Tag Archives: Leonard Cohen

On Leonard and Leadership

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A leadership gene has been identified. It is documented that while leadership qualities can be learned, this gene can make the difference between success and failure in the leadership game, but how is leadership defined?

There are various kinds of leadership, and a variety of routes to success.

Some leaders come from humble beginnings, to arduously work their way to the summit, using a combination of wit and skill. Others inherit the mountain from their forbears.

“All roads lead to Rome.” This saying has been carried down to us from the 12th century, when Roman roads were straight, and radiated outwards from the centre, like the spokes of a wheel. Our history books tell of the days when Rome was the self-professed capital of the known world, leading by force.

My roads are twisted and of inconsistent width. Back in my teens, Leonard Cohen achieved success with his song, Suzanne, and along with millions of others, I have trailed behind him ever since. Surely this makes him a leader.

For almost 50 years his voice has comforted me. As I eat breakfast I hear him inside my head, singing a farewell song to Marianne or describing the life of a French Partisan. Sometimes he stands back, not wanting to hog my thoughts. Unselfishly, he lets Buffy Saint Marie step in, or Tracy Chapman tell her raw stories, or Roy Orbison with his hope, his brief joy and all of his pain. I enjoy these brief intermissions, but I always return to Leonard. While I chew my dinner he asks a lucky woman to dance him to the end of love. I want to tell him there is no end to love. In bed, I roll onto my side, preparing to sleep. He sings that it’s no way to say goodbye.

“Never goodbye, only goodnight,” whisper.

Millions of appreciative fans feel the same way about him. He touched our lives while he was with us, and he continues to do so after his death, so I say he is a leader. This post is about leadership, but it could be about any one of a thousand subjects which would always lead back to Leonard.

I’d like to commit to writing a Leonard Cohen post one day every week, highlighting a different song each time, but although he is always with me, it’s unlikely it will happen. So, no promises.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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The Words

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I don’t have the words
to describe how he saved me; how many times he
untied me, his voice cradling me, his
words raising me to a place where I could see the
raised, grey veins feeding the leaves, the
infinite gaps between the atoms, the
perfection of profanity, the
surprised depth of my tenacity, the
secret sinews that stretched for me,
the verdigris beauty
of our cracked
humanity;

I don’t have the words
to say what he was to me.
If he crept inside my head, he
could write my truth for me.

He, and only he
whose honest bricks were
shaped from human frailty and faults;
from love and hate and pain and ecstasy,
from hope and desperation, and finally, from peace,
who showed us places we could almost reach,
who raised his turgid alter high
and humbly gifted it to us.

I don’t claim exclusivity,
my keening sigh is echoed
by a million souls with feeling,
but when he ceased breathing,
I wept for unsung songs
that were destined to be digested and dispersed
in the dank earth by cemetery worms,
and while I believe he was ready

we weren’t.

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Dedicated, with friendship and gratitude to Ivor, who, in conjunction with Leonard Cohen, inspired this poem.

©Jane Paterson Basil

To the End of Love

There’s so much going on in my head right now that I can’t get my thoughts in order, so I’ve been having a YouTube session with Leonard Cohen. It’s so good to hear his voice again – I didn’t listen to him for a while after her died, since I didn’t want to wallow in grief. I’m over that now, and ready to celebrate his life.

I don’t know whether I’ve posted this video before, but if I have, I make no apology. I love this song, I love movies which feature dance, and this is one of my favorites. The film is The Scent of a Woman, the song is Dance Me to the End of Love, and Al Pacino’s character is blind. Watch Al’s face  – his expressions are mesmerising. Once again, he proves he’s The Man.

When I first watched the movie, I didn’t know this was coming…


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I’ve just returned from a holiday in Spain, so…

words_for_peace

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Spain.

Peace in Spanish: 

Paz

Find the pronunciation HERE.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Catalyst for survival

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all these years
my reasoning poet
my rhyming priest
you held me

hid beneath this keening ache
beats the rhythm of your sweet profanity
the shades of your rainbow passion,
the elegant grit of your reality

rivers of words drifted from your lips
inviting me to swim in your vicinity
they caressed my wind-bleached skin
sinking in, making my body sing

you have been
my catalyst for survival
all these years

droplets
collect in the cold air

all these tears
I rinsed from your guitar
drip into rippling pools around my feet
radiating Leonard-energy

worlds of love
that will never end

Leonard Cohen.
September 21st 1934 – November 10th 2016.
R.I.P. xxx

Today, I grieve. There is a void where my words used to be.
Maybe tomorrow I will be ready to celebrate his life.

©Jane Paterson Basil

To define you

to define you
I could write a thesis
study your life, your metaphors and their meanings
fill a million pages with puny words of praise

to define you
I could cup my tears in thankful hands
and offer them up,
dripping from my fingers, as an unfinished description
of your beauty

to define my love for you
I could cut my wrists, and with the blood
paint your lyrics across my skin
I could set your famous blue raincoat in stone
and kiss its hem

but you are unique
and only one definition will do

to define you
and all that you have been,
are,
and will be to me
I only have to say your name:
Leonard Cohen

©Jane Paterson Basil