As I wrote in 1975 or 1976, ‘These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood.’ I had this sense that some thing had happened, and that people were kind of hanging on to their little bits of furniture and bobbing about in the torrent. Therefore, descriptions like ‘conservative,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘pro-abortion’ or ‘anti-abortion,’ these definitions that were current and still define the political life, were entirely irrelevant, considering the catastrophe and the predicament people found themselves in.
Note: “These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood” is a line from the lyrics of The Gypsy’s Wife, released on Leonard’s 1979 album Recent Songs.
There’s also a joke about country and western in [The Captain]. The guy who has to be educated – he says, ‘I didn’t risk my life for some country western song.’ But the argument is won by the captain. By the end the kid takes the captain’s bars and accepts the responsibility of leadership. If he is not exactly converted to country music, he is converted to certain values that exist in country music, like the notion of manly self defense.
Note: The pertinent lines from The Captain follow (bolding mine):
“I left a wife in Tennessee
And a baby in Saigon —
I risked my life, but not to hear
Some country-western song.”
From Tortoise-Shell by Biba Kopf. New Musical Express, March 2, 1985. Originally posted May 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
In a LeonardCohenForum post about the Nov 26, 2013 Leonard Cohen concert, Bev aka B4real reported
Near the beginning of Going Home Leonard sang this line ‘He just doesn’t have the cojones to refuse‘
In the original lyrics that line reads
He just doesn’t have the freedom to refuse
Like many Cohen admirers, I’m intrigued by the changes he frequently makes in his lyrics. I am especially taken with the substitution of “cojones” for “freedom” because – well, mostly because it’s just so damn cool.
And, it’s not a trivial change. “He just doesn’t have the freedom to refuse” could, for example, be legitimately interpreted as a Calvinistic declaration that refusal is not and never could be an option because every human’s life and behavior has long ago been predetermined and free will is an illusion. The ability to refuse – if one has the courage – is, however, implicit in “He just doesn’t have the cojones to refuse.”
Yep, it takes cojones to make a change like that.
Note: Originally posted Nov 30, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
“I wanted a revelation in the heart” Leonard Cohen On Democracy
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.
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
- Tower Of Song – Interview (Feb 1992) by Paul Zollo. SongTalk: April 1993, [↩]
I’ll find you though you climb
The very heights of failure peak,
I’ll lift you from the midst
Of your invincible defeat,
But hold me when the darkness sings
And when our faith is weak
We’ll bathe together in those springs
A thousand kisses deep
From At Lunch With Leonard Cohen; Philosophical Songwriter On A Wire by Jon Pareles. New York Times: October 11, 1995, Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted Oct 18, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric