Leonard Cohen and the 6 chords of rowing

I am moved to write this post today, by the words of Leonard Cohen.

What did he have to say about rowing? Nothing that I’m aware of, though he did write The Favourite Game, The Book of LongingBook of Mercy, The Energy of Slaves and, of course, Beautiful Losers.

What did he have to say about learning a skill?

Well, listen to the remarkable speech he gave on accepting Spain’s Prince of Asturias award for Letters a few years back:

It’s a masterclass in storytelling.

The story, which he tells here for the first time, with the utmost humility and an almost unbearable poignancy, is the story of how he learnt the basics of playing guitar.

And how those 6 chords that he mastered back in the 1960s have been the vehicle that has carried his poetry to the world for more than 50 years.

6 chords. Simple. Consistent. Practised to perfection.

At first, his teacher had to physically position Leonard’s fingers on the strings. And even when he had fully memorised the chords, he still struggled to coordinate his fingers and thumb.

Hands up if you’ve never thought, “I know what I need to do but I just can’t make my body do it!”?

What might be the ‘6 chords of rowing’, the fundamentals upon which speed is built?

I’m going to keep plugging away on posture, body prep and hand heights.

Celebrating the small hallelujahs.

Now I've heard there was a secret chord 
 That David played, and it pleased the Lord 
 But you don't really care for music, do you? 
 It goes like this the fourth, the fifth 
 The minor fall, the major lift 
 The baffled king composing Hallelujah  - Leonard Cohen


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