Song of the Day: Leonard Cohen – “The Future”



You might want to avoid this song if you’re feeling the least bit concerned about the world today. I first heard this song on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack in 1994, but Cohen’s passing has caused me to revisit it for the first time in years. The lyrics are about as bleak as it gets, and considering the state of things, they’re kinda terrifying. True, we’re living in a time where the Internet and 24-hour news cycle magnify everything negative times a hundred, perhaps making things seem worse than they actually are. Still, lines like “The blizzard of the world/has crossed the threshold/and it has overturned/the order of the soul” and “There’ll be the breaking of the ancient western code/Your private life will suddenly explode” feel frighteningly prescient. And it’s a terrific song to study as we continue to reflect on Cohen’s work and the power of his writing.

Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it’s lonely here,
there’s no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby,
that’s an order!
Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that’s left
and stuff it up the hole
in your culture
Give me back the Berlin wall
give me Stalin and St Paul
I’ve seen the future, brother:
it is murder.

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Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won’t be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant

You don’t know me from the wind
you never will, you never did
I’m the little Jew
who wrote the Bible
I’ve seen the nations rise and fall
I’ve heard their stories, heard them all
but love’s the only engine of survival
Your servant here, he has been told
to say it clear, to say it cold:
It’s over, it ain’t going
any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
you feel the devil’s riding crop
Get ready for the future:
it is murder

Things are going to slide …

There’ll be the breaking of the ancient
western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There’ll be phantoms
There’ll be fires on the road
and the white man dancing
You’ll see a woman
hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
and the white man dancin’

Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St Paul
Give me Christ
or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don’t like children anyhow
I’ve seen the future, baby:
it is murder

Things are going to slide …

When they said REPENT REPENT …

Lyrics via azlyrics.com

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