I’m not really a person who gets invested in celebrity as a concept. There’s actors I like and follow, musicians I enjoy, but I don’t really tie my personal life or feelings up in them or their works.
That being said, Leonard Cohen was a massive influence on my musical listening and personal life. The raw, hoarse, gravelly voice was among some of the first CDs I bought as a college student. There was something about the old fellow in a fedora on the cover that grabbed me. Bought a CD sound unheard, and sort of ignored it for a while in favor of Guns n’ Roses, and 80s rock I already knew I liked.
I can’t remember anymore why I listened to it when I did, but at a time when I didn’t know I was bipolar and struggling through depression, Cohen’s music and his voice struck a personal chord, and it became one of the closest things I had to a friend during those days. It was a personal thing. I wouldn’t play it if others were around, or could hear. It was music that I listened to by myself, for myself, and with myself.
There’s a sense of personal loss at the news of his death. It’s a sort of an echoing, rattling feeling, bouncing around my emotions and brain like a hollow echo. It’s something I hadn’t quite expected to feel or have resonate within myself today.
I’d put off listening to his music in the last half-decade, as I’d attempted to put those negative memories behind me. I don’t think I’ve really listened to a single song of his until last night. I shrugged it off as another event in 2016, and while sad, it was just…what it was.
Today, I found my old Cohen playlist, and loaded it into Google Play. Hearing that off-key, yet familiar voice coming through the speakers today was like seeing an old friend. I’ve found the bad memories have washed away, and I’m left with the deeply personal, almost spiritual reverberations. I’m looking forward to updating this playlist and exploring what I’ve missed. It hit me harder than I thought it would today, and so here we are. Me placing words on digital paper as the album Ten New Songs is playing behind me.
Thank you Mr. Cohen, and I hope you have found what you needed to. You left something indelible on my soul, and I’m better for it.