Sad news today that the great folk-rock singer Leonard Cohen has passed away. He was 82 years young and left quite a mark on music as a profound poet.
The first time I ever heard of Cohen was way back in the 1990s when I heard his song, ‘Waiting for the Miracle to Come’ that opens and sets the mood for Oliver Stone’s hyberbolic, over-the-top and satirical media critique ‘Natural Born Killers.’
Strangely, this morning around 7am, I was walking to work from the King Street Station in downtown Seattle. I had an inkling to listen to Cohen’s ‘The Future’. I ended up listening to the song twice. Recorded in 1992, there is an eerie relevance today. This is a song about the apocalypse.
Here are the lyrics:
Give me back my broken night/ my mirrored room, my secret life/ it’s lonely here/ there’s no one left to torture/ Give me absolute control/ over every living soul/ And lie beside me, baby, that’s an order! / Give me crack and anal sex/ Take the only tree that’s left and stuff it up the hole in your culture/ Give me back the Berlin Wall/ Give Stalin and St.Paul/ I’ve seen the future, brother: it is murder!
Things are going to slide, slide in all directions/ Won’t be nothing/ Nothing you can measure anymore/ The blizzard, the blizzard of the world/ has crossed the threshold and it has overturned the order of the soul/ When they said REPENT, REPENT/ I wonder what they meant
You don’t know me from the wind/ you never will, you never did/ I’m the little Jew who wrote the Bible/ I’ve seen nations rise and fall/ I’ve heard their stories, heard them all
but love’s the only engine of survival
Your servant here, he has been told/ to say it clear, to say it cold/ It’s over, it ain’t going any further/ And now the wheels of heaven stop/ you feel the devil’s riding crop/ Get ready for the future/ it is murder
There’ll be the breaking of the ancient western code/ Your private life will suddenly explode/ There’ll be phantoms/ There’ll be fires on the road/ and the white man dancing/ You’ll see a woman hanging upside down/ her features covered by her fallen gown/ and all the lousy little poets coming around/ tryin to sound like Charlie Manson/ and the white man dancing
Give me back the Berlin Wall / Give me Stalin and St. Paul/ Give me Christ or give me Hiroshima/ Destroy the fetus now/ We don’t like children anyhow/ I’ve seen the future, baby/ It is murder! END
Probably fitting to close with a lyric from his most famous song, ‘Hallelujah’:
‘I did my best, it wasn’t much. I couldn’t tell so I learned to touch. I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you. And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.’