The Night of Santiago

Album: Thanks for the Dance (2019)

Songfacts®:

  • "'Night of Santiago' was originally a poem penned by Leonard Cohen, which he based on Federico Garcia Llorca's 1928 Spanish poem "La Casada Infiel." His producer/son Adam recalled to Apple Music: "I'd heard it under construction for years, on the front lawn or while we were having coffee or dinner, and I'd always begged him to attempt to write music to it. In a weakened state, he said, 'Look, I'll just recite the poem to a certain tempo and you go ahead and you write the music and try to tell the story."
  • Adam Cohen recorded part of the song in Los Angeles, where he ran into Beck. Engineer and musician Michael Chaves recalled to Uncut magazine: "They got talking, he came down to listen to what we were up to. He had a couple of ideas for The Night of Santiago and put them down, a nice beautiful acoustic part and some Jew's harp, which was very dear to Leonard in the old days."
  • The Jew's harp is a musical instrument consisting of an iron frame, held in the teeth, which has a steel strip twanged with the fingers. Different notes are obtained by changing the shape of the mouth. Other songs that feature a Jew's harp include:

    "Join Together" by The Who

    "Give It Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

    "Potholes in My Lawn" by De La Soul.
  • The song was partly recorded in Spain. Spanish guitarist Javier Mas, who accompanied Leonard Cohen on stage for his last eight years of touring, helps give it that flamenco twist.

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