The Top Most Philosophical Leonard Cohen Lyrics

For those who don’t know, Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love was released in theaters on July 4th. The movie chronicles the complicated love of Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen. The film includes many interviews of people close to both Cohen and Ihlen, and is a beautiful story of how free love can ironically place you in the deepest confines of emotional pressure.

The movie also depicts Cohen’s struggle to emotionally commit to a woman, as he was too committed to his writing and his music. The film consists of various words of wisdom from Leonard Cohen and is a reminder that he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th and 21st century. It gives the audience an urge to look back at some of his most profound lyrics throughout his many years of song writing. People forget that he started out as an aspiring fiction writer before taking on the world of music. These are some extremely sagacious lyrics throughout his music over the years.




Song: Treaty

“I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything”

(Released 2016)

In this verse of the song, Cohen references the Bible, specifically the conversation between Eve and a snake. He references the snake with sentiments of good and bad. Normally, a snake who sheds his skin will get a new skin, naturally undoing himself of his old skin. Undoing himself of his old skin is a metaphor for removing himself of his sins. Yet, while you may be able to forget your sins, it is impossible to undo them. The poison will remain and spread throughout your body. After being born again without a skin, you are left fragile and vulnerable.


Image Via The Guardian


Song: Hallelujah

“Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew you”

(Released 1984)

Cohen was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish household, and was quite religious. Yet, he has gone through tragic personal experiences that has made him question the existence of a God.

Cohen also compares gun conflicts to relationships; that every time he has been in love he has been hurt. What he has learned from love is how to hurt someone who has hurt you, or how to impose torment on the other as they break your heart.



Song: Steer Your Way

“As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make things cheap”

(Released 2016)

In this verse, the person dying “to make men holy” is an obvious reference to the story of Jesus’ martyrdom. “Let us die to make things cheap” can be seen as a sardonic turnabout of this event. It could also be a reference to how in the capitalist world; how man and woman work in the Third World in life threatening conditions to “make things cheap”.


Image Via Discogs

Song: First We Take Manhattan

“I don’t like your fashion business, mister
And I don’t like these drugs that keep you thin
I don’t like what happened to my sister
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

(Released 1987)

This verse takes quite a cynical look at the fashion business; its pretentiousness and superficiality. That the fashion business symbolizes a lot of what is wrong with modern society.

“I don’t like what happened to my sister” could be a reference to the objectification of women by the fashion industry; how it creates unrealistic standards of beauty for women, similar to what social media is doing today.




Featured Image Via Pitchfork