You Want It Darker

Album: You Want It Darker (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • 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.
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