Last night I put a few words here when I heard that Leonard Cohen had died. Somehow I managed to delete them. Not the biggest loss in the history of writing for sure! I was sorry to hear he had died. About ten minutes before I heard this news I had mentioned him in conversation with some people. I was saying how much I admired him.
He was a wonderful weaver of words and so gracious in their sharing and maybe even openness to interpretation. I can’t pretend to know everything he ever wrote, or anything close, but the bits I got to know and love made a huge difference to me. For many years I have used his words in various settings as I tried to shape some of my own around them. I felt he had a wonderful gift and I am a firm believer in the power of tune and lyric when brought together.
Certainly his music and words will continue to be part of my own journey and wondering about life. Leonard said of himself one time that, as a child he had buried something in the garden at his family home and that he felt he had spent the rest of his life trying to find what was buried. I have no idea what he referenced there but the journey sits well with the man. In the coming days, I will link again to some of my favourite YouTube videos (many of them already on the blog – just put Leonard Cohen in the search bar) and bring a few of them and some of the thoughts around them together.
I travelled from Dublin airport tonight, having spent the past days in Honduras, and remembering some of what I met there, I coupled these memories with many of Leonard’s songs that are in my music collection. Words like “The sprinters that we carry and the cross we left behind, come healing of the spirit come healing of the mind” and “Going home without my sorrow, going home sometime tomorrow, going home to where it’s better than before, going without my burden, going home behind the curatain, going home without the costume that I wore” – these, with some of the songs from his most recent album, speak of a man searching, trusting, doubting, wondering, dismissing, finding, believing …. in short, a man living.
He brought many sides of life with him, and travelled many roads of exploration but my prayer for him now is that in response to his lyrics in the first track of his new album (You Want It Darker) “I’m ready My Lord!”, the Lord smiles and says, “Leonard, I know ….”
Ring the bell that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
I can’t say this is my favourite piece but I like it because it’s Leonard making something of another’s words – respecting the author and keeping him centre stage, whilst allowing the message reach other ears and take the hearer to a place of wonder. He does it well.
You’d wonder what his speech would have been like, had he received the Nobel Prize (which I think he should have received) given the graciousness of these words. If you’ve heard them before, listen again and, if not, prepare to be touched by a man’s gratitude.