Two Words- Leonard Cohen

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Two Words- Leonard Cohen

As a recording artist, for me, there are two words- Leonard Cohen.

I just listened (twice) to Cohen’s beautiful posthumous “Thanks For The Dance”. The album was started while what everyone assumed would be his final album (“You Want It Darker”) was produced, three weeks before his death in 2016. Adam Cohen took his father’s narration of beautiful lyrics and wove it into a masterpiece. Well done!

Setting the Stage

Setting the stage, Leonard Cohen was born in 1934. He grew up in Jewish middle-class Montreal; lost his father at nine years of age. He became immersed in poetry while attending McGill University. “Let Us Compare Mythologies”was his first (of many) book(s) of poetry, published in 1956.

In 1966, Leonard Cohen announced to a Montreal television producer, “I want to write songs. He wrote and recorded his debut album, Leonard Cohen, in 1967. He went on to release fifteen studio and eight live albums in his amazing career.

Songs of Leonard Cohen

The songs of Leonard Cohen were essentially poetry. There was actual communication taking place, instead of meaningless image pimping. His words have all emotions on many levels.

Here are but a few of Leonard Cohen’s masterpieces:

  • Suzanne
  • So Long, Marianne
  • Bird on a Wire
  • Hallelujah
  • Famous Blue Raincoat

As I said, there are many, many more great songs in the Leonard Cohen library. Here is a video on the first song on the posthumous “Thanks For The Dance”-“What Happens to the Heart”:

Start Over

At 71, Leonard Cohen was forced to start over. In 2005, he discovered much of his his money taken and song rights sold by his long-time manager. He went back to touring and produced some of his finest work- three studio albums in the last five of his eighty-two years.

My point, simply, is this: Leonard Cohen chose to “die with his boots on”. He created up to (even beyond) his departure from this earth in 2016- a true artist and example for us all.

© 2019 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media

Company Man

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Let’s start this post with the beginnings of my latest Skyypilot release- “Company Man”. Recently, I went through a foot-high stack of music written over forty years or so. This was just one stack of the compositions! I found a song I wrote in the 1970’s and decided to revisit.


“Ben Was A Company Man” was my original title for this song. Why? As a 6th grader, I delivered newspapers to Ben’s house. He was a factory printer. Ben was on a never-deviating schedule in his spotless navy blue uniform. I worked at that calendar factory a few years later and speculated on a similar lifestyle. It was purely fictional, of course. The song described a man who had lost all individuality, his marriage, his children, and (ultimately) his life to the system. He died a year before he was to retire ahead of an empty future-not a happy ending.

Since Then

Since then, a few hundred compositions later, my view has changed. Ironically, I became Ben (workwise, anyway) spending my adult life in factories. I chose the banal predictability of blue collar work as opposed to becoming an “act”-no regrets.

My objective is to offer hope at the end of my lyrics. If you know Jesus, there’s always hope!

My song:

Company Man

© 2019 J. Mark Witters

Once I was young, although I was strong, I was a company man.
Living each day pretty much the same way. I was a company man.
Gulped down breakfast, then went on my way.
One useful tool on a path to decay.
Another body that can be on display.
I was a company man. I was a company man.

Sometimes respected, more often rejected. I was a company man.
Had to pretend means justify ends. I was a company man.
Blindly submitting to others’ control.
Compartmentalizing my very soul.
Purposely keeping away from the fold.
I was a company man. I was a company man.

Numbing my mind just to put in the time. I was a company man.
Did what I did, with my feelings kept hid. I was a company man.
One day, I reckoned to get off the floor.
Already elsewhere; one foot out the door.
Knew all along that there had to be more.
I was a company man. I was a company man.

At my first chance, I just left the dance. I was a company man.
Having had my fill; not yet over the hill, I was a company man.
Plotted escape right to the day.
What happens next- let come what may.
No more illusions, no more can I say, ” I am a company man.”
No more a company man.

Company Man

© 2019 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media

Happenings Ten Years Time Ago…

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Happenings Ten Years Time Ago

Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” was a song released in 1966 by the British rock band, the Yardbirds. It featured both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck on dual lead guitars-a powerhouse!

I have always been intrigued by the song’s title, so I thought about ten years ago-what a difference!

Looking Back a Decade

Looking back a decade, I had just finished seven weeks of radiation with three chemo treatments. It’s all a blur now, but I was (unknowingly at the time) fighting stage four cancer. Strangely, I was not fearful-just gave it to God. I owe my healing to God. Sure, my family was there for me and I don’t diminish their invaluable help, but God performed a miracle on me. He wasn’t finished with me yet!

My dear Grandmother Elizabeth passed Oct. 31 that year. She, like dear Grandmother Edith, lived on this earth 93 years! Autumn 2009 was indeed a dreary time.

Forging Onward

Forging ahead, I returned to my very physical workplace. We traveled to Alaska and Hawaii with my parents. I ramped up my album production, probably averaging one per year since then. I retired from my mundane job to now doing what I want, no longer taking life for granted; appreciating each day-an empty canvas:

Empty Canvas

© 2019 J. Mark Witters

Greet an empty canvas every day.
How I’ll choose to fill it, cannot say.
But it can be fulfilling if your hands are willing.
Keep it all distilling in your mind.
One need not be ready. Sobering, yet heady.
Deliberate and steady right on course.
Inching forth, eventually your masterpiece is born.
It will only take a little while to take its unique form.

Slowly you will build your gallery.
Forever onward an unbridled legacy.
Art not superficial. Heavy, yet ethereal.
Many in a serial of your life.
Showing all emotion. Recorded upon notion.
There is no magic potion at its source. (It’s God!)
Greet an empty canvas every day.
How I’ll choose to fill it, can never…

© 2019 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media