Still floating in the lingering contrails of last night’s Leonard Cohen performance, I went to YouTube to listen once again to “Famous Blue Raincoat”. And I ended up playing it over and over, just for the shifts in Cohen’s voice, in his guitar, and in the way he uses these subtle changes to convey the most exquisite shades of emotion.
It’s a beautiful recording, sort of infinite in its way, with layers upon layers of meaning drifting below the surface.
This song might be the purest distillation of a view of things that could be called “Leonard Cohen Zen”. It’s the idea that our life is precious not merely because it contains moments of beauty, but because we know that these moments will not be ours forever.
He reminds us that we need to pay homage to sadness and loss along with ecstasy, because these remind us that our connection to each other is never easy, and never free. The pain that inevitably shadows our happiness is, in fact, the measure by which we can know the value of what we cherish in each other.