Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 51
Tues, Mar 18, 2013

“Waiting for the Miracle”
Leonard Cohen


“♫ Nothing
left to do/
when you’ve
got to go on
waiting for the
miracle to

Have you ever had those instances when you felt so overwhelmed, at that split second an anxiety attack fills your perseverance flame with flickers of fear and trepidation. What happens when you’ve exhausted almost every option? You called every phone call favor? You snail mailed every last hope? And now as you sweat, aching with moments of agony, in this times I trouble, the words of Leonard Cohen heals my worried mind. No single song helped me get through today than the faithful glory of “Waiting for the Miracle.”

Always cryptic about the meaning of his most treasured songs, Cohen once enlightened us talking about the “Miracle” in “Waiting” when he explained, “Well, I think that the miracle is the vision from the other side of waiting. There is a miracle that we are all waiting that somehow goes along with the construction of the human heart, of the human psyche. We seem to be waiting for a miracle; it seems we don’t have to dig too far to experience that waiting, that anxiety. There’s another position, where you move across the waiting, to the other side of waiting, where you recognize or acknowledge or affirm that you’re waiting for the miracle, but this is a position of freedom rather than a position that is imprisoned or fixed. Waiting is fixed; the other side of waiting is free.”

You can hear a change in Leonard’s voice from 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen through 1995’s The Future, as producer Roscoe Beck noticed in Sylvie Simmons Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, “I thought, ‘Wow, Leonard has found a whole new place to sing from.’ The baritone voice was always there—but here he was making use of it and his singing voice was becoming a narrative.” That deep baritone voice when I first heard “Everybody Knows.” Cohen croons more like a lyrical sage on “Waiting for the Miracle.” I would have never known it having discovered “Waiting” from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack but according to Simmons, “Miracle” was actually literal lyrical proposal to his paramour, during the nineties, Rebecca DeMornay.

Cohen actually disputed the evolution in his voice in a 1992 interview when he explained, “There is some continuity between “Suzanne” and “Waiting for A Miracle” [sic]. Of course there is; it’s the same guy. Maybe it’s like you lose your arm, you’re a shoemaker. You’re a pretty good shoemaker, maybe not the best but one of the top ten. You lose your arm and nobody knows. All they know is that your shoes keep on being pretty good. But in your workshop, you’re holding onto the edge of the shoe with your teeth, you’re holding it down and hammering with your other hand. It’s quite an acrobatic presentation to get that shoe together. It may be the same shoe, it’s just a lot harder to come by and you don’t want to complain about it. So maybe that’s all that happened, is that I got wiped out in some kind of way and that just meant that I had to work harder to get the same results. I don’t have any estimation or evaluation. I just know that the work got really hard.

Tom Petty once sang “Waiting is the hardest part.” To Cohen, the waiting is just another moment before the creation of the song as he Leonard once famously said, “My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV. Or, as I put it in a quatrain, “The voices in my head, they don’t care what I do; they just want to argue the matter through and through. So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interest. Otherwise I just nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.”

The signs— today, lead me to this 21st century ‘End of the Road’ drifter anthem. I’m swimming within the song conviction in one of Cohen’s famous words that Leonard’s ever sung. Will you pardon me if I begin to wax poetics, while trying to calm my nerves my unsteady stomach drums?— I’ll keep singing dreaming of a closer future, as I’m Waiting in the glory for our Miracle to come.