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Lyrics like prayers

Kaplan and I saw Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man last night. It cuts between footage of a 2005 Cohen tribute concert and interviews with the gravel-voiced songsmith. Who's also a poet. And a Zen practitioner. And someone who can convey both great drama and great stillness in his songs. Some of his music has this lovely suspended quality; he's not out to give you a million notes, because that might distract from the lyrics:

Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river
She's 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
("Suzanne")

I said to Hank Williams, "How lonely does it get"
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me in the Tower of Song
("Tower of Song")

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack, in everything
That's how the light gets in
("Anthem")
I quoted "Anthem" once. I knew the song from its use in the film Natural Born Killers (which also used Cohen's "Waiting For The Miracle" and "The Future"). I included part of the above-quoted lines in my college thesis, because it's such a strong way of saying that things don't need to be perfect. (I misquoted it, however. OK, it could have been closer to perfect, but that's my problem, not Cohen's.)

The theater was full of admirers of the man and his work. And on many songs, you could hear people around you quietly reciting his lyrics, like they were praying. Like his lyrics were prayers.

Which they can be.