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The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:03 pm
by Steven
What Leonard Cohen song do you feel is most dark?

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:42 am
by Cate
my vote
.. The Butcher with Dress Rehearsal Rag a close second.

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:48 pm
by Stamatina
Dress Rehearsal Rag...
with Here It Is as a close second.

I never liked The Butcher much, so I haven't listened to it very closely, but I do find Dress Rehearsal Rag to be darker.

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:19 am
by Steven
Hi,

Currently, my vote would be for "The Night Comes On." I could change my mind on this,
as my vote and thoughts on this aren't cast in tombstone. ;-)

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:18 am
by Stamatina
Steven wrote: Currently, my vote would be for "The Night Comes On."
I would never think Night Comes On to be a dark song! Why do you say that?

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 6:39 pm
by chromaxome113
Stamatina wrote:
Steven wrote: Currently, my vote would be for "The Night Comes On."
I would never think Night Comes On to be a dark song! Why do you say that?
I would absolutely say that Night Comes On is a dark song! Excuse me Steven, I don't mean to take your words from you, but I am forever a guardian and defender of that song. Stamatina, I'm not sure if you've taken a look at the lyrics, but the entirety of the song follows Cohen's desire to... well, to commit suicide. He wants the night to "go on and on," he wants to be in this state of calm eternally. The first two stanzas discuss the departure of his parents from his life, his unwillingness to cope, and his desire to join them, but continually he is "told" (obviously metaphorical, it's his own unpreparedness to actually do the deed) to "go back to the world." The third and fourth stanzas both discuss reasons seemingly out of his control that force him to stay (I'm a major lover of the third stanza), but you get the sense throughout that while he has responsibilities holding him back, it really is his choice to stay, but he can't face that.
At last we come to the last stanza.

"Now the crickets are singing
The vesper bells ringing
The cat's curled asleep in his chair..."

He's alone now. He's old, there's essentially nothing holding him back anymore. He appreciates those who have helped him on his way.

"And the night comes on
It's very calm
I want to cross over, I want to go home
But she says, Go back, go back to the World."

With nothing holding him back but his own mind, he gives credence to the fact that he can't end it. It's beautiful, and one of the darkest, most sincere self-portraits he's ever written for us.

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 6:55 pm
by MaryB
chromaxome113 - yet another interesting interpretation of this song. You might want to join this conversation viewtopic.php?f=10&t=26230

Welcome to the forum!

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:57 pm
by Steven
Hi chromaxome113,

Welcome to the forum. A very well expressed post. Am in agreement with what you've said.

Hi Stamatina,

A fair enough question. It's pretty much as chromaxome113 put it, for me.

Hi Everyone,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6MqUqtTlLI&ob=av3e
No desire to speak about traditions that hold that death isn't dark, nor the time to do so.
Not that anyone brought those up in connection with "Night Comes On."
On a lighter note (didn't intend this pun), the above linked song came to mind.
Will be off line for at least a couple of days. Take care.

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:11 pm
by Stamatina
chromaxome113 wrote: but you get the sense throughout that while he has responsibilities holding him back, it really is his choice to stay, but he can't face that.
that's exactly why I don't think it's a dark song! :razz:
because throughout the whole song, right to the very end, he always "goes back to the world", back to his responsibilities and also the beauty of it (the woman, the children, the friends). I find this deeply optimistic and calming, like an understanding hand resting on my shoulder.

In Dress Rehearsal Rag, on the other hand, he actually describes the suicide until the end. Sometimes I find it scary, sometimes. And generally depressing (not that this means I like it less than the rest of mr Cohen's songs). So even if I understand why you'd say Night Comes On is a dark song, I believe there are much darker LC songs.. (but that's just me)

a big welcome to the forum from me, too! :D

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:31 am
by stella s.
For about thirty years I would have voted for Dress Rehearsal Rag, but since I first heard The Darkness on the last tour, I think this is Mr. Cohen's darkest song.

I’ve got no future
I know my days are few
The present’s not so pleasant
Just a lot of things to do
I thought the past would last me
But the darkness got that too

It's the description of the deepest possible depression. The person in the song can't even be desperate anymore. There is no future, no past, no beauty, no pleasure, nothing. No more motion - life has stopped. There is even no wish for death anymore, because there is nothing to die for. And hearing these lines from a man in his mid 70ies is really unsettling me.

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:07 pm
by remote1
Dress Rehearsal Rag and Nancy.

And you, Steven, what Leonard Cohen song do you feel is most dark?

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:46 pm
by John Etherington
While I recently alluded to the fact that none of Leonard's songs are specifically optimistic or romantic, on reflection it's hard to find any that are truly dark. Songs with lyrics that may be considered to be Leonard's darkest are often juxtaposed with melodies that are either upbeat or create a sense of calm. One might say that "Diamonds in the Mine" is a very dark song (especially the version with "the mega stench of baby corpses blowing in the wind"), but the fact that it's set to a hoe-down tune helps to alleviate any apparent pessimism. Although "Songs of Love and Hate" may be considered to be Leonard's darkest album, the passion and anger that it contains do not express the stagnation of real depression. It's interesting to consider that when this (and "Songs From a Room") were released Leonard was seemingly enjoying the fruits of recognition such as financial and sexual success. I've only listened to "The Darkness" once, because I want to hear it fresh on the album. However, Leonard appears to have found some degree of happiness, even though at 77 his days may be numbered. Overall he manages to express existential reality while simultaneously conveying the spiritual quest.

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:28 pm
by TipperaryAnn
John Etherington wrote: on reflection it's hard to find any that are truly dark. Songs with lyrics that may be considered to be Leonard's darkest are often juxtaposed with melodies that are either upbeat or create a sense of calm.
I couldn't agree more. A song is a blend of lyrics and melody, but many of those who call Leonard's work "dark" or "gloomy" abstract the lyrics and analyse them instead of listening to the song. This reminds me of a quotation from "The Favourite Game:"

"The news is sad but it's in a song so it's not so bad."

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:09 pm
by Steven
Hi remote1,

I'm voting for "The Night Comes On." "Darkest" is individual/subjective and the degree for me is measured by the
etremity and duration of dark feelings that a song elicits. For me, the song's imagery/construction are such
that it's long remained a classic of the dark. I've listened to "The Night Comes On," probably a hundred times
over the years; it hasn't lost any of its power. The other songs people cited are plenty dark, grant you.
And, I'd bet that Leonard was feeling at least as dark and probably darker when he wrote those than when
he wrote "The Night Comes On." But, i.m.o., "The Night Comes On," is one of Leonard's better songs and
holds up to the test of repeated listenings for me. Wouldn't want to hear the others many times,
not so much because of their darkness, but because I don't think that they are as well written as "The Night Comes On." Maybe the thread's question might have been better as something like: "What is a darkest song that you've admired for a long time?"

Re: The Darkest Leonard Cohen Song

Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:42 pm
by Stamatina
Steven wrote:"What is a darkest song that you've admired for a long time?"
The Gypsy's Wife, possibly..And Queen Victoria.

As hard as it is to find songs of Leonard that are wholly dark, it is also tough to find songs that are wholly light.
I think there is a level of darkness in all of them, like a shadow hanging above each song waiting to find the listener in the right emotional state to make its presence known. In other words, I believe all songs - but some definitely more than others - are capable of making..not only me, but others, too, cry. Even if the melody is upbeat. Even if the Master's voice sounds soothing.
Steven wrote:But, i.m.o., "The Night Comes On," is one of Leonard's better songs and
holds up to the test of repeated listenings for me. Wouldn't want to hear the others many times,
not so much because of their darkness, but because I don't think that they are as well written as "The Night Comes On."
I agree with that - I, too, find Night Comes On to be a "better" song than Dress Rehearsal Rag or The Butcher or Nancy, but I think it's a better song exactly because it's not totally dark. Because of what I said before:
Stamatina wrote: because throughout the whole song, right to the very end, he always "goes back to the world", back to his responsibilities and also the beauty of it (the woman, the children, the friends). I find this deeply optimistic and calming, like an understanding hand resting on my shoulder.
All things have a light and a dark side and in songs like Night Comes On, the light and the dark are perfectly balanced, which makes them more..complete. And whole.