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


  1. I'm so glad you got to have that experience! That's how I felt when I finally got to see Carole King. Glorious!

  2. Hey, Amy ~

    We saw Carole King last year, also a first-time experience - it's even more special when these legends turn out to be as amazing personally as they are musically... :-)

  3. So glad you got to enjoy him! I had a boy friend (who had romancing down to a science/he practiced a lot ;) who used to sing I'm Your Man to me...he had a gravely voice like LC too! Kate in Wellyworld

  4. Hey, Kate ~

    Leonard Cohen's music is the ultimate in romancing/seducing - I swear, when he sang "I'd crawl to you, baby, and I'd fall at your feet, and I'd howl at your beauty like a dog in heat, and I'd claw at your heart and I'd tear at your sheet, I'd say please, please", my knees buckled, my heart palpitated and I experienced serious wetness (and not in that Depends kinda way, either... ;-)

  5. i am glad you and husband got to see LC. I spend 4 nights at two shows in NYC and two in Boston with LC and the band. I didnt care that he was rehersed. He is the master poet, master folkie, no apologies and master of the stage. He also is master of cool. I could dance him to the end of time.

    his 75th birthday was honored by a plague at the Chelsea Hotel...

    and how could you not mention his joni connection ..

  6. Hey, sharon ~

    I remember when you went to all those shows... and how envious I was of your experience - it was great to finally not have to live vicariously!

    Rehearsed is a good thing (and I hope I didn't imply otherwise) - it was a testament to his sincerity that we all felt he meant the words exclusively for us, even if he uttered them to thousands of audience members from the stages of many cities. No doubt we were in the presence of greatness - I will hold dear this memory forever...

    You and I are both well aware of how much Joni and Leonard meant to each other (she has written a few songs about him, and he has certainly influenced the style of others) - this night belonged to Cohen and his superb lyrics, melodies and accompanying musicians...

    P.S. Notes to you tomorrow regarding the photo and heart ornament you sent, both appreciated and cherished - much love and thanks, always... <3