"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in. "

Leonard Cohen.

Even if you never sought his music out, it has most likely found you and some point. Much like the music of Jimi Hendrix, he is oft covered (from Nick Cave to Neil Diamond) and sometimes with heart breaking beauty (Jeff Buckley).

"I love to hear my songs
by anyone else but me.
My critical faculties go into suspension.
I don't wonder 'Do I like it?' -

He is the genius behind some of the best lyrics bar anyone except, maybe, Tom Waits.

Now I've heard there was a secret chord

That David played, and it pleased the Lord

But you don't really care for music, do you?

It goes like this

The fourth, the fifth

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah





Your faith was strong but you needed proof

You saw her bathing on the roof

Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her

She tied you

To a kitchen chair

She broke your throne, and she cut your hair

And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain

I don't even know the name

But if I did, well really, what's it to you?

There's a blaze of light

In every word

It doesn't matter which you heard

The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much

I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch

I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you

And even though

It all went wrong

I'll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah


It shouldn't be surprising in the least then, to discover that many tomes of poetry exist.

"It was only when you walked away I saw you had the perfect ass. Forgive me for not falling in love with your face or your conversation." - from The Energy of Slaves (1972)

What you may not have known is that a new one, THE BOOK OF LONGING. I stumbled across it and a PBS transcript of an interview today.

"I had the title poet, and maybe I was one for a while. Also, the title singer was kindly accorded me, even though I could barely carry a tune."

He's a novelist, with the book BEAUTIFUL LOSERS an amazing example of his talent.

"Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh. "

There's also a documentary featuring many people (and in "many" you will always find Bono) singing his music to various degrees of greatness.

"I don't consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel completely soaked to the skin."

And did you know that he is an ordained Rinzai* Buddhist monk?

Rinzai Buddhism emphasizes the use of koans, paradoxical puzzles or questions that help the practitioner to overcome the normal boundaries of logic. Koans are often accompanied by shouts or slaps from the master, intended to provoke anxiety leading to instant realization of the truth. Unlike the Ch'an schools in China, Ensai also taught that Zen should defend the state and could offer prayers and incantations. "These teachings influenced the warrior class and led to a Zen influence over the martial arts of archery and swordsmanship."


David Terrenoire said...

I read Beautiful Losers sometime in the very early 70's and I'd forgotten about it. All I remember was being knocked out, and listed it among my favorites for quite a while. I'm going to have to pick it up again. Thanks for the reminder.

Kat Richardson said...

OK, it's official: You're a bloody, frickin' goddess, Jen. Leonard Cohen, eh? I re-met Cohen's music when Halleluja was included in the Shrek soundtrack and I had to go look him up only to discover I'd read Beautiful Losers when I was in High School and remembered listening to him with friends. Thank you, Jen, for reminding me again that Cohen is brilliant and strange and lovely.