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Friday 11 November 2016

Dance Me to the End of Love

RIP Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016
I remember the first time I heard Leonard Cohen. I had popped into a record store to visit a friend who worked there. He played an album for me - I don't even know which one - and I was immediately taken with it. I was a teenage wannabe who was only just beginning to find the cultural vocabulary to express who I was, and I'd never heard anything like this but I knew immediately that I had wanted to.

As with many of the other musical icons who have died in 2016, it would be presumptuous to claim I was a Leonard Cohen "fan". I never properly "pursued" his music, I didn't educate myself. I liked what I heard but I never got round to "properly" listening. A bit like Bowie, I didn't have to - his music was just there, woven into the fabric of my world as I got older, and I didn't seek it out specially because it always had a way of finding me.

This year feels unprecedented in the number of icons lost. I know that great public figures die every year and the loss of the people who shaped my world will happen more and more as I get older, but I haven't yet prepared for artistic losses of the scale we've suffered in 2016. The following lyrics have been running through my mind this year as I mourn not just Leonard, but all the great trailblazers who spoke to misfits like myself.

A dream
Or a song
That hits you so hard
Filling you up
And suddenly gone

...And you're shining
Like the brightest stars
A transmission
On the midnight radio
And you're spinning
Your new 45's
All the misfits and the losers
Well,you know you're rock and rollers
Spinning to your rock and roll

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