You Want It Darker

Album: You Want It Darker (2016)


  • Like many of Leonard Cohen's songs, "You Want It Darker" takes a look at religion:

    Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
    Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
    A million candles burning for the love that never came
    You want it darker
    We kill the flame

    In press materials, Cohen wrote of this song: "Hypnotic groove. The surprise of a great synagogue choir. An unflinching exploration of the religious mind."

    The presser adds: "Cohen created this hypnotic groove with the addition of Montreal's Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, whose voices invoke a sound from Cohen's youth."
  • This is the title track of Cohen's 14th album, which was released when the poet/songwriter was 82. It was produced by his son, Adam.
  • Adam Cohen's production contrasts his father's minimal vocals with Montreal's Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir. The repeated cries of "Hineni, hineni" translates to "Here I am" in Hebrew. The word is seldom used in modern language but appears nine times in the Torah, when a man responds to God's call.
  • During an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Cantor Gideon Zelermyer offered his interpretation of Leonard Cohen's use of the Hebrew word:

    "In this case, I think hineni is more a reference to Leonard as someone trying to come to an understanding with God, someone reckoning with final tallies in the Book of Life: Here I am - I am ready."
  • The song was first previewed on June 2, 2016 when a segment was played during an erotic asphyxiation scene near the end of Season 3, Episode 5 of the BBC drama series Peaky Blinders.
  • This won for Best Rock Performance at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

Comments: 1

  • George from Vancouver, Canada"Hineini" is Hebrew for "Here I am," sung by a cantor on the eve of Yom Kippur.

    In this song, so close to Cohen's death, it seems like he was speaking it to the angel of Death.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.

Don Brewer of Grand FunkSongwriter Interviews

The drummer and one of the primary songwriters in Grand Funk talks rock stardom and Todd Rundgren.

Zakk WyldeSongwriter Interviews

When he was playing Ozzfest with Black Label Society, a kid told Zakk he was the best Ozzy guitarist - Zakk had to correct him.

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.

Charlie Benante of AnthraxSongwriter Interviews

The drummer for Anthrax is also a key songwriter. He explains how the group puts their songs together and tells the stories behind some of their classics.

Eric ClaptonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really write "Cocaine" while on cocaine? This question and more in the Clapton edition of Fact or Fiction.