Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm Your Man (Leonard Cohen)

I posted some of the following on Star Maker Machine (for our Early Theme)... but it's worth repeating here - I've also expounded a bit:

Oh... my... god, my husband and I saw Leonard Cohen last Saturday night and it was a religious experience (concert review here) - I admit to hyperbolic tendencies but... I swear it was the best concert I've seen in my entire life (all 55 years' worth!)...

The Songs of Leonard Cohen, his debut album, was released in December 1967... but I didn't become aware of him until a year and a half later when, as a high school sophomore, a friend played me Roberta Flack's version - I of course liked her voice... but I adored *his* songwriting, and went on a mission to find the original. I still love to tell the story of typing term papers to put myself through college... and one guy didn't have quite enough cash so he offered up his copy of New Skin for the Old Ceremony to supplement my payment - we called it even...

My husband reminded me I turned him on to Cohen's music when we started dating - Cohen Live retains a place of honor in the 5-disc CD changer in our bedroom, 33 years later. His lyrics are poetry and sex and humor all rolled into one... not to mention that sonorous, seductive voice - I'm Your Man indeed (whew!)...

We spent a ridiculous amount of money for 2 ninth-row floor seats last weekend but, for all my devotion, I'd never had the opportunity to see him live... and it was the proverbial no-brainer as he had recently returned to the stage after a 15-year absence (since his manager had embezzled all his money, about $5 million) - I swayed, I swooned, I swore (f*ck me - is this a dream?!?) as he preached to the choir, turning the many-thousand-seat arena into an intimate lounge, connecting with each of us on a generous and gracious level, grateful that we still cared enough for his music to be in attendance...

Cohen is now 75 years old... and he displays the wisdom of his age while maintaining a youthfulness of spirit - he skipped on and off the stage, in a three hour show, punctuated with only a 20-minute break somewhere in the middle. When any member of his spectacular band (everyone on the stage was wearing a suit, even the women) was performing a solo, Cohen would take off his fedora, place it over his heart and give that person his full attention. How very cool to have Sharon Robinson, his collaborator on many songs, as one of the Greek chorus of back-up singers - the other two, Hattie and Charley Webb, treated us to a stellar rendition of If It Be Your Will about 3/4 of the way through the show. Cohen's personal comments between songs, although obviously rehearsed, felt sincere... and the professionalism of musicianship was evident in every aspect - my husband and I were in tears at various points throughout the evening...

The next day, I went googling for his most recent recording, as I felt I had missed one or two, and found the Live in London 2-CD set - I of course ordered it immediately, it came yesterday and it's been wonderful to re-live the magical moments from this tour. Sometimes coming face-to-face with one's icon (even in a crowded concert hall) can not only meet but exceed one's expectations - I'm even more of a fan than I was, if that's at all possible...

SONG: I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen

BOOK: Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah: A New Biography by Tim Footman

POEM: Book of Longing (Dear Reader) by Leonard Cohen (Los Angeles, March 22, 1998)

I can´t make the hills
The system is shot
I´m living on pills
for which I thank G-d

There´s sun in the leaves
and birds in the tree.
Nobody believes
it´s written by Thee.

I used to be song
I used to be cock
but time is long gone
past my laughingstock

I bid you good-bye
There´s nothing to add
I´ve tried and I try
to stop going mad

I followed the course
from chaos to art
My dick was the horse
my life was the cart

I´m back at my desk
(the end of the line)
a bee in my breast
a snake in my spine

The silverware shines
that my mother left
to me when she died
fulfilled and bereft

My leash is too long
I think that I´m free
I´d leap at the young
but I´m sixty-three

I know what I want
It took many lives
I´m cured by the cunt
I´m killed by the eyes

The sorrows are real
as froth on the wave
as shit on the beach
the city´s disgrace

Who cares what I say
I´m not who I was
I´m paid what I pay
I´m always in love

The summer won´t come
´till I go to bed
The birds will return
when the dog is dead

You can´t say it right
when you touch yourself
But truth´s not advice
It is total health

The crap on my back
the piss in my face
but happy at last
in the Holy Place

You can´t go too deep
if you want to swim
where the mermaids weep
out of love for Him

I`m nothing but lust
I´m nothing but pain
I did these mistrust
but Never Again

I say what I want
for I am the Child
of G-d coming home
and His Wife gone wild

I don´t need a thing
I use what I have
a moth-eaten wing
a worm cut in half

With these I invoke
The Name to draw nigh
I´m clamped in a stock
to hold my head high

My animal howls
My angel´s upset
And deep in my bowels
the shit of regret

You can´t stop a man
from loving too much
I´m still licking stamps
from trying it once

My pen is too wet
My ink is too black
The Winner won´t get
his foot on the track

But the one like me
with light in her eye
is utterly free
to crawl or to fly

And she´ll know the path
I carved through the pain
my will cut in half
and Freedom between

I´ll meet her one day
when the time is right
for me to display
my flare in the night

for the space in space
to cough up the Word
that seals our Embrace
unharmed and unheard

And Mercy at last
for one doubled up
and tied to the mast
with the flags of love

And thank´s be to you
for helping me out
when Youth had no clue
what´s it all about

Your kindness is kind
your trueness is true
I pray that you´ll find
your Beloved, too

as I have found mine
where I´d never look:
in the threaded spine
of my Longing Book.

QUOTE: "The heart goes on cooking, sizzling like shish kebab." ~ Leonard Cohen

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life (Will Kimbrough)

John Lennon was right - Life really *is* what happens to you when you're busy making other plans (weak smile)...

Thanks to everyone who's been worried about me, and got in touch, one way or another, to let me know - your concern is justified. Hard to believe it's been almost three weeks since I posted - as I just responded to a comment from a friend, after my mom's passing I seem to be segueing from the stages of shock and numb to depression, and have been spending a lot of time in my head, processing. It's all destined for a future blog post (soon, I promise!) but, in the meantime, I wrote up most of the following the week after our September 30 book club meeting... and then never got around to uploading it - it still holds true... maybe even more so, considering my current state of mind...


Your horoscope for October 6, 2009

If you keep waiting and waiting for things to happen, SUSAN, you may wake up one morning and realize that your whole life has gone by and you never did half the things that you dreamed of doing. The time to take action is now so put your plan into effect. You may need to make some compromises, but you will find that in general, people will willingly follow your lead.

...and, for the week of October 4:

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Change your password. Take a different way home. Ask a question you've never asked. Dream up a new nickname for yourself. Choose a new lucky number. Change the way you tell the story about an important event in your past. Make it a little more difficult for people to have you pegged. Eat a type of food you've never tried. Do the research necessary to discover why one of your opinions may be wrong. Add a new step to your grooming ritual. Feel appreciation for a person whose charms you've become numb to. Surprise yourself at least once a day.

Last week was our book club meeting, the first back together after having taken the summer off - I love this diverse, funny, kind circle of women who are wise in literature and in ways of the heart. It was my turn to host and to choose the book... and I picked Life is a Verb by Patti Digh - it's had quite an impact on me the last almost-year and I wanted to share the ephiphany-inducing collection of stories...

"In October 2003, Patti Digh’s stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later. The timeframe made an impression on her. What emerged was a commitment to ask herself every morning: What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live? The answers changed her life and led to this new kind of book. Part meditation, part how-to guide, part memoir, Life is a Verb is all heart.

Within these pages—enhanced by original artwork and wide, inviting margins ready to be written in—Digh identifies six core practices to jump-start a meaningful life: Say Yes, Trust Yourself, Slow Down, Be Generous, Speak Up, and Love More. Within this framework she supplies 37 edgy, funny, and literary life stories, each followed by a “do it now” 10-minute exercise as well as a practice to try for 37 days—and perhaps the rest of your life."

I've said that there were no regrets with my mom's passing... but there has been a minor one - I sent her this book last January after I visited and, when I was there this summer, caregiving, I had every intention of reading parts of it aloud so we could discuss. Time and energy (or rather, lack of both) intervened, and I never got around to it - so... I asked each of our bookwomen to choose a section that "spoke" to them and encapsulate it for the group - I am pleased to say everyone exceeded my expectations, and the conversation was quite stimulating, deep and, at times, emotional...

These days, I'm really trying to embrace be-here-now, seize-the-day, enjoy-the-moment mode - in fact, I made a mix of relevant songs and gave everyone a copy during our gathering. The point of the book (and my selection of it) is, in Patti's words, "about living each individual, glorious day with more intention. It was simply about saying yes, being generous, more fully inhabiting the life I have, not creating a new one."

Our menu consisted of food that made us feel "alive"... and the array was delicious and inspiring - we topped it off with dessert from B.J.'s, which I discovered a few weeks ago and declared it the best carrot cake I've ever eaten (you can really taste the nutmeg!)...

P.S. Apropos of nothing... although I've not been posting my contributions here (as I used to), I still write for the weekly-themed Star Maker Machine music blog, and last week's topic was Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse - it was an educational and inspirational exercise in which I was proud to participate...

POEM: Following the Road by Larry Smith

I have left my wife at the airport,
flying out to help our daughter
whose baby will not eat.
And I am driving on to Kent
to hear some poets read tonight.

I don't know what to do with myself
when she leaves me like this.
An old friend has decided to
end our friendship. Another
is breaking it off with his wife.

I don't know what to say
to any of this-Life's hard.
And I say it aloud to myself,
Living is hard, and drive further
into the darkness, my headlights
only going so far.

I sense my own tense breath, this fear
we call stress, making it something else,
hiding from all that is real.

As I glide past Twin Lakes,
flat bodies of water under stars,
I hold the wheel gently, slowing my
body to the road, and know again that
this is just living, not a trauma
nor dying, but a lingering pain
reminding us that we are alive.

QUOTE: "The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget." ~ Arundhati Roy