It’s rare for me to celebrate anyone’s financial misfortune, but if Leonard Cohen had not lost $5 million of his retirement savings due to alleged fiddling by his former manager, he might not have re-embarked on recording and touring in his seventies, and we would have heard much less of that uniquely stirring voice in his last years. The Canadian-born ‘poet-laureate of pessimism’ — who I contend would have been a more deserving and gracious Nobel winner than Bob Dylan — died in Los Angeles on the eve of the US election, so we’ll never hear the ballad of despair he might have composed on Trump’s victory. When he sang ‘democracy is coming’ in 1992 (and Bill Clinton’s campaign briefly adopted the song as an anthem), he called America ‘the cradle of the best and of the worst’. It still is, and it needs poets today.
This is an extract from Martin Vander Weyer’s ‘Any Other Business’, which first appeared in this week’s Spectator magazine