I’ve loved him for a long long time…
…I know this love is real.
He walked in to a standing ovation. That says it all really. But, with that much adoration, failure – or at least disappointment – could have been on the cards.
To be honest, what I expected from the Leonard Cohen concert Wednesday night was to bathe in the glory of sharing air space with my favourite musician (or at least my favourite lyricist.) But I thought, at his age, that maybe some of the musicality might have left his dulcet tones. Or that he’d be doing one of those token revival tours that can be a little lacklustre and depressing.
Not so, my friends, not so.
He was a delight.
“The last time I was here it was 15 years ago…I was 60…just a kid with a dream…”
He tipped his hat to our cheers and skipped off the stage. Hell, if I can still skip in my 70s I hope I’ll get to do it in front of thousands of people.
I know I am not original in my passion nor am I new. But love him, I really really do.
It’s the words that do it. He manages poetry in such an effortless way. Though I have heard that he works years sometimes on a song, his metaphors and imagery never seem laboured. Brilliant, rich lines (“and jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water”) couple with simple statements like “there ain’t no cure for love” or poetic nonsenses like “a thousand kisses deep.” And he writes concept songs, not just simple storytelling or ditties imploring someone to love him – ‘Everybody knows’ and ‘Repent’ have IDEAS in them. His storytelling works too though with beautifully told narratives like ‘The Partisan.’
and oh the wit – from “Everybody knows you’ve been discreet, but there were so many people you just had to meet…without your clothes” to “we are ugly but we have the music.” He’s so wry and divine.
and of course the random – “all the women tear their blouses off and the men they dance on the polka-dots, it’s closing time.”
oh, and when he does write a love song, as often he does, they always appeal directly to my unfortunately over-passionate, worryingly submissive attitude to romance. The devastation of unrequited love in ‘ain’t no cure for love,’ the adoration of ‘dance me to the end of love,’ the mournful longing of ‘hey, that’s no way to say goodbye’ and the sacrificial ‘if it be your will’ – all of them can make me weep with memory or hope or loss or passion.
and of course the eponymous heroine of Suzanne – I do heart the crazy ladies. (Butterfingers also summed this problem of mine up with the line “I like it when they’re troubled,” but they don’t really compare, now do they?)
But my ultimate Leonard will always be ‘I’m your man.’ I don’t actually think it’s his best song, musically or lyrically…
But fuck, it’s sexy.
It has all the abandon of submission and all the power of standing before someone and stating your case, almost demanding they love you back. It is superbly open and a little wild and singing it just makes me feel like a king.
The concert was amazing. Standing up with the ‘Came so far for beauty’ Cohen tribute concert of 2005 as one of my favourite gigs ever. This opera house spectacular was astoundingly good, especially for giving me Antony’s ‘If it be your will’ and Martha Wainwright’s ‘Tower of Song.’ These divine covers rival the originals and demonstrate the other wonderful quality of his songs which is that they are so adaptable. Easy to cover badly (Monsieur Camembert’s soulless covers album comes to mind), but when done well (Clare Bowditch’s ‘Hallelujah’ also a gem) they are songs renewed and re-examined – something that can well be done when the lyrics are able to be intepreted in so many ways.
I am not a fan, in the traditional, ‘worship the individual’ sense. I have never been into researching the personal lives of my favourite artists. I think when I know too much about them it detracts from my ability to claim the stories as my own, as soundtracks to events in my own life. I actually know little about him, or my other favourites and I think I’ll probably keep it that way… I should admit that this also fits in with imagining that it is I, not them, who will be performing the songs. Can’t get too attached tho those who we would like to kill in order to steal their lives (Camille the Dark Angel – look out! I am out for your blood!!)
But I just wanted to write this mini-fan-letter down. Make love official. Tie the fan knot etc etc. Anyway, I’ll end there. Rant over. Love expressed. Joy shared, I hope.
Sincerely, M. Marsden.