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Ring the Bells

In dark times, poetry and music often become more important to us, providing the kind of transcendence we need to interpret painful events in a wider context. I am reminded of Leonard Cohen lately who wrote Anthem, (some like to call it Ring the Bells) one of his most beautiful and hopeful songs. Since Cohen’s death on November 7 2016, the lyrics of Anthem have resonated across the internet.  If you don’t remember him, it may be because many of his best songs were covered by many others including, I’m Your Man (Joe Cocker), Avalanche (Nick Cave, probably the best cover for Cohen’s many lyrics), or Hallelujah (best covered by Jeff Buckley), but Cohen’s gravelly voice lends itself particularly well to Anthem.  The lyrics are below.

The birds they sing, at the break of day
Start again, I heard them say.
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be.

Yes, the wars, they will be fought again
The holy dove she will be caught again
Bought, and soul, and bought again
The dove is never free.

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.

We asked for signs. The signs were sent
The birth betrayed. The marriage spent
Yeah, the widowhood of every government
Signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more, with that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up a thundercloud
They’re going to hear from me.

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.

You can add up the parts; you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugee.

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.