God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Leonard Cohen earlier this week. You don’t have to look far into the annals of this website to see just how muchÂ adoration and respect I had for him. I’m hard pressed to think of another writer or musician who has had more of an impact/influence on my own artistic ventures than Cohen. Back in 2010 I rankedÂ Songs Of Love And HateÂ number one on a list of 10 Perfect Albums. One of the first posts I ever made on this website was ranking the ten best albums recorded before the year of my birth, and that album again appeared as number one on the list.
Songs Of Love And Hate was my introduction to Leonard Cohen.Â If I recall correctly the first time I heard it was my freshman year of college. That was a transformative year for me musically, as I was introduced to everything from Van Morrison’sÂ Astral Weeks to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy,Â Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the rest of the Constellation Records catalog. I saw Ween for the first time. It was the year I finally broke out the arena rock cocoon I’d built for myself throughout high school. And as much as I wore out CDs roaming around Burlington during what was admittedly a very lonely year, it was hard to surpass the brilliance of that Leonard Cohen record. His reflections on love and the ping-ponging between hopelessness and fake hopelessness (most clearly depicted in “Avalanche”) resonated with me. “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Joan of Arc” are profoundly affective songs. “Diamonds In The Mine” is probably the low-point of the album musically, but if you want to argue it’s meant to soundÂ as ugly as itsÂ subject matter (promiscuity, abortion, et. al.) then it makes a bit more sense. Not every work of art has to be beautiful to be perfect, and sometimes what is depressing as hell can be even more beautiful.
On Ian’s recommendation I readÂ Beautiful Losers for the first time (maybe my sophomore year?)Â and then progressed toÂ The Favorite Game,Â Book of Longing andÂ Stranger Music. I think it goes without saying that Cohen was a wordsmith of the highest order, and a writer who had a master’s grasp on the music of language. Whether in poem, in prose or in song, he was in a class by himself. I devoured his writings and his music. I tried to replicate his style and tone in my nearly all of my creative endeavors. In short, he was a hero.
Other than that, nothing else happened this week, right? Nothing new in the world?
Okay. Cool. Moving on…
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