Last night I heard the very sad news that Leonard Cohen had passed away. Still to this day, I am somewhat amazed that there are so many people who do not recognize his name, even if they are not a big fan of his, as I am. Once they are told that he wrote the song "Hallelujah" then they know who I am talking about. That may be the only song they know of by this singer, songwriter and poet, but that is okay. It took him 5 years to write it and it brought him back into the limelight, which in my opinion is where he always belonged. It was the most covered Cohen song of all time. Even in the movie "Shrek" it is heard. It is a very moving song sung by many different artists with just as many versions.
Leonard Cohen was 82 years of age. He had just released an album that was produced by his son Adam in his home, due to his father not being able to get around physically. It is titled "You Want It Darker." This title rather goes along with Mr. Cohen's life, in that he did have his moments on the dark side.
Speaking for myself, I have no problem saying that I am okay with my crazy, as we all should be. I know that life has so many chapters that one bad one does not mean it is the end of the book. This is how I imagine that Mr. Cohen lived his life. There are times that you just have to tell the negative committee that meets inside your head that they just need to sit down and shut up. Knowing that I need to surround myself with peace and positivity is what gives me the kick to knock it up a notch. Reading about Leonard Cohen's life and how he chose to live it, seems to follow a plan of always taking a while to reflect and then go into action with a plan.
By no means am I comparing my talent or life to Leonard Cohen's. I could only hope to have a touch of his talent the size of perhaps his little toe. And then that is wishful thinking. However, what I am saying is how many of us can relate to how he lived his life out? He was born in Canada and his family owned a posh clothing store. His father passed away when he was only nine. He claims that being around the store and later working some in the store is where he received his education on style. He definitely scored an A+ on that subject. I am speaking more of relating to how we deal with making lemonade out of lemons.
Many critics wrote that his music was too dark, his music had a funeral tone to it and his voice was a weary monotone. Some of it was a monotone such as a poet reading from his poetry. Then, there is a whole different side to Leonard Cohen. Many fans became fans after seeing him perform live, which was something that he did not particularly like to do, but did it so well.
Lucky for me, I did get to see this unbelievable talent perform in Memphis at The Orpheum just three years ago. Never did I think that I would get to see him live. His quick and bouncy movements on stage, his stamina of performing for three hours and his quick witted side remarks did not give away his age. It was a remarkable performance, one that I shall never forget and I know that my life is better for having his music in it. I can only read about how he was able to bring 600,000 very rowdy fans to a silence, after being on a high with a Jimi Hendrix performance at The Isle of Wight Music Festival in 1974, with his soft, comforting voice alone. He had the audience begging for more of his music and style.
He started his career as strictly a poet and was very successful in publishing poetry. While putting some words to music, he thought that guitars impressed the girls, so he joined a band for a short time. It was his fascination with human relationships that spurred him on with his writing. He was in and out of the limelight, even at one point giving it up and becoming a Monk. How he chose to deal with his ups and downs of life was his business. We all have our own ways.
The one thing that I grasped from reading about his life is that there may have been some 'down' times for him, however, he always found his way back by not ever letting go of the spark. In his own words, "I don't consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin." In my own mind, I see him believing that we all have cracks and may be broken for a while, however, the light will get in as long as you keep yourself open to it. That is why I know that I am okay with my kind of crazy.
His raspy/gravelly voice continued to go deeper throughout his records. If you listen to one of his first albums, it is quite a bit lighter sounding than his last ones. To me, he just got better. He did dance to the end of love and his music and words will live on in time.