Somewhere in the din of my pre-teen years, I remember hearing Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah on the radio. It was a beautiful and haunting ballad that had found popularity during the angst ridden era of grunge rock. And I recall thinking what a tragedy it was to lose an artist like Buckley before he’d even earned his due acclaim. It wasn’t until my early 20s, when as a developing music enthusiast, I discovered the song had actually been written and originally recorded by Leonard Cohen. And it was through that discovery that I would come to fall in love with the poetry of Leonard Cohen.
Baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor (you know)
I used to live alone before I knew you
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Cohen was never particularly mainstream. He was a writer’s writer and a musician’s musician. Revered by an entire industry, and I expect he will be until long after his death this past November. Bob Dylan sang Cohen’s praises throughout his entire career, saying at one point that Cohen wasn’t even writing songs anymore, he was writing prayers. Even industry press has speculated that the Nobel Prize received by Bob Dylan this last October could have just as easily been awarded to Leonard Cohen.
Chinook Fest has always been proud to focus on artists of unsung (no pun intended) quality, not necessarily the ones that will sell the most tickets. And so as we reflect upon the loss of one of the greatest songwriters of all time, (along with so many others lost in 2016 who left their indelible mark on music), we thought we’d share a few “under the radar” artists we feel represent the next generation of incomparable songwriters and quality musicians. You may not hear these artists on the radio, but you’ll see one on the Chinook Fest stage this September!
Did you hear the devil laughing
From the ambulance passing?
Or was that just my troubled mind?
Don’t you want to shake the ground
And tear heaven down?
Raise your fist to the guilty sky
I’ve been pouring whiskey in the wind
Burning pictures of my best friends
Until the ashes cover me like rain
And you meant something to me then
And you mean something to me now
But some things ain’t meant to stay the same
– John Moreland, No Glory In Regret
Well the raven is a wicked bird
Its wings are black as sin
And he floats outside my prison window
Mocking’ those within
And he sinks to me real low
“It’s hell to where you go
For you did murder Kate McCannon.”
– Colter Wall, Kate McCannon
When every revolution
Is sponsored by the state
There’s no bravery in bayonets
In tearing down the gates
If you see me with a rifle
Don’t ask me what it’s for
I fight my father’s wars
– Joe Pug, I Do My Father’s Drugs
All those daydreaming mornings
All the wishful goodnight thinking
I have steered through every dark alley
In hopes of a light at the end I could see
Young with nowhere to be
But you can’t get far for free
This ain’t no rookie dreaming
– Courtney Marie Andrews, Rookie Dreaming