December 18th, 2008


No, I haven't heard the Alexandra Burke version, but I'm sure it'll mug me sooner or later. I just think it's cool that a Leonard Cohen song is going to be this year's Xmas #1.

I was part of Cohen's original core audience. I really did listen to him in a student bedsit round about the time the 60s were shading into the 70s. I believe I was introduced to him by David Reindorp- now Vicar of Chelsea Old Church and Chaplain to the Honourable Artillery Company and the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. (Read a rather good sermon by him- here)

Even if that wasn't my earliest encounter, I vividly remember Reindorp (we addressed one another by our surnames because that's what one did in English public schools in the middle of the 20th century) enthusing over a sleeve note which described Cohen worshipping at a woman's body as at an altar.

I owned about five records c.1970. One was The Songs of Leonard Cohen. Others were Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, The Pentangle's Basket of Light and The Doors' Waiting For the Sun. I played them over and over and over.

Hey, I had pretty good taste.

I like how Cohen has gone on writing good songs. That's rare. Songwriting is a young person's game. Most singer songwriters burn out early.

Hallelujah isn't my favourite. My favourites are Suzanne, Tower of Song and First We Take Manhattan.

O.K., the voice is a bit of a drone, but this isn't suicide music. Not everything that's difficult is necessarily depressing. In fact, rather the opposite.  Read the lyrics and they're full of anger and affirmation and a tap-tap-tapping at the doors of revelation.

Cohen is a poet. Yeah, I know that gets said about people who don't deserve it- like Dylan and McCartney- but in Cohen's case it happens to be true.