Last week was a bad one in so many ways. I won’t add to the millions of words that have been written about political events but will instead draw your attention to a connection between Leonard Cohen and Sir Jimmy Young, who both died last week, on 7 November. May they rest in peace. They shared a birthday, 21 September, which is also my birthday.
Sir Jimmy Young, DJ and radio presenter in my lifetime, was a successful singer in the 1950s. He was the first act to take “Unchained Melody” to #1 in the UK. I heard him mention this fact on the radio back in 1990, when the Righteous Brothers were the second act to take it to #1. Robson and Jerome followed in 1995, and Gareth Gates in 2002, at which point JY (as we knew him) was still presenting the Radio 2 lunch-time show which is now presented by Jeremy Vine.
You probably know more about Leonard Cohen, about whom many more words will be written than about Sir Jimmy Young. I have had many conversations over the last few weeks about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature, and most people I spoke to believe that Leonard Cohen is (or was) the only other lyricist (or in some viewpoints the only lyricist) worthy of the prize. My affection for Leonard Cohen dates back to finding out that we shared a birthday, long before I bought any of his discs. The commonly held view back then (mostly by people who hadn’t heard any of his songs) was that he made music to slit your wrists to. I’m glad that his work was re-evaluated. It seemed to take a long time. It might feel like “Hallelujah” has been a staple of radio play for decades but it really hasn’t. Jeff Buckley’s version, though recorded in 1994, didn’t get much attention until the song was covered on “American Idol” in 2008, and then it went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Here in the UK “X Factor” winner Alexandra Burke’s cover of the song was the Christmas #1 (with Buckley’s version at #2). For most people, “Hallelujah” has been a part of their lives for less than 10 years.
Some people believe that these sorts of things come in three’s, and I did wonder if we’d hear of a third September 21 death before the weekend was out. A week has gone by and so far we haven’t. I’m glad to say that singers Liam Gallagher, Jason Derulo, Faith Hill and Corinne Drewery (from Swing Out Sister), cricketers Curtly Ambrose and Chris Gayle and actor Bill Murray are all still with us. In the words of Sir Jimmy Young himself, BFN (“Bye For Now”).