LEONARD COHEN | Darkness

January 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Leonard Cohen’s latest single, “Darkness”, sounds like his version of the road-weary old-timer moods Bob Dylan captured on 1997’s “Time Out of Mind”. What I mean is it’s a life-assessment song, or as T.S. Eliot wrote in his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” — this is Cohen’s way of “measuring his life out in coffee cups”. In it he describes an ascetic’s lifestyle of trying to abstain from cigarettes, alcohol and women — and how he’s lost a taste for everything. It’s an organ-blues cut which will be included on his January 31st release, “Old Ideas”. The song is a beauty. A low-moan acoustic guitar, gracefully finger-picked, purrs through the opening before Cohen sings, “I caught the darkness / Drinking from your cup / I said is this contagious / You said just drink it up / I got no future / I know my days are few / And the present’s not that pleasant / Just a lot of things to do / And I thought the past would last me / But the darkness got that too.” It’s seems about the right time for Cohen to take measure of his life and career, much like Dylan did with a song like “Not Dark Yet” and “Highlands”. Dylan’s songs too were stark, with lyrics like this opening verse in “Highlands”, which felt like someone feeling time’s sliding sands, “Windows were shakin’ all night in my dreams / Everything was exactly the way that it seems / Woke up this morning and I looked at the same old page / Same ol’ rat race / Life in the same ol’ cage.” But unlike Dylan, Cohen wraps his song in an upbeat rhythm, with a couple of winks and nods that fans have come to love in his songwriting. Where Dylan was exceedingly somber and accusatory of a world gone wrong, Cohen becomes playful, falling into a persona more akin to Tom Waits — with a self-deprecatingly fun line like, “I used to love the rainbow …” Note: Lyrics are unofficial. –– David D. Robbins Jr.

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