It was sixteen years ago on April 18th that my husband died. I've been missing him all week. I cannot even begin to express how this post has touched me. For I didn't have a song until I met him, and through him was introduced to Spain, Spanish guitar, Lorca and beauty.
> Hello everyone > > This isn't directly related to the MOQ and yet it pertains to the > discussion between David Harding and me about creative freedom in > jazz. Maybe some of you enjoy the music of Leonard Cohen as much as I > do, and this is how he describes finding his song. I thought it worth > sharing: > > http://1heckofaguy.com/2011/10/24/leonard-cohens-prince-of-asturias-awards-speech-direct-transcript-enhanced-english-video/ > > It is a great honour to stand here before you tonight. Perhaps, like > the great maestro, Riccardo Muti, I’m not used to standing in front of > an audience without an orchestra behind me, but I will do my best as a > solo artist tonight. > > I stayed up all night last night wondering what I might say to this > assembly. After I had eaten all the chocolate bars and peanuts from > the minibar, I scribbled a few words. I don’t think I have to refer to > them. Obviously, I’m deeply touched to be recognized by the > Foundation. But I have come here tonight to express another dimension > of gratitude; I think I can do it in three or four minutes. > > When I was packing in Los Angeles, I had a sense of unease because > I’ve always felt some ambiguity about an award for poetry. Poetry > comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. So I > feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity > which I do not command. In other words, if I knew where the good songs > came from I would go there more often. > > I was compelled in the midst of that ordeal of packing to go and open > my guitar. I have a Conde guitar, which was made in Spain in the great > workshop at number 7 Gravina Street. I pick up an instrument I > acquired over 40 years ago. I took it out of the case, I lifted it, > and it seemed to be filled with helium it was so light. And I brought > it to my face and I put my face close to the beautifully designed > rosette, and I inhaled the fragrance of the living wood. We know that > wood never dies. I inhaled the fragrance of the cedar as fresh as the > first day that I acquired the guitar. And a voice seemed to say to me, > “You are an old man and you have not said thank you, you have not > brought your gratitude back to the soil from which this fragrance > arose. And so I come here tonight to thank the soil and the soul of > this land that has given me so much. > > Because I know that just as an identity card is not a man, a credit > rating is not a country. > > Now, you know of my deep association and confraternity with the poet > Frederico Garcia Lorca. I could say that when I was a young man, an > adolescent, and I hungered for a voice, I studied the English poets > and I knew their work well, and I copied their styles, but I could not > find a voice. It was only when I read, even in translation, the works > of Lorca that I understood that there was a voice. It is not that I > copied his voice; I would not dare. But he gave me permission to find > a voice, to locate a voice, that is to locate a self, a self that that > is not fixed, a self that struggles for its own existence. > > As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. > What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament > casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that > awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity > and beauty. > > And so I had a voice, but I did not have an instrument. I did not have a song. > > And now I’m going to tell you very briefly a story of how I got my song. > > Because – I was an indifferent guitar player. I banged the chords. I > only knew a few of them. I sat around with my college friends, > drinking and singing the folk songs and the popular songs of the day, > but I never in a thousand years thought of myself as a musician or as > a singer. > > One day in the early sixties, I was visiting my mother’s house in > Montreal. Her house was beside a park and in the park was a tennis > court where many people come to watch the beautiful young tennis > players enjoy their sport. I wandered back to this park which I’d > known since my childhood, and there was a young man playing a guitar. > He was playing a flamenco guitar, and he was surrounded by two or > three girls and boys who were listening to him. I loved the way he > played. There was something about the way he played that captured me. > It was the way that I wanted to play and knew that I would never be > able to play. > > And, I sat there with the other listeners for a few moments and when > there was a silence, an appropriate silence, I asked him if he would > give me guitar lessons. He was a young man from Spain, and we could > only communicate in my broken French and his broken French. He didn’t > speak English. And he agreed to give me guitar lessons. I pointed to > my mother’s house which you could see from the tennis court, and we > made an appointment and settled a price. > > He came to my mother’s house the next day and he said, “Let me hear > you play something.” I tried to play something, and he said, “You > don’t know how to play, do you?’ > > I said, “No, I don’t know how to play.” He said “First of all, let me > tune your guitar. It’s all out of tune.” So he took the guitar, and he > tuned it. He said, “It’s not a bad guitar.” It wasn’t the Conde, but > it wasn’t a bad guitar. So, he handed it back to me. He said, “Now > play.” > > I couldn’t play any better. > > He said “Let me show you some chords.” And he took the guitar, and he > produced a sound from that guitar I had never heard. And he played a > sequence of chords with a tremolo, and he said, “Now you do it.” I > said, “It’s out of the question. I can’t possibly do it.” He said, > “Let me put your fingers on the frets,” and he put my fingers on the > frets. And he said, “Now, now play.” > > It was a mess. He said, ” I’ll come back tomorrow.” > > He came back tomorrow, he put my hands on the guitar, he placed it on > my lap in the way that was appropriate, and I began again with those > six chords – a six chord progression. Many, many flamenco songs are > based on them. > > I was a little better that day. The third day – improved, somewhat > improved. But I knew the chords now. And, I knew that although I > couldn’t coordinate my fingers with my thumb to produce the correct > tremolo pattern, I knew the chords; I knew them very, very well. > > The next day, he didn’t come. He didn’t come. I had the number of his, > of his boarding house in Montreal. I phoned to find out why he had > missed the appointment, and they told me that he had taken his life. > That he committed suicide. > > I knew nothing about the man. I did not know what part of Spain he > came from. I did not know why he came to Montreal. I did not know why > he played there. I did not know why he he appeared there at that > tennis court. I did not know why he took his life. > > I was deeply saddened, of course. But now I disclose something that > I’ve never spoken in public. It was those six chords, it was that > guitar pattern that has been the basis of all my songs and all my > music. So, now you will begin to understand the dimensions of the > gratitude I have for this country. > > Everything that you have found favourable in my work comes from this > place. Everything , everything that you have found favourable in my > songs and my poetry are inspired by this soil. > > So, I thank you so much for the warm hospitality that you have shown > my work because it is really yours, and you have allowed me to affix > my signature to the bottom of the page. > > Because – I was an indifferent guitar player. I banged the chords. > > ##### > > Dan comments: > Notice how Leonard Cohen relates that all his songs and music have > sprung from those six chords the man from Spain taught him and how it > relates to Bill Evans and the creative freedom he finds in jazz. > > Thank you, > > Dan > > http://www.danglover.com > Moq_Discuss mailing list > Listinfo, Unsubscribing etc. > http://lists.moqtalk.org/listinfo.cgi/moq_discuss-moqtalk.org > Archives: > http://lists.moqtalk.org/pipermail/moq_discuss-moqtalk.org/ > http://moq.org/md/archives.html Moq_Discuss mailing list Listinfo, Unsubscribing etc. http://lists.moqtalk.org/listinfo.cgi/moq_discuss-moqtalk.org Archives: http://lists.moqtalk.org/pipermail/moq_discuss-moqtalk.org/ http://moq.org/md/archives.html