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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 310
Tues, Nov 20, 2012

“If It Be Your Will [Live Austin, 1988]”
Leonard Cohen

1984

“♫ If it be
your will/ if
there is a
choice/ let the
rivers fill/ let
the hills rejoice
/ let your
mercy spill
♫”

I often get asked why I am such a devoted listener of Leonard Cohen? I listen to Leonard because I have truly loved, truly lost, truly felt alone and lustful but no matter how deep the pain, I knew, by the end, there was hope that I would find my way. Cohen is a prophet/ poet who comes to you when you’re ready. Even Bob Dylan is a fan of Leonard Cohen and “If It Be Your Will” as Sylvie Simmons discovered in her most excellent biography Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, when she wrote “Dylan had told Leonard that he thought that Leonard’s songs were becoming “like prayers” and none more so than the album’s [Various Positions] closing number “If It Be Your Will.” It was, Leonard said, “an old prayer that came to me in a rewrite. […] “It was a heavenly recording” producer John Lissauer says. “Jennifer Warnes came and sang with him. Just one take.””

Leonard Cohen is brave. That’s why we listen to him. He’s fearless with his words. He is the living embodiment of the most interesting person in the world. He has Zen like stare that can seduce and slay you with one glance. He will take you by the hand and leading you on his eternal skin dance. He like a voice from the clouds coming when you need him most.

Sylvie Simmons wrote in Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, “[“If It Be Your Will”] is a song about surrendering, resigning completely to the will of another. It is a prayer of conciliation and unity. And like Book of Mercy, it is a prayer for Mercy.” I find it best to listen to Leonard after midnight in those moments in the darkness when doubts, fear and second thoughts creep inside when I am alone. Songs like “If It Be Your Will” resound the message, no matter what happens between you and her, you must savor every moment you taste between your lover. Like a light-bulb, your love, could flicker out in the middle of the night. Because of this fate, you must love like you’re a daring poker player. Just like in life and love, you have to go all in and let the riches fall where she may.

Although Cohen admitted in Maurice Ratcliff’s Leonard Cohen: The Music and The Mystique: ““If It Be Your Will” took a long time to write because the lyric and the melody are so simple that if there were a false step it would really collapse the structure; it would dissolve and be left hanging;” When asked in 1984 which song, “you wish you had written?” Leonard Cohen famously replied, “If It Be Your Will and I wrote it.

Yes, “If It Be Your Will” is this majestic of a love song. If you’re still wondering why we listen to Leonard Cohen, I leave you with the words by journalist Ahmed Rashid when he so eloquently wrote, “Working as a journalist, I have taken Cohen everywhere, through long bouts covering the wars in Afghanistan and Central Asia, including during a stint with the Taliban in the 1990s. Wherever I travel, I still pack him like a sleeping pill, a beautiful ghost you can surrender to, a spiritual man for these unspiritual times, someone with whom you can shed the weight of reality, your fears and concerns.” To whom it may concern, when you’re ready put on your ears and “If It Be Your Will” let Leonard Cohen inside listen for the first time. No maybe’s, take the leap with “If It Be Your Will” and you will feel fulfilled.

And just because Antony delivers a heavenly vocal rendition from Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, here’s he’s brilliant cover of “If It Be Your Will.”

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