Praying with Leonard Cohen
to the God of Song
by Benham Jones
I still remember the very first moment that Leonard Cohen reached out to me. I was in the sixth grade and had been spending most days of my Christmas vacation sulking around the carpet of my new local treasure: a dirty and stale video store, stinking of mildew, with an atmosphere slammed somewhere between High Fidelity and the microfiche room at the public library. I was a precocious little nuisance, constantly asking questions of the staff to let them know what films I already appreciated and desperately looking for friends. Scouring the walls of videos for something special to call my own, a voice sailed out of the mounted speakers and stopped me cold in my tracks. Next to me, a father looked down to his young son, perhaps no more than five years old and asked the question, “Well, doesn’t it sound like that man just wants to die?”
Nothing could have been farther from the truth on February 19th, 2009 at the Beacon Theater. It was lively chaos at the box office, with scalpers claiming as much as $600 for a single ticket and even a few television crews crowding up the sidewalk. This was a bona-fide New York City event, and my date Brian and I stood out like sore thumbs amongst the money clad middle-aged-and-up crowd. This really struck me while in the bathroom right before the show, when I turned to the mirror and saw myself centered in a huddle of suit jackets and silver hair. Brian and I were shocked to find that our on-the-house tickets (a particular privilege of working in public radio) had landed us in the left orchestra and, for the first time in more than a dozen trips to the Beacon, I had made it out of the balcony and onto the floor. For one reason or another, an excitement and anxiety swept over me; I felt a bit like a stowaway inside the belly of another generation’s history. And that’s when I realized that this was more than just a special performance: this was, in fact, history. Click here to read the full, juicy review.
NPR has several songs from the Leonard Cohen show up in a free podcast here.
Benham Jones currently lives in New York City with his four year old cat Stella. He considers himself a writer, a filmmaker and a musician, although he also considers himself none of those things. He is recently unemployed.