In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Happy Birthday Leonard Cohen

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Today Leonard Cohen is 81 years old. Any lover of poetry and song has to acknowledge his influence if not his overwhelming charm, intellect and insight, aside from his stamina. The man endures but his words linger. Almost every occasion recalls a Leonard Cohen lyric to me.

I first heard of him in story, reading about Joni Mitchell’s love life when I was everything Joni as a young teen. Legend has it that they were lovers, his appearance cited in ‘A Case of You’ (“Just before our love got lost you said, ‘I am as constant as a northern star,’ and I said, ‘Constantly in the darkness. Where’s that at. If you want me I’ll be in the bar.'”)

I had never heard his music, which I would not have understood or liked back then anyhow. I much later came upon his name when I heard one of his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright in the movie Shrek, not knowing it was his song. The lyrics moved me so at the time, a time of longing for me for some unknown missing piece I could not identify, could not silence the wind whistling through its gap.

Since then, I got to see him in concert at a lovely venue in Los Angeles with a long-time fan (and beloved), who opened my eyes to the man whose music I had heard and lyrics I had known most of my life. It was like coming home to witness this stylized crooner-sidechick act, the beat poet gone show-time while the words rang and rang and rang. His poetry attracted me like a siren with a bad smoking habit; I love the gruffness in his swagger and throat.

Happy birthday, Mr. Cohen. You know you’re immortal when….

there are 60 versions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ Ranked.  I still like number 3 the best, Wainwright’s version.

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