Friday, February 27, 2009

The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

I first fell in love with Leonard Cohen when I was 12 or so and plucked a copy of his poetry collection The Spice Box of Earth from my parents' bookshelf. I was trying to understand how grownups thought about love and sex, and when I read the wondrous, wondering "You Have The Lovers," I thought perhaps he was closer to the answer than I was.

After seeing him play the magnificently restored Beacon Theatre over a week ago, that's apparently still true. Wearing a narrow black suit and a matching fedora and in fine voice, he played for three hours (including an intermission and three encores, 27 songs in all); he skipped on and off the stage; and he thanked everyone involved with the production, by name.

And the music? He started with "Dance Me to the End of Love," and he and the 10 performers on the stage played all my favorites. The arrangements, especially the backup vocals featuring Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters, were stunning. I have been privileged to see many wonderful shows in my lifetime, but this was one of the best.

He's 74 now, and thoughtful, and productive, and Jewish and Buddhist, and gives great interviews, and I still have a lot to learn from him.

You can hear some of the show for yourself at

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