Info & Updates: Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker

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Info & Updates: Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker

First Published: Aug 14, 2016
Most Recently Updated: Nov 10, 2016

Note; The most significant elements are marked in dark blue.


1. You Want It Darker
2. Treaty
3. On The Level
4. Leaving The Table
5. If I Didn’t Have Your Love
6. Traveling Light
7. It Seemed The Better Way
8. Steer Your Way
9. String Reprise/Treaty


Official Lyrics: Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker Album

Official Videos

Video: Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Lyric)

Reviews & Interviews

LeonardCohenForum Commentary

The Darker Album and the Songs: This section of the LeonardCohenForum contains analyses of and comments, speculations, and perspectives on You Want It Darker contributed by Forum members, many of whom have followed Leonard Cohen throughout his entire career, some of whom are exceptionally insightful and articulate, and all of whom are passionate about the Canadian singer-songwriter’s music. Highly recommended.




As announced on the Leonard Cohen Facebook Page 13 August 2016:

At the age of 82 Leonard Cohen is releasing an album of haunting new songs, which the lucky few who have heard it, deem “a masterpiece” and “classic Cohen”. The album is called YOU WANT IT DARKER and arrives in stores this Fall.

The album is produced by Adam Cohen, whose Facebook Page offers this description and an image of a vinyl version of the album.

haunting vocal performances. stirring lyrics. classic melodies. this new Leonard Cohen album, coming out in the fall, is an absolute gem (& i had the great privilege and pleasure of producing it). album cover design by the excellent Sammy Slabbinck Collage & Illustrations, album mixed by my long time friend and collaborator, Don Miguel.



The Official Press Release for Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker with tracklist annotations, release date, pre-order and download links …  can be found at It’s Official: Pre-Order Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker & Download Title Track Now, In Stores Oct 21, 2016

Leonard Cohen Facebook Page Album Announcement: “It is fitting that this announcement comes on his 82nd birthday, because this is not an album a young talented artist – even a young, talented Leonard Cohen – could have written. You Want It Darker reflects the perspective of a genius who has experienced a long, self-aware life viewed with profound honesty and expressed with expertise, authenticity, and graciousness.” More at Not Just Another Great Leonard Cohen Album But The Culmination Of An Extraordinary Life


Listen To Special Pre-Release Broadcast Of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker Album

You Want It Darker

Listen to the first verse of the album’s title song and read its lyrics at Video: Leonard Cohen’s New Song On Peaky Blinders – “You Want It Darker”
Update: The lyrics of the entire song can be found at Lyrics Of “You Want It Darker”
Update: Listen To Title Track: You Want It Darker


You Want It Darker Remixes

A remix of “You Want It Darker” by Paul Kalkbrenner was posted 11 September 2016 at the Leonard Cohen Facebook Page.


See Video: Solomun Remix Of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker – Grand Palais

On Oct 7, 2016, Sony released the full, official Paul Kalkbrenner Remix of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker

See reviews of Paul Kalkbrenner Remix of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker at Hallelujah, A Leonard Cohen Techno Remix Exists and It’s Perfect by Max Mertens (Thump: October 7, 2016)  and Paul Kalkbrenner Sheds Holy Light on Leonard Cohen’s ‘You Want It Darker’: Listen by Kat Bein (Billboard: Oct 7, 2016)

Steer Your Way

Read the lyrics of “Steer Your Way” at New Leonard Cohen Poem “Steer Your Way” In June 20, 2016 New Yorker
Update: The lyrics of “Steer Your Way” can also be found on page 43 of the 2016 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam Event Booklet.

Lyrics From Other Songs On You Want It Darker Album

Selected lyrics from songs on the You Want It Darker album along with notes on origins (e.g., published poems), links to other works by Leonard Cohen, and allusions are posted at 

Early Reports

My own views, posted at “You Want It Darker” A Momentous Leonard Cohen Album Coming This Fall:

I first heard “You Want It Darker” a week ago. My immediate reaction was that the tracks were dramatically more, well, dramatically more dramatic than the songs on his most recent albums. This is the first Leonard Cohen album since “The Future” that overwhelmed me the first time I heard it. Since then, traces of lyrics and chords have continued to resonate and now I am convinced that “You Want It Darker” will be not only one of the finest albums in Leonard’s oeuvre and an outstanding album in the field of popular music but also a touchstone for songs that aspire to address the most basic human concerns — life, death, love, hate, spirituality – with self-awareness, bravery, and honesty.

Tweeted by John Mulvey, Editor of Uncut Magazine 10:21 AM – 14 Sep 2016

Our new, improved reviews section, lead by a magisterial piece by @jandersonesque on what I think might be one of Leonard Cohen’s best LPs.

Note: A tweet from Uncut Magazine notes that the issue containing that review is now published and is “out next Tuesday in the UK, but subscribers should hopefully see their copies this weekend”

Mulvey also wrote in the Uncut blog

ook out in there [the Nov issue of Uncut], too, for a terrific review by Jason Anderson of Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker”. After living with this one for a couple of weeks I feel, at the very least, it’s my favourite of his 21st Century records.

Sylvie Simmons, Cohen biographer and music journalist, posted the following on Facebook:

Okay, I’ve listened twice and, though I’m not allowed to review it before the embargo, here’s what I can say. It’s really, really good. And despite the title, not a big downer. Lyrically, it’s amazing, very deep – getting deeper the more I listen; I’m going through it a third time now – and true.

Oh and Adam Cohen did a fine job producing. And I’ll have stop there or I’ll be in trouble. My full review will be in MOJO magazine soon after its release, which will hopefully be Sept 21, Leonard’s birthday. It’s an album worth waiting for!

You Want It Darker was played for the participants of the 2016 Leonard Cohen Event in Amsterdam on Aug 12, 2016. The following remarks were posted at the LeonardCohenForum.

Post by HugoD » Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:36 pm: Just got home from the first day of the Amsterdam Event, and guess what? We got an very exclusive first hearing of the complete album :D . Sounds great and very well worth waiting for.

Post by dafyddpj » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:03 pm: I was very moved by the album. Took several minutes to recover. I think it will become a favourite along with Recent Songs and Songs of love and hate.

Post by Winterblossom » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:39 pm:Wow what a treat we got in Amsterdam tonight, listening to the new album. I just couldn’t believe this was happening for real!! It’s an album one will love from the very first listen, where as the previous one took me several listening sessions. They mentioned it to be released in October. Can’t wait!

Post by Joe Way » Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:48 pm: Just a few comments by one of the lucky ones who were privileged to hear the album last night-I really liked it and I’m one of those who generally needs a new LC album to grow on him. I think it is quite different from his last two albums-seems to be more instrumentation. My favorite, and in discussion with others here, many others is “Treaty.” I wonder if this is the melody that Leonard has had for a number of years that he has been looking for a lyric to. It is just beautiful. The gist of the song is making peace, not only with his Maker, but with everyone and all things. After only one listen, I can’t say much else. The album ends with first an instrumental reprise of the melody and then, a chorus. Leonard doesn’t “sing” a lot on this album, but this one comes close.

Post by Joe Way » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:36 am: He recites more than sings most of the lyrics. This was a question that came up in our discussions with Patrick Leonard. Patrick speculates that Leonard is so focused on what he wants to say that he thinks learning the melodies closely would be a distraction. Again, one listening is not enough to make many observations about work that is as genuinely complex as Leonard’s. There is also certainly the chance that my observations are wrong. Suffice it to say that it is very richly intriguing album and I know that I will enjoy many listenings of it. I think that “Treaty” will be a classic Cohen song. Patrick Leonard also brought good news that Leonard is already working on his next project that will be a more orchestral work. He said more like a Chamber Orchestra with some choruses and spoken words. I think that this puts to rest the notion that this album is a swan song. Now, it could come to be that this is the last album released, but that is not the intention.

From Greg Ross on Facebook (16 August 2016): The album is very different and, on first hearing far darker than I expected. In some ways, i was shocked, the feel borders on apocalyptic, perhaps reflecting the pessimism many of us quietly feel about our world today and a u-turn from the funky, laid back feel of Popular Problems. It was almost Gandalf warning of dark doom coming from Mordor. It will be fascinating to visit the album in depth sitting at home with the sound system crystal clear and studying the lyrics.

Post by liverpoolken » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:39 pm: I loved it instantly…the album i have been waiting years for…deep.. aphotic and dangerous….and I’m so glad to learn that what sounded like beautiful and mesmerising geogorian chants to my ears is an actual synagogue choir and not the output of a piece of electronic studio equipment….we all know how leonard loves his studio toys..

Post by Stranger » Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:25 am: … The first listen made me place the atmosphere of “You want it darker” alongside my favourite album “Songs of Love and Hate”, and songs like “Show me the place”. I can’t wait to hear “You want it darker” again…

Post by swisschris » Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:26 am: As we were not allowed to record – righteously so ! – and as I forgot to take notes, I can’t give a detailed review of the album but I can write down what I still remember.4 or 5 songs of the album were co-written with Patrick Leonard (he told us at the Event). 1 song was co-written with Sharon Robinson (she told me after her concert but stupid me forgot to ask which song it was…).The album starts with the title song “You want it darker”. I already liked the one-minute-clip from Peaky Blinders but I found the whole song to be very hypnotic. It is a song full of religious imagery. For example, several times in the song the lines “Hineni – I’m with you my lord” appears. Hineni is Hebrew. meaning “I am here” in a spiritual sense “I am here for you fully, with the trust and vulnerability to do whatever it is you ask of me”. It is used when G-D personally calls on someone in the Bible to do something difficult and important, for example Abraham or Moses responded to the call of G-D with Hineni. (see: … 3ce6c.html). So it is only fitting that what I first thought to be a sample is actually a real choir appearing in the song (the cantor and choir of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount/Montreal). The choir appears in another song but unfortunately I forgot in which one. Full of religious imagery is also another favourite of mine: “Steer your way”. It is the most up-tempo song (up-tempo in relation of other Cohen songs:-) on the album and reminded me a little bit of “Closing Time” (although slightly slower) with the beautiful violin playing. It is maybe also the most “catchy” song on the album and the one I continued humming ever since…. The most beautiful song on the album maybe is “Treaty” which appears in two versions. Patrick Leonard told us that he had been working with Leonard on this song for 7 years, over and over again, and the result really is a masterpiece. Apparently, the album should have closed with “Steer your way”, but then Leonard asked Patrick to arrange an instrumental version of the song for a string quartet and that’s how the album closes, the string quartet playing and then Leonard coming in at the end reciting a verse of the song, of which I recall only the last words “I wish there was a treaty, I wish there was a treaty between your love and mine”. It is the most beautiful album closer, prepare your handkerchiefs… Another song that I recall was “Traveling Light”, on which I heard, if I’m not mistaken, a bouzouki playing… Overall, I think it is a very homogenous piece of art. There wasn’t a single song that I didn’t like. It is very rich in details (so many different voices and instruments to be heard) beautifully produced and has a rather “acoustic feel”. Gone are the cheap-sounding keyboards:-) So it is a great album through and through, from the artwork to the melodies and the poetry.


Cover Art


Post by Maarten » Thu Aug 25, 2016: The album cover of “You Want It Darker” was designed by the Belgian Bruges-based artist Sammy Slabbinck who got in touch with Adam Cohen after Adam liked a few of his works on Instagram. They exchanged a few thank you’s by email and later Adam contacted Slabbinck, asking if he would like to do the album artwork for the latest Leonard Cohen album. Adam admitted he himself and his father were both fans of Slabbinck’s works and later Slabbinck received a few video messages from Leonard himself (through Adam), playing the piano and guitar. For the design of the album cover, they wanted something “iconic” and sent Slabbinck only 1 photograph to work with, a photograph taken at Leonard’s place.A small interview (in Dutch) with Slabbinck was on Belgian’s radio “Studio Brussel” this morning, explaining these details. For the Dutch amongst us: the interview starts around 2h 47m 15s into this fragment: … 63edf843f/

The photo on the cover was taken by Adam Cohen. For more, see About That Photo By Adam Cohen On Cover Of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker. He talked about it on the Leonard Cohen Facebook Page:

The photo was taken on a break while working on the album directly outside his front door on the balcony-landing. At that point I was taking habitual smoke breaks every 15 min, and on this occasion my father followed me out to join me. It’s the privilege of having turned 80 and keeping his promise to recommence smoking whenever he feels the impulse. Truth is he smokes very little, but it hits the spot sometimes. I took one single photo as he smoked with me that late afternoon on my way to doing what I really wanted during that particular break, which was to take some video. I found him particularly dapper, energetic and seemingly unaware of the camera. I have a great little piece of video from the moment. I shared the photo with him the next day and knew it’d be one of the few he’d like, even somewhat suspecting he would immediately put the photo into contention for the album cover. And he did. He never even considered another photo in its place. There’s no question my father identified that energy and attitude in the photo comes from the holding of a lit cigarette. He was not merely responding to its aesthetics or representation on himself; he likes the edge, the boldness, the subtle antagonism of the act, and of course the humour.”

A number of fans have remarked on, lamented, defended, and debated the cigarette in Leonard’s hand on the cover of this album. In response, Cohencentric created a New & Improved Alternative Cover For Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker: You Want It Healthier

Leonard Cohen Explains Cigarette He’s Holding On His You Want It Darker Album Cover features Leonard Cohen’s smoking issues, his thoughts on the You Wanted It Healthier alternative cover art, and his explanation of that cigarette he’s holding on the You Want It Darker album.

Also see No-Smoking Alternative Album Covers For Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker

Check out the previous Leonard Cohen albums covers with cigarettes at You Want It Darker Isn’t Leonard Cohen’s First Smoking Album Cover

The Title

From Considering Leonard Cohen’s New Album Title: You Want It Darker – With Guest Author Apollon Maykov:

“You Want It Darker” is an intriguing choice for the title of the new Leonard Cohen album scheduled for release this fall. It not only hearkens back to recurrent motifs in Cohen’s earlier work but also implies that the musical themes in this album will extend and surpass the intensity of its predecessors. “You Want It Darker” is ambiguous enough to keep album-buyers and album-listeners invested and a tad off balance. It is also spectacularly evocative.

We’ll be considering the “You Want It Darker” as a title in future posts. Ending today’s introduction of the topic are the words of Apollon Maykov on the topic of “darker:”

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!

Apollon Maykov

This concept is further examined at Considering Leonard Cohen’s New Album Title: You Want It Darker – With Guest Authors Thomas Carlyle & Carl Jung