Friday, January 08, 2010

"hey, that's no way to say goodbye"

I don't know if anyone else experiences this, but sometimes when I wake up I have a random song inexplicably stuck in my head. So, I've decided to start an infrequent column about this phenomenon called The Song in My Head, in which I'll write about that song. Maybe it'll be a critique. Maybe it'll be an association I have with the song. We'll see how it goes.

Leonard Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" was in my head this morning when I woke up. My only explanation was last night I went to my friends' comedy show called The Drinking Game, and during the event it came out that one of the game's contestants actually received a popsicle from Mr. Cohen. The guy worked in computers, and one of his clients turned out to be the singer-songwriter, and apparently Cohen was very appreciative and offered him a popsicle.

Checking my iTunes, I see I have two versions of the song -- the original studio recording and the live version from last year's Live in London. I know a lot of people adore the live album, and while I definitely enjoy it, the original version was in my head when I woke up. I've always liked the song's acknowledgment that love usually doesn't end with a bang but rather a whimper. It falls apart piece by piece, little by little, until one day you realize that something that once was so strong and so present is just ... gone. Part of what makes the song so sad is that Cohen doesn't oversell the sadness -- as always, he plays the dignified gentleman, which makes the tune all the more heartbreaking.