Listen: Leonard Cohen Title Cut ‘You Want it Darker’

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leonard-cohen-you-want-it-darkerSinger-songwriter Leonard Cohen, celebrating his 82nd birthday today (September 21), has released the bone-chilling title cut from his new album, You Want It Darker, which is scheduled to arrive on October 21. (The album was originally announced on August 12 without a firm release date.) The follow-up to 2014’s Popular Problems, the new set, Cohen’s 14th studio recording, was produced by his son, Adam Cohen, and will be released by Columbia Records. Pre-order is available here. Hear “You Want it Darker” below.

The label’s announcement notes that the song “delves into an unflinching exploration of the religious mind. Cohen created this hypnotic groove with the addition of Montreal’s Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, whose voices invoke a sound from Cohen’s youth.

The announcement also provided a brief song-by-song description:

1. “You Want It Darker”
Hypnotic groove. The surprise of a great synagogue choir. An unflinching exploration of the religious mind.

“Didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim.”

2. “Treaty”
One of Cohen’s signature melodies. A confession of the selfishness of love and the hope of a correction.

“Only one of us was real—and that was me.”

3. “On the Level”
An old man’s take on desire.

“I was fighting with temptation, but I didn’t want to win”

4. “Leaving the Table”
A slow, relentless, and somehow joyous ballad of letting it all go by. A guitar solo you will remember.

“I’m leaving the table, I’m out of the game.”

5. “If I Didn’t Have Your Love”
A classic Cohen love song: the deep gratitude felt by one heart opening to another.

“That’s how broken it would be,
what the world would seem to me,
if I didn’t have your love to make it real.”

6. “Traveling Light”
A seeker hits the road and finds the joys of solitude.

“I’m traveling light
It’s au revoir
My once so bright
My fallen star”

7. “It Seemed the Better Way”
The feeling of a prayer that’s been there forever, but the spiritual comforts of the past no longer available.

“Lift this glass of blood, try to say the grace.”

8. “Steer Your Way”
A song of courage as the heart moves into the darkness.

“Steer your heart past the pain that is far more real than you.”

9. String Reprise/Treaty
A brilliant reimagining of “Treaty” as a string quartet; a truly glorious moment ending with a few words from Leonard himself.

“I wish there was a treaty we could sign.”

The title track, “You Want It Darker,” was previewed earlier this year on the BBC television drama Peaky Blinders. Steven Knight, creator of the program, which follows the exploits of a crime family in Birmingham, England, a hundred years ago, has said that Cohen wrote the new song specifically for the show.

The lyrics, in part, are:

“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
We kill the flame”

Says Cohen: “As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty.”

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