Thursday, February 01, 2007

Leonard Cohen: He's Our Man

There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen,
Canada's preeminent man of letters draws sweeping accolades everywhere he cares to venture these days

This, not an entirely unusual occurrence in today's milieu. In a media saturated world, self congratulation becoming an ever expanding incestuous affair, so much that the casual observer tends to tune out when yet another star is complimented for this or that accomplishment. The smoke and mirror act of marketing colliding with a hyper connected audience to turn anything, however, minor into an event.

Cohen is a welcome change in all of this reflexive hype, 30 years of substance, "blackening paper" and he draws reverence from all walks, academics and pop stars, young and old.Trudeau our glamorous former prime minister called him one night to confess how he cried at hearing one of his songs. Bono speaks of him in holy tones.Prince Charles publicly raves about him, sounding like a school boy as he does.

The septuagenarian po
et and songwriter now wears the face of a Talmudic prophet and a touch of vulnerability that mirrors his age; in the news last year for being robbed of his life's savings by his business manager.

The mythic Cohen that the world admires may have been perplexing to Canadians in the past, a self deprecating nation if ever there was such a creature. The man was captain of the McGill debating team, h
e grew up in and around Montreal, a Jewish kid who had a way with words but there he was rubbing elbows with famous figures on the world's stage and drawing rapturous acclaim while there. The provincial bickering seemingly revealing more
about the inbred nature of Canadian critical responses in the past
than Cohen himself.

He is to adopt a singular expression completely bona fide.

He has released new book of poetry, the Book of Longing where he reveals a growing sense that India holds the answers in the way that Greece held us in its sway. A reference to a shift in thinking away from the tradition of strict geometric rationalism to the elegant and hardly entirely predictable overlapping parabolas of Indian philosophy

I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart

I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock

Less than a year ago the elegiac film I'm Your Man was released to world audiences. Part of the underlying motivation may have been to raise funds for Cohen, orchestrated by his legion of famous well heeled friends. The film was received with critical and commercial success. How could it be otherwise. Substance always wins, in the enduring way, you know.

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