About a year and a half ago, I started listening to Leonard Cohen a pretty decent amount. I give credit to Bari Weiss and the conversation she had with Matti Friedman about his book Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai on her podcast, which I found so riveting that I bought a copy to read myself.
The story captivated me. Cohen at the time was depressed and washed up on a Greek island planning to spend the rest of his days there in retirement. When he heard news that the Yom Kippur War had broken out in Israel, he found his way to Tel Aviv, and then eventually to the frontlines to play for traumatized Israeli soldiers.
Cohen’s impact on the fighters he performed for is legendary and the inspiration he found in the horrors of the war rejuvenated his career. Songs like “Who By Fire,” “Anthem” and “Hallelujah” were all written and released after he went to Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
Gradually, I stopped listening to Cohen as much. But I would sometimes play a few of his songs when I felt in the mood to do so; if I wanted something more raw, with more depth than the pop I normally listen to.
After the slaughter of hundreds of Jews this Saturday, in the worst attack since the Yom Kippur War, if not Israeli history, Leonard Cohen, the man who ran towards war, was back to being front and center on my playlist.
While listening to “So Long, Marianne” recently, the chorus hit home given the circumstances Israel and the Jewish people face at this given moment.
Now so long Marianne!
It’s time that we began to laugh
And laugh about it all again.
During this past year, there have been countless times to celebrate and cherish what we are blessed with. These past few days have been miserable, and we all know that challenging days lie ahead of us.
I just hope and pray that we can finish the chorus as soon as we have the chance.