If you’re listening to a new Leonard Cohen song, “You Want It Darker” is likely a rhetorical question. The legendary singer/songwriter — who celebrates his 82nd birthday today (Sept. 21) — has released the predictably nocturnal, brooding title track to his upcoming You Want It Darker LP, which will be released by Sony on October 21.
The new song rides an eerily serpentine organ groove, with ethereal backing vocals from Montreal Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir. In his signature otherworldly trademark rasp, Cohen sing whispers: “If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame/ You want it darker, we kill the flame.” The slow-burning, almost hymnal track is every bit as captivating and unsettling as you’d expect from the historically somber Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
Listen here, and get excited for Cohen’s 14th studio album — his first since 2014’s acclaimed Popular Problems.
A press release about the album produced by Cohen’s son, Adam, offered a peek at all the songs on the singer’s first effort since 2014’s Popular Problems.
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.”