Man Persists

I first heard the words “My friends are gone and my hair is grey/I ache in the places where I used to play” when I was sixteen and, at that age, I assumed it was some sort of sorrowful commentary on the failings of the flesh. Now that I am older and all of those things are happening to me I realize that it is a rueful acknowledgment of how even the spaces which memory marks as the scenes of your happiest occasions are freighted with accumulations of sadness and regret. But also the thing about the body breaking down, because what doesn’t hurt at this point, right? Anyway, Leonard Norman Cohen, who wrote that song and so many others that have meant so much to me in my own moments of sadness and regret, turns 80 on Sunday. He has a new album out next week that people are saying terrific things about and you should for sure get it, but if you are unfamiliar with his work I have recently been re-immersing myself in Ten New Songs and I can strongly recommend it as the piece that puts him at the pinnacle of his ability to remind those of us prone to darkness that we are not the first ones to feel that way and since nothing’s going to make much of a difference anyway you might as well try to take your joys where you can, even in the places where the pain is the most pronounced.