Here’s my favorite version of the classic Leonard Cohen song. My kids call it the Shrek song. I call it beautiful, haunting.
I understand only part of its esoteric words, but misunderstanding something’s full meaning doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
I live in Arizona where the trunks of people’s cars are festooned with “Support our Troops” magnets, sometimes three or four of them in a row; they fly little tattered American flags from their antennas and spend fifty bucks a year for hoo-rah vanity plates. Everyone goes to church three times a week, everyone loves war, mom and apple pie. The people across the street have a yellow ribbon on their door. Their son is in Iraq on his third — or is it his fourth? — rotation, their voices tremble when they talk of him.
They put out a flag on the corner of their house this morning. Their son’s job is to drive along choking dirt roads and look for IEDs. They’re scared he’ll come home in a box. They’re scared he’ll come home different. They’re scared. They’re scared.
I’m scared too. I don’t know what to say today except to fill my throat with a song from an animated movie whose meaning is slightly beyond me. Maybe I should tie a little flag on my car antenna, and shout hoo-rah from the window. Or maybe my life is better spent fixing dinner for my neighbors who don’t know what to do but hang a flag and a yellow ribbon on their house, and hope to hell their son comes home okay.