There is a trend of musicians recording at they die; Creating their own farewell, summation and artistic statement. Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon, Levon Helm, and recently David Bowie. All leaving resonant farewells. The most recent is Leonard Cohen.
I wrote blogs about my collection of his music in May of this year here and here. As I say in those posts I enjoyed Cohen but didn’t consider myself a fan the was many people I knew who were die-hard fans. Seeing him in concert never appealed to me. To some of them it was a spiritual life-changing experience to see him live.
The farewell albums by the musicians above have all been sad and rewarding. It was remarkable to hear them looking back while pushing their music forward. Cohen’s ‘You Want It Darker’ is no exception, except, unlike the other lps it gave me chills.
The production, by his son Adam, recalls the female chorus of his first album for a feeling of familiarity. This is one of the few direct allusions to his past recordings. The arrangements are subtle – they support without drawing attention away from his voice or his lyrics. Don’t worry I’m not going to do a song by commentary.
I downloaded this when it was released unaware that he was facing any health issues. This reflects how disinterested I am anything that is trending. I read no reviews. On the first listening I drawn in my the gravitias of his voice and as always but the ironic yet romantic stance he takes.
The song Leaving The Table really resonated with me because in my own way I have left some tables in my creative and recovery life. Cutting out nearly all spoken word shows was leaving that table after being at that table for too many years with too little results. (Bartenders making more money in tops than features & shows being ousted for not making enough $ for bartenders. But I digress.)
When I read that Cohen had died the album was transformed for me. It was a funeral mass he had written for himself and his fans as he literally left the table of life. In the title track he sings: “If thine is the glory/ Then mine must be the shame” I my own life I’ve realized that shame come from cultural judgements that keep us at a table we’re afraid to leave – to leave the table is to experience glory.
His voice is spectral on all the tracks. It is like he is in the room whispering in your ear. Not merely a variation of his past but now a ghost. ‘You want it darker, we put out the flame’
His is one candle that will never go out.
just because I’m not with you
doesn’t mean I against you
I’m not taking sides
I’m not standing in your way
can’t be built on
but don’t let that deter you
you can build
you can move forward
you don’t need my permission or support
I’m not a viper in your breast
that’s me on the sidewalk
the white entitled cismale
who doesn’t even have to count
on those factors
as long as others take them
I don’t have to do anything to reenforce
those inherent historic qualities
they are merely there
don’t allow your judgements
of what is merely there
keep you from anything
I’m not you
not with you
not against you
no one needs my acknowledgement
any actions of direct support
to make changes
that need to be made
I don’t have the power
the moral commitment
to either cause or resist
I’ll stand back
and when you are done
maybe we can go for a coffee
on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted: Disability after Dark iTunes
November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –
check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx5KD1eDccdjdTdQ28kZRNg
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