Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Rest of the Story and Leonard Cohen

   Leonard Cohen: the Bob Dylan who will be forgotten. Cohen passed away just less than a week ago. His lyrics were written with the same flair as those of Dylan. His singing had a rough edge, same as Dylan's. There was a greatness in him, in his songs, but one wonders if his legacy will fall short of that of Dylan. He didn't cut as large a swath in life, and comparatively speaking, he will be forgotten.
   I posted on Cohen not much more than a month ago, wondering if he was repentant of the original "Hallelujah" lyrics. "Hallelujah" was his signature song, a monster song, played and repeatedly played again.
   Ah, but does the song mock Christianity?
   Then, I found a performance in which Cohen changes the words (as he often did). Let me share a few lines.
   "And though it all went wrong" (I wonder if he refers to his song being seen as negative to Christianity.)
   "I'll stand right here before the Lord of song
   "With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah" (I wonder if he is saying he will stand now before the Lord with nothing more to say than, "Hallelujah.")
   I should also share with you a line just before the ones I've just quoted. If we were making a list of great Leonard Cohen quotes, this one would be included.  "I couldn't feel, so I learned to touch." So often, perhaps, we are not satisfied with just having a feeling that the gospel is true. We want more. We want good, hard evidence -- something we can touch. I do not know that I fault Cohen for that. If you need evidence, make it evidence. When all is said and done, you won't be convinced of the truth of Christianity without some feelings having been involved. You may require evidence, but faith will still have its part.
   I wonder if that is what happened to Cohen. I do not know. I am neither his judge, nor in position to know what was going on. I don't so much as know for certain that the glimpse into his life that I refer to above is correct.
   But, I wonder. And, I wonder that he has passed away. Cancer took him, if I am told correctly. I wonder on the stress that can take people's lives. I wonder if we sometimes choose death after being worn out by the pressures of life, and if the pressures that resulted from his biggest hit didn't end up being the hit that took his life, at least in part.
   Did someone tell me Cohen had spoken of being ready to die? Perhaps death is more of a choice than we sometimes suppose.
    At any rate, I am sorry to hear of Leonard Cohen's passing away. I was growing close to him, emotionally, and rooting for him as a performer.
   I ran into a newer song of his, it says:
Show me the place, where you want your slave to go
Show me the place, I've forgotten I don't know
Show me the place where my head is bent and low
Show me the place, where you want your slave to go
Show me the place, help me roll away the stone
Show me the place, I can't move this thing alone
Show me the place where the word became a man
Show me the place where the suffering began
The troubles came, I saved what I could save
A shred of light, a particle away
But there were chains so I hastened to the hay
There were chains, so I loved you
Like a spade
   I wish we had Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" to tell us more about what was going on with Cohen when he died. Perhaps this post plays that role a little. But, I speak only from the glimpse that I have, and wonder if there is more.

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