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Dear Heather, Leonard Cohen

Columbia Records, October 26, 2004

Track Listing: 1. Go No More A-Roving, 2. Because Of, 3. The Letters, 4. Undertow, 5. Morning Glory, 6. On That Day, 7. Villanelle for Our Time, 8. There for You, 9. Dear Heather, 10. Nightingale, 11. To a Teacher, 12. The Faith, 13. Tennessee Waltz

You control the amount of nitrous oxide by the depth of your breath. Inhale hard and deep and you’ll ride an intoxicating wave. If you need to tone it back a bit, breathe through your mouth to switch back to all oxygen.

My dentist asks me what kind of music I’d like to hear. I know his selection well by now, and this time I request Leonard Cohen’s Dear Heather. Owning a copy myself, I’m more than confident it is the perfect choice to lift me right out of the chair, far away from the drilling and hellishly foul taste that will soon turn my mouth into bloody sewage. Anywhere but here, anywhere but here. I am dragged out to sea.

“I’d be caught in the grip
Of the undertow
Ditched on a beach
Where the sea hates to go
With a child in my arms
And a chill in my soul
And my heart the shape
Of a begging bowl
I set out one night
But I did not know”

-from “Undertow

Leonard Cohen’s voice is as smooth and welcoming as a chocolate kiss. The music that accompanies it is as sultry as smoke rolling across a candlelit bar. It’s all mood, a lazy, sleepy ecstasy, and with lyrics befitting entry into the latest Norton poetry anthology.

“From bitter searching of the heart
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part
This is the faith from which we start:
Men shall know commonwealth again
From bitter searching of the heart”

-from “Villanelle for Our Time

This is a man who has lived, who has contemplated, who has learned. He has reflected further still. His wisdom does not preach. Rather, it floats in gently and indifferent, accompanied by melodies that have the power to soothe troubled minds. The switch is flipped. It is 100% oxygen now. It is over. The pain and fear are gone.