It Seemed the Better Way

Album: You Want It Darker (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • This heavily spiritual song finds Leonard Cohen grappling with the issues of faith and belief. Cohen described the lyrical content in press materials as, "The feeling of a prayer that's been there forever, but the spiritual comforts of the past no longer available."
  • The song features Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, who also appear on the album's title track. They are the current male choir of the Montreal synagogue that Cohen attended as a child.

    Asked about the significance of the cantor's involvement, Cohen commented during an album Q&A: "I've never thought of myself as a religious person. I don't have any spiritual strategy, I kind of limp along, like so many of us do in these realms."
  • Cohen had already been thinking about a male choir when his son Adam, who produced the record suggested it. "Our light bulbs lit up at the same time," Cohen recalled to Macleans. "I always wanted to work with these singers. I had been playing a lot a cantorial music, wondering how to fit it in."
  • The weeping violin is played by Nashville-based session violinist David Davidson.
  • An early version of the lyrics appeared online in 2003.

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