The Cinch Review

Leonard Cohen: “Amen” and “Come Healing”

In concert lately, Leonard Cohen has been following his song “Amen” with his song “Come Healing,” which are both from his most recent album, Old Ideas.

There’s a fan’s YouTube clip embedded below, and a few thoughts from yours truly on the songs below that.

I think that “Amen” is as harrowing a song as he’s ever written. To my ears at any rate it is a deep moan to God, without sentimentality, laying out the worst of this world, begging maybe just to be able to believe it will be put right. Can God really want us, actually love us, after all of it? It’s a prayer for the evidence.

Tell me again
When the filth of the butcher
Is washed in the blood of the lamb
Tell me again
When the rest of the culture
Has passed thru’ the Eye of the Camp

Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen

The song “Come Healing” is softer, quite incandescently beautiful with Cohen’s lovely backing singers, yet still as utterly devastating a song of healing as Cohen or perhaps anyone has ever written.

O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

They are both good prayers for this age. And in the end for any age. As the album title says, they are old ideas. Would only that they weren’t so old.


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