My romantic history is sinfully straightforward. I had one boyfriend between the ages of 15 and 18, another between 18 and 21, and another between 21 and 23 (David and I met a few months before my 24th birthday). I loved each of them like crazy when we were together, and they each had a profound impact on the woman I continue to become. I am thankful to have remained friends with all of them.
My history with celebrity crushes is equally as tame.* Michael Stipe caught my eye when I was 12 and has held it ever since. Patrick Stewart could captain me anywhere any time (I was envious to hear that some friends will be seeing this in London next month), and I would gladly accept Viggo Mortensen as my king. But my deepest, most abiding feelings are for Leonard Cohen. Boyfriend #2 introduced me to Cohen’s work (literature, poetry, music) shortly after his last musical tour and I have loved him ever since. If it is weird for a 33-year-old woman to get worked up about a 75-year-old man, then I don’t want to be normal. And judging by the crowd at last night’s show I am not alone.
For years I thought that I would never get the opportunity to see Cohen live. Although his youth was quite wild he now leads a notoriously quiet life studying Buddhism and releasing the occasional album or book of poetry without much fanfare. Then in 2005 Cohen’s trusted friend and financial adviser stole the millions he had set away for retirement and left him bankrupt. With all of his typical reserve Cohen tried hard to keep the sordid details out of the public realm, but he candidly admitted that he would consider a final tour to secure his financial future.
And oh, what a tour! It started in Europe and Australian where his fan bases are denser than in the US (or his home and native Canada). Shows were sold out, reviews were glowing, and expansion into North America was confirmed some time last year. I bought our tickets the day they went on sale, and was very excited to attend a packed GM Place with David last night. By all appearances Cohen and his crew were excited to be there with us.
The show was fantastic. Carefully produced, perfectly paced and artfully played. Cohen would probably be the first to admit that he was the least talented musician on the stage. His once-mediocre voice has taken a beating over the course of his life, but his music only gets better with time. He managed to cover most of his career in 3+ hours with the older songs beautifully adapted to his present voice and accompaniment. A couple of the newer songs were played so true to their album versions that they could have been faked except that Cohen and crew were right there on stage, working hard for us.
And that might be the most impressive thing about the show. Cohen was, as ever, gracious and modest and wry, but he was also sweetly grateful for our presence. People have come out in droves to see him and to support him on this tour and he is repaid us by making it worth our time, our money and, in cases like mine, our years of rapt attention. On Sunday night Cohen was our man, and I am so thankful to have remained his fan.
*Boyfriend #2 always described himself as “embarrassingly heterosexual” given the progressive crowd in which we ran. I am much the same way, but I would do Clea DuVall if I ever got the chance. She is HOT!