Ever so often I’m in the mood for a little Leonard Cohen.
His distinctive gravelly baritone rolls out of my earbuds, half zen, half folk, and I want him to be my man, as he sings and states with such ease and confidence, sadness and doubt that indeed that’s what he is. ( “I’m Your Man”). It hardly matters that he’s almost 80.
Well it does, and yet it doesn’t. Beauty is beauty. In some languages, some that are born of notes and rests or brush and paint, there is an ageless quality that never expends its inherent ability to transport. Leonard’s music, the feelings it provokes, falls into that category.
He gives me goosebumps.
It’s not just the dusty sexiness, secret knowledge, subtle poetry and promise of his lyrics. He sings of things the rest of us only know how to feel.
He wasn’t my first.
Music has been giving me goosesbumps for a long time.
When young and my hands flew across 88 keys, black and white, a piece accomplished sufficiently that allegro and marks of crescendo allowed expression and interpretation that could speak when words wouldn’t work, I knew a different world. A virgin to the pilomotor reflex in response to the art of music, I knew a good thing when I felt it.
When my sons, one by one, in forced music lessons or bands that marched across fields in Friday nights, said to me, “Listen to this one, Jan. You’ll like it.” They introduced me to Adagio for Strings made famous by Platoon. Coming at it sans the horror of wars that Platoon used for contrast, I saw the score through youthful eyes and hands being trained, but it spoke in undetermined ways to the souls of those sons of mine and me. Still does.
So today, listening to Pandora, browsing through stations that would aid my concentration, I heard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” but not by him.
I closed my eyes and felt the goosebumps rise and I listened to three young string players string words of praise of sex with almost religious fervor, through the bows and strings of their instruments, no words attached.
Hallelujah is all I got to say.
PS I still love Leonard’s version. It bears listening to, if you’ve never experienced it. 19 million have already done so. I’d wager more than half know what I’m talking about when I said that thing about the pilimotor reflex.