Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who passed away on Nov 10, once wrote a farewell letter to longtime friend and muse Marianne Ilhen, the inspiration behind the song So Long Marianne.

In the letter, 82-year-old Cohen said to Ilhem (who died at age 81 in July): “It said, well Marianne it’s 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.” The poignant note tells us that back then, Cohen already seemed to be contemplating the inevitably of his own demise when he wrote the letter.

The solemn subject is the haunting theme on his latest album. The nine-track album opens with You Want It Darker. A looming choir welcomes listeners into the song as Cohen’s deep voice sings, “I’m ready, my Lord”. In the languid guitar-driven track Leaving The Table, Cohen waves a white flag to whatever discontentment he has in life.

He sings that he no longer needs a lover (“the wretched beast is tame”) nor should his adversaries continue to fight him as he is stepping out soon.

If I Didn’t Have Your Love is brilliant track which cements Cohen’s reputation as a revered poetic songwriter, one of the many things that he’ll be remembered for when he is gone. In the song, Cohen contemplates a bleak life (“And the day of break had nothing to reveal/That’s how broken I would be”) that could have been without his beloved.

Try not to cry at the solemn strings on farewell number Travelling Light. The song goes as a biopic of sorts on Cohen’s life – “I used to play one mean guitar”.

You Want It Darker is a masterpiece that’s possibly helping listeners out there to cope with the news of his death.

Leonard Cohen

You Want It Darker

Sony Music

leonard cohen