Why am I writing twice in only a few days about Leonard Cohen, a star Canada is proud to say was born here, who’s music has left such an impression on so many people’s lives, when I’ve never written about him before now?
I guess I didn’t realize how beloved he was. I readily admit I was never his biggest fan. It could be a bit of a generational thing, but really, it just never took hold, his music in my mind or heart I mean. Now, I just found his death, two days after the shock to so many with the news out of the US, that his dying and the spreading of his soulful lyrics has been a great condolence and consoling of so many. As a true fan of anyone who can create such brilliant lyrics, I think it well worth all this focus on what really matters in life, so much of which Cohen wrote about for so long.
I just must share a few of his songs, but I am choosing not to share his versions. I still offer up my greatest respect to the man, the Canadian legend he will always be.
I first heard this one on one of my favourite television teen dramas at the time, The OC. I thought it was one of the saddest songs I’d ever heard, though at the time to be fair, it was being played over the scene where Marissa and Ryan were dancing for the last time. That may have played a part for me at the time.
Now it just feels prudent.
Covers are fascinating replicas of the originals. To be honest, some covers are better than the covered, but is that an insult to the artist who first created the song being re-imagined? I wouldn’t know. I have no song that another has been eager to redo but I am left wondering what it must feel like.
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 you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the 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
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
But then there’s the song my brother showed me after the news broke. This cover was contrasted with the original then. I include it here, but it was some of the lyrics that I was drawn to.
Any way you slice it, with whomever sings this one, it is the most mournful thing to fit the ending of such a week as this.
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon Show me slowly what I only know the limits of Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
The image of a burning violin is an interesting one to me, as mine is currently my obsession, one which I can’t get out of my head.
I need music badly, more than ever on this particular
Song Lyric Sunday.
That is why this is a two for one offering this time.
RIP Mr. Cohen. (1934-2016)