Leonard Cohen Hits 80

The voice of three generations reaches a good age. No sign of stopping.

It wouldn’t be right to let this day pass without wishing old Lenny Cohen a happy 80th birthday.  Last time I saw him, he was only 79 and his knees were in far far better shape than mine.  Now that I come to think of it, all of him was in far better shape than me, but especially his mind.

How can it be that after 80 years of whiskey and cigarettes a man can be so fit, so sharp and so funny?  Not to mention so unrelentingly creative.

Leonard Cohen

I read somewhere that when Leonard quit the smokes a while back he announced that if he made it to 80 he’d take them up again and I’d lay money on it that he’ll be as good as his word because after all, when you’re eighty years old, nothing is bad for you.  He only has twenty years left till he’s the same age as his very close companion.   She’s a hundred but she’s wearing something tight.

Ah Lenny.   Was there ever a poet as misunderstood?  For years he suffered from the razor-blade jibe, thrown at him by people who knew nothing of his art, nothing of the deadpan, self-deprecating humour that underlies almost everything he does, nothing of the profound respect he shows to everyone he meets and to all who attend his concerts.  I’ve had that privilege perhaps half a dozen times over the years while Lenny has continued to walk by my side, somehow articulating the angst of my generation’s long trudge towards oblivion, like a literate, horny,  well-dressed Jesus for non-believers.

I won’t spend all night talking about Cohen for a simple reason.  If you get him, you get him.  If you don’t it’s because you haven’t found the time yet.

I don’t know how he’s spending his birthday, but I imagine it’s with a song, a prayer, a joke, a meditation, a whiskey, a cigarette and a circle of friends.

I believe there’s a word in Yiddish, mentsh, (equivalent to mensch in German).  It denotes a person of decency and integrity, somebody to be admired.  An individual of uncommonly good character.

Cohen the agnostic, Buddhist Christian Jew would probably recoil from any such description of himself since he’d be the first to point out the many things in his life he’s not proud of, but in the end it’s not for him to judge.  That’s a matter for others but I think there are few who would disagree that if you’re looking for a mentsh, Lenny’s face fits the wanted poster.

Leonard Cohen.   A most uncommon Everyman.

Happy birthday Lenny and remember your own advice in this song from the mad Phil Spector days  …


Previously on BTR.

Cohen plays Dublin



9 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen Hits 80

  1. lovely tribute Bock….perfectly summing up the Great Gentleman…once spent 4/5 early morning hours with a pal, drinking wine and watching old and new interview footage on Youtube of him….hardly a word was exchanged between use as we were enthralled by the mans musings and anecdotes…and learned more about trying to live a proper life of truth to oneself and others by listening…the recollaction of that night still brings a smile to our faces when Mrs. Cohen is mentioned…that was a nice peice Bock..and Artemis wants you to write to him?…I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a reply…isn’t that want old-school gentlemen do?..

  2. I could write to him and being the old-school gentleman he is, he’d probably write back. But I think it would be a little presumptuous of me to take up his time with my wafflings.

  3. I suppose those of us – eh, what is it? A few thousand, are plebs altogether for taking the time to read here.
    And why not be presumptuous? He might be humbled to know he’s had an influence. Shur isn’t that’s what it’s all about? Why he does what he does. He’d probably be delighted with the affirmation.

  4. I understand what you’re saying but it isn’t my way to do that sort of thing. I never approach anyone.

    And anyway, when it comes to Lenny, I’m not worthy.

  5. Ok. Well, not to push the point here, but I just always think there’s nothing to lose. He who dares, wins and all that.

    And, don’t be silly. There are no prerequisites for worthiness.

  6. bock might be right, after all this is a man who has dylan and ginsberg singing backing vocals for him on the last video here.

  7. Right about what?
    He belts out a few choons for a living. He’d be nothing without his fans.
    The musicians that last realise that well.
    And if it was Beethoven I’d feel the same.

    I don’t agree with any sort of sycophancy myself.
    I think people that are that way inclined, categorise people in terms of importance.
    You get the fawning, but there’s also the reverse of that, for people categorised as less important. Sorry to say, but that’s been my experience.

  8. My oh mY ! 80 and still going higher and higher into that weaved basket of tunes… Glad to see homage to someone older than 18 in the music Industry…”oh shit! here come the Stones!” ouch!

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