I recorded a few Leonard Cohen songs after he passed away. In looking back, it appears I only posted them to my youtube and facebook, but not this, my official site. So, I am belatedly posting them here.
I chose three of my favorites: Sisters of Mercy, Winter Lady, and Stories of the Street. The first two always conjure the emotion of the starkly beautiful “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” the soundtrack for which consists exclusively of Leonard Cohen songs. If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It’s a Robert Altman film starring Julie Christie and Warren Beatty. Beatty has come out west (way out west, to gray, soggy, fertile forest lands of the Northwest to open a brothel serving nearby mining and logging towns. But it’s a horribly depressing enterprise until Christie comes along to serve as madame of a new and much improved bordello. Altman’s “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” manages to be both a love story and a Western that feels fresh and yet understatedly sad. Cohen’s haunting soundtrack is used to graceful effect.
The third choice, Stories of the Street, is one of those rare songs that seeks evokes something in me without any effort on my part at all, and without the forces of nostalgia, hype, or marketing. What I mean is, there is small category of songs that have so effected me upon hearing them that I knew I had to seek them out, even without prior knowledge of the song. “Stories of the Street” is not exactly obscure, but neither is it a song that has entered the popular consciousness enough to be considered classic, in the way that “Halellujah” or “Suzanne” have. At least that is not my experience of the song. I first recall hearing it when I was working at Starbucks and some sort of “coffeehouse collection” was being promoted. I would, from time to time, hear the song as background music in other cafes. I always felt drawn to it sonically (I couldn’t hear the words at the time) but did not know who sang it.
Eventually I was able to hear enough of the lyrics to google a phrase and find the source. The lyrics, it seems to me, are, sadly, as fitting today as they were when Cohen wrote them fifty years ago.
I hope you enjoy.