Sounding off with a djinn named Leonard Cohen

By Sami Ha Zen

He walked across the road

Passed me swiftly

I looked back

A cocked hat he wore

Black as midnight was it

A black coat and a black pant

He walked again beside me

I shivered as I saw him

Did he ever pass by u?

A strange figure?

Young Times in the 1990s was bliss for student writers and getting this piece published was the ultimate dream come true. I was 11 when I wrote it and 10 years later, I met the man in my immature writeup that I had called ‘poetry’.

I discovered Suzanne on the Internet, being sung by that strange figure in my vision and his name was Leonard Cohen. I began listening to him religiously and found that the thin line between poetry and songwriting is where he lived.

Cohen’s music was too minimal and poetry too lyrical. In this world where definitions and borders have gained importance, he questioned every curve. The conviction in his words while performing I’m Your Man was incredible and such confidence was surreal.

I was immensely in love with him for the whole of the last decade and none in pop music could catch my attention. You Want It Darker, the title track in his final album, focused on death, God and humour, and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance in January 2018. Musically, the album is “a little bit more sparse and acoustic” compared to his recent albums, according to his son Adam Cohen.

Well, chances are you have already heard the title song of the album if you have watched the Game of Thrones documentary The Last Watch: During the Night King scene, the music that played was You Want It Darker. Maybe the documentary’s creators were trolling viewers as the scenes were dark to see everything that was happening.

This week, letters sent by Cohen to his lover and muse Marianne Ihlen — who inspired him to the song So Long, Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye — will be auctioned at Christie’s in New York. The world will never be able to get over Cohen, and I am no odd one.

Who would continue the legacy of such kind of blues music after Cohen got answered when Lana Del Ray released her song, Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman like Me to Have – but I Have It. How can you not love her when she sings, “Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not, but at best I can say I’m not sad’.

In today’s era of EDM, she released a song wherein the only instrument is a piano. So simple, yet chilling, the echo of her voice creates melancholy in me, the very same way William Wordsworth did it with Daffodils during my first read. Sheer perfection. Blue, yet somehow cathartic. As of today, I feel haunted that I might get bored over Lana’s song.

sameeha@khaleejtimes.com

Sami’s introvert character is a direct reflection of her humour and intelligence

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