Uncut magazine recently included Leonard Cohen’s “Songs of Leonard Cohen” in a list of the greatest ever first albums – and how could you not? His second album, “Songs from a room” is almost as good and this is one of my favourites:
I finally broke into the prison,/I found my place in the chain./Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows,/all the brave young men/they're waiting now to see a signal/which some killer will be lighting for pay./It’s the hopelessness of his vision that draws me to Leonard Cohen. As he says in a later song, “I’m on the side that’s always lost”.
Into this furnace I ask you now to venture, /you whom I cannot betray.
I fought in the old revolution /on the side of the ghost and the King./Of course I was very young
and I thought that we were winning;/I can't pretend I still feel very much like singing/as they carry the bodies away...
Uncut also recently reviewed an academic study of the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. The review opens with a nice anecdote. Cohen asks Dylan how long it took to write “Every grain of sand” – about five minutes, Dylan answers. Dylan asks the same of “Hallelujah”. About three years Cohen answers, though he later admits that it was really five.
Thanks for the song, Mo.