Endless Loop: Last Year’s Man

leonardcohenHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Last Year’s Man” by Leonard Cohen

I have long opined that Leonard Cohen is a lyricist unparalleled, his words conjuring all manner of philosophical thought, metaphorical imagery, and emotional art, and every time I go back to his catalog, I’m reminded why. So many of the man’s songs will strike a chord within me, often making me feel or relate before I’ve even had a chance to grasp at what the lyrics are intending. “Last Year’s Man” from the 1971 album Songs of Love and Hate is one of those songs. Something about it hits me deep, down to my very bones, though I still struggle with deciphering what the song actually means.

The song is open to eternal and varied interpretation, as maybe art should be, but it’s still a puzzle to me. Maybe it’s about art, or more specifically a kind of writer’s block. Or maybe it’s about unrequited love, or it’s about finding love and then discovering that that love is not the idealized entity originally perceived. Or maybe it’s about God, or it’s about becoming some sort of theoretical deity as the creator of one’s artistic works and endeavors. Or maybe it’s about solitude.

Maybe it’s about all of these things…or none at all.

Regardless of any intended or unintended significance found within the song, there is a weight of emotion underneath. And it think ultimately that’s what I’m feeling when I listen to it. And that’s probably good enough. Tone can transcend theme as a way to cross boundaries or borders, either culturally, linguistically, and so on. It can serve as a way to relate to each other. Great art is the art that, above all else, makes us feel.

Or maybe I’m just not smart enough to get the gist of things.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>