So Long, Leonard


I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

The only other songwriter who might have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature died the day before the United States electorate awarded its Presidency to a man whose idea of justice toward women is to grab as many as he can by the pussy.

Leonard Cohen, on the other hand, revered and immortalized women, and only months before his own death reached out to his dying former lover Marianne to tell her he himself was close behind, “so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”

He was a particular favorite of mine, and millions — perhaps billions — more. His musical truths were widespread: a Buddhist, he was exalted, for example, on a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory. Israeli leaders mourned him as a voice of peace and justice. He sank beneath no one’s wisdom like a stone. He was everybody’s man. For a long time I used to quote the refrain above, in my email signature line, part of his — and what easily could be the Canadian National — Anthem. Those words have sustained me in many a battle for criminal justice for my clients.

He advised us once, in a line from his grandfather’s journal, to “(l)et judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute.” He read the Bill of Human Rights, and even found some of it was true.

Toward the end of his life, as his golden voice faded to a gravelly stateliness, on many of his recordings he was often backed up by what seemed a heavenly chorus of female voices.

In a perfect afterlife, there would be just such a heavenly choir to welcome Leonard Cohen home.
That would be pretty to think, as many do. But as Leonard Cohen and others have felt, time to time, the siren call of rebirth, it would be prettier still to think of a return of that glorious collection of propensities to the planet the rest of us still inhabit.

We could use a voice like his again, in twenty years or so. Hallelujah.


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

One Response to So Long, Leonard

  1. Robert Warfield 30 November 2016 at 10:41 am #

    Phil -Thanks for this and thanks to Leonard Cohen for the gift of himself to our world.

Leave a Reply