Cohen’s BRIGHT FLAME
In poems, lyrics, notebooks and more, the poet-songwriter’s voice lives on, Pat St. Germain writes.
— Suzanne, Chelsea Hotel #2, So Long, Marianne — and 1984 album Various Positions, which introduced his most famous song, Hallelujah, edited from an 80-verse poem.
But Cohen’s creative resurgence and world tours in his 70s introduced him to a new generation.
The middle section of The Flame is devoted to the lyrics from four late albums; girlfriend Anjani Thomas’ Blue Alert (2006), which Cohen produced, and his last three albums, 2012’s Old Ideas, 2014’s Popular Problems and his 14th and final studio album, You Want It Darker, which was released in October 2016, just a few weeks before his death.
It’s Darker’s lyrics, most notably from the song Leaving the Table and the title cut’s Hebrew “Hineni, hineni ( here I am)
/ I’m ready, my lord,” make for an appropriate swan song. But Adam Cohen, who produced You Want it Darker, announced recently that a posthumous album is in the works.
Canadian publisher McClelland & Stewart has reissued eight previous books. The collection includes two novels — 1963’s The Favourite Game and 1966’s Beautiful Losers
— and six poetry collections: Cohen’s first published work, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), The Spice Box of Earth (1961), Flowers for Hitler (1964), Parasites of Heaven (1966), The Energy of Slaves (1972) and Death of a Lady’s Man (1978).
Given his prolific nature, it seems likely that Cohen’s remaining poems and notebooks will see the light of day at some point in the future. But if not, The Flame offers some fitting last words:
“To all of you / with whom I ate the fish / and clicked my glass / & never said a word / before I go / I want to say hello / from the stranger / who lived among you.”
Leonard Cohen, seen here in 1978, recorded his thoughts in notebooks and on scraps of paper — his son, Adam, once found a stray one in the freezer.