Thursday, September 5, 2013

LA-versary :: Guest Post by Casee Marie

Given that Stephanie is so passionate about music and this blog event's focus is, in part, about embracing the adventure of trying new things, I'm so happy to share a story from earlier this year that involves both. Back in April, I found out that Leonard Cohen was coming to my town; luckily, a week before the concert there were still tickets available. Because nobody else was enthusiastic about going with me (or knew who he was, for that matter), I did the unthinkable: I went by myself. I'm the sort of person who always needs a buddy for anything outside of my comfort zone, and going to a crowded concert definitely falls into that territory. I realized, though, that going alone would be important. Leonard's music was with me through some of the most challenging times in my life, and because of that his words and his sound will always be deeply personal for me. I think the best and truest way to experience something like that live is intimately; and it made for one of the most emotionally relevant memories.

Leonard is a fascinating man and at 78 years old he still gives an incredible concert, playing for three hours with only two fifteen minute breaks between, and no opening act. To sum him up for anyone not familiar with his music, he's a poet, a novelist, a musician; he was part of a movement of artists in the '60s that included Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell; he lived for five years in a monastery in LA; and his songs are about love and sex, life and death, spirituality and physicality, emotional connect and disconnect. In short, he's really one of a kind. He's the man behind "Hallelujah", which has been recorded by over 300 other artists (most popularly Jeff Buckley), and he also wrote "Chelsea Hotel #2", which was just recently covered by Lana Del Rey. If you've ever seen the films Pump Up the Volume or Natural Born Killers, you'll have heard him on the soundtracks. That's basically just an ounce of who he is. Why so much of this first captured me so profoundly when I was roughly eighteen, I really can't say. It was all at once suggestive, gritty, cerebral, darkly comic, inspiring, and deeply intended. The concert was all of that. I once saw someone on Twitter write that his music is like riding a pink elephant in the middle of a thunderstorm - I think that pretty much explains everything.

And obviously, riding a pink elephant in the middle of a thunderstorm isn't actually going to appeal to everybody. I tend to have interests that are unique to me among my circle of friends, and it's easy to simply let events and ideas pass because I happen to be the minority. But what my experience at this concert taught me was that developing who we are, investing in that and celebrating it, is one seriously overlooked necessity in life. Sometimes getting your own way is downright vital, and if it involves taking yourself on an adventure and trying something new, that might make it all the more important. I think it's the little journeys we take on our own - whether it's a physical journey or just a mental one - that bring us closer to understanding who we are.

I've made Leonard's setlist from my concert into a Spotify playlist; enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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(I've been gearing up for my 4-year LA-versary, and so far I've written about my fave brunch spots and lunch places in the city. But I didn't want to celebrate all by myself, so I've gathered a few of my blogging besties to contribute guest posts this month! I asked them to tell a story about a time when they tried something different or difficult -- just like I did by moving here. Casee is a writer, a reader, and a lovely friend who constantly inspires me. Be sure to visit her and say hi at The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower and Literary Inklings! Thank you for stopping by and sharing with us, Casee!)
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