Thursday, October 13, 2005

Songs of Leonard Cohen

Dear Heather,

Last night, we attended the annual grand concert, featuring the usual String Quartet. I must say, it was a rather strange evening. When I first saw him, I knew that something with him had changed. His attention was solely focussed on me the entire evening. He didn't speak much, but he was terribly attentive. He didn't even once avert his gaze to a stunning blond or to a sultry redhead. He wasn't up to any of his usual tricks. Can this really be the
death of a ladies' man? It would be rather nice if this was a new leaf he was turning over, but then again, this may just be another way of attracting the ladies. I would hate it if it was just new skin for the old ceremony.
Though, judging by what he did that night, I doubt that is the case.

I took off my shoes, and he took my coat upon enterring his house. He lit the fire and waited for the fireplace to warm up before heading to the kitchen. I sat on the couch whilst he prepared glasses of wine. I couldn't help but notice the strange photographs that covered his wall. He had photographs of people in various positions, often compromising positions. Were they dancers? The people looked oftentimes uncomfortable. I struck me that it was him that had taken these pictures. I had a fleeting thought of leaving immediately, but had I left, Heather, I would never had done what I am about to tell you.

He returned shortly with two large wine glasses. I set my glass on the coffee table as he took a large gulp. He looked up and stared at me. I looked away immediately, completely taken aback by his unusual directness.

He wouldn't say anything, so I asked him about his photographs. He said his sister danced and had asked him to take pictures of her and her partner in a specific modern dance number.
"I didn't know you were into photography," I said.

He looked at me and gave me a half-smile, saying, "Do you like getting your picture taken?"

Before I could reply, he took out his camera, focussed, and snapped a picture of me. I was stunned. He looked at the screen on his camera and said, "Just as I thought". He looked up at me, grinning, waiting for me to say something.

What was I supposed to say, Heather?! I heard myself mumble, "What are you doing?". I wasn't quite sure myself what I was referring to. I just wanted him to explain... something.

He put down his camera and looked at me like he was about to say something. He paused. He frowned and sat back.

"Do you want to hear my most recent songs?"

This was crazy! What happened to the old him? Wasn't he always very secretive about his music? Heather, you can't imagine as to how shocked I was!
I managed to squeal out, "yes", as I looked up at him. He took another gulp of the wine and then got up. He came back with a guitar and a very strange look on his face. He turned off the lights and instead of sitting across the table from me, he sat down on the other side of the couch. The firelight flickered across his face, as he adjusted the guitar. I couldn't quite make out his facial expression. He plucked a few strings then said:

"Within the last month, I've written ten new songs. I have not shared them with anyone. In fact, I have not shared many of my songs with anyone. I did not want my songs spread over dozens of strangers. I didn't want my music repeated by anyone because no one can do as good as a job as I can. And that wouldn't give the songs justice."

He chuckled quietly.

"I am well-known for some things, things that you are probably quite aware of, but I am not known for music. Like everyone, I also want to be well-known and be held in high regard. I figured that if I want to continue to be known in the future, I had better share more of me with others. I wonder what kind of legacy would last the longest. I think I'll share a bit of my music and see where that leads me. Let me share my songs with you first. Would you be interested in listening?"

I nodded and bit my lip.

"Oh", he said gently putting his hand on my arm, "and let me know what you love and what you hate about my songs. Just tell me."

He sat back and began playing. I just listened and listened and listened..! Heather, this was quite the sight to behold! Would you have ever imagined him being able to master music? Oh, and did he ever. Not only can he play and sing, but he can do both those things extremely well. I was in complete awe the entire time. He was actually showing me something about him. Instead of prying into me and my life, he was showing me something personal, something that he was passionate about, something that was really him.
I still have trouble imagining that I was actually in his living room with him, listening to him play his songs for me. Despite our intimate history, this is the closest I had ever felt with him.

When he finished playing, he drank the rest of his wine and looked up at me. I assumed he was waiting for my comments. I finally felt relaxed. He had opened up.

And I knew that this was it. He had finally opened up to me after I had for so long. I no longer felt like I needed anything from him. I no longer needed to chase him; he had given me my closure.

I stood up, emptied my wine into his glass. I went to the closet, retrieved my coat, and slipped into my shoes. He said nothing. I put my hand on the doorknob and said with genuine warmth,

"I hated nothing of your songs. I loved it all."

He stood up and walked alarmingly to the closet. His eyes wore a huge question mark. Upper hand no longer.

I opened the door to let myself out. He softly said my name. I turned around, and there he was, standing there, like someone who was forgotten on their birthday.

I fought the urge, and said: "Keep playing. I love your songs." So, then I left.

I did the right thing, didn't I, Heather? It had been so long, and he was doing nothing but bringing me down.
Oh, but you know all of this. You must reassure me by telling me that he was the most vain and most self-absorbed man. Let's see who gets to Scotland first now, eh?

What's this I keep hearing about all these fish in the sea? Maybe I can finally take a look.


I feel whole now; I have my entire collection of Leonard Cohen CDs with me again.

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