by Ralph White
The Songs of Leonard Cohen
A Pre-Valentine’s Evening
No one has written about love the way Leonard Cohen has with all its agonies and ecstasies. Who else has captured with such honesty the lover’s brokenness when things go wrong, or the sensual delight ‘When the holy dove was moving too and every breath we drew was Hallelujah?’ But it still came as a surprise to some when the Open Center devoted its Valentine’s evening to the work of one of the greatest songwriters of the Twentieth Century. Leonard Cohen was surely synonymous with mournfulness and depression, some thought but, as the rest of us know, he was also an ordained Zen priest whose final concerts were an exquisite exercise in humility, beauty and soul. The Open Center has always been rich in talent among its staff.
Many of the people working at registration or events co-ordination are actually actors, singers, musicians and dancers, and this has always been so. That Valentines’ Evening was a showcase for our homegrown talent who were given the opportunity to bring life and energy to the Grand Room which eight years ago was a fresh and empty space awaiting creative energy and vitality. So it is with deep affection and respect that we look back at that evening and on a singer and poet of enormous authenticity, depth and spirituality who lived life to the full with all its high peaks and deep, dark vales. That night, the Open Center, along with friends and raconteurs, created a richly textured evening of story, music, and song that lives on in the memories of those fortunate enough to be there. We found it easily in our hearts to honor and celebrate a man whose musical legacy will live on for decades as one of the most conscious, awake, sensitive and honest poets of our era. The arts always have a place in the Open Center’s heart and that was a night to savor and remember.