The other day I heard a song on the radio. I tuned in after the song had started, but it sounded like Leonard Cohen. Spare accompaniment, that low haunting voice, the poetic and evocative lyrics. He sang of love, the wisdom of women, and the redemption that every man longs for. The words were simple, but implied so much experience and pain and gratitude.
Chunk of Coal
As I drove, I was taken into a space, separate from time, and was reminded of the singer’s past songs and strange worlds. His zen-like existence and his burden of pain and awareness. As the song finished, I listened closely to find out which album it was from. I wanted to hear it again.
The DJ said that it was a tune by Giant Sand. What!? She didn’t even mention Leonard Cohen. I was amazed. Everything about that song seemed straight from the poet’s mouth.
That night, I downloaded the track and played it back. My identification of it was wrong, but it was still a great song, whether it was by some guy from Tucson or the real McCoy. I googled the band and found they have a whole world and tons of music and have been around since 1983. There are so many worlds revolving out there that never intersect. With the net it’s finally possible to have it all, but I’m finite, even if my appetite isn’t.
After all my judgmental years, I now hear this as just a song, a great song, no matter who wrote it or who performed it. The distinctions of who did what or when have their place in trivia contests and histories of the music, but what really matters is what happens in this moment, the moment of the song, what happens in the soul of the song and the singer. I don’t care anymore who played it or on what instrument or with what intention. It just sounds good.