"And love is not a victory march It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah". "Maybe there's a god above, and all I ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you." "And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah".
The version by John Cale, used in Shrek, is particularly gut-wrenching.
Alison Crowe sings a heartbreakingly beautiful version of "Hallelujah" as well.
And then leaning on your window sill he'll say one day you caused his will to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter And then taking from his wallet an old schedule of trains, he'll say I told you when I came I was a stranger I told you when I came I was a stranger.
"Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything that's how the light gets in..."
"Bird on the Wire" from Songs from a Room, sad all the way through, but contains what is going to be L. Cohen's epitaph:
Like a bird on the wire Like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried, in my way To be free
Everybody knows the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the fight was fixed. The poor stay poor; the rich get rich. That's how it goes; everybody knows.
Everybody knows the boat is leaking. Everybody knows the captain lied. Everybody got this broken feeling like their father or their dog just died.
"I'll try to say, a little more - love went on and on; until it reached an open door - then love itself, love itself was gone."
"And what can I tell you, my brother, my killer, what could I possibly say? I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you, I'm glad you stood in my way..."
Although, these lines from "Famous Blue Raincoat" from Songs of Love and Hate may be even worse: "Thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes; I thought it was there for good, so I never tried." Then it's bam! Tears welling up every time.
"The man she'd wanted all her life was hanging by a thread/I never even knew how much I wanted you, she said..."
"The Story of Isaac" from Songs from a Room, full stop. I was running, he was walking, and his axe was made of burning gold.
"Suzanne" from Songs of Leonard Cohen... It's not even necessary to quote anything. The nostalgic lyrics with the melancholic guitar, the Jesus parable, and Cohen's background for the song. Just sad.
"Are you the teachers of my heart?" "We teach old hearts to break."
I was handsome, I was strong
I knew the words to every song
Did my singing please you?
No, the words you sang were wrong.
In July 2016, Cohen learned that his one-time lover and muse Marianne Ihlen (namesake of "So Long Marianne") was gravely ill and close to death. He wrote to her, a letter she received shortly before she died.
Well Marianne, itís come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that Iíve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I donít need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.
The reply moreso:
Marianne slept slowly out of this life yesterday evening. Totally at ease, surrounded by close friends.
Your letter came when she still could talk and laugh in full consciousness. When we read it aloud, she smiled as only Marianne can. She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her.
It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength. . . . In her last hour I held her hand and hummed ďBird on the Wire,Ē while she was breathing so lightly. And when we left the room, after her soul had flown out of the window for new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words.
So long, Marianne . . .
And true to his word, Cohen himself passed only four months later.
The entirety of his final album You Want It Darker. Leonard knew his time was up by this point, and it's reflected here. Especially in the reprise of "Treaty" at the end of the album. If you weren't crying for the rest of the album, this will do it.
I wish there was a treaty we could sign It's over now, the water and the wine We were broken then but...now we're borderline And I wish there was a treaty... I wish there was a treaty... Between your love...and mine