The inimitable Leonard

Where, where, where is my gypsy wife tonight? I’m obsessed with Leonard Cohen. His lyrics are heartbreaking, haunting, and too real at times. They’re complex. They make me think while I’m crying. They explore delicate subjects that may even be considered tabu, with raw honesty. The melodies seduce in dark minor keys, and the man can’t sing. What can I say. His voice is a gravelly cross between Bob Dylan and laryngitis.

But that doesn’t matter. I can’t get enough. When I hear the opening rift of “Take This Waltz” my feet automatically go into the 1, 2, 3…1, 2, 3…1, 2, 3 of that classic dance step. I can’t stop them, my feet that is, and I am elated even though the words paint a forlorn and dismal picture.

Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women
There’s a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There’s a lobby with nine hundred windows
There’s a tree where the doves go to die
There’s a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost… (Take This Waltz)

…a piece that was torn from the morning…I can’t even articulate what those words do to me. You can’t tear a piece from morning, right? But have you ever awakened not wanting to face another day? Something big and dark has happened in your life and there’s a gaping hole?

Well, maybe its not for everyone…?

But I think I’ve figured out what it is for me, this fascination. It has everything to do with the craft of writing. Leonard Cohen is a master of the art. He sings about the same things that everyone sings about, but he says it in ways that nobody has ever said it before. Even if I don’t understand completely, even if it doesn’t quite make sense when I examine the individual pieces, he creates a mood that resonates. His words, incongruously strung together, make the message even more poignant.

I aspire to write like that. Maybe not as dark…definitely not as dark! But I want to own words the way Leonard does. He makes them his, twists their meanings, and bends them to his will. His work is sheer genius.

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