohen. I'm flattered, Olivia, that you'd sing my lyrics along with his (which I'm sure you can guess I did a few times myself, in the writing of it.)

I was over at the site I linked to in the post, reading a transcript of a live chat where Leonard logged on and talked to his fans. More than one could only type, 'Leonard, I love you.'

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who could only choke out a declaration of love when given a chance to talk to him!

I'm chuffed by today's comments.

Keziah Hill said...

Hallelujah sister!

Anonymous said...

Love this; it's the way I feel about him too. I'll admit...I was hoping for an actual erotic story about Leonard Cohen. Because that is a huge part of what I feel for him - extreme lust.