Leonard Cohen, the legendary singer, songwriter and poet, was born in Montreal, Canada, on this day in 1934. In the Book of Longing, Cohen imagines the scene:
I was born in chains but I was taken out of them. It was windy. Dried leaves crashed against the walls of the homeopathic hospital. I was alive. I was alive in the horror. The givers huddled over me like a football team. They started to give me things and then to take them away. Things that didn’t fit they chucked back into the funnel of the void. The gifts were many and many were the warnings that went with them. We are giving you a great heart but if you drink wine you will begin to hate the world. The moon is your sister but if you take sleeping pills you will find yourself in the company of unhappy women. Every time you grab at love, you will lose a snowflake of your memory.
Cohen recites that passage in Lian Lunson’s 2005 documentary, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. The film is a fascinating retrospective of Cohen’s life and work, and features tribute performances of his songs by some of the many artists influenced by him, including Beth Orton, Nick Cave, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, and U2. In celebration of Cohen’s birthday, and his many gifts, we present Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man above. The film is also available for American viewers at Hulu.