Dad first played me the album "The Songs of Leonard Cohen"
some time in the early 1980's.
Its still one of favorite albums, thirty-five years later.
I was immediately taken by the words, strikingly spiritual,
touching on the ephemeral, as well as the feeling
that we have to listen to the crazies, the person who feeds
you tea and oranges from some strange unknown places,
and reminds you that there are heros everywhere,
in the seaweed, treasures to be found
in the most unlikely places:
"And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they wil lean that way forever"
I quote from it in my books. It sends me to church, to talk
with the homeless, with everyone, to sit with the song of my life.
He reminded me I could feel eros and spirituality,
love and hate, war and peace.
Jesus said only drownding men could see him.
So we all had to keep faith, even in the everyday.
Yet, not everyone was going to see it.
Over the years, I put the songs on mix tape after mix tape, for
girlfriends, comrades, buddies, played it in California and Texas,
driving up the California coast, up to the Mohonk Mountain House,
growing up, painting the house here in Brooklyn.
She always took us to the river.
She shared her crazy with us as she sang,
losing and finding herself.
My friend Cleve Jones played me Songs of Love and Hate
as we got stoned and drove around Northern California
in 1995. He was sick and didn't know if he would live.
So we smiled and looked out at the sunshine and enjoyed
a perfect buzz, victories past, present and future buzzing
Caroline and I listened to album after album of his when we
first met. Its been road trip music ever since, marking the
contours of our life together.
"We met when we were almost young deep in the green lilac park.
You held on to me like I was a crucifix..."
It was a way of connecting our present life, those past days listening with Dad,
with the present and where it was going.
Caroline never "held me like I was a crucifix" but that
was ok. Loving his music did not mean i had to understand it.
He recalled writing So Long Marianne.
/A / /Bm / / Come over to the window, my little darling, D /D /A / I'd like to try to read your palm. G / /D / I used to think I was some kind of Gypsy boy, F#m / /E Esus4/ before I let you take me home. E E7 /A / /F#m / Now so long, Marianne, it's time that we began /E Esus4 /E E7 /E Esus4/E E7 /A /Asus4 /A /Asus4 /A to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again. /A etc. Well you know that I love to live with you, but you make me forget so very much. I forget to pray for the angels and then the angels forget to pray for us. Now so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ... We met when we were almost young deep in the green lilac park. You held on to me like I was a crucifix, as we went kneeling through the dark. Oh so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ... Your letters they all say that you're beside me now. Then why do I feel alone? I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spider web is fastening my ankle to a stone. Now so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ... For now I need your hidden love. I'm cold as a new razor blade. You left when I told you I was curious, I never said that I was brave. Oh so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ... Oh, you are really such a pretty one. I see you've gone and changed your name again. And just when I climbed this whole mountainside, to wash my eyelids in the rain! Oh so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ... (last two verses not on CD) Oh your eyes, well I forgot Your eyes Your body's at home in every sea. How come you gave away your news to everyone That you said was a secret for me. Oh so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ... If you leave, where will I keep you then In my heart as some men say But I who was born to love everyone Why should I keep you so far away? Oh so long, Marianne, it's time that we began ...
He wrote song after song about the Chelsea Hotel,where Dad and i used to talk all night. He recalledJanis Joplin, "I remember you well in the ChelseaIt was messy sensuous spiritual music that remindedus that we love each other, kill each other, andcome back to each other."There is a war" he sang. "Come onback to the war. Don't be a tourist.""There is a war between the ones who say there is a warAnd the ones who say there isn't.There is a war between the rich and poor, A war between the man and the woman. There is a war between the left and right, A war between the black and white, A war between the odd and the even.Why don't you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden, Why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get even, Why don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking?"I always loved his older stuff.But today, when i hear him sing "everybody knows" i think he may havebeen onto something. "Everybody knows the plague is coming."Everybody knows that the dice are loadedTo sacrifice these children You must not do it anymore"Some people embody poetry.It teemed from his life.He left the day after Trump ascendedin a final grand poetic gesture.And now the songs remain.Hallelujah.