Life without Leonard Cohen: At least you left your music behind

Leonard Cohen died on Monday but his death wasn’t announced until today. An hour later, his website had 43,000 comments of appreciation and farewell. By another hour, 106,000; by now many more. This is what I’d tell him if I could:

I lost track of you for a while, Leonard, somewhere between Suzanne and In My Secret Life. I think it was raising children and working hard trying to save the world before I realized I couldn’t. But I found you again, and then I found out that you went out on the road again at 74. You planned to recoup the loss of many dollars at the hand of your long-trusted manager. But it turned into more – endless loops of concerts on this continent and that, frequently described by reviewers as “sublime” or “transcendent.”

I was in the room with you twice, and even though there were a couple of thousand other people there too, it was an intimate and uplifting experience.

You made jokes about your age, and then skipped on and off the stage, knelt and hopped back up like a man a quarter your age. You took off your fedora and held it over your heart to honor the exquisite musicians who accompanied you. I fairly skipped home from the first concert myself.

You brought out the best in people, you know. A few years ago, I went on Amazon to decide which of your albums to buy next, and wasn’t sure why I got wrapped up in the reviews until I realized that you had turned your fans into poets too. I couldn’t help stringing their words together into a poem of sorts myself. I’ll have to find that again. I was proud of it, even though few of the words were mine.

I have your new album sitting here, unheard, as I was waiting for a moment to dive in without distraction. I think I feared it was the end and didn’t want it to come, but now that it has, I will listen soon.

The thing is, on top of all the wit and wisdom, you taught one final lesson, that in the third act of life, we can do even more than we could before. You inspire me to try to do as well. We will miss you, but your music will stay alive for as long as we last.

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