“For me, it’s really about clearing my head of anything that’s of a trivial day to day nature and looking into something that’s timeliness, something that in some way I’m not even conscious that I know,” he tells me. “But sometimes quiet is the worst thing. I think it was Bukowski who said, ‘Nothing worth a shit was every written in peace and quiet.'”
That’s The Edge talkin’. And he’s talkin’ to me. And we’re talking about songwriting. And it’s barely eleven o’clock in the morning. And quite frankly, I’m beside myself. I’m trying real hard to sound calm. And I think I pulled it off.
The occasion is the Sundance premiere of “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man.” Matt Paco and I are at The Motorola Lounge on Main Street. It’s all brushed steel and hot pink upholstery. It’s kind of classic Sundance: faux brick, shag rug, closets of swag. There’s a gaggle of publicists. Everyone’s chattering into his or her cell phones. And I’m trying to keep calm, cool, collected, and on point.
Edge is slighter than you’d think. He looks great: fit, rested, and healthy. His handshake is firm. His eyes sparkle. He is — in a word — cool. I, in contrast, am not. Well, that may not be quite true. In contrast to my first interview ever with Michael Stipe way back in the summer of my freshman year of college, I’m steady.
Edge talks about Leonard’s work ethic, of how he will spend years at a time on a song (click here to read the entire interview). It’s maddening to consider. But when I hear lyrics like these, I get it.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s Rufus Wainwright’s favorite lyric, or so he tells me (click here to read the entire interview). It struck me too when I heard it performed in the film. And now more than ever, we gotta’ look for the light through the cracks. Cuz it’s dark out. I’ve had tons of conversations about the cultural darkness, the global peril, we’re all in.
I interviewed Ron Reagan Jr. today. And Joey Pantoliano (our editor, Pat Deriso’s cousin). The occasion was a Creative Coalition panel. Harry Shearer was there too. They were talking about first amendment stuff, Iraq, Iran, North Korea. It was a sound bite feast.
Someone asked how long it would take America to get back on track. Ron said, “We’ve gone off the rails on multiple tracks. If you’re talking about the Supreme Court, it could take decades. If you’re talking about administrations telling the truth, it could happen tomorrow. The Bush Administration just has to decide to tell the truth. And the thing is, the powerful usually know the truth. They just don’t want to share it.”
Afterwards, he drove his point home with me. “We have an administration that wants to deny global warming, I mean, as if scientists have nothing better to do than sit around and make up lies about the earth overheating.”
Joey Pants was exasperated too. “One last question,” he said, “Then I’m gonna blow my brains out.”
Later he told me, “Man, I don’t even know what to do. I’m just numb.”
It seems to me that there’s a healthy dose of dialogue and art going on here at Sundance that really illustrates an awakening to the discord echoing throughout the globe. So I asked him if he was at all encouraged by all of the conversations going on here at Sundance.
“No, man. This place is all about buying and selling and swag.” And I thought, ‘Well, there goes my thesis.’
But I wanna believe the conversation and the art and the movement to create some awareness, to get people involved, to incite some action, that it’s vital. Maybe there is a groundswell. Maybe there is a little light sneaking through the cracks. There has to be.