From You Want It Darker, out now on Columbia Records.
I should’ve gone and seen Leonard Cohen when he started touring again in 2008. A dear friend of mine saw him at the Chicago Theatre in 2009 and wept when Cohen, a 75 year old man, fell down to his knees during an emotional part of a song. I immediately regretted whatever stupid excuse I had for not going. And I’ve regretted it even more since he died last year, the day before the election. What a shitty couple of years it’s been.
I first heard Leonard Cohen on a tape that a girl in Scotland made for me when I spent a semester abroad. A Nick Drake mix on one side, and The Best of Leonard Cohen on the flip. She liked guys to put their cigarette butts out on her skin, and she lost interest in me pretty quickly after she realized I wasn’t into that. I hope she’s okay. That was over 25 years ago and I still worry about her a little whenever I hear those songs.
Leonard Cohen was a gentleman. And he knew how to make a graceful exit.
I don’t need a reason
For what I became
I’ve got these excuses
They’re tired and they’re lame
I don’t need a pardon
There’s no one left to blame
I’m leaving the table
I’m out of the game
The world is a worse place without him. His biographer Sylvie Simmons told a story about going to his little house to interview him and he offered her a popsicle. That casual, generous elegance sums him up to me. We should all hand out popsicles to visitors.