I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Unfortunately, it seems to be raining Manolo Blahnik’s lately. What may go down as the crappiest year in history just got a hell of a lot crappier for me.
Leon Russell has left this world.
That might not mean much to a lot of you, but it breaks my already beat up heart into a million tiny little pieces. I love Leon Russell. He’s one of the oddest of the odd ducks in music, a musician’s musician, an influence and a mentor to so many others. He had a brief moment in the sun in the 70s, but he mostly toiled in semi-obscurity. He toured with Joe Cocker on the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. He helped organize the concert for Bangladesh. He wrote hits for so many others, and it’s a crying shame that not more people know who he is.
I’m crying, anyway.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they do. In the middle of all the personal and political difficulty comes the news that Canadian poet, songwriter, and singer Leonard Cohen has left this plane at the age of 82.
He’s one of those cult figures, an acquired taste if you will. Cohen made the kind of music that other musicians listened to. He is best known in the United States for his very nearly perfect song “Hallelujah,” which was covered to perfection by the late great Jeff Buckley. (It’s also been covered by a lot of other people, so many that there’s a book about all the iterations of this one song. I’m also especially fond of k.d. lang’s version.)
He was a cynical romantic. He wanted to believe in all the fairy tales but experience taught him to know better. He was dark, but the way a smoke-filled bar is dark: there was always a neon light in the window selling beer and sputtering candles on the tables to light your way, after all. It seems weirdly appropriate that his voice is suddenly gone at a time when it was suddenly the truest voice in the room. We’ll just have to find our own way out of this crappy dive bar we’re suddenly living in.
I did not know this song existed until a few minutes ago when they played it on Sportscenter over footage of the Cubbies victory parade and rally. It is the only song that could celebrate this moment in history. This video is a few years old, although it was updated recently. I can’t wait for another update with this year’s Cubs team in it.
Being a Chicago Cubs fan has always been a special kind of agony. I say this as an outsider, for I do not generally enjoy baseball. But I have been on the Cubs’ bandwagon for several years now, rooting for their win because no one deserves to lose for as long as they have. And win they did in what was even to me a gloriously exciting game seven of the World Series. I’ve seen replays of the final out several times, and the emotion on third baseman Kris Bryant’s face as he threw that ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo gets me every time. He knew what that moment meant. We all did. Miracles don’t happen all that often. It’s pretty great to actually watch one as it happens.