O Leonard ... I cry to dream again ...

One of many standing ovations Cohen received during the 3.5 hour show...

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices 
That, if I then had waked after long sleep
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again 

(William Shakespeare - The Tempest III.ii.130–138).

Last night I joined a number of privileged people treading this fair earth who have had the fortune to spend an evening with Leonard Cohen.  

I pinched myself when I first heard that Cohen, at 79 years of age was not only touring Australia again; but that this time - by some wondrous twist of fate - that my home town of Cairns was to be one of the few locations where he would perform. Finally a life long dream of mine, to see Cohen perform live, was to be realised... 

The 'Old Ideas' tour performance in Cairns last night shone forth with mastery, delivered with a generous dose of gratitude and humility. Cohen's voice and stage presence utterly contradicted his age and nothing about this performance in fact seemed 'old'.   Songs Cohen must have performed a thousand times or more, such as Who by Fire were sung with such passion, panache and presence that  one felt the intimacy and immediacy of every word and note.

The ensemble supporting Leonard was an utterly inspired selection of some of the most outstanding musicians the world can collate, and the combination of their sensibilities with Cohen's left me feeling so elated it was almost too much... This was an evening with musicians at the very top of their game, and with every new song that brought delight, came the knowledge that one was one step closer to the dream's end... 

And so it is that today I have found myself in a post LC fog - humming any number of tunes - knowing that the combination of musicians brought together for this series of concerts with Cohen was utterly inspired.  I found myself trawling the internet to find clips from other 'Old Ideas' performances with the same ensemble as last night's show, in an attempt to relive and share some of the experience.  Thankfully modern technology has indulged me... 

Below are five songs that stood out for me last night as highlights, but in saying that - every song shone.  What has impressed me has been to listen to each of these songs today and to be able to again experience something of the magic so abundant in the air last night... 

For those who have not had the opportunity to experience this incredible collection of people coming together to share such a gift, and for those who were there and who long to hear such 'sounds and sweet airs' again - enjoy... 


red-tails, rain dogs & a barbaric yawp - or two ...

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

[Mary Oliver - Wild Geese]

While Oliver's Wild Geese do not frequent my little pocket of the world, there is a cry 'harsh and exciting' that awakens my senses whenever I have the fortune and mindfulness to hear.  Red-tailed Black Cockatoos oft decorate the sky above with their distinctive black silhouettes; filling the air with a primordial cawing, so distinctive I cannot help but divert them my attention and gratitude. 

Today these impossibly slow moving forms [that somehow maintain flight; contradicting their lackadaisical  wing speed], were striking against a sky that spoke of storms.   Soon the 'clear pebbles of rain' arrived in abundance and I delighted in immersing myself in a landscape transformed by moisture, as sky merged with land, and forms dissolved, shifted, and reformed, as thunder echoed from every available surface...

Struck by the beauty of it all - and after such a harsh time, so welcome a contrast... I found myself not just delighting, but dancing in the rain to the sounds of an imaginary piano accordian, vaudeville style, as the poets splashed in puddles;  
Rain Dogs all... 

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, 
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world...

[Walt Whitman - Songs Of Myself  v.52]

... and speaking of 'barbaric yawps' - here is Tom Waits 'announcing his place' through an inspired live performance of the aforementioned song:

Rain Dogs
[Tom Waits]

Inside a broken clock
Splashing the wine
With all the Rain Dogs
Taxi, we'd rather walk.
Huddle a doorway 
with the Rain Dogs
For I am a Rain Dog, too

Oh, how we danced 
and we swallowed the night
For it was all ripe for dreaming
Oh, how we danced away
All of the lights
We've always been out of our minds.

The Rum pours strong and thin
Beat out the dustman
With the Rain Dogs
Aboard a shipwreck train
Give my umbrella to the Rain Dogs
For I am a Rain Dog, too.

Oh, how we danced 
with theRose of Tralee
Her long hair black as a raven
Oh, how we danced and you
Whispered to me
You'll never be going back home
You'll never be going back home