Last week Leonard Cohen celebrated his 76th birthday with the release of his latest CD – “Songs from the Road,” which includes 12 of the songs from his recent world tour.
The first song on the set is “Lover, Lover, Lover” – which he performed at Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv, on September 24, 2009, after rejecting Palestinian demands that he cancel his concert there. It is a song that ends with this stanza:
And may the spirit of this song,
may it rise up pure and free.
May it be a shield for you,
a shield against the enemy.
The new CD also features an album liner essay written by Leon Wieseltier, which concludes with these words about the world-tour concert:
Throughout the show, it was never clear whose gratitude was greater, Cohen's or the audience's. He seemed to find at every stop the sisters of mercy whom he immortalized in one of his oldest and most tender songs.... And now, wherever this precious man wanders, the famous blue raincoat notwithstanding, people sing 'hallelujah!' The Psalmist himself could not have asked for more.
Cohen has written that his song “Anthem” (1992) is “the closest thing I could describe to a credo.” The key lyric is “There is a crack, a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” Writing about the song in 1993 in The New Yorker, Wieseltier called it ”one of the most affecting songs to have been written anywhere in many years”:
On the page, the words seem a tiny bit trite. On the record, they are the sound of grown-up solace, of spiritualized patience, of quotidian valor.
Cohen sang “Anthem” during his April 11, 2009 appearance in Los Angeles as part of the tour. It is not on the new CD, but you can watch and listen to the key two minutes of it here. The Psalmist himself could not have asked for more.