So Long Leonard Cohen – Farewell to the High Priest of Song by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -
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So Long Leonard Cohen – Farewell to the High Priest of Song

After fruitful careers as a scientist and inventor I've gone back to what I love most - writing children's books Read More
  • Joined Oct 2013
  • Published Books 1551



Dance me to the end of love lyrics


Leonard Cohen was an orthodox Jew who liked Jesus and was a Buddhist priest.

From the prayer of the High Holidays

starts 2:04


בראש השנה יכתבון  וביום צום כיפור יחתמון.

כמה יעברון, וכמה יבראון?

מי יחיה, ומי ימות?

מי בקיצו ומי לא בקיצו?

מי במים ומי באש?

מי בחרב ומי בחיה?

מי ברעב ומי בצמא?

מי ברעש ומי במגפה?

מי בחניקה ומי בסקילה?

מי ינוח ומי ינוע?

מי ישקט ומי יטרף?

מי ישלו ומי יתיסר?

מי ירום ומי ישפל?

מי יעשיר ומי יעני?

ותשובה ותפילה וצדקה מעבירין את רוע הגזרה!!


from 1:15


In memory:

Short movie of “Hineni” from the Museum of the Diaspora


Dear Leonard, It’s four in the afternoon, the 13th of November. Yesterday I turned 65. A good age to look in both directions. You are an integral part of my life thread, Leonard. And I will take your poems and your song with me for the rest of the journey.

We were almost neighbours. Ottawa, Montreal. Who knows? Maybe I ran into you as a child at the Brown Derby, or on the streets of Cote Saint-Luc. You were seventeen years my senior. But now I will start to play catch up with you. Will I sing into my eighties? Will I be around? One thing is for sure. Your songs will always be there. For all of us. It is your will. Our will.



You and my Dad had a few things in common. Having a father in the garment industry. Being orphaned at a young age. That must have been very hard.




Story of Isaac (Live Songs, 1973)




The very first time I heard about you was at Camp Galil, on my way to Israel, back in 1969. A girl sang “Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”. It was haunting. A few years I wrote a blog about it. Sure enough, a few days later I received an e-mail from the girl who sang it.





You wrote about Jesus. I was surprised. An observant Jew writing about Jesus? But you taught me to realize that he was remarkably one of us. “Forsaken, almost human.” Thank you for that gift as well.



In 1972 I went to see you perform at Binyenei HaUma in Jerusalem. I brought a girl named Ruth on a date. I didn’t get anywhere with her. I didn’t have your good looks. Or bravado. Or charm. The performance was riveting. You walked out in the middle of your own performance. I remember. You offered to return the tickets, but we were interested in you, and not your offering. The producer came on stage and told us that you were overcome with emotion. He asked us to sing “Heveinu Shalom Eleichem” when you walked back on stage. You walked back on stage and we sang to you. It was a magic moment in my life. And so I was elated to discover that this very segment is recorded (as part of a movie) and that it happened pretty much as I remember. Did you take LSD or coke to get back to your form? Does it matter now?




Recently I was driving with Mira Awad and we were talking about you. She is also a big fan, you should know. “What is his best song?” I asked her. Without hesitation, she answered “Famous Blue Raincoat”. She was reading my mind. After all, I too tried to build my little home in the desert. Are you the protagonist of the song? The antagonist? Both? Neither?




Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat (Live)


The Sisters of Mercy is another favorite of mine. You never did let me know who they were. You said that you don’t remember. Perhaps that is most fitting. After all, when you did remember who you wrote about in the Chelsea Hotel, our fantasies were compromised. Just saying, Leonard.




We met in person in 1984. We were in the same elevator going to a reception in your honour. You asked us which floor the terrace was. You were so mild-mannered and unassuming I had difficulty believing it was you. During the reception we talked. My baby daughter (Assif) was on my shoulders. My wife, Shuli, another devoted fan, at my side. You were very kind. I told you that I had wanted to become a musician. You told me that you had wanted to become a scientist. That was the flake of your life that I have held dear for over thirty years.



During that reception a professor of English from Bar Ilan University told me that “It’s too bad that he became a singer. He could have been a really good poet.” What a banal thing, I thought to myself. But on the other hand, so typical of a university professor. Did you bend your poetic verse to suit the tune? Of course you did, on occasion. But this is also how you bent our hearts.










We saw Leonard Cohen again in 2008 in London. There were about 20,000 of us at the O2 in London, children and grandparents, all lovers of Leonard. Many knew all the words to all his songs (I didn’t).



Anthem – Leonard Cohen


And once again in Ramat Gan, where he performed the ‘birkat hacohanim’.




I could go on and on but I have a class to teach. About you and your legacy. Not only your most popular tunes, but some of the fantastic ones you wrote way back then, when we were innocent and young. I will teach them the Sacrifice of Isaac, one of your brilliant and less well-known songs. Do you want to tell me why the peacock spreads its fans? Don’t bother, I’ll happily remain with the ambiguity.


Leonard Cohen Hallelujah + lyrics



Mel Rosenberg

November 13th, 2016


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