Last night I had the incredible fortune of seeing Leonard Cohen in concert. He played at the Holy Heart of Mary Auditorium in St. John’s to a sold out crowd. This was the third and last of his shows during his stay in Newfoundland and he seemed to be in a great mood, as if he were having a good time himself (regardless of the rumours centered around financial issues he may or may not be the inspiring force behind the tour). I had expected him to sound, you know, “old”, but his voice really hasn’t changed over the years. He looks to be in amazing health for seventy-four, something I can only hope I’ll be able to say for myself down the road.
He sang a number of songs I love including “Bird on the Wire”, “Closing Time”, “Dance Me to the End of Love”, “Take this Waltz”, “Suzanne”, “So Long Marianne”, and “Hallelujah”. There were many more than I cannot list or even remember. I’ve had “The Captain” playing on repeat in my head all this week, but, alas!, he didn’t sing it. Regardless, he is a real bard and fantastic artist. I had always been familiar with his poetry, but only in the past six months have I fallen in love with his music. I only wish I could go back and see another show tonight. There’s a strong sense of self in his songs and writing. Personal self, but also a community of selves. His songs have a direct power in them that affects the listener on a one-to-one level. At least, this is what I felt watching him in his small suit and fedora. Repeatedly I though of how this one man is able to be such a creator of music, manipulator of words and cultural icon. Truly humbling.
I acquired The Book of Longing at the show, but haven’t yet had a chance to page through it. I haven’t read much about the book or the general reception it received, but I like leaving that sort of thing for myself to discover as I explore the book. I’ll crack the spine later tonight and see where doing so takes me.