About halfway throughlast night’s three-hour festival of awesome known as HOLY HELL THAT’S LEONARD COHEN I MEAN LIKE RIGHT THERE MAN, I leaned over to Mr. A, who was putting up with my fangirling in admirable if slightly bemused fashion, and told him, “try assuming that all the songs are about vampires.” Hopefully that helped.
I don’t know a whole lot about music. I can’t impress anyone at parties with my obscure band cred or encyclopedic knowledge. I don’t usually go to a show knowing the entire set list, or all the lyrics, or have a story in my head to tell my poor friend about each song and when it was written and what it really means and by the way this is what he or she was eating when it was composed, and if you listen carefully to this part you’ll get all this on a level ordinary fans just can’t understand and etc. If I like something I just listen to it to death and then find something else to obsess about.
But by the time Cohen launched into The Partisan, my very favorite favorite of all my favorites of all his songs, I was deep into “and I love THIS SONG TOO” heaven and kind of babbling in sentence fragments. “And then … but this … and here … oh, my God, just …”
I found Leonard Cohen through the Internets, natch, and had read most of his lyrics before I ever heard his voice. And I know it’s like Dylan, in that a lot of people would prefer to hear his music from the mouth of Jeff Buckley or K.D. Lang or somebody with prettier pipes. Part of the fascination for me is the way he sounds different now than he did at 30, the grace age brings to poetry, that deep and worn-out and ragged intone. There was a moment last night, though, that I wish I could bottle and drink deep from, every time I forget what it’s like watching people do what they were put on this earth to do. This video doesn’t capture it exactly but it’s close: