Ever full of wisdom, Leonard Cohen humbly told The New Yorker in an epic interview this week, “I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”
Fans and critics are looking ahead to the Oct. 21 release of his new album You Want It Darker with great excitement; some preview listeners already say it’s one of his best. But the idea that this LP may mark the end of the legendary songwriter’s career is distressing, to say the least.
Cohen is working on more projects: among others, unpublished poems and lyrics that he wants to arrange and record. “I haven’t gotten near finishing up. I’ve finished up a few things. I don’t know how many other things I’ll be able to get to, because at this particular stage I experience deep fatigue,” said Cohen. “There are times when I just have to lie down. I can’t play anymore, and my back goes fast also. Spiritual things [...] have fallen into place, for which I am deeply grateful.”
We can still hope for much more to come from Cohen. “Maybe I’ll get a second wind, I don’t know,” he said. “But I don’t dare attach myself to a spiritual strategy.” He also gratefully noted, “I have all my marbles, so far.”
Ironically—since he only became truly comfortable with performing in the last decade or so—Cohen noted that his physical frailty will probably prevent him from touring anymore. So if you were hoping for a tour in support of You Want It Darker, don’t count on it; but you might be able to instead catch him at one-off shows or residencies.
We’ve been getting lots of bleak messages from Cohen in the last few months. There was the grim title track he shared off his forthcoming album, and then the instantly famous letter he sent to his muse Marianne on her deathbed (he noted in the New Yorker interview that he was surprised it had gone viral), in which he wrote, “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. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”
Maybe Leonard Cohen is ready to go, but whether we’re ready for a world without Leonard Cohen is a different matter entirely. Look out for You Want It Darker on Oct. 21.