The Record That Changed My Life: Drew Gonzales salutes Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker.
Drew Gonzales: The maestro behind the thrilling, neo-calypso unit Kobo Town finds solace in Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker.
A few years ago, I was flying back from a tour in Europe and perusing the music collection of the in-flight entertainment system when I finally settled on Leonard Cohen’s final album, You Want It Darker. From the very first note I was caught, and listened to it again and again in its entirety the whole way home.
To my shame, I knew little of Cohen save his best-known songs and had no context for the lyrics on the album but the words themselves. But these words hit me like nothing else and seemed to voice so much of what has lurked in my own heart and unsettled my thoughts. To my untutored ears, all of the songs together formed a long, anguished address to a God he was letting go of—a meandering prayer that was honest enough to be unsure of its own destination.
All my life I have talked to God. As a young child, I assailed a dimly conceived deity for things that I did not get. Some were reasonable requests (“please help my parents to stay together”), others were less so (“give me wings so I can fly to my grandparents whenever I want”). Nothing was supposed to be impossible for the Omnipotent, and I think I took my family’s breakup and my enduring flightlessness as a sign that such a being did not exist.
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