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December 29, 2014

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Loving Leonard: The Cohen songs we’ll never get enough of

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Ryan Olbrysh / Leonard Cohen photograph by Chris Pizzello/AP

Leonard Cohen

“Famous Blue Raincoat” (Songs of Love and Hate, 1971) No one, not even L.C. himself, can quite unravel the lyrics to this one, and that’s fine by me; Cohen’s gloom haunts most divinely when shrouded in mystery. “What can I tell you, my brother, my killer?” That’s what I’m talking about. Try getting to the bottom of it all if you must: Love triangle? Or is he singing about two sides of himself? Drug allusions? And is that a Scientology reference?! I’ll be relaxing over here, allowing the gloriously cryptic words to envelop me. “I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert/You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.” –Spencer Patterson

The Details

Leonard Cohen
November 12, 8 p.m., $27-$250
The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, 731-7333

“Chelsea Hotel #2” (New Skin for the Old Ceremony, 1974) Cohen’s songs can take on eternal mysteries or focus narrowly on an individual’s personal upheavals. This one is set at the legendary New York hotel Lou Reed once called home, where Bob Dylan wrote songs like “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” and Sid was alleged to have killed Nancy. And so, it’s no surprise Janis Joplin turned up at the Chelsea late one night looking for Kris Kristofferson and ran into Cohen instead. In Cohen’s accounting, the two had a quick fling as Joplin’s limo waited outside the hotel. And, out of that night, Cohen crafted this beautiful song of creation, music, tragedy, art, sex and how hard it is for people to truly connect, even briefly. –Richard Abowitz

“Closing Time” (The Future, 1992) “Closing Time” always makes me wish I was old. Old and stylishly weary, bones aching from the miles, soul heavy with the awful truth/which you can’t reveal to the ears of youth/except to say it isn’t worth a dime. Yeah, old and weary and wise, forever a hopeless romantic (“I loved you for your beauty/That doesn’t make a fool of me/You were in it for your beauty too”), but cool enough to work with whatever life gives you: “She’s a hundred, but she’s wearing something tight.” And, as always, alert to a joyous fiddle line. That’s how you age well, Jack. Just wish I’d’ve heard it when I was still young enough. –Scott Dickensheets

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