I wrote this as a little tribute to Cohen back in 2008. I link to it now as a memorial tribute to the great singer and poet. It was originally published at The Smart Set:
Never has a blowjob sounded so sad. But Leonard Cohen is the sort of man who could read Mother Goose aloud and make it sound like Swinburne. The blowjob in question is rumored to have come from the lips of Janis Joplin, an extraordinary thing to ponder in the first place. The song, of course, is “Chelsea Hotel #2.” The lines in question go:
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.
Cohen once said, “My voice just happens to be monotonous, I’m somewhat whiney, so they are called sad songs. But you could sing them joyfully too. It’s a completely biological accident that my songs sound melancholy when I sing them.” Well, I think that’s bullshit. Leonard Cohen is great because he captured the sound of sadness. Real sadness.
Meaningful sadness. Meaningful sadness is just to this side of stupid, pointless. That’s because real sadness comes from the realization that nothing really matters, that the world is simply too big to be grasped, metaphorically or otherwise.