I don’t recall the exact date and moment that this happened. In fact, the only memory I can recall was listening to a man sing in a language I did not master, at the time. If memory serves, it was during the Various Positions and I’m Your Man era of Cohen’s discography. I was a kid, at the time, and it was my father (a fan of the bard) who introduced me to his lyrics, his music, his deadpan humor and his symbols. Every time I listened to his songs, a new interpretation arose in my mind. The man was a writer. You could easily sense that in his words and you could sense the minutiae with which he crafted his songs. “If I knew where good songs came from, I’d go there more often”, the master said. (source: https://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html)
Years later, I found out that he had written a lot more than the songs I grew up with and loved. So, I dove into his earlier work and felt the same listening pleasure, once again. Around that time, I began an accidental dive in poetry, that is still ongoing. Alas, my poems were (are and will continue to be) basking in the perfumes of utter mediocrity. And like any burgeoning artist, I tried to emulate the style of the masters that came before me. For my poems, I listened to Cohen’s words for days, months, and years, trying to find the right words to describe my own images. It is an ongoing process and I will die before finding the perfect poem.
A few years ago, I was walking in downtown Montreal, leaving nowhere and headed nowhere, as it is my usual. Cohen’s voice was in my ears, as I was walking. Then, all of a sudden, a suit-wearing man was walking in the opposite direction as I was. If it was a workday, that man would have been a pebble in a sea of suits. And so, that man glanced at me, for a second. I glanced back. Seconds later, a thought came to my mind: “holy fuck! That person is Leonard Cohen.” I thought about walking towards him but I felt that I’d be wasting his time and crushing what I’d imagine was a song-creating moment.
When I heard the news of his death, I cried and was shaking. Humanity has lost a spiritual guide in the days before another tragedy occurred. I watched as thankful tweets came pouring and wrote a few, myself. I even yelled at God, for its imbecility. It could have taken someone else, but with its stubborness, it decided not to listen. We will always have the songs, the memories and the symbols to cherish.
So long, Leonard.
Thank you, Mr. Cohen.