This has been a terrible week for me. Culminating in the death of Leonard Cohen. I think that was the last blow and seemed to put me over the edge. Friday was the low point.
Yesterday, Mr. Not So Curious Mellow and I played every song from every cd of Cohen’s that we have (six cd’s, hours of music.) We also have one record, the Early Songs of Leonard Cohen, and we would have played that if we had a record player.
It was wonderful to hear this music and never once during the 4 hours of song did it every get old or boring. What a poet and musician and prophet he was. Here is a quote from the New York Times Obituary. It is actually a quote from the liner notes for the anthology, “The Essential Leonard Cohen” written by Pico Iyer:
“Some of the other great pilgrims of song pass through philosophies and selves as if through the stations of the cross. With Cohen, one feels he knew who he was and where he was going from the beginning, and only digs deeper, deeper, deeper.”
I have a personal Leonard Cohen story.
In 2011, because I am on Leonard Cohen’s website, I got a notice that he would be touring Europe and would be in Lisbon, Portugal on our last night there in October 2012. I bought us tickets.
I will never forget that night. The concert was in this enormous venue near the Vasco de Gama Bridge. We arrived via the very clean and attractive Lisbon subway along with thousands of other people. Many of them were dressed as Cohen — fedora’s and dark suits. They were from all over the world. Probably 10,000 people!
And then he came out, with his amazing band and back up singers. Just started to sing. He was 78 or 9, I believe, and sang from 9pm to 1am with one break. UNBELIEVABLE, but true. The song I remember best was “First We Take Manhattan” [then we take Berlin]. Every time he sang “then we take Berlin” the row of lights in the ceiling behind him pivoted and moved over the audience in this great rolling sequence. Just magical.
The concert ended at 1am. We walked back to the subway station, but the trains had just stopped running. There were hundreds of people lined up to take a taxi, so that wasn’t going to work. Our limited Portuguese made it challenging to find the right bus, but we did. It was jammed with concert goers, all “high” on the experience of seeing Leonard Cohen.
It took about an hour to get back to downtown Lisbon. And we knew the bus would let us off at the main train station in Cais Sodre, right on the Tagus River. Our apartment was a long walk up a steep hill. But up we trudged, still energized by that amazing experience and finally made it home at 3am.
I will never forget that night!
Holding on to his inspiration . . .