In August, Leonard Cohen wrote to his dying muse Marianne Ihlen: “I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.” Last week, at 82, he followed her into a place beyond death. His music, and his myth, will long survive his passing.
Cohen’s latest album You Want It Darker – his best for years – focuses partly on his readiness for death. The title track begins:
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
The song ends simply: “Hineni, hineni [Here I am] / I’m ready, my Lord.” The background singing is from the choir of the Montreal synagogue where he grew up; he came from a family of Jewish scholars. The words of the chorus, “Magnified and sanctified / Be thy Holy Name”, are from the Kaddish, the prayer for mourners.
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