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.