Suddenly the night has grown colder – Hallelujah Leonard Cohen

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord

When I fell into the blackest and deepest of holes following my heart surgery in February, I would find solace of a kind in a song from Leonard Cohen called ‘If it be your will’. It’s a profoundly spiritual song in which the narrator confronts his mortality:

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

It is a beautiful, pre-emptive farewell to life, an acceptance of imminent death. Listen to it via the link above, you will I suspect find it as moving as I do.

Then, at first occasionally and then more often, the sun would shine, figuratively and literally as winter passed into spring, illness into recovery.  And I would turn to another of the old master’s songs – You got me singing:

You got me singing
Even tho’ the news is bad
You got me singing
The only song I ever had
You got me singing
Ever since the river died
You got me thinking
Of the places we could hide
You got me singing
Even though the world is gone
You got me thinking
I’d like to carry on

I’m listening to it as I write this Blog and it makes me smile as it did back then.

You got me singing
Even tho’ it all looks grim
You got me singing
The Hallelujah hymn
You got me singing
Like a prisoner in a jail
You got me singing
Like my pardon’s in the mail

Sadly, Leonard Cohen will indeed speak no more. The Canadian poet, troubador, artist, singer-songwriter, novelist, sensualist and dramatist died this week at the age of 82, shortly after the release of arguably his masterpiece album You Want it Darker.

you-want-it-darker

In a week that has seen Canada’s immediate neighbour torn asunder (could it get any darker Leonard?), it was encouraging to hear from a North American President capable of eloquence, intelligence and humanity. No, not THAT President (elect). Canadian leader Justin Trudeau tweeted:

There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen brought a blaze of life to many people across multiple generations for his songs of love (never of hate despite an album entitled Songs of Love and Hate), of sensuality, love, faith, freedom, solitude and mortality.

A portent of his death came earlier this year just before the passing of his long-time lover and muse Marianne Ihlen, who  inspired two of his greatest songs, Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye and So Long Marianne.

As she lay on her deathbed, she read over and over a letter from him: “Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”

Now she can. So long Leonard and Hallelujah.

Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
HallelujahHallelujah

You told me again you preferred handsome men
But for me you would make an exception
 – Chelsea Hotel #2

Ah we’re drinking and we’re dancing
and the band is really happening
and the Johnnie Walker wisdom’s running high

And my very sweet companion
she’s the Angel of Compassion
she’s rubbing half the world against her thigh – Closing Time

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free – Bird on the Wire

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then he gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover. – Suzanne

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.Anthem

Suddenly the night has grown colder
The god of love preparing to depart
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine.Alexandra leaving

If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord.You want it darker

I will close with a song off his last album, a love song so exquisitely yearning, so heartbreaking in its intensity, that I refuse to edit it.

If the sun would lose its light
And we lived an endless night
And there was nothing left
That you could feel
That’s how it would be
My life would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real

If the stars were all unpinned
And a cold and bitter wind
Swallowed up the world
Without a trace
Oh well that’s where I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I couldn’t lift the veil
And see your face

And if no leaves were on the tree
And no water in the sea
And the break of day
Had nothing to reveal
That’s how broken I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real

If the sun would lose its light
And we lived an endless night
And there was nothing left
That you could feel
If the sea were sand alone
And the flowers made of stone
And no one that you hurt
Could ever heal
Well that’s how broken I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real.If I didn’t have your love

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