As we reported last month, at least one thing has gone right in the continuing shitshow that is the year of our lord 2016: there’s a new Leonard Cohen album! The great man’s 14th studio album, and his third (!) of the 2010s, is entitled You Want It Darker, and as of today, it has a release date: it’s out on October 21.
Even better, the audio to the the title track — which appeared briefly in the TV show Peaky Blinders back in June — has now been released in full…
…and it’s great! There’s a signature Cohen wry smile line (“I struggled with some demons/ They were middle class and lame”)! There’s a freaking synagogue choir on it! And, on a more serious note, there’s a real sense of imminent mortality, something that I’m not the only one to note: “I’m ready, my Lord,” Cohen sings at the end of the chorus. Please don’t go just yet, Leonard — 2016 has already robbed us of too much talent and beauty.
The press release that gave us the release date also provides a short description of each track on the album — which was produced by Cohen’s son Adam, incidentally — along with lyrical quotes, as follows:
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. [There’s been one of these on every Cohen album since about 1980 — Leonard Ed.] “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.”