New music from Leonard Cohen is finally here, with the 82-year-old Canadian icon releasing the title track from his upcoming album “You Want It Darker”.
The new song — described by a press release as “an unflinching exploration of the religious mind” — pairs Cohen’s doom-laden baritone with Montreal’s Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir to emphasize the chilling lyrics.
“They’re lining up the prisoners and the guards are taking aim,” Cohen sing-speaks. “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/I’m ready my lord.”
Full of somber religious imagery, “You Want It Darker” shows Cohen at the top of his game at age 82, boasting such lyrics as “If thine is the glory, then mine must be the shame” in the album, produced by his son, Adam Cohen.
“You Want It Darker” will be released on Oct. 21, although it’s not known whether Cohen will hit the road in support of the new album. You can check out the new track right here:
The press release announcing the album’s release date offers advance descriptions of the nine new tracks:
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.”
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.”