You Want It Darker

Normally artists are like anyone else. As they get older their output degrades and their best work is in the past.

But to everything there are exceptions. Leonard Cohen wrote “You Want It Darker” while he was in 80s and dying of cancer (he died 17 days after the album came out). The entire album would have been an achievement for anyone, much less someone in their 80s whose bones are breaking down under cancer. But I think that the title poem (I don’t think calling it a song accurate even though that it what everyone else calls it) is better then anything else the Cohen wrote when he was younger. It is as rich in imagery as his best work when he was younger but it is lot more disciplined and focused then the work he wrote as a younger man. As a result, it hits like a truck without seeming like it is trying to manipulate your emotions.

I think anyone can listen to this without knowing anything and find it very powerful. But if you want to get more out of this you need to remember that this is a very Jewish poem (the background chorus comes from his childhood synagogue). Perhaps the best thing people could do to improve their understanding of it would be to read this on the Jewish prayer Hineni and this on the Mourner’s Kaddish. I also think it is important to remember what lighting the candles on Hanukkah is remembering.

But I suspect (and I could be wrong as it is not as clear as the references above) that the most important reference in understanding this poem is the last part of Isaiah Chapter 50 which reads….

Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

Regardless of the validity or lack therefore of my own understanding, you should listen to “You want it Darker” if you have not heard it yourself. It is the preeminent modern example of what good spoken poetry sounds like.

Since I was talking about this the other day….

And just because some people will think I am confused about what song this is, the below is from the official description on the video.

Hallelujah sung by Kaylee Rogers and Killard House School Choir in 2016. Copyright 2016 Kaylee Rogers/Killard House School Kaylee, a student at Killard House Special School in Northern Ireland, who suffers from autism and ADHD; stunned the online world with a choir rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

Why this is song that is so different from what most people think of as Hallelujah is because Leonard Cohen wrote a lot of lines to “Hallelujah” and different people including himself use different parts of it to make songs out of.

Links For Today


Ukraine Situation Report: Town Of Urozhaine In Donetsk Liberated

Pro-Russian sympathies make life harder for soldiers, cops in Kupiansk district

With two months left to go, the deficit for fiscal 2023 now stands at $1.61 trillion, after the federal government charted another massive shortfall in July.

Why Bill Watterson Vanished

50 million tons of water vapor from Tonga’s eruption could warm Earth for years