I had not been hooked by the mesmerizing sounds of Leonard Cohen, until the early 2000’s, when a partner introduced this prolific artist into my life. I was a late Leonard bloomer, but immediately captured by his gravelly voice and soulful state of mind. His words seem even more relevant now than when first recorded. The power and impact of his timeless prose still ignite all who have been caught under his spell.
Since his death, almost 3 years ago, I’ve spent many hours poring over his multi-messaged mix of lyrics and hypnotic music, and realized that he was ambivalent to the mores of the USA. He simply cared about the “idea” of America; but politically leaned neither left nor right. “I love the country but I can’t stand the scene,” he sang in “Democracy”. An emotion that resonates and is shared by most of us in today’s America.
Almost three decades later, Cohen’s sentiment that, “democracy is coming to the USA,” resound as never before, but with a twist. Whether intended as a sarcastic statement or a mysterious premonition of where we currently stand, his message chills the mind and sears the fibers of the soul. “…It’s coming to America first/ the cradle of the best and of the worst’. … ‘to the shores of need/ past the reefs of greed/ through the squalls of hate. But today, sadly, it seems that democracy is leaving the USA.
In 1992 when the song was first released, this country was of a very different mindset. Naïve and unprepared for the realities of the world we live in today. Realities that have become shocking on many levels, but most specifically shocking to the democracy that was the foundation of this country. It is quickly being destroyed, and only we are guilty of allowing these atrocities to continue. From the shores of immigration to the walls of abortion clinics; today democracy is leaving the USA.
And what are we doing as a nation to abort this home-spun tragedy? Mandates have been set by a Council of Conservative Citizens passing legislation eliminating our basic rights.We march; we protest; we write letters; we donate money to politicians who pledge themselves to the good of the nation; while standing by in disbelief as houses of worship burn to the ground; as innocent children in schools across the country are killed by raging maniacs permitted to purchase guns; as terrorists set bombs to simply arouse the attention of the world. And finally, we continue to allow this nation to be ravaged by pesticides, chemicals, gasses– slowly and insidiously destroying humans on earth. The politicians in charge do not believe that there are any concerns. Democracy is leaving the USA.
I recently viewed the current exhibition at the Jewish Museum, “Leonard Cohen– ‘A crack in everything” and realized that this compilation of his work is not just a tribute to a profound musician, but a glaring reminder of how deeply justice is needed on every level, so much more today than ever. His death in November 2016 coincided with the election of Donald Trump.
A prophet, who made his exit on the cusp of the worst and most dangerous period in American history. Sail on/ sail on… RIP dear Leonard.