Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almost Like the Blues

This is a poem by Leonard Cohen published in The New Yorker (9/8/14). Often when I see that the magazine has published lyrics by a singer/songwriter as a "poem," I roll my eyes a bit, my first thoughts almost always, "Oh come on. Stop being lazy. And stop trying to curry favor with lazy hipsters." Etc.

But THIS! I didn't quite get goosebumps, but I did, by "I couldn't meet their glances/I was staring at my shoes," feel the big rush of exhilaration that accompanies the discovery of something surprising and revelatory.


I saw some people starving
There was murder, there was rape
Their villages were burning
They were trying to escape
I couldn't meet their glances
I was staring at my shoes
It was acid, it was tragic
It was almost like the blues

I have to die a little
Between each murderous thought
And when I'm finished thinking
I have to die a lot
There's torture and there's killing
There's all my bad reviews
The war, the children missing
Lord, it's almost like the blues

I let my heart get frozen
To keep away the rot
My father said I'm chosen
My mother said I'm not
I listened to their story
Of the Gypsies and the Jews
It was good, it wasn't boring
It was almost like the blues

There is no G-d in heaven
And there is no Hell below
So says the great professor
Of all there is to know
But I've had the invitation
That a sinner can't refuse
And it's almost like salvation
It's almost like the blues


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