Will Oldham compiled a list of his favorite music of 2009 for the current issue of Artforum. The best part was his introduction:
“The editors of this publication asked me to compile a list. They asked that I not be too esoteric, and I will try…. However, as most people are coming to realize, we as individuals are finding greater connections to smaller things; things smaller in scope and more specific to our tangible and imagined communities. I find that the music that transports me often has a community of admirers bound together only by the love of that music. When I take a look at the dominant music news and discover that, essentially, Bruce Springsteen = Radiohead = Yeah Yeah Yeahs = Madonna = Arcade Fire = Bat for Lashes, it compels me to turn away from the lot.”
Actor, musician & my mustache style icon, you may know Oldham as Bonnie “Prince” Billy aka Palace Music aka Palace Brothers aka Palace Songs, et. cetera. At the risk of overstatement, his songwriting, his flexible method of reinterpreting his own work, and the complicated system of ethics & belief which play out in his lyrics could have made him a Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen for our age.
But he’s not that, and we live in a different kind of age.
The documentary is called Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen.
This will expire soon — as will we — so watch. That’s the point, isn’t it?
UPDATED NOVEMBER 25, 2009: I’ve just found a suitably anecdotal quote that will serve as something of a replacement for when this video’s been taken down a few days from now.
“I interviewed Leonard Cohen at every opportunity, including at the Zen Center on the edge of the tiny resort village of Mount Baldy, outside of Los Angeles. It was 1995 and Leonard had been living in a cabin no larger than a budget motel for about two years, so involved in the center’s lifestyle that he got up every morning at 3:00 a.m. to begin preparing the day’s first meal for Joshu Roshi, a spiritual leader. After our talk, Leonard, who had traded in his stylish suits for modest robes, invited me to stay for lunch, which was one of his soup specialities. I watched him labor over the various vegetables for more than an hour until he was satisfied. Afterward, he walked me to my car. When I opened the trunk, he noticed an open package of Fig Newtons that I kept for an occasional treat. Eyeing them, Leonard, speaking in a slow, deliberate style that seemed in keeping with the Zen Center itself, asked ever so politely, ‘Could I have one of those Fig Newtons?’ Being the generous guy that I am, I offered him the whole package. ‘Oh, no,’ he said, pointing to his spartan lifestyle. ‘Just one will be fine.’ As I drove away, I could see in the rear view mirror that he was staring fondly at it, presumably thinking about whether to take a bite now or save it for later.”