An Independence Day Post: Leonard Cohen Performs Democracy – “A Revelation In The Heart”

“I wanted a revelation in the heart” Leonard Cohen On Democracy

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I didn’t want to compromise the anthemic, hymn-like quality [of Democracy]. I didn’t want it to get too punchy. I didn’t want to start a fight in the song. I wanted a revelation in the heart rather than a confrontation or a call-to-arms or a defense.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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The Verse Not Taken

First we killed the Lord and then we stole the blues
This gutter people always in the news
But who really gets to laugh behind the black man’s back
When he makes his little crack about the Jews?
Who really gets to profit and who really gets to pay?
Who really rides the slavery ship right into Charleston Bay?
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

This verse, completed for “Democracy” but omitted from the final version (the lines were performed as a spoken verse in two concerts: San Francisco – July 3, 1993 and Boston – July 16, 19931), is an artifact of the rigorous revising that was integral to Leonard Cohen’s songwriting process and offers insight into his insight and intent. Leonard’s response to the query “Why did you take that [verse] out?” The quotation shown above is Leonard’s response to the query “Why did you take that [verse] out?”1

Leonard Cohen – Democracy
London: July 17, 2008
Video by PBS

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  1. Tower Of Song – Interview (Feb 1992) by Paul Zollo. SongTalk: April 1993, []

Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen Tour: Closing Time – San Jose 2009

Closing Time - San Jose with blouse in upper right being flung to stage

Closing Time – San Jose with blouse in upper right being flung to stage

Women’s Blouses In Flight At Closing Time Of Leonard Cohen San Jose Concert

Yeah the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots

From “Closing Time” by Leonard Cohen

Albert Noonan, better known in Cohen Country as albertnoonan, Vizier Of Videography, was good enough to alert us that minors should be removed from the room prior to the viewing of this recording in order to shield innocent children from exposure to this raucous rendition of the classic Cohen tune.

Yes, what you see is what happened – feminine clothing is repeatedly launched from the audience onto the stage, whoops are whooped, the unflappable Leonard Cohen loses his place in the song (1:18), and, in general, a good time is had by all.

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time
San Jose: Nov 13, 2009

Video by albertnoonan

Bonus: Democracy Is Coming To San Jose

“Democracy,” an especially popular feature of concerts earlier in the Leonard Cohen World Tour, had been absent for some time but was resurrected as the final song of the final 2009 US concert.

Leonard Cohen – Democracy
San Jose: Nov 13, 2009
Video by albertnoonan

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Credit Due Department: Photo of San Jose HP Pavilion by Kim Solez of Leonard Cohen Night. Photo atop this post is a video screen capture.

Note: Originally posted Nov 14, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Talks About His “Count Dracula” Verse Of Democracy


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I had a verse in my song, Democracy, which as you know has endless verses, but one of them was, ‘It ain’t coming to us European-style, concentration camp behind the smile, it ain’t coming from the East with its temporary feast as Count Dracula comes strolling down the aisle.’ I asked myself, a territory that has produced everybody from Dracula to Ivan the Terrible to Stalin, is this really the fertile ground for parliamentary democracy? I didn’t think so. It was clear to me that the real laboratory of democracy is America. It’s America where the races are really confronting each other, where the classes are confronting one another, where even people of a different sexual orientation are confronting one another. That’s where democracy started, and that’s where it’s really unfolding.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From A Purple Haze To A Purple Patch by Adam Sweeting (The Canberra Times: July 24, 1994)

“From the church where the outcasts can hide/Or the mosque where the blood is dignified…” Unused Verse From Leonard Cohen’s Democracy

democr
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From the church where the outcasts can hide
Or the mosque where the blood is dignified
Like the fingers on your hand
Like the hourglass of sand
We can separate but not divide
From the eye above the pyramid
And the dollar’s cruel display
From the law behind the law
Behind the law we still obey
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

From early draft of Democracy quotedown2
by Leonard Cohen

 

Source: Tower Of Song – Interview (Feb 1992) by Paul Zollo. SongTalk: April 1993. One of the verses Leonard Cohen discarded from “the 50 or 60 I discarded for ‘Democracy’” (Interview: Bob Harris’s Whispers: May 26, 1993). Originally posted Sep 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“First we killed the Lord & then we stole the blues” Why Leonard Cohen Discarded This Verse From “Democracy”

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The Verse Not Taken

First we killed the Lord and then we stole the blues
This gutter people always in the news
But who really gets to laugh behind the black man’s back
When he makes his little crack about the Jews?
Who really gets to profit and who really gets to pay?
Who really rides the slavery ship right into Charleston Bay?
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

This verse, completed for “Democracy” but omitted from the final version (the lines were performed as a spoken verse in two concerts: San Francisco – July 3, 1993 and Boston – July 16, 19931) is an artifact of the rigorous revising that was integral to Leonard Cohen’s songwriting process and offers insight into his insight and intent. The following excerpt, from Tower Of Song – Interview (Feb 1992) by Paul Zollo. SongTalk: April 1993, is Leonard’s response to the query “Why did you take that [verse] out?”

quoteup2
I didn’t want to compromise the anthemic, hymn-like quality. I didn’t want it to get too punchy. I didn’t want to start a fight in the song. I wanted a revelation in the heart rather than a confrontation or a call-to-arms or a defense.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Note: Originally posted Aug 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Source: Diamonds In The Lines []

Leonard Cohen Alludes To Dylan Song In “Democracy”

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There is a line in Democracy that referred specifically to the Dylan song ‘Everybody is Broken.’ The line is ‘The singer says it’s broken and the painter says it’s gray.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting, Da Capo Press, 2003.

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at