Wine, Women, Song For Leonard Cohen - Poem by gershon hepner
Wine, women, song, religion, meditation,
for Leonard Cohen were all an expression
of points he made with major exclamation
to hide relentless progress of depression.
Meditating with a woman, wine
may help you sing without help of religion,
which often poisons hearts, and makes them pine,
no less incomprehensible than pidgin
compared to a sophisticated song.
Those who turn to it because they are depressed,
exacerbate a fundamental wrong
which wine and singing women may treat best,
yet Mr. Cohen found a use for it,
so let us be empirical, and leave
some room for those who when depressed will flit
towards what cures so long as you believe.
Inspired by Michiko Kakutani’s review of Mikal Gilmore’s “Stories Done: Writings of the 1960s and Its Discontents” in the NYT, December 30,2008 (“Glory Days of Youth Culture, Revisited”) :
Mikal Gilmore’s devastating 1994 memoir, “Shot in the Heart, ” was part “Brothers Karamazov, ” part Johnny Cash ballad, and it was a remarkable bookend to Norman Mailer’s “true life novel” “The Executioner’s Song.” In recounting the story of how his brother, Gary, in a senseless act of anger murdered two men and in 1977 became the first American in a decade to be executed after a Supreme Court decision restored the death penalty, the author created a wrenching portrait of their family and its sad, violent history of “dark secrets and failed hopes, ” which became part of his brother’s “impetus to murder.” Mr. Gilmore’s experiences left him with a keen sense of the dark undertow of the American dream and a sympathy for the lost, the dispossessed and the dislocated, and this outlook informs both “Night Beat, ” his 1998 collection of essays about rock ’n’ roll, and his new book of writings about the 1960s, “Stories Done.” In this book (parts of which appeared as articles in Rolling Stone magazine) Mr. Gilmore writes about stars from that decade like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd and Ken Kesey. But while the outlines of his arguments are hardly new — i.e., that the idealism of the ’60s soon morphed into the discontents of the ’70s — he brings to these much-dissected subjects uncommon abilities: a gift for reconjuring the mood of that period in rich, visceral prose, and a knack for limning the connections between the social upheaval abroad in those years and artists’ efforts to explore the possibilities of the newly influential medium of rock ’n’ roll….In one of his many interviews with Mr. Gilmore, the songwriter Leonard Cohen says that virtually everything he’s done in his life — “you know, wine, women, song, religion, meditation” — was part of his struggle to penetrate “this relentless depression” he’d suffered from his entire life, and that his 2001 album “Ten New Songs, ” written after six years’ residency at a Zen monastery, was his first piece of work not written against that gloomy emotional backdrop.
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