Leonard Cohen in front of his Montreal home in 1977. From Montreal Gazette files
Written November 7, 2016
Forty-eight hours of political mayhem and concern for the future was quickly brought down to earth with the passing of Leonard Cohen last night. It was closing time for the voice within the soundtrack of my life as Cohen proved that you didn’t need a gimmick to be a great artist.
I came of age with Leonard Cohen, singing and writing poems to me. Yes, to me. Everyone who read or listened to his genius felt it on a personal level. My protest songs of the 60s turned to this Canadian genius, and I constantly analyzed his poetry. Day after day in the late 60’s I would sit in the CNR station in Montreal and watch people go by humming his tunes and hoping he might walk by.
I would read Cohen’s poetry books over and over and wish I was his beloved “Suzanne”. In a dark smoke filled bar on Mountain Street I would sit and listen to hours of bad poetry, yet performing my own was out of the question. In my mind I could never come close to Cohen, nor the other radical literary masters, so my words remained silent.
Years later I would meet Leonard Cohen on a flight to Los Angeles with his then much younger girlfriend Rebecca DeMornay. I took his hand by the baggage turnstile and told him of my love for his work in the 60’s. He smiled, and said softly,
“My dear the years have been kind to you”.
I stood there and wept, and now I feel like I lost an old friend. What remains are gratitude for the words and music he has given us, and fond memories of the likeable, humble manner in which he lived. When asked if he was a pessimist he said he always thought of people who were pessimists as those who were just waiting for it to rain. Then he said,
“Then here I am just completely soaked to the skin.”
If you loved words, you loved Leonard Cohen. If you loved images, you loved Leonard Cohen. He spun both to entrap and delight and you could live in a line of his poetry. Leonard said one day he would make people weep by writing one word. I believe he wrote the word many times.
Canada’s greatest poet and social critic is gone. A great artist and a great mind is silenced. A sad day- but, my life will always be filled with the memory of hearing his voice and his words that day at the LAX airport.
Author’s Note– A shout out to my friend Andrew Searle in Toronto who was with me that day on the flight to Los Angeles–where we analyzed Cohen’s every move from the economy section:) and is probably thinking the same thoughts. Miss you
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