Born In Chains

Album: Popular Problems (2014)
  • This gospel meditation finds Leonard Cohen singing of the "Word of Words and Measure of all Measures," written on his heart "in burning letters." It was the one track on Popular Problems that Cohen wrote on his own, without the help of producer Patrick Leonard.
  • Cohen said during an album playback that this was the Popular Problems track that he struggled with for the longest. "That's been kicking around for forty years," he said with a smile. "I've rewritten the lyric many times to accommodate the changes in my theological position, which is very insecure."

    "The chords kind of interest me and we came up with this pure gospel version," he added. "It's the one song on the album I'm not 100 percent behind. I didn't nail it, but I've got a thumbtack in it."
  • Cohen first performed the song on stage in 2010.
  • Leonard Cohen said of the song to The Daily Telegraph: "We all live lives that are tethered to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, so in a certain sense everyone is born in chains. There are moments of liberation and moments of captivity. Life seems to move between those two polarities."
  • Although he has embraced Buddhism, the song finds Cohen harking back to his Jewish roots: "I grew up in a very conservative, observant family, so it's not something I ever felt any distance from," he said. "It is essential to my own survival. Torah values are the ones that inform my life."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Best Band LogosSong Writing

Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.

Emmylou HarrisSongwriter Interviews

She thinks of herself as a "song interpreter," but back in the '80s another country star convinced Emmylou to take a crack at songwriting.

Glen BurtnikSongwriter Interviews

On Glen's résumé: hit songwriter, Facebook dominator, and member of Styx.

Rupert HineSongwriter Interviews

Rupert crafted hits for Tina Turner, Howard Jones and The Fixx.

Gavin Rossdale of BushSongwriter Interviews

On the "schizoid element" of his lyrics, and a famous line from "Everything Zen."

Justin TimberlakeFact or Fiction

Was Justin the first to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher? Did Britney really blame him for her meltdown? Did his bandmates think he was gay?