A consummate master of trades, Leonard Cohen is a rare breed of artist. Gifted with poetical talents, Cohen, who needs no clipped sound bitey introduction, is also a musical prodigy, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and a novelist. Yet, what is it about this linkage between songwriter and poet that can appear so non-existent in contemporary culture? Could it be that the ever heroic poet butts heads with the often idealized image of sex charged rock symbol?
Although it is supremely easy to shrug and assume the twin occupations to be just feather’s in Cohen’s cap, there is something more at play here. The dual roles of song writer and spoken word aficionado play off each other much like free jamming musicians. One bounces energy, arching it through thin air like so much lightning, to a partner who in turns transfigures it back into something grander. Yet, wouldn’t thinking of the two roles as almost one and the same only amplify this jam session, internalizing it?
‘Where have all the poets gone?’ is a sentiment I often encounter. Perhaps they are simply overshadowed by their near cousins, the song writers. But the two need not be mutually exclusive or competing. Both are word smiths working in the same office, only separated by a thin cubicle wall.
Look to Leonard Cohen for inspiration in how spoken word transcends distinctions.