Sometimes words have the power to stop your life and everything within it. To not just halt you in your tracks but to make you consider that just like a record flipped over onto a new side, your being has just two parts: before those immortal words, and the faint coming-to-terms with life afterwords.
Like waking from a vivid dream to the realisation of reality the bitter cruelty is trying to keep hold of that feeling – the nanosecond wonder of that new experience – even though it is forever disappearing with time’s cruel blow. It’s futile but I love those moments when you’re scraping at memory, desperate to keep that pure feeling. Just for once.
Leonard Cohen has a voice that delivers sermons and words to calm beasts. Starting out as a writer it was a full decade before he first put his words to music. ‘I Heard a Voice’ is from his first collection of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, published in 1956 when he was just 22. Every time I read these words they cut me dead. Hearing Cohen recite them decades later is like tasting lemon drops.
I heard of a man
Who says words so beautifully
That if he only speaks their name
Women give themselves to him.
If I am dumb beside your body
While silence blossoms like tumors on our lips.
It is because I hear a man climb the stairs and clear his throat outside our door.
I’ve never found out how the following came to be but I’d like to one day embrace the person who joined Cohen’s ode to the power of words with Tori Amos’ own personal testament, Silent All These Years.
Leonard Cohen & Tori Amos – Silent All These Years