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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Closing Time, and Hardly Anyone Sleeping


Last night was our first night of dinner and an activity since we had added a new puppy to our family several weeks ago. We left the puppy in the able care of a young man willing to puppy sit. 

So we went to see Leonard Cohen at the Louisville Palace. He shook it like a Cajun Queen, to borrow a phrase from Gillian Welch, as Cohen performed numerous old songs as well as many from his new album, "Old Ideas". Twenty-nine in all. 

Cohen came on stage a few minutes after 8 PM, apologizing for the delay and explaining a long-time band member, Roscoe Beck, had been rushed to the hospital.

Cohen remarked anyone could be next to drop. But Cohen added, while they were on stage they would give us their all. And they did.

I've heard it said one of the best clinical tests to determine whether an elderly person is frail and will die soon is to have them sit on the floor and then get up. Assuming they can sit on the floor and then get up, the doctor is supposed to watch how they maneuver to stand up. 

These days, a couple decades younger than Cohen, with a recent bout of bursitis in my hip, I’m having trouble getting up after sitting on the floor with our new puppy.

Leonard Cohen, on the other hand, while he didn’t sit on the floor during his three hour concert, with one short intermission, nevertheless demonstrated at 78 years of age he still can maneuver with ease and grace. 

Cohen was on his knees, bending, dancing, squatting, and shaking it, as he whispered, belted, crooned and sang his hymns. Some apparently inspired by God ( such as "Hallelujah" and "Going Home", and some perhaps from another supernatural realm ("Closing Time").

On the latter song, Cohen demonstrated his true devotion to the realm of music as god. When Cohen muffed a line in "Closing Time":
and my very sweet companion she's the angel of compassion'
he went back to the beginning, not once but twice, and started the song again until he got it perfectly. Gently apologizing to the audience for keeping us up late on a Saturday night; sort of the point of going to a Cohen concert is to stay up at least until "Closing Time". 

But then he treated us to a second encore of four more songs, finishing with "Save the Last Dance" and the ironic final song, "I Tried to Leave You."

Cohen and his fabulous musical troupe, including the “sublime Webb sisters”: Hattie and Charlie, and Sharon Robinson on vocals; the wonderful violinist, Alexandru Buvlitchi; Rafael Gayol on percussion; Neil Larson on the Hammond organ; Javier Mas on guitar; and Mitch Watkins who filled in for Roscoe on bass, gave us all they had.

Even if by sheer chronological age Cohen could be considered elderly, he demonstrated the staying power that predicts he's going to be giving us his all until he passes the century mark. Let's hope the same is true for the rest of the outstanding musicians and vocalists who perform with him.

At one point our dog sitter texted us a photo of our puppy, sleeping after an exhausting game of fetch. He was the only one sleeping last night.

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