Sept 15, 2014: Almost Like the Blues

Dear readers,

Sorry for the one-day delay. It’s rhyme time! Today’s poet was born on Sept. 21, 1934 (happy 80th birthday!) in Canada, and his name is an acronym for “one lord, he can.” That’s right, it’s songwriter Leonard Cohen. He’s a folksinger, although folksinger might not quite cover it, and his songwriting is spoken of with an awe reserved for the likes of other cult faves like Laura Nyro, Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, John Prine, etc.
His new album, Popular Problems, drops the day after his 80th birthday. Not bad.
He’s also published more than 10 books of poetry, dating back to the 1950s. This one, from last week’s New Yorker, reads exactly like a Leonard Cohen song. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Nice exact rhyme scheme, and a helluva turn on his theme in stanza four. The New Yorker site has an option to hear him reading the poem. Folk junkies will note the similarity between his title and a famous piece from another folk songwriter-poet god. -ed.
I saw some people starving
There was murder, there was rape

Their villages were burningThey were trying to escapeI couldn’t meet their glancesI was staring at my shoesIt was acid, it was tragicIt was almost like the blues
I have to die a little
Between each murderous thought
And when I’m finished thinking
I have to die a lot
There’s torture and there’s killing
There’s all my bad reviews
The war, the children missing
Lord, it’s almost like the blues

I let my heart get frozen
To keep away the rot
My father said I’m chosen
My mother said I’m not
I listened to their story
Of the Gypsies and the Jews
It was good, it wasn’t boring
It was almost like the blues

There is no G-d in heaven
And there is no Hell below
So says the great professor
Of all there is to know
But I’ve had the invitation
That a sinner can’t refuse
And it’s almost like salvation
It’s almost like the blues

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