Farewell Leonard Cohen ~ You Made Me Laugh

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“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 Selected Poems 1956 -1968

 

Leonard Cohen was in his seventy fifth year when he put on the cool hat (to go with the sharp suit), set off on a world tour (2008-2010) with a band of brilliant musicians and reinvented himself.  He mined his back-catalogue, a body of work that the media in their trite, reductionist fashion, have long classified as doom-laden, wrote a host of new songs too, and generally set about letting in the light.What a star.

He made me laugh on the inside – little pulses of pleasure – wry, acerbic, revelatory – that hit my cerebral cortex and then migrated at a cellular level to all parts including those spots under your feet that practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine call ‘the bubbling well points’. In short, he was life-enhancing. He may have delved in dark places where we don’t often care to look, but he was also very funny. And we humans do need to laugh at ourselves now and then. Even, and maybe especially, a good dose of dark laughter is always worth having.

We were lucky to see him in 2009 when he was playing the Labatt Stadium (now Budweiser Gardens) in London, Ontario. The venue was packed, with every generation represented, from a bunch of retirement home residents to babes in arms. The concert was as fine as could be, and if you want to see it for yourself the DVD of the 2008 London UK concert is a good buy.

Coming up is a clip that especially makes me laugh inside. He’s performing with U2, and it comes from the 2006 documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man.

The man’s dry humour and humanity live on. Thank you, Leonard.

 

N.B. This is an update of an older post so some of you will have been here before.

51 thoughts on “Farewell Leonard Cohen ~ You Made Me Laugh

  1. I must have been dissuaded in my past. I can hear myself saying he’s a singer of mournful tone. Recently I have have been blown away hearing others sing his songs and at last I begin belatedly see what I have missed. It’s not too late but I won’t be able to invite LC round for breakfast. I’ll continue to search for the cracks.
    Tanks Trish for the clip…

    1. You are most welcome, Tony. Even today in BBC tributes the journalists just couldn’t tear themselves away from the doom and gloom pigeon-hole wherein LC was placed so long ago. Shoddy sound-bite journalism as per usual. Just shows how the media hijack people’s careers and present them in reductive ways. But as you say – we still have LC’s output to go at. Lucky us.

      1. I like Shoddy sound-bite journalism. One reason I listen to ITV news in the evening rather than BBC because it covers current news in depth.

        It is said we have two deaths; one when we stop breathing and another when people no longer say your name. LC will be spoken about in music and poetry for many years…Hallelujah!

        txx

  2. I first heard him while sitting on a balcony overlooking a garden outside the village of Labrugiere in France in the early 70’s.
    I was 13.
    As I only ever listened to his first two albums – and never really explored his music further – he came across as a bit too melancholy for someone who was already into Jimi Hendrix. I had a similar feeling toward Nick Drake.
    However, I still have those two albums – on tape, would you believe – and the tracks Sisters of Mercy and especially Suzanne ( as I was sweet on a girl by that name) have stuck with me since the moment I heard them.

    1. As LC said himself at the 2008 concert ‘cheerfulness kept breaking through’. He grew more upbeat in the last few years, even as he recycled his ‘golden oldies’. There have also been some amazing covers – Nick Cave, Anthony, Wainwrights – Martha and Rufus to name a few.

  3. Love that little pulses of pleasure comment! You’ve picked his most underrated charm and wit Tish – so many lines brought smiles.

    – “he was eating up a lady where the lions and Christians fight”

    Have sung along with Leonard since I was 17 and saw him at the Albert Hall with his ‘The Future’ world tour 1993

    – the maestro of melancholy is the zen master of wit. Farewell!

  4. Tish, oh man, I don’t have a TV, and I don’t read the paper…so I was unaware of his passing. He was one of my favorites. I introduced him to some students here. Thanks for your words and sharing!! Talk about “trenchant” eh?

      1. Tish…hey, thanks for this. I didn’t know who Nick Cave was. Don’t know his songs….yeah, I live in a cave. I like his voice, but it seems like he doesn’t know the words to this song, he’s a bit behind his backup singers.

      2. I don’t know much about him either, but I quite liked the time lag re the backup singers. This clip comes from a great DVD ‘Leonard Cohen: I’m your man’ – it’s a documentary about him and featuring a lot of cover versions from an Australian concert honouring his work.

      1. Well, Tish, I’ve been a little distracted of late and haven’t made the rounds like I would have liked. Hopefully some form of normalcy will return and quickly.

  5. You can appreciate his talent at any age but only our blessed generation know what it was like to hear that voice and those words in the context of the time. Suzanne ringing out from a teenager’s Cheshire bedroom. A fine tribute Tish – I will now search out the DVD.

  6. Thank you. One of my favourite albums is ‘The Future’ – your quote from ‘Democracy’ for example. I have decided, however, that when I die I want ‘Closing Time’ played. It has some my favourite lyrics, like ‘The gates of love they budged an inch/I can’t say much has happened since’.
    Goodbye to a gentle, funny, enigmatic, perceptive, beautiful songwriter, he will be sorely missed.

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