Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Leonard Cohen, Vienna and Wien: Take This Waltz

For centuries Vienna is where holy fools and spies have gone to play. You can almost let your guard down there. An agonist and fellow adventure-seeker code-named Cassandra immersed me in the acid bath of Leonard Cohen when we lived an ineffably synergistic existence. Since then, I can't think of going over snowy mountain passes on urgently meaningless errands, pulling boot-leg turns into precious parking spots, or stumbling through the dark and bumping into trees trying to find some drafty godforsaken castle containing the Byrons, the Percys and the Shelleys without thinking of L. Cohen.

There are really ten pretty women in Vienna. A shoulder where doves come to cry. A lobby with 900 windows. There's the permeating air of waltzes, breaths of brandy and death dragging their tails in the sea. Duties of latitude, love and geopolitics drew us apart but among other things I refuse sentiments about, Cohen stuck to me like glue. He's insistently maudlin and rather annoying. But I gotta admit, he cut up the limbs of Vienna like a contractor working over a bath tub, stuffing the amputated parts into a still and boiling them down into moonshine. The song is the town, and vice-versa:

Now in Vienna there's ten pretty women
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws
Oh I want you, I want you, I want you
On a chair with a dead magazine
In the cave at the tip of the lily
In some hallways where love's never been
On a bed where the moon has been sweating
In a cry filled with footsteps and sand
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take its broken waist in your hand

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

There's a concert hall in Vienna
Where your mouth had a thousand reviews
There's a bar where the boys have stopped talking
They've been sentenced to death by the blues
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
With a garland of freshly cut tears?
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz it's been dying for years

There's an attic where children are playing
Where I've got to lie down with you soon
In a dream of Hungarian lanterns
In the mist of some sweet afternoon
And I'll see what you've chained to your sorrow
All your sheep and your lilies of snow
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
With its "I'll never forget you, you know!"

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz ...

And I'll dance with you in Vienna
I'll be wearing a river's disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder,
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
With the photographs there, and the moss
And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross
And you'll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you lift on your wrist
Oh my love, Oh my love--
Take this waltz, take this waltz
It's yours now. It's all that there is!

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