As a young child, I listened to my mother’s CDs, often sliding one out at random from the stuffed CD cupboard beside the stereo in our living room. It was in one of these searches that I first began to listen to Leonard Cohen. He was not, however, ever one of my favourites and never earned a home on my personal bottom shelf. It was only this year that I began to listen to him regularly.
By the end of guitar class last semester, the first stanza of Hallelujah was drilled into my mind. Leaning against the fold out tables in the cafeteria, I watched Alex (the girl I spent most of my classes with) pick out the notes with agile fingers and let her voice rise to meet the song. “Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord, but you don’t really care for music, do you?” Day after day, I found this line circulating through my mind and so finally, one afternoon, I found the Leonard Cohen CD in the CD cupboard and inserted it into the computer.
His words pull me through the songs, drawing pictures in metaphors and twists of language. “And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers. There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning.” These lyrics that ring with the imagery of poetry and the cadence of music bring me to press play again and again. And I can find myself in their words, sort myself out in between their lines as I lie in bed and search for sleep. This is why I chose Leonard Cohen as my poet.
The last stanza from Suzanne:
Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.