In his 2012 album, Leonard Cohen sings ‘he’s a lazy bastard living in a suit’ …..and more besides
From “Going Home,” the first track of his 2012 album Old Ideas
‘I love to speak with Leonard,
he’s a sportsman and a shepherd
he’s a lazy bastard
living in a suit.’
I’ve put together below a list of my 12 favourite songs of Leonard Cohen with a favourite verse from each of the songs. Leonard Cohen, 78, songwriter and poet, fuses together two great arts – music and poetry. Drawing on the depths of the Dharma, he has developed a love for spiritual inquiry and meditation. For a couple of years, he became a Buddhist monk in the Zen tradition at Mount Baldy monastery in California with the name Jikan, meaning Silence. Later, he attended the daily meetings for some months of Ramesh Balsikar’s non-dual teachings in Mumbai.
I recall Leonard encouraged the music critic of the Los Angeles Times to sit a nine-day retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, USA. The critic told me on the retreat that Leonard had described IMS as the boot camp of meditation centres. (Boot Camp – a military training centre for commandos)
A man of calm and culture, he continues to make an exceptional contribution to shedding light on human experience, especially Eros, the anguish of love, dry humour, and occasional social/political comments – in his own enigmatic style. At times, he sees Music as an expression of the transcendent.
I have picked out 12 of my favourite songs of Leonard Cohen with a few lines from each of the songs. Leonard has the capacity to strike the right note with those of us who feel blessed to have had a rich love life.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:
1. Alexandra Leaving
and you who had the honour of her evening,
and by the honour had your own restored –
say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
Alexandra leaving with her lord.
ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in.
3. Bird On A Wire
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
he said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
and a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
she cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”
4. Chelsea Hotel #2
and clenching your first for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty
you fixed yourself and said: “Well, never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”
5. Dance Me To The End
dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
dance me to the end of love.
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
and even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
7. I’m Your Man
if you want a lover
I’ll do anything you ask me to
and if you want another kind of love
I’ll wear a mask for you.
8. If It Be Your Will.
if it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before.
9. In My Secret Life
looked through the paper.
makes you want to cry.
nobody cares if the people
live or die.
10. So Long Marianne
we met when we were almost young
deep in the green lilac park.
you held on to me like I was a crucifix,
as we went kneeling through the dark.
and you want to travel with him
and you want to travel blind
and you think maybe you’ll trust him
for he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.
12. Tower Of Song
well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
and I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
in the Tower of Song.
THANK YOU, LEONARD. For ‘going home behind the curtain,
going home without the costume…”