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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 36 in their later days). One of the great early poems of Cohen, “The Mist,” from forty- five years ago, appears here, but its three soon-disappearing verses about not leav- ing a trace on someone are haunting, almost parabolic, when associated with a writer who is seventy-one (from a twenty- five-year-old buck, they would just sug- gest a loss that he can cancel out with the next conquest). Another song turns San Francisco into almost a mystical vision of life here on Earth. The Golden Gate is still gold and still great, but then the fog comes in again, and it’s gone, and there’s a long drive home, and you lose sight of that lovely old symbol, even though we all remember the sea. Impermanence becomes a form of radiance. Perhaps the best way of summing this all up is “Never Got to Love You,” in which a man, by the sound of it, says goodbye to a love by noting that he never got to love her as he’d heard it can be done. If you dwell on that sentiment, delivered to someone you care for, it could break your heart with all the things we failed to do or say. James Salter’s beautiful book of short sto- ries, Last Night, published last year when he was eighty, reverts constantly to an old man, nearing his time, going over all the roads in love he failed to take. But here in Anjani’s singing, which has so little sorrow in it, and in Leonard Cohen’s phrasing, which sees the past as dead and gone, it doesn’t just rend the heart, it restores it. The songs on Blue Alert are moody, melancholy, low-key, as the words “blue” and “blues” suggest. But they’re also “alert” as ever, wise to the games of the mind, attentive to the fact that moods and melancholy and low-key songs are them- selves not to be trusted because they’re passing, too. Through almost forty years of recording albums, Leonard Cohen has always given his productions naked, mini- malist titles (from Songs to Recent Songs). Here he gives the melodies (and the per- fectly minimalist musical arrangements) to Anjani and offers us a title that brings every sorrow and radiance together. Blue, but not black, warning and warming us with the same breath. Death’s on its way, and yet life’s all around. ♦ When the student is ready The teacher will appear ZEN EYE Are you ready? See three new talks each week, filmed live at Kanzeon Zen Center Hear an archive of talks by outstanding teachers on the great masters, Western Zen, koans, Zen and daily life, more Experience the Big Mind process taught by its creator, Zen Master Genpo Merzel Sample free downloads Join and support a vibrant international Zen community Subscribe for only $15 a month BigMind.org See the trailer at www.festivalmedia.org Available at booksellers or visit www.ibff.org AS SEEN ON PBS THE STORY OF THE 14 TH DALAI LAMA “visually stunning” – Time International “Beautifully shot . . . a sense of directness. His story is inextricably entwined with that of Tibet.” –Tricycle “alive filmmaking . . . intensely moving” – New Times “unprecedented intimacy” – LA Times