Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day 2016

Thank Ares It's Friday!

"Straighten up and fly right, people. You do NOT want me to come down there!"


Korean War Veterans Memorial
One of my favorite things to do while in Washington, D.C. is visiting the various war memorials honoring U.S servicemen.

Each of them is moving in its own unique way, but I have a special fondness for this one...

...because my father served in Korea.

Thanks for your service, dad. Miss you.

Requiescat in Pace

September 21, 1934 - November 7, 2016
2016 has been a difficult year for me in terms of the people we have lost already,
but yesterday brought news of yet another sad loss: Canadian singer-songwriter, poet,
and author Leonard Cohen died on Monday at age 82.

I was still in high school in 1969 when Leonard released his second album, the austere Songs from a Room. That record was his most commercially successful until 2012's Old Ideas, but you didn't listen to Cohen's music because of its mainstream popularity. You listened because of the songs. And it was one of the tracks on  
Songs from a Room that made me a fan
for life: "Bird on the Wire." It quickly became a signature song for him, and has been covered by dozens of other artists.

I used my hero Joe Bonamassa's 2012 live version in a play I directed, and I have used Leonard's music in other productions over the years as well.

Leonard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2010 he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame that same year.

I know you liked him too, old friend...

Feast Day

St. Martin Dividing His Coat, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck
Today is the feast day of
St. Martin of Tours, one of Europe's most celebrated saints.

The most famous story about him is the legend of his cutting his cloak in half to share with a poor beggar during a winter he spent serving in the Roman army. That incident led to his baptism and to a life of serving the Church.

Martin is the patron of the indigent poor, soldiers, and those who struggle with alcoholism.

Best-Laid Plans, Etc.

From the insightful pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the nice things about being the boss is that I can change the rules around here whenever I feel like it. Today, for instance, it simply won't do to close things out with only a single Leonard Cohen song. So...

My guitar hero Joe Bonamassa
first recorded Cohen's signature song "Bird on the Wire" (rendered as "Bird on a Wire," as it often is in cover versions) on his 2010 album Black Rock.

That album was recorded at the Black Rock Studios on the Greek island of Santorini, and featured some local musicians and unusual instruments as well as his regular touring band.

Today's first send-off is Joe playing the song live in Montreux, Switzerland, filmed on July 13, 2010. He is joined by two of the musicians who played on the Black Rock album: Thanasis Vasilopoulos on clarinet and Manolis Karantinis on the bouzouki. Enjoy...

The Avalanche Quartet is a Dutch musical collective devoted to Leonard Cohen's music.

In 2007 they released Leonard Cohen Songs, a collection of some of his best-known material.

Today's next send-off is the group performing one of my most favorite Cohen songs, "Dance Me to the End of Love" (which I once used as curtain call music for a play production). The group's performance was filmed at the Moods jazz club in Zurich, Switzerland on February 4, 2007. Enjoy...

Singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley
only recorded a single album, Grace, before his his untimely death in 1997 at just age 30.

The album included a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and Jeff's version of the song proved so popular that nearly 20 years later many people mistakenly believe Jeff wrote the song. It has been featured in numerous motion pictures and TV shows. It also brings me to tears every time I hear it...

Today's next send-off is the official music video of Jeff's unforgettable version, from
his VEVO channel. Enjoy...

In 1984 Leonard released  
Various Positions, an album which contained two of his most popular and most-covered songs in
"Dance Me to the End of Love"
and "Hallelujah."

For me, though, the most profound and moving song on the album was "Night Comes On," whose lyrics are a beautiful example of Cohen's poetic philosophizing.

I actually went many years without listening to the song at all, but when one of my favorite TV shows, Criminal Minds, used it in the Season 6 opener in 2010 it began getting regular listens again. And it brings me to tears every time I hear it, yes.

Today's final send-off is the original album track, from Leonard's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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