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“Leonard” 6×6, oil on canvas, $95.00 Buy Now

I’m grateful for all the stories I received. I’m out of them for now, but I’m hoping there are still a few of you who just haven’t e-mailed me yet ([email protected]).

I think day 12 contributor, Butch, sensed the desperation in my plea for more stories, and sent me an E-mail with the lyrics to a Leonard Cohen song.

A couple days ago I watched the Saturday Night Live clip of Kate Mckinnon as Hillary Clinton singing Cohen’s Hallelujah, a song that for years and in many contexts has moved me. It moved me again. Butch also sent me a quote from the NY times tribute to Cohen. I’ve read the full article a couple times now. It’s worth the read. I had trouble picking out just one piece of it to share here. The whole thing is quotable.

“Leonard had an unusual inflection for darkness: He found in it an occasion for uplift. His work is animated by a laudatory impulse, an unexpected and profoundly moving hunger to praise the world in full view of it. His attitude of acceptance was not founded on anything as cheap as happiness.

Leonard sang always as a sinner. He refused to describe sin as a failure or a disqualification. Sin was a condition of creatureliness, and his feeling for our creatureliness was boundless. “Even though it all went wrong/ I’ll stand before the Lord of song/ With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!”

Today’s painting is inspired by the first lines of the song Butch sent me. I approached this painting differently than I do most. I wanted each brushstroke to show and the bright yellow square beneath the bird’s beak to be the star of the painting. That square is what made me want to paint this bird in the first place. Whereas I usually want to blur the line of background and foreground, I wanted this image to be composed of distinct pieces. I wanted it to be broken. I’m not sure how successful it is, but the process was immensely gratifying and required a focus I don’t usually bring to my work. Of course, I listened to a Leonard Cohen pandora station as I worked. That helped.

Anthem

Leonard Cohen

 

The birds they sang

at the break of day

Start again

I heard them say

Don’t dwell on what

has passed away

or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will

be fought again

The holy dove

She will be caught again

bought and sold

and bought again

the dove is never free.

 

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

 

We asked for signs

the signs were sent:

the birth betrayed

the marriage spent

Yeah the widowhood

of every government —

signs for all to see.

 

I can’t run no more

with that lawless crowd

while the killers in high places

say their prayers out loud.

But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up

a thundercloud

and they’re going to hear from me.

 

Ring the bells that still can ring …

 

You can add up the parts

but you won’t have the sum

You can strike up the march,

there is no drum

Every heart, every heart

to love will come

but like a refugee.

 

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

 

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