This week, the Review is publishing a series of short reflections on love songs, broadly defined. The other night I streamed Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, a documentary by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine. In most of the footage, we see a reflective and doubting Leonard. As I watched his Jewish man's face age and his dark hair turn gray, I wondered what I could learn from him about not concluding. That might be the motto of his life and music—not conclude. It's a sexy, freewheeling stance. I'd like it to be my life's motto, except I conclude all the time. They happen to be wrong, which saves me. I always wondered what women wanted from Leonard. I think they wanted what they thought the songs were about. In the song, a man is thinking about how to get a woman, and he thinks he can get her by figuring out what she wants. Leonard is imagining what it would be like to be a woman with a man coming on to her. This is great. This is the opposite of every other song written by a man about a woman. For example, in his entire life, Bob Dylan has never imagined the effect of his lyrics on a woman, or else, you know, the words would not be so sneering, and he would give us a picture of the […] Leonard Cohen, 2008. Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under CCO 2.0.
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