It's no surprise I should be listening to the Leonard Cohen on what would have been his 84th birthday if for no other reason than it's a safe bet I'm listening to him at any point of any day. His words and melodies whether printed or sung will forever be like a sun to my soul, keeping me in its orbit, informing both my own language as well as the lens through which I see and experience my world.
I can't imagine he would have ever read this modest tribute to the enduring importance of his work in my life but I like to think he might have gotten a chuckle at having his songs and poems being likened to a sun considering other writers referred to them as "music to slit your wrists by." I understand why "dark" is one of the first adjectives used to describe the man and his work and there is no denying darkness is a major energy source in the gravitational pull I feel toward it yet it's limiting and reductive to reduce him to that. There is love, humor, longing, beauty, wonder, and wandering in his words.
"Heart With No Companion" is not the song I thought would be my second entry in what I planned as a series some time ago but it's how I have felt since his passing in November 2016. He left us with novels and collections of poetry. He left us with 14 studio records and a slew of live albums. He left us. Not by choice and not after having lived and given so much to those who discover it and those of us who return and rediscover it but he left us and it is an absence I feel acutely.
It's not the obvious choice in his Tower of Song and yet its opening words are heal and comfort as we remember his life and mourn his los
I greet you from the other side
Of sorrow and despair
With a love so vast and shattered
It will reach you everywhere
So greetings and happy birthday, my dear friend. Your vast and shattered love continues to reach me and my world is infinitely better because it did those years ago when I first encountered it and does today even after you're gone.