Leonard Cohen Elaborates On “These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood” From Gypsy’s Wife

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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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.

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

“There’s also a joke about country and western [music] in it” Leonard Cohen on The Captain


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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


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

Leonard Cohen, Cairns, & Cojones


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
[emphasis mine]

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

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

“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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


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


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