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Another Day in the Country

Leaving the table

© Another Day in the Country

While I enjoy music, I don’t listen all the time. There isn’t a soundtrack going, like elevator music, in my home. I don’t have a radio in the house and for a long time I didn’t even have a stereo. I don’t enjoy using earphones, so where am I going to hear my music?

We like going to concerts, mostly blue grass genre, but those are expensive, and few and far between. My old Lincoln, that I dubbed “the grandma car,” has the best music system that I own, so that’s where I get most of my musical infusion. This car has one of those old boxes that will hold six CDs in the trunk and I fill it with my latest acquisitions and my old favorites. Then I cruise down the road a happy camper.

When I got back from my Carolina trip, my sister brought me a new CD to listen to. It was Leonard Cohen’s latest album (and last, as it turned out since he died the first week of November), called “You Want it Darker.”

I’d read about this album in Entertainment magazine and was excited to hear it. I like Leonard Cohen and his dusky musical drawl. His songs are relaxing, soulful, poignant and heartfelt, especially the words. Always the words.

Years ago, I came across Cohen’s music when I began making tapes to use as background for either giving or receiving a massage. I could rarely find a pre-made group of songs that fit my bill. You’d be listening along all calm and dreamy and suddenly some other rhythm would get thrown into the mix and your heart would speed up like a trumpet tune arriving after the flute had just faded into the distance. So I made my own CDs, and Leonard’s songs were always included.

So, it was with relish that I plugged his latest CD into my machine in the trunk of the car and drove out of town.

There’s always immense subjectivity when we listen to a song. Even when the words are audible and coherent, the meaning and the nuance are so personal. My sister and I listened to the very same favorite song on this album, “Leaving the Table,” and came up with two very different meanings to the song. That’s the wonder of music. It touches us in such personal fashion and I am so grateful for the music that man has put into the world.

Even though I said there isn’t a soundtrack to my daily life, there is a soundtrack of all those years worth of living. It’s rather miraculous how just listening to Elvis, Mitch Miller, Peter, Paul and Mary, The New Christy Minstrels, The Temptations, Andy Williams, The Carpenters, The Beachboys — each one brings up a feeling, a memory of a specific time and place and we are transported back through the years. It’s magic.

There are skillions of CDs in my music stand, all speaking to my life experiences. And, there were a jillion tapes before those and 33-1/3 records still remaining in a storage box of songs I’ve loved, even though there is no machine to play them. Most of my CDs haven’t been heard in years, having given way to more recent favorites that carry names like “The Wyos,” “The Greencards,” “The Lovelies,” and “Pokey LaFarge.” Not only are my new musical favorites great, but their names are entertaining.

During the rap era that we’ve been living through, I rather went tone deaf. However, even rap has managed to intrigue me with the advent of the musical Hamilton. Who’d of guessed?

You know, we would all be so lucky to leave a legacy of an album after we are gone, as Leonard Cohen just did. I am in awe of musicians and artists and writers and architects who leave something tangible and lasting after their lifetime is over. I actually think it’s good to contemplate, every once in awhile, what kind of legacy we are leaving to the next generation.

I read that Leonard’s son helped him complete this last project and the son’s contribution of instrumental touches and nuanced genres of musical background are absolutely exquisite on this collection of songs — one minute country, another gospel, an old Hammond organ sets a tone, then it’s blues and now a Yiddish tune. So, have I convinced you to listen? Search it out on the web, enjoy with me one poets last stab at truth, his final gift to the world, on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 1, 2016

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