The 2017 Polaris Gala, whose website says they aim to present awards to Canadian artists based on their “artistic integrity,” took place Monday, September 18. Among the evening’s delights was a new posthumous video for Leonard Cohen’s “Leaving The Table,” from his final album, “You Want It Darker.”
The animated video opens and closes with a striking image of Cohen as a Zen Buddhist monk, sitting in ameditation posture atop the beam of a giant cross on a hill looking over a city (Montreal? From a graveyard?). The video features several iconic images of Cohen — aristocratic, in a siot, smoking, seen at a typewriter through a hotel window. In the background Cohen growlingly croons, “I’m leaving the table, I’m out of the game.” A paper cut-out of Cohen cavorts in the clouds above the city, enjoying an unbearable lightness of being.
“The idea kinda came from the ‘lightness’ that I imagined Mr. Cohen would be feeling right about now,” the video’s director Christopher Mills told Billboard. “I really loved thinking about him celebrating this new journey by dancing around in the clouds, and visiting his old haunts, playing around with all the weird and cool stuff you could probably do, once you ‘cross over’ into another plane.” Earlier that day, which happens to be Leonard Cohen’s son Adam’s birthday, the star studded “Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen” was announced. The tribute, to be held in Cohen’s hometown of Montreal on Nov. 6, will be co-produced by Adam Cohen and producer Hal Willner, and will be attended by both the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec. The lineup so far includes Elvis Costello, Lana Del Rey, Feist, Philip Glass, k.d. lang, The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, Damien Rice, Sting, Patrick Watson and Adam Cohen.
“My father left me with a list of instructions before he passed,” Adam Cohen said in a statement.” ‘Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event, do it in Montreal. I see this concert as a fulfillment of my duties to my father that we gather in Montreal to ring the bells that still can ring.”
Matthew Gindin is a journalist, educator and freelance writer located in Vancouver, BC. He is the Pacific Correspondent for the Canadian Jewish News, writes regularly for the Forward and the Jewish Independent and has been published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Religion Dispatches, Kveller, Situate Magazine, and elsewhere. He also writes on Medium from time to time.