Leonard Cohen

I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen for as long as I can remember.

I read his novels, I bought his poetry. I remember buying a hardback copy of the first edition of his poems and then going to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) to hear him reading them.

At the end when he was walking off the stage,  something propelled me to get up and run down the aisle. I caught up with him at the exit door and asked him to sign my (his) book. He did so.   I still have it. The poems, I have to admit,  are not his best  – the lyrics of his songs are so much better. But I treasure that moment – and his autograph.

His songs accompanied me throughout the years of growing up. At parties, we didn’t dance – we sat on the floor listening to his voice.  It was his music the boys played if they wanted you to fancy them.  His songs were the background to our lives. And, to a large extent, they still are.

Tower of Song

He stands stiff and stooped

Legs buckling beneath him

Back bent

Head bowed

When he takes his hat off

We see an old man

And then he takes the mike

And we hear that familiar voice

Deeper, more rasping

But still with the power

To melt my heart

And from the noise in the arena

Thousands feel the same.

He stands quite still

Almost in reverence

While his musicians perform

And his singers sing

He speaks for a whole generation

He lifts us

With his words

His music

His compassion

When our time is up

No one wants to leave

We stand and stamp

And clap and shout

A huge roar

As he returns

To sing again

And again.

At the end

He speaks to every one of us

As if we are alone with him

It is like receiving a priestly blessing.

His words move me to tears.

Hey Leonard

That’s no way to say goodbye.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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