Roger Ebert, Cancer, & Leonard Cohen’s Music
Esquire (February 16, 2010) carried an outstanding article, Roger Ebert: The Essential Man by Chris Jones, about Ebert’s battle with cancer, including the strength and solace he found in the music of Leonard Cohen.
In the February 18, 2010 entry at “Roger Ebert’s Journal,” a Chicago Sun-Times blog, Roger Ebert published Did Leonard Cohen Save My Life in response to the Esquire piece:
In the article about me that Chris Jones wrote in Esquire, there was one statement that startled me. He says Leonard Cohen’s song “I’m Your Man” saved my life.
My wife Chaz told Chris that on my last day in the hospital after my first surgery, when I was walking and talking and the surgery looked like a success, we were listening to Cohen on my iPod. “I’m Your Man” wasn’t Our Song. That’s Rod Stewart’s “You’re in My Heart.” But “I’m Your Man” was what I liked to play “to” Chaz, with Leonard singing on my behalf, you see.
As usual, I must have been conducting the music in the air and so on. It’s a long song. When it finished, I was ready to go home and then my carotid artery burst. My doctors were in the room to say goodbye. The red button was pushed, an emergency team materialized, I was rushed to the OR, and my life was saved.
So the logic suggests that Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” saved my life. Is this true? I have no idea. The events of that day remain a mental blank. In fact, many of the things Chaz tells me about subsequent hospital events are absent or cloudy in my mind.
But I think it deserves another listen.
Also on Ebert’s post are a number of Leonard Cohen videos selected by Ebert as well as two photos of Cohen that are themselves sufficient justification for the visit.
So, for a story of profound strength in the face of overwhelming adversity with evidence of the power of music to sustain individuals in the midst of tragedy, first read the Esquire story and then go to Roger Ebert’s post to give, along with Ebert, Leonard Cohen’s songs another listen.