a big bouquet of cactus
7 March, 2008
A Leonard Cohen phase is coming on. I can feel it. My iPod is presently about 75% hiphop; that percentage has been creeping higher and higher over the last few months, and I’m reaching saturation. This is how I do music: several months of immersion in an artist or genre, then on to either the next thing or revisit an old thing and immerse in that. (I’ll have to make it back in time for Mr. tha Funkee Homosapien’s concert at the 9:30, though.)
Cohen is, for me, an old thing. It dates back to around 1988. My mother had two albums on heavy rotation: Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man. And when I say heavy rotation, I mean: NOTHING else in the CD player. Nothing. I was 12 years old and my family was on a nickname basis with the man (we called the first album “Jenny sings Lenny”). I looked high and low for a blue raincoat of my own (no luck, even now when I don’t want one anymore). And it wasn’t even young-poet-living-in-Greece “Suzanne” Leonard Cohen, but darker, aging, “Ain’t no cure for love” Leonard Cohen. That can’t have been good for my perceptions of romance and adult relationships. (Srsly. I was reading Bop and Seventeen, listening to Tiffany and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and singing along to “Or I’d crawl to you baby and I’d fall at your feet/And I’d howl at your beauty like a dog in heat/And I’d claw at your heart and I’d tear at your sheets/And say please…(please…)”)
Still, those albums were my mom’s. They still feel that way. But when the tribute album “I’m Your Fan” came out…that was mine. REM! James! The PIXIES, fer chrissakes! Yeah, that’s the one I’ll put on my iPod first, it’s how I start. We’ll see where I go after that.
This all was inspired by stumbling upon this paper on my blogadventures today: “It Doesn’t Matter Which You Heard”: the Curious Cultural Journey of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. I know you’ve heard this song. THREE-YEAR-OLDS have heard this song. It’s a nice analysis of why, exactly, I know that you’ve heard the song.
Yeah, so I read that and my Cohen phase began. Since the internets it always seems to include reading this interview. I bring you an excerpt that always makes me smile. Have a good weekend, all.
MUSICIAN: I understand that somehow during the course of your travels you ended up in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion.
COHEN: … I went down there and immediately found myself accurately described as a “bourgeois individualist poet.” I said, “That’s right. Suits me to a tee.” I wrote a poem in one of my early books: “The Only Tourist in Havana Turns His Thoughts Homeward.”
I was walking on the beach in the middle of one night and was suddenly surrounded by about 11 guys with Czechoslovakian submachine guns; I was an American who didn’t speak Spanish, and they thought I was the first guy off the landing boat. I was the first guy arrested. It was a bit tricky to sort this thing out. But they happened to be very gracious. Wherever they took me, by the end of the night we were drinking toasts to each other and “the friendship of the people,” and they let me go.
A little later it hit the newspapers in North America that the airport had been bombed. I’m in this little seedy hotel in Havana and somebody knocks on my door and says, “You have to go down to the Canadian consulate right away.” They don’t like the look of me there because I really do look like a Cuban revolutionary – I had a beard and wore khakis. Finally I’m brought in to one of the secretaries of the consulate – I’m pretending to be pretty tough. And he says to me, “Mr. Cohen. Your mother is very worried about you.”