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Leonard in st. james


Had an hour to kill in town and rather than continue the conspicuous consumption I’ve been indulging in recently, I thought I’d go sit in St. James Park.

The miraculous shuffle function on my iPod (am I the only one that’s notice that this seems to have weird psychic powers, pre-empting my desire to hear a song or making incredibly knowing conjucntions?) conjured up a Leonard Cohen song that I didn’t know I had and had never heard before.

I’ve like Leonard intermittently since I was 15, but always suspected that his excellent songs were recorded in a rough-cut waiting for someone who can really sing to cover them (pace Rufus Wainwright’s cover of “Hallelujah” which is quite breathtaking compared to the original.) Anyway this song, “Anthem”, seemed so perfectly perfect coming in to my ears in the damp, grey morning light.

Sitting on hard wooden bench with no particular state-of-mind in gear, watching the occasional mid-week walkers, the coots and moorhens, the dark grey water, the song was perfect in its espousal of non-perfection. Cohen is a profound Buddhist and sums it all up in the lyric. It made me cry.

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

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