I was all set to write a very rare political post on this page. Normally, I avoid that like the plague, as I want this blog to be about music, but the world changed two days ago and there are things that need to be addressed… spoken about… shared… or at least cleared out of my head. Brace yourselves… that post is coming. It has to… If nothing else, for me. And believe me, I know what politics does to people… to friends… to families… I get it. I see normally sweet people fight on my Facebook page in the most vicious ways when it comes to politics… and this election was the most disgusting, depressing and divisive I have ever seen.
But silence is death and speech is our inalienable right. So speak out we must. And speak out we will… Or at least I will.
For now, I am in a different kind of mourning. It was announced that Leonard Cohen passed away today at the age of 82. Not a lot of details are coming forth… yet… so I cannot help but think there may be a Bowie-type revelation… Meaning he was sick for a while… knew death was coming.
One need only listen to the first and title song off his amazing new album, You Want It Darker to sense this…
“Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
I’m ready, my lord.”
I’m ready, my lord.”
This idea has been something I have even been studying for a while… but it came up in two amazing ways within the last few days… which made this song even more powerful for me… coincidental… remarkable…
Hineni is a Jewish and philosophical point of view… being ready to serve… ready to give of yourself… to make sacrifices and help a family member, friend or community… which is why so many Temples have Hineni groups… volunteers who help people when they are sick, or in mourning or for whatever. It is an unbelievably human and powerful idea.
And here’s the thing about Leonard Cohen… He was, essentially, a brilliant, a Jewish philosopher. There is so much about Judaism you can learn from his songs. And yet he was also ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1996, after living in a Buddhist monastery for five years. Both religions, as well as Christianity, find their way into his songs… because he writes about human beings… all human beings… universal human beings…
We need a roof over our heads… food and water in our belly… and love and kindness in our hearts.
Ironically, the other recent connection to the phrase Here I Am came up in Day 4 of the Deepak Chopra/Oprah 21-Day Meditation Challenge. Deepak talks about how we must be there for those we are in relationships with… our light must go out into the world… our love must cause freedom… we must be open to give… and we do so by saying, “Here I Am.” For our lovers… for our family… for our friends… and yes, if you believe, for our G-d… “Here I Am.”
Leonard was here… Leonard was present. And while I initially did not care for his voice (much the same as my initial reaction to Tom Waits) as I grew more wise and sophisticated and more learned in the ways of music, I came to love him deeply… to appreciate his sounds and words… his poetry and song… the stories he told and the worlds he revealed… the humanity he enlightened and shed light on.
I am so grateful I was able to see him at the Nokia Theatre on his last tour. He moved me and entertained me and made a soul searing impression.
He had a deep yearning for understanding and knowledge… amazing insight into the human condition… He was a poet and story-teller… psychologist and philosopher… a singer/songwriter on another plane.
“Hallelujah” almost always brings me to tears… Jeff Buckley’s version… k.d. Lang’s… Rufus Wainwright… and of course Leonard’s… So many of his songs move me that way… And we will need them now, more than ever before.
Thoughts out to Elliot, his road manager… and to his family and friends and fellow musicians.
Let us honor him… Let us honor human beings… and Let us honor the world, by saying “Here I Am”… I am ready to help… to serve… to take care of… “Hineni. Hineni.”
Thank you, Leonard… Thank you…