Thank goodness, the NFL has spared us anything nasty at Superbowl halftime, like Janet Jackson’s nipple.
Instead we had that nice, clean-shaven young man, Bruno Mars, with wholesome lyrics like … oh. I hadn’t noticed.
Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line
But swimming in your water is something spiritual
I’m born again every time you spend the night
‘Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Gee, thanks for nothing, NFL.
Truth be told, I don’t follow pop music – not even to tut-tut about it. (H/T or Tut-Tut credit to Fr. Josiah Trenham) I don’t follow the spectacle of sport (unless Purdue men are winning at basketball this year). I don’t watch much commercial TV.
I wish I could say it was because of high principle, like refusing to let my eyes and ears and soul be sold to manufacturers intent on multiplying sovereign desire. Alas, it’s because I find it boring, and generally feel a twinge of Calvinist guilt that I’ll never see those 30 or 60 minutes again, and have nothing to show for them beyond an odd urge for a Whopper or a trip to the Mall.
All that, plus sometimes, like if I’d seen those lyrics on close captioning, I feel rage, or the need to shower off the slime. “Like looking for food in a garbage pail when there’s so much wholesome food around you already,” a wise father said to his son, who solemnly, mendaciously, insisted “I read Playboy for the articles” some 45 years ago.
So I overlooked Leonard Cohen for, well, decades until I stumbled onto him within the last ten or so years. If I heard the name at all, I took him for just another occupant of the pop music garbage pail, with no reason to think he was even a cut above, let alone near-genius.
Harpers has extracted a tasty Leonard Cohen bit from the archives not of pop music, but of poetry: Pico Iyer writes about Leonard Cohen’s performance at 92Y in New York City on February 14, 1966. It’s accompanied by 52:34 of streaming audio.
Pico Iyer’s an artist in his own right. So, if you hadn’t yet noticed (as I hadn’t), is Leonard Cohen. Enjoy the brief essay and the audio stream. Yes, it’s 52:34 you’ll never see again, but unless you think poetry is always and everywhere a waste of time, it’s worth it.
But beware. Adolescent boys might enjoy it for the wrong reasons: it’s got nipples.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)