The title of this article is my favourite line from my favourite Leonard Cohen song, which just happens to be my favourite song.
It sums up so many things for me and gained more relevance when my father passed 2 months ago. For some reason, I played this song often during recent dark days and felt an affinity with that particular collection of words. My father’s passing is still raw to me and there is most definitely a crack that was not there before. Everything is recent so it is understandable, but something changed in me which brought a vulnerability and lack of confidence that I have not experienced at any other time in my life.
In what have been dark times, however, I have experienced new things and started to enjoy smaller moments that would have previously been consigned to mere nothingness. I guess that is the light getting in to fill the void that has been present in recent times.
And that is Cohen’s genius; he sees things that few other poets and songwriters can see and he puts those emotions into words like no other. Sometimes simple phrases, sometimes complex pages, but never a moment where you don’t sit back and ponder what he really meant and question if this man is a kindred spirit.
For people like me, who spend half of their lives wondering what the point is, he provided some answers. No every answer of course, but small moments of clarity in an otherwise mundane and repetitive world. Most people do not get Leonard Cohen because you have to look deep to understand what he means, but if you take the time there is something truly special in his words, be they in a poem, a book or a song, and they connect like few others are able to. He was aloof, above all of us and sat right next to us at the same time.
As it happens, I had a conversation with a friend at work this week and we discussed the mass hysteria that occurred when Princess Diana died and the mass socially network driven grieving that occurs when someone famous dies today. We agreed that at times it is driven by a ‘me too’ culture, but there are people in this world who can connect to you and for whom you feel an affinity that is hard to ignore. I said only two days ago during this conversation, “Not sure how I will feel when Leonard Cohen dies.”
I remember well seeing my father distraught when Elvis died. I was only seven years old and didn’t understand why someone would cry over a person they did not know, but he was so sad, so tearful and so unlike my father for the rest of the day.
I realised why he felt the way he did when 14 years later Freddie Mercury passed. I was a recreation of my father that day and felt a genuine sense of loss that is only reserved for those who are special to you.
You cannot compare Freddie Mercury to Leonard Cohen of course. One is a songwriting genius and a magnetic performer with a voice that could command ten stadiums at once to attention. The other is a songwriting genius and a magnetic performer with a voice that most people disliked. Well, I personally felt that as Leonard Cohen got older, his voice got wider and deeper, and it felt as if the emotions were somehow even more real and connected than ever before.
Today was going to be a difficult day anyway, but now I have greater reason to think of the words of Leonard Cohen and to keep them in a small crack in my mind, the crack that occasionally lets the light in.
Thank you Leonard. Thank you so much.