Friday, February 3, 2012

Evening coming

Leonard Cohen just released a new album of songs, Old Ideas.  Joan Didion has a new book, released a few months ago:  Blue Nights.  The album and the book are about mortality, about life aware of death.  Cohen and Didion are, after all, now old.

Their voices are quite different.  Leonard Cohen sounds like gravel.  Almost disintegrating, his very low voice has just enough enunciation to form words and some tune.  Joan Didion's prose is remarkably clear, precise, and detached, like ice when ice is smooth, translucent, and illuminating all contained in it:  but not here.  Her voice has cracked.  Uncomfortable repetitions and occasional confused oldness is in the writing (and still, the book is masterful).

Art with oldness has distinction.  I keep hearing the voices of Leonard Cohen and Joan Didion when they are not in the room.  Here is the refrain of the first song on Old Ideas.  The song is entitled "Going Home."

Going home
Without my sorrow
Going home
Sometime tomorrow
Going home
To where it is better
than before
Going home
Without my burden
Going home
Behind the curtain
Going home
Without the costume
that I wore

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