“My purity is based on the fact that nobody offered me much money. I suppose that had I moved into more popular realms, I might have surrendered some of the characteristics of my nature that are now described as virtues.” — Leonard Cohen, “Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough,” Musician (July 1988)
“This human predicament we’re all in doesn’t submit to solutions, and when anybody oversimplifies the scene and comes up with a solution, you can be sure you’re going to feel it like oppression.” — Leonard Cohen, “As a New Generation Discovers Leonard Cohen’s Dark Humour Kris Kirk Ruffles the Great Man’s Back Pages,” Poetry Commotion (1988-06-18)
“Everybody’s on the front-line of their own life, there are always events rushing in you have to deal with moment by moment.” — Leonard Cohen, “As a New Generation Discovers Leonard Cohen’s Dark Humour Kris Kirk Ruffles the Great Man’s Back Pages,” Poetry Commotion (1988-06-18)
A little more than four years ago I started thinking about what I was sharing. Satire had become reality, ironies got lost and adolescent-style rebelliousness was now serious. I retired part of my repertoire.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded. It use to be that smiling at the cynicism was a meaningless release for frustrations. Now I see where some of the cynicism leads.
I tried to find another way to look at Leonard Cohen‘s lyrics. Could they be used as a call for action? Everybody knows so let’s do something about it? The text doesn’t fit. It’s too dark.
I find an interview he did with Kris Kirk in Poetry Commotion (1988-06-18) where he explains the coming plague as a “plague of alienation and separation and lassitude and panic; a sense of not being in control”.
I have found my other way of looking at the lyrics, one that also explains the cheery feeling that the song gives me. He outlines the absurdity of it all, accepts an exception or two to faithfulness, points out meaninglessness all while happily singing that Everybody Knows. It’s a song for Camus‘ Sisyphus.