I don’t want to insult a dead man’s work.
But I have never cared for Leonard Cohen, strictly the singer and performer (no personal beefs here). Along with Tom Waits and, to a lesser extent, Bob Dylan, I store L.C. in the “Momentous Artists I Just Can’t Get Into (Despite a Solid Try)” Vault.
It all began with Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah”. In college, all the seeming soft boys were playing that shit (along with Elliott Smith) on repeat forever and ever and ever. And there are infinite versions of the song! X * X. Someone’s version of hell is certainly sharing a vinyl twin-sized mattress listening to “Hallelujah”…FOREVER. Maybe that someone is serving as the little spoon. Maybe that someone is holding in a fart…FOREVER. Choose your own adventure.
But L.C. really stopped being a name and entered my field of awareness regularly during “True Detective” Season 2.
We all know (and if you don’t, time to get on the TD train) “True Detective” Season 2 was a fail compared to Season 1. Between the calibre of actors, the acting, and the storyline, it was a massive letdown besides that one weird ass line from Colin Farrell (NSFW) that will go down as one of my favorite threats I’ll never make (out loud at least). The Season 1 intro features a collage of scenes, some symbolic and some not, from the show overlaid on the Louisiana landscape (the good, the bad, the oil and gas refineries) that intermingle extremely well with The Handsome Family’s “Far From Any Road”. It would be an ABSOLUTE UNIT of job to live up to Season 1 and all of its trappings. The theme song for Season 2 was a just one piece of the Season 2 wreckage.
A digression: If you have some time, compare the Season 1 and Season 2 soundtracks. Season 2 relies heavily on one artist (Lera Lynn), a departure from the eclectic soundtrack of Season 1 that captures rural Louisiana’s diverse but problematic social and physical landscape.
Since L.C. has been on my radar, Sam regales himself by occasionally singing “NEVER MIND….NEVER MIND,” and irritating me with the song and the fact that he enjoys it (he’s practicing his future as a dirty sounding older guy).
Once L.C. died, justifying my irritation became pretty irrational and distasteful even to me. Normally, I don’t try to rationalize by random irritations, but when someone passes you remember that person was important to someone and did have a legacy. I still had a visceral reaction to “NEVER MIIIIND”. I searched high and low, in vain on multiple levels, to dislike L.C. As far as I can tell, he was, at the most basic level, an excellent feminist (without naming it) and an artist’s artist that is only rivaled by his BFF Bob Dylan. The more I read about L.C., the more I am so disappointed in myself for being. just. not. that. into. his. music. 😦
That’s why I need to say, it’s not you Leonard Cohen. It’s me and my disdain for crusty, beatnik guy pop, rock, Americana stuff (even when all of your are courageously experimental) that I can’t get onboard with.
Lately, I have felt a little pensive. The way I describe it to myself, which is unfortunately kind of gross, but you’re reading this so you have to deal with it, is this: my brain feels like a womb, and my consciousness is a writhing fetus– all focused on growth and surrounded by goo and muffled noises– no time for conversation, okay? The best way for me to function during these times is to focus on my work, and the creative work where I can put on my headphones and chip away is the best medicine. When I’m not working, I just want to walk or run outside. I rely very heavily on my music until I feel normal again.
This week, while deeply embedded in some work, my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist delivered a song that made me stop my work. The lyrics were insightful, and I felt like I was being spoken to:
You were the sensitive woman/ I was the very reverend Freud/ You were the manual orgasm/ I was the dirty little boy.
It’s never too late to let someone surprise you, and today Leonard Cohen surprised me even though I doubted him and his masses. To many more surprises.