“You can’t listen to these words [from You Want It Darker] without thinking about the fact that Leonard Cohen was dying when he recorded them.” From 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going – New York Times

This was hardly the first time that Cohen had drawn on his Judaism for his music. Though he had a complicated relationship with his religious inheritance, it provided a natural vocabulary for him; it was what he knew, and its stories of human suffering and, occasionally, redemption suited his poet’s pull toward the existential. But never before have Cohen’s biblical references felt so charged, so dark, so pointed. “Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name,” he sings. “Vilified, crucified, in the human frame. A million candles burning for the help that never came. You want it darker.” Then, echoing the words that Abraham spoke as he answered God’s command to sacrifice his only son: “Hineni, I’m ready, my Lord.”

From 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going: You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen by Jonathan Mahler (New York Times Magazine: Mar 9, 2017). The complete article is accessible at the link.