"Everybody knows that the good guys lost." - Leonard Cohen Everybody Knows
I know that we all lost a good guy this week. the gravelly voiced poet for a generation or two passed away at the age of eighty-two, leaving behind a tower of song that will last for generations more. If you're unfamiliar with the work of Mister Cohen, you haven't been listening closely for the past forty-some years. Maybe you've heard someone else's version of "Everybody Knows." Artists like Concrete Blonde and Don Henley have taken their shot at this pessimistic anthem. Or maybe you're a Neil Diamond fan and thought that the author of all those Monkees hits had bared his soul for a woman named "Suzanne." That was Leonard's soul he war baring. Or maybe you thought Fairport Convention penned a little song about a "Bird On A Wire." Nope. That was Leonard, too. And for those of you still laboring under the misapprehension that Jeff Buckley was the genius behind the song "Hallelujah," and that all those other artists who have attempted to make it their own over the years owe a debt of gratitude to him, sorry. That one is Leonard's too.
If this all seems like news to you, don't feel bad. I managed to graduate from college without an appreciation for Leonard Cohen. With a head full of as much music as I tend to cart around on any given day, I managed to miss that on the liner notes. Ah, the arrogance and ignorance of youth. I grew up. The Future happened to me. In 1993, I bought the album that would become the unofficial soundtrack for the year my wife and I got married. We used the instrumental track from that album, Tacoma Trailer, for my bride-to-be's walk down the aisle. I can still hear the lilting piano and lulling bass and remember the smile I wore as I stood there on the hillside that August day. Sweet with just a hint of sadness, like so much of life.
This past week as I have struggled to sort out the threads of my life in the wake of everything that has happened and will happen in our world, I remembered another line from Leonard's vast storehouse of memorable lines: "There is a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in." Life, he reminds us, goes on. Wars will be fought again. Ring the bells.
Leonard Cohen stomped on the Terra, and he sang about it too. If you listen, you can hear him still. Aloha, Leonard. We lost a good one.