Posted by: Mark Nielsen | November 11, 2016

Leonard Cohen’s Dark, Lovely Swan Song


[Leonard Cohen died on 7 November 2016 at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles.]

We like it dark, yes, Leonard. God help us…

Leonard/Eliazer Cohen wrote the following song while he was sick this year, knowing this album was his last chance to widen that crack in the darkness, to let the Light in for the rest of us.

(See his song “Anthem”for more on that “crack in everything”. )

I know he will Rest In Peace, because he was already there before he stepped out this week, permanently, for some fresh air. Good timing, sir.

So long, Leonard. You picked a helluva time to leave us.

: ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
“You Want It Darker”
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game

If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame

If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame

You want it darker

We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the help that never came

You want it darker
Hineni, hineni

I’m ready, my lord
There’s a lover in the story

But the story’s still the same

There’s a lullaby for suffering

And a paradox to blame

But it’s written in the scriptures

And it’s not some idle claim

You want it darker

We kill the flame
They’re lining up the prisoners

And the guards are taking aim

I struggled with some demons

They were middle class and tame

I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim

You want it darker
Hineni, hineni

I’m ready, my lord
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the love that never came

You want it darker

We kill the flame
If you are the dealer, let me out of the game

If you are the healer, I’m broken and lame

If thine is the glory, mine must be the shame

You want it darker
Hineni, hineni

Hineni, hineni

I’m ready, my lord
Hineni

Hineni, hineni

Hineni 

— From the album You Want It Darker, released Oct. 21, 2016

A few stray Wikipedia gleanings, showing why he’s so important and one of my top five favorite writer/musicians:

  • Themes of political and social justice also recur in Cohen’s work, especially in later albums. In “Democracy”, he both acknowledges political problems and celebrates the hopes of reformers: “from the wars against disorder/ from the sirens night and day/ from the fires of the homeless/ from the ashes of the gay/ Democracy is coming to the USA.”[98] 
  • He has made the observation in “Tower of Song” that “the rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor/ And there’s a mighty judgment coming.” In the title track of The Future he recasts this prophecy on a pacifist note: “I’ve seen the nations rise and fall/ …/ But love’s the only engine of survival.” 
  • In “Anthem”, he promises that “the killers in high places [who] say their prayers out loud/ [are] gonna hear from me.”
  • Cohen showed an interest in Jesus as a universal figure, saying, “I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says ‘Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek’ has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness…A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion. I’m not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me.”[119]

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