“You Want It Darker” by Leonard Cohen

In Paul Simon’s rough equivalent to this song off his 2011 album So Beautiful or So What, he posited that coming face to face with the Almighty God would reduce all our questions and protests about the way he runs the world to complete incoherence. While this sounds like a smart insight, perhaps it’s only because Simon, for all his musical genius, isn’t a great enough poet to face down the unimaginable with words alone. But if anyone could perform that feat in our time, it was Leonard Cohen. Here, on the title track and only single from his very last album, Cohen bitterly rips into God himself on the way he handles things in lyrics that are actually powerful and profound enough to do true justice to that concept. It serves, to some degree, as a counterpart and spiritual follow-up to his legendary “Hallelujah”, another song about standing before God and saying your piece. If this was the last testament Cohen would leave on this earth, he certainly went out with a magnificent crash of cosmic yet utterly human anger, and it ranks as one of the greatest artistic achievements of his illustrious career.

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