Remembering My First Rodeo – Or How I Stole the Soul of Leonard Cohen…

As I prepare for the 2019 Muskoka Novel Marathon, I can’t help but look back with fondness on my first. The year was 2007. I went in with a real feeling of dread and terror, as I knew almost no one and my introverted-extrovert self was electric with a fear of failure that was accompanied by a healthy dose of my fear of strangers and meeting new people. I was a mess, but also filled with excitement at the idea of spending 48hrs in front of a laptop attempting to write an entire novel.

bottle-caps

cadbury

cbs

cirones

goof

The above images are things I’ve pulled into my story from the 70s. THE GOOF (The Garden Gate Restaurant in The Beaches has had the nickname of THE GOOF for decades…since the neon G-O-O-F letters fizzled out!) is still alive and well.

Enter my calm safe place…the incomparable (now late and great) Leonard Cohen (cue the choir of angels singing aves!).

Before the novel writing marathon begins, there is a meet-and-greet where all the writers get together and introduce themselves. We do this every year. There’s usually a couple new faces, and quite often we see friends from past marathons for the first time since the previous July. It’s a lovely time of reunions and introductions. THEN we take to our seats and a bell goes off to usher in the beginning. We’re at the starting gate and take off not running, but fingers flying on our keyboards.

For my first marathon, I had a title and two characters in my head. They waited impatiently for that commencement bell to toll. One of the characters was a neglected little boy who lived in The Beaches district of Toronto…and the other was Leonard Cohen. Or, at least, a folksinger who was a god-like hero character in the same way I imagined Leonard to be.

gordon-lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot is an important character used in the very last chapter of Sebastian’s Poet. The chapter is actually Gordon Lightfoot approved!

As the bell rang, I dove in and I did not look back until my story was told. It spanned most of the 70s and ended with the Cohen character taking the stage at the CNE Grandstand at a charity concert hosted by none other than the great Gordon Lightfoot.

As I wrote that last chapter with tears in my eyes and excitement in my heart, I felt this great crescendo escalating with every word that raised to meet the ending. It was the denouement to a story that was often hectic and scary. It was the moment when my child character, from the wings of the CNE Grandstand stage, was finally able to exhale after a treacherous ride through a difficult childhood. It was the culmination of a full 48 hours of writing the same story start to finish and it was simultaneously electrifying and exhausting.

I did it! I wrote THE END before the marathon was over. The marathon is actually a 72 hour journey, but there’s an option to end at the 48hr mark. That year I didn’t really believe in myself enough to take a day off work in order to write. I just couldn’t justify it. I didn’t consider myself worthy of the holiday day for the purpose of something as frivolous as writing. So, I clocked out after the weekend was over. I went home while others stayed behind to write through their Monday.

When I got home I dared to look at the story for the first time. When you’re in the heart of that whirling dervish of a ride, you don’t really have the opportunity to look back. When I did finally glance back and read the story, I was floored. I had taken up handfuls of mud and clay and I had formed a Golem that walked and talked and lived like my mind’s eye’s version of Leonard Cohen. Perhaps it was because I had only listened to ONE SONG during the entire 48hr novel writing marathon. Perhaps Leonard Cohen had traveled through the music and into my veins and caused himself to pour out of my fingers and on to the screen. Character osmosis.

I loved that first marathon as much as I look forward to this upcoming one in 35 days. Perhaps I look forward to them because of that first one…because I had the music in me. Music was the propulsion that saw me through those 48 hours. It was an elixir that calmed me down enough to be in a new environment with new people and a new story. And I had Leonard to thank for all of it. So, I did the only thing I could do…I stole his soul.

Leonard Cohen became the hero of my story. If you ever read my novel SEBASTIAN’S POET, know that when you’re reading about the folksinger that wakes up on a ratty old couch in the Beaches district of Toronto in 1973, you’re reading about Leonard Cohen…or, at the very least, my angel-ized version of the man I’ve had a lifelong music crush on. It was easy to get that story thrown down in 48 hours…I’d been carrying it within my heart for my entire life.

THE SONG I LISTENED TO FOR 48HRS STRAIGHT DURING THE 2007 MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON – Leonard Cohen’s ANTHEM

I’m heading back to Huntsville, Ontario on JULY 12th, for my 11th Muskoka Novel Marathon. 40 Writers in 1 Room for 72 Hours = 40 Novels. And we do it all for the love of words. Each writer collects sponsorship pledges and 100% of the monies raised goes to the YMCA literacy programs in Simcoe/Muskoka Counties. We typically raise about $30,000.00 per year and help fund the following year’s literacy efforts. If you would like to be a part of this endeavor, we’d love to have you on board. My ONLINE DONATION PAGE CAN BE FOUND BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE- Just click on the SUPPORT THIS WRITER link.

You can purchase that first Muskoka Novel Marathon novel that I wrote in 2007 at AMAZON FOR A LITTLE OVER A DOLLAR. My only advice is that you listen to Leonard Cohen while you read. It helps to take you there!

Sincerely, L. Cohen (Canada Loses its Beautiful Loser Icon)

Poet Father. Spirit Walker. Writer Father. Creative Teacher. Guru.

I knew it would happen eventually. He was in his 80s, right. He even announced that he might be ready. Even though he took it back…I still felt the illness of the possibility of losing him. The problem is, I was never able to imagine a world without Leonard Cohen. Today he has left us. Canada has gotten so much smaller…I can hardly see it. Canadiana itself has taken a blow today. Who we are, how we see ourselves. From the Atlantic to the Pacific…we were a Leonard Cohen nation. I don’t know how to do this without him. Who will be our voice? Our teacher? Our Poet? Our Guru?

15055847_10153920685352021_5666885627119086109_n
IS ALL THE WORLD A PRAYER TO SOME STAR? ARE THEY WARM AND ROYAL, THE RAGS OF DEATH?

I have just been flipping through the pages of an old copy of Leonard’s novel THE FAVOURITE GAME. All the highlighted passages have me feeling nostalgic for nostalgia. If I can read them all, take them in once more, I might bring him back to breath.

The world was being hoaxed by a disciplined melancholy. All the sketches made a virtue of longing. All that was necessary to be loved widely was to publish one’s anxieties. The whole enterprise of art was a calculated display of suffering.” ~ L. Cohen, The Favourite Game

That one stands out quite illuminatingly among the vast sea of highlighted quotes. He is loved for his ability to stab a heart with frank honesty and emotion. He gave us himself in all his struggles, all his worries, all his anxieties.

I told this story before, but I will tell it again…to illustrate the profound effect Leonard Cohen has had on my creative life…

During the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon I listened to Cohen’s ANTHEM non-stop. For 48 hours. Looped over and over and over and over again. I wrote my novel SEBASTIAN’S POET in a fugue state…channeling the Canadian icon all the way through the marathon. For those of you who later read SEBASTIAN’S POET, you will know that the only thing that made the main ‘Poet’ character different than Leonard is the character’s name. TEAL LANDEN is Leonard Cohen in every way. It’s blatant and see-through, how much a modeled my character after Leonard. I had always seen Leonard as a father figure…a saviour figure. He is someone who would swoop in and save you. I needed to have his type of character in a story. I wrote the novel because of him.

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Sebastian’s Poet, my homage to the great Leonard Cohen.

I was thrilled when Cohen’s manager gave his blessing/permission for me to use the line from ANTHEM that I love so much as an epigraph at the beginning of my novel. THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING, THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN. Using it was a nod to what was to follow it…the theft of a character. I also went one step further and had the line tattooed on my forearm…so I could read it whenever I felt the weight of the world dragging me down. I will be reading it a lot in the coming weeks.

I was blessed to have seen Leonard in concert a couple times. I was humbled to be in one of HIS audiences! It was the most diverse audience I had ever been in. Not only were there ten year olds and eighty year olds, and everyone in between, but it seemed every race was represented, every walk of life represented. There were businessmen and bikers, nerds and rockers, grandmothers and drifters, school girls and hooligans. It felt like a cross-section of the world had gathered together in his name. And it overwhelmed me. There was a man in front of me at one concert who was too big to fit into his chair. He had obviously struggled to get there. And he was uncomfortable and in obvious distress before Leonard came on. Once Leonard took to the stage, the gentleman forgot his worries and woes and he leaned down upon the arms of his chair and he began to listen. And then he was moved to tears to be in the presence of the greatness that was Leonard Cohen. It moved me to see him forgetting his distress and losing himself in the song and the voice he had come to see, at a great expense to his own personal well-being and pride.

Then I continued to look about me. The overweight man was not the only one with tears streaming down his face. I soon realized it was a thing. It was a Leonard-Cohen-Concert-Attendee thing. And in realizing it, I fell victim to it. I wept too. We had ensconced ourselves into the Church of Leonard Cohen. And it was beautiful. It left me wordless, breathless, empowered. It left me CANADIAN.

Poems I have written for Leonard Cohen…

POET (FOR LEONARD COHEN)

He is not yet comfortable
in his sparse new threads,
his Emperor’s clothing
borrowed from a man
no longer in need of illusions.

He is tempted by the romance of ellipses
those awkward little word bridges
falling,
like lead-bellied butterflies
on either end of his fractured thoughts.

He dreams of Cohen,
spots him dancing
on dimly lit street corners
spouting bravado to passers-by…music to his hibernating
nocturnal mind,
but only when he’s sailing past Mont-real
sleeping shot-gun
two a.m.
through the orange glow
of veiny French highways.

Cohen fragments,
dissipates,
refuses to accompany him
past the tunnel’s luminous threshold.

The crusty St. Lawrence–shrewd river mother–
stands guard over its aged Icons,
especially in the realm of dreams
where such beatific creatures
tend to get lost,
caught up in the fancies of dreaming poets
hurling recklessly throughout the darkened night

© 2007 Kevin Craig

 

LEONARD COHEN IS IN TORONTO

There’s a monster poet in town,
a laureate linguist, circus clown.
You can hear his heartbeat
in the city’s newfound heat,
the strum of bellows
in his liquid lungs, in flex.
I’ll take communion
within the milky thighs
of his every waking word,
take refuge in the spring
he calls to life
with his fervent golden voice.
There’s a God of light in town,
an ancient thread to beauty gone.
You can see his glow
above the night,
lift your hands into the bright,
and with nothing on your tongue
but a cold and broken hallelujah.

 

The Farmer’s Wife

(A retelling of an incident in the lives of Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton)

The farmer’s wife,

perhaps with a hint of a smile

on her wind-hardened face,

traces her willowy hands

through the work-stained apron

that covers her solid frame.

She has but one word

for the marauding poets,

stranded by the highway, laughing.

consecutive trips find them wanting…

what with opening the cosmos

with their wakening words,

they drove on in the midnight dark,

not stopping for the needed fuel

that would bring them to their now-forgotten destiny.

Running a hand across her weary brow,

she sighs,

looks to a sky not yet bruised

to the plum of dawn.

“Poets!” she exclaims

with a weariness bred of morning labour.

She walks away from the door,

leaving Layton to lean on its splintery frame,

while Cohen, sitting still in the dew

of his wakening mind, titters,

unable to believe the fortune

of landing, yet again,

on this kind woman’s porch.

Poets traveling onward of a night

can never be trusted

to find their distant shore…

but a beacon in dust,

a work-weary Mother of men,

they will trip upon lightly,

She, a harvest of needful things,

brought forth by the patron saint

resurrected to protect

the flighty of mind,

the absent men of omnipotent vision,

and masters of words un-spun.

 

 

 

Rest In Peace, sweet Prince and King of our Great Nation. You were loved. You were needed. You were appreciated. We will miss your golden voice forever. May you find your rightful place in the Tower of Song. You did well and you did good, Leonard Cohen. I will miss you always.

LEONARD COHEN

September 21st, 1934 – November 10th, 2016

RIP

a nation grieves

 

And Speaking of Leonard Cohen…

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Leonard Cohen was in Toronto on Dec. 4th for the first of two concerts at ACC.

In 2007 I participated in my first MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON. At the time, I was so nervous about the simple act of declaring myself a writer. I spent 48hrs in a room in Huntsville, Ontario…WRITING. The novel I wrote during that weekend was called SEBASTIAN’S POET. Writing it was like an out of body experience. I fell asleep at the keyboard, I wandered, I hallucinated…you name it. I went in there with very little in the way of an idea. My inspiration was a man in a fedora. A man from Montreal who had a love for stringing words together. I knew my main character was going to be a broken child, and I knew a folksinger would be his salvation.

Leonard Cohen was the inspiration for that folksinger–who later became TEAL LANDEN. Teal is the guy who came into my main character’s life and gave it meaning. He was just a slob with a huge heart…a wanderer who discovered an empty couch in a spiritually empty home and decided to stay awhile.

For 48hrs I had Leonard Cohen songs playing in my head. And for 48hrs I lived the life of Sebastian Nelson. A life that spanned the 7 tumultuous years leading to 1980. Sebastian was a boy in the Beaches district of Toronto, Ontario…a boy who needed to belong to something, anything. When Teal Landen entered his life, there was a degree of instant salvation. He was heard. He was seen. Much like the way I felt heard when I first stumbled upon the music of Leonard Cohen.

So Cohen is a big part of who Landen became…or at least my imagined image of Cohen. It was fun writing that story, losing myself in Cohen’s music and seeing where the life of Sebastian Nelson would go.

You can read the story. It has since been published as the novella SEBASTIAN’S POET. The publisher is Musa Publishing in U.S.A. I was thrilled to find how much they believed in this story that came out of me rapid fire that long ago weekend. It’s amazing what can happen at these writing marathons, but what’s even more amazing is how they make you feel. Invincible and vulnerable and powerful and weak.

Sebastian's Poet
Sebastian’s Poet

You will notice that the epigraph in Sebastian’s Poet is a line from one of Cohen’s songs. “There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.” is a line that has buoyed me over the years. It’s from his song ANTHEM. I was thrilled when I was given permission to use it as the jumping off point of this little novel. (-:

(Oh! And look for a cameo in the last chapter. Gordon Lightfoot makes an appearance. It was fun putting words in his mouth! (-:)

Enjoy!

Sebastian’s Poet at GOODREADS

Sebastian’s Poet at Amazon

 

Sebastian’s Poet at MUSA

 

Leonard Cohen is in Toronto

OLD IDEAS

In 2008, when Leonard Cohen arrived in Toronto, I wrote a celebratory poem. Before I share it here, I wanted to say a few words about Mr. Cohen’s return last night to the city of my dreams.

In ’08 I said, “I need to be at that concert. This may be his last tour!” I could still be right. Turns out he’s been touring ever since. He was a young man in ’08…a mere 74-years old. Now, at 78, Mr. Cohen is still delivering. This iconic legend of the Canadian stage can do no wrong!

Near the beginning of last night’s performance L. Cohen said, “I didn’t sing for fifteen years and now you can’t get rid of me.” The dear man has no idea how many loyal and prayerfully devoted fans he has. Nobody would ever in a million years want to get rid of him! He followed this with, “We might not see each other ever again. Tonight we’ll give you everything we’ve got!”

Then, he proceeded to do just that. He skipped, he danced, he swayed, he celebrated each and every person on the stage, behind the stage and in front of the stage…he did it all. His recital of the lyrics to A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP hushed the audience to the pin-drop point…and his leathery, yet beautifully charming voice went up like a prayer as he let the words drop like aves to the spellbound masses assembled at his feet.

Once again, his show was beautiful…from beginning to end. Leonard Cohen is a man who appreciates what he has. He values his words and his adorers. He values those who assemble with him to deliver his evening masses…from the technicians to the beautiful Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters. I came home from last night’s concert LIFTED. Being in his soulful presence is an experience one can’t imagine until they’ve been there. The man who was born with the gift of a golden voice has new worshippers this morning. Well done, L. Cohen…well done!

And now…the poem I wrote upon Mr. Cohen’s last arrival to Toronto:

LEONARD COHEN IS IN TORONTO

There’s a monster poet in town,
a laureate linguist, circus clown.
You can hear his heartbeat
in the city’s newfound heat,
the strum of bellows
in his liquid lungs, in flex.
I’ll take communion
within the milky thighs
of his every waking word,
take refuge in the spring
he calls to life
with his fervent golden voice.
There’s a God of light in town,
an ancient thread to beauty gone.
You can see his glow
above the night,
lift your hands into the bright,
and with nothing on your tongue
but a cold and broken hallelujah.

Last night’s SET LIST:

First Set

Dance Me to the End of Love

The Future

Bird on the Wire

Everybody Knows

Who by Fire

Darkness

Ain’t No Cure for Love

Amen

Come Healing

In My Secret Life

A Thousand Kisses Deep (a recitation)

Different Sides

Anthem

Second Set

Tower of Song

Suzanne

Waiting for the Miracle

Anyhow

I Can’t Forget

The Partisan

Feels So Good

Alexandra Leaving (Sharon Robinson)

I’m Your Man

Hallelujah

Take This Waltz

Encore

So Long, Marianne

Going Home

First We Take Manhattan

If It Be Your Will (the Webb Sisters)

Closing Time

Stay well, Leonard. (-:

BE HERE NOW – “There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.”

I actually made more than one resolution this year. The first will be as hard to carry out as the second.

#1 – Read 100 novels in 2012 – I will keep you posted on this one. So far, I’m still on my first one. Looks like I might have inadvertently picked a big one. Oops. I’m getting there, though.

#2 – Live in the moment. Or, as Baba Ram Dass says, BE HERE NOW. I spent a lot of last year living in the past. It was out of necessity, but it was tiring. So, 2012 is going to be a year of living in the moment…and maybe even a bit in the future.

But before I start chasing my second resolution, I wanted to share a bit about my upcoming novel, SEBASTIAN’S POET. A bit about the novel and a bit about the journey to and away from it. (-;

Sebastian was the result of my very first MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON, which was in 2007. I’m very proud to say that it was awarded the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon BEST ADULT NOVEL award. I wrote it in 48 hours…48 hours in which I did not sleep. It was the one and only marathon I participated in where I actually didn’t sleep. I wrote like crazy. When I arrived, I still had no story to tell…but once I sat down and started writing, I was 100% compelled to get the story out in full before the weekend was over. And I actually did it. I couldn’t believe it!

The real story was in the awakening I seemed to have through the experience of NOT sleeping. At first I was just exhausted. But eventually I hit this wall where I was invincible…or, rather, my fingers were invincible. And they were connected to a subconscious part of me that I had never tapped into before. It was exhilarating.

I take no credit for SEBASTIAN’S POET. It was one of those experiences where I was plugged in. It just ‘happened’. I know it sounds crazy when people say that…but that is exactly how I feel about this novel. Please don’t cringe when I say that I was only the conduit on this one. It is also, though, the novel I am most proud of. I’m thrilled that MUSA PUBLISHING picked it up (It will be published in April, 2012)!

Anyway, before I travel into the now and the future, I want to leave you with a poem I wrote after I travelled from MUSKOKA to HALIBURTON immediately after finishing the 48 hours marathon. Please keep in mind that I just got up from writing a novel in 2 days. My head was wool and I was open to the universe. I was listening NON-STOP to LEONARD COHEN during the marathon and during the drive from Muskoka to Haliburton. He was forever entwined in the SEBASTIAN’S POET story. So much so, that I later asked for and received permission to use a line as an epigraph to the novel. The line is the one I used in the title of this post. The line is from the song ANTHEM…an amazing and beautiful song that was a huge part of the marathon weekend.

So, this poem was written just before I passed out. On the journey from Muskoka to Haliburton I had deer jump into the road in front of me in Muskoka and I had bears surround my car on the road that snakes along beside Elephant Lake in Haliburton.

Needless to say, the whole weekend—from the first word of my novel, to turning off the engine of the car at the cottage in Haliburton—was something of a religious experience. Not God and higher being religious experience…but a TOTALLY TAPPED IN TO THE UNIVERSE religious experience. It was phenomenal. If you ever get a chance to take part in a novel writing marathon…I suggest you do it.

So, now that I babbled on and on, here is the poem:

After the Marathon

As winter whips its winds to frenzy
I am reminded of that time-
forty thousand words in my head
screaming white freedom
inside my withering mind.

And after the marathon,
the tears of no more words,
my insolent venting of could have-
might have beens. And the exhaustion,
like melting ice on pregnant lips,
a scream inside an empty car
with nobody else to hear.

When I thought the oddity over-
passing from Muskoka to Haliburton
with Cohen on my lips-
two deer arrive,
linger long enough to catch my eye,
to stop my hurling car,
to say, “I see you. You are real.”
And tears again. To find yourself
when you are lost; a figment
behind an endless stream of words.

After the deer, when Hallelujah
has played and the light of day declines,
I pray, one hundred-thirty pages
strewn like wild wind across the cluttered dash,
and here am I… stopped again-
a wild bear on hind legs,
pawing the slowly gloaming air.

Stopped, I wonder the wonder,
breathe to say, “I’ve been here too.”
And in the rear-view… three more,
mother, babies dawdling behind the car.
And the bear, as if he knows my head
and where it’s at, he paws again,
lifts his massive claws to night and speaks.

These are the things that I have left,
the shaking memories of a whirlwind journey took.
And forty thousand words inside my lonely head
was not enough. A bear to stand and scream
is what it took to leave it all behind,
the vent, the Cohen din inside the tremulous mind,
and most of all, the words that could have been.

So that’s it. You will notice that I tried to write it from a future place…from the winter after the marathon. I felt that I needed distance to get the experience right…even if it was a fake distance…a tacked on distance of words.

So, now…I will turn my back on the past for awhile and start 2012 with my feet firmly planted in the HERE AND NOW. Enjoy this year now.

“You’re standing on a bridge, watching yourself go by.” ~ Ram Dass

A Leonard Cohen Kind of Day…

Back in the old days (2007-2008) I had a blog called Wandering Mind. It was mostly poetry I posted there, but I also posted random stuff like the music I like, novel excerpts, articles, etc. Once it hit 30,000 hits, I took it offline. I figured that was enough views of my bad poetry. (-;

 

This post is a compilation of a few posts I did over at Wandering Mind on Leonard Cohen. In 2008 I took my daughter to a Cohen concert…we both worship in theChurchofCohen(much to the chagrin of the rest of the family!).

 

I was just remembering that concert this morning while listening to some Cohen. So, I decided I would post the following here:

 

Leonard Cohen is in Toronto

There’s a monster poet in town,
a laureate linguist, circus clown.
You can hear his heartbeat
in the city’s newfound heat,
the strum of bellows
in his liquid lungs, in flex.
I’ll take communion
within the milky thighs
of his every waking word,
take refuge in the spring
he calls to life
with his fervent golden voice.
There’s a God of light in town,
an ancient thread to beauty gone.
You can see his glow
above the night,
lift your hands into the bright,
and with nothing on your tongue
but a cold and broken hallelujah.

 

 

The following poem is based on an incident mentioned in a Leonard Cohen bio. I loved the idea of these 2 poets hurtling through space on the Trans-Canada, forgetting everything but the words they shared. Leave it to poets to forget to mind a gas gauge… twice!

 

The Farmer’s Wife

(A retelling of an incident in the lives of Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton)

 

The farmer’s wife,

perhaps with a hint of a smile

on her wind-hardened face,

traces her willowy hands

through the work-stained apron

that covers her solid frame.

She has but one word

for the marauding poets,

stranded by the highway, laughing.

consecutive trips find them wanting…

what with opening the cosmos

with their wakening words,

they drove on in the midnight dark,

not stopping for the needed fuel

that would bring them to their now-forgotten destiny.

Running a hand across her weary brow,

she sighs,

looks to a sky not yet bruised

to the plum of dawn.

“Poets!” she exclaims

with a weariness bred of morning labour.

She walks away from the door,

leavingLaytonto lean on its splintery frame,

while Cohen, sitting still in the dew

of his wakening mind, titters,

unable to believe the fortune

of landing, yet again,

on this kind woman’s porch.

Poets traveling onward of a night

can never be trusted

to find their distant shore…

but a beacon in dust,

a work-weary Mother of men,

they will trip upon lightly,

She, a harvest of needful things,

brought forth by the patron saint

resurrected to protect

the flighty of mind,

the absent men of omnipotent vision,

and masters of words un-spun.

 

 

Leonard Cohen – June 8th, 2008 inToronto – A Night of Intense Prayer

 

I’m still high from the concert last night. I have been beating my head against a wall trying to come up with the right words to describe the experience. And I’m a writer. I work with words on a daily basis. I look around me at these word bricks and none are bright enough… none are majestic enough… none will do. These bricks are blasé. They just will not capture the essence of the experience no matter how I rearrange them and sort through them for prettier ones that may be trapped at the bottom of the pile. It’s sad when that happens– when you have so much you want to say and you can’t find the words to say it. A friend asked me today what it was like. In my frustration I blurted out, “It’s like being in Church on the very day that God shows up!”

 

Beautiful is a generic word… it’s used so often it has kind of lost most of its meaning. I wanted to say the concert was beautiful, but it wasn’t enough.

 

What I saw: 10 year-olds and 90 year-olds. Suits, evening gowns, shorts and tank tops. Sweats and jeans and mops and raven-twisted beauty parlor miracles. Bald heads, aged heads, liver spots and creamy complexions of eternal youth. Leonard Cohen is a man for all of these people. He is a maestro for the ages. It’s a strange thing to go to a concert where children run with the ancient. But it is a beautiful thing (there’s that impotent word again).

 

What I heard: Dance Me to the End of Love, The Future, Ain’t no Cure for Love, Bird On a Wire, Everybody Knows, In My Secret Life, Who By Fire, Anthem, Tower of Song, Suzanne, Gypsy Wife, Boogie Street, Hallelujah, Democracy, I’m your Man, A Thousand Kisses Deep, Take This Waltz, Waiting for the Miracle, First We Take Manhattan, That don’t Make it Junk, If it be Your Will, Closing Time, I Tried to Leave You, and last but not least a prayer for leaving, Wither Thou Goest.

 

What I experienced: Total Inner Peace.

 

The audience… that’s the most unique thing about a Leonard Cohen concert, besides the man himself. There is a love emanating from every person present… too much love. More than they know what to do with. And there is Leonard on the stage receiving it all… appreciative of it all and sending it back in folds uncountable.

 

I remember being 8 and 9 years old (that was over 30 years ago now), listening to Cohen albums on my turntable and losing myself in his language–in his words. I was able to do that last night while he performed his 3rdTorontosell-out performance. I was lost in his golden voice, in the music, in the applause and prayers of the audience. It is a concert I will never forget.

 

Thank you, Leonard.