Song of the Day: Leonard Cohen – “Dance Me to the End of Love”

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Where do you start with Leonard Cohen? There’s of course “Hallelujah,” which is the first track that came to the mind of many when news of his passing surfaced last night. But there’s so many songs to choose from, one of them being this graceful, hypnotic track that is one of his most popular. Originally off the 1984 album Various Positions, “Dance Me to the End of Love” was actually influenced by the Holocaust. “It’s curious how songs begin because the origin of the song, every song, has a kind of grain or seed that somebody hands you or the world hands you and that’s why the process is so mysterious about writing a song,” Cohen once said (per Wikipedia). “But that came from just hearing or reading or knowing that in the death camps, beside the crematoria, in certain of the death camps, a string quartet was pressed into performance while this horror was going on, those were the people whose fate was this horror also. And they would be playing classical music while their fellow prisoners were being killed and burnt. So, that music, ‘Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,’ meaning the beauty there of being the consummation of life, the end of this existence and of the passionate element in that consummation. But, it is the same language that we use for surrender to the beloved, so that the song — it’s not important that anybody knows the genesis of it, because if the language comes from that passionate resource, it will be able to embrace all passionate activity.”

It’s one of many priceless works from Cohen, and one that will sink its teeth in and make you want to listen over and over.

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