Loving Leonard


I was as deeply affected by learning Leonard Cohen died as I was by the election results. Maybe more. I can’t name an artist whose songs mean more to me than his. Not Dylan, not (I’m thinking…) anybody. (Here’s how he lifted me one time when I was sick a few years ago.)

Through the soundtrack of my life, nobody else taught more about how to be a man, a lover, and a human being with one foot in the temporary world and the other in eternity.

A couple weeks ago, I was driving to the Peets on Upper State Street in Santa Barbara when some station on the radio played the title song of Leonard’s new album, You Want It Darker.

I didn’t make it all the way. Had to pull over. There was no way I could listen and keep driving. It was too deep, too right. I had never heard it before, and it demanded full attention. Still does. The lyric begins,

If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord

And he was.

I heard today, somewhere in the links below, that he recorded that final album in his Los Angeles apartment, on what turned out to be his death bed.

Please listen to audio links. Leonard’s voice was so deep and worn; and his humor was, if anything, sharper than ever, right to the end.

Having so much of his music in my life makes me miss him more, not less.





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7 Responses to Loving Leonard

  1. Hanan Cohen says:

    Genesis 22 King James Version (KJV)

    1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, הנני.

    2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

    4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

    5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

    6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

    7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, הנני, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

    8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

    9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

    10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

    11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, הנני.

  2. chris douridas says:

    thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you for the links! It is a big loss!

  4. Tony Mariani says:

    Doc, I witnessed KD Lang in Winnipeg Canada performing at the Junos. Hair was standing on the back of my neck and arms. The standing ovation was deafening.


  5. Doc Searls says:

    Thanks, Hanan. That puts hineni in an even deeper, darker perspective.

    And it helps.

    Chris, you do a great job, and that Morning Becomes Eclectic you hosted was one of the best as well.

  6. Doc Searls says:

    Thanks, Tony. That clip is the “Close second” I had in the post. And I just noticed that the link was missing. WordPress glitch: editing it in Visual mode didn’t work with that link, so I had to fix it in HTML. Done.

    BTW, I’ve only seen kd one time, during her Invincible Summer album tour around 2000. It was at the Berkeley, CA High School auditorium, as I recall. Absolutely outstanding. It’s rare when an artist plays almost entirely new stuff, and the audience loves, and leaves whistling and humming, every new song.

    Nobody will ever top her version of Hallelujah, though. I just wish she’d include Leonard’s original verse that goes “There’s a blaze of light in every word / It doesn’t matter which you heard / The holy or the broken Halleluja.”

    That blaze of light is what keeps me writing, even if I never know what’s holy and what’s broken.

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