Co­hen’s last al­bum in­cludes pre­mo­ni­tions of death

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

This year took two of mu­sic’s most loved icons, Leonard Co­hen and David Bowie, both of whom signed off with true artistry – through el­e­gant fi­nal albums with pre­mo­ni­tions of death.

Co­hen, whose death at age 82 was an­nounced on Novem­ber 10, just weeks ear­lier re­leased his 14th and fi­nal stu­dio al­bum, You Want It Darker.

Like much of his work – and true to the ti­tle – the al­bum was melan­choly, with the poet and song­writer ap­pear­ing to re­flect at greater length on his own mor­tal­ity.

On the ti­tle track, Co­hen re­turned to bib­li­cal her­itage as he re­flected on the mean­ing of both God and mu­sic.

“Hi­neni, hi­neni / I’m ready, my Lord,” he in­toned in his in­stantly rec­og­niz­able husky voice, em­ploy­ing He­brew to say “Here I Am”.

On “Leav­ing the Ta­ble”, Co­hen wrote a dark waltz in which he ques­tioned how harshly he should as­sess his own life.

“I don’t need a rea­son for what I be­came / I’ve got th­ese ex­cuses / They are tired and lame.

“I don’t need a par­don / No, no, there’s no one left to blame / I’m leav­ing the ta­ble / I’m out of the game,” he sang.

Co­hen’s fi­nal pub­lic event was a lis­ten­ing ses­sion in his adopted home of Los An­ge­les for “You Want It Darker”.

He laughed off thoughts of his demise, say­ing, “I in­tend to live for­ever,” af­ter telling The New Yorker mag­a­zine in a pro­file that he was “ready to die”.

His dra­matic death fol­low­ing the al­bum, which was re­leased on Oc­to­ber 21, par­al­leled the last days of rock icon Bowie.

Black­star came out on Jan­uary 8, Bowie’s birthday. He died two days later from an unan­nounced bat­tle with cancer.

Black­star, which like You Want It Darker re­ceived nearly uni­ver­sal crit­i­cal praise, showed Bowie’s con­tin­u­ing ex­per­i­men­tal­ism late in life as he brought in hard-edged jazz. In hind­sight, fans saw am­ple al­lu­sions to death on the al­bum. On the track “Lazarus”, Bowie sang of un­seen scars and a fi­nal quest for free­dom. In the video, Bowie was seen in a hospi­tal bed as he re­treats into a wardrobe of out­fits from his ca­reer.

The al­bum’s ti­tle track, “Black­star”, showed a woman dis­cov­er­ing a dead as­tro­naut, later seen by many fans as the death of Ma­jor Tom, a re­cur­ring char­ac­ter since the start of Bowie’s ca­reer. – AFP

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