Anthem (1992-1993)

"There's not a line in it that I couldn't defend... I delayed its birth for so long because it wasn't right or appropriate or true or it was too easy or the ideas were too fast or too fuss, but the way it is now it deserves to be born."

Leonard Cohen, interview 1992 ("The Future Press Kit")

It's hard to do a comentary in special for this particular song because it took ten years to write.There's not a line in it that I couldn't defend. There's not a line in the album that I can't defend, but this song especially. I delayed its birth for so long because it wasn't right or appropriate or true or it was too easy or the ideas were too fast or too fuss, but the way it is now it deserves to be born. I've been playing this song for many years and I knew that I was on the track of a really good song. I knew it stood for something clear and strong in my own heart. And I despaired of ever getting it and I was playing it on Rebecca's synthesizer, and she said "That's perfect just like that" And I said "Really ?" She said "Yeah let's go down to the studio now !"

*read the earlier version of "Night Magic"

About the meaning of the chorus

...That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is "Ring the bells that still can ring". It's no excuse...the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. "Ring the bells that still can ring" : they're few and far between but you can find them. "Forget your perfect offering" that is the hang-up that you're gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we've forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that's where the light gets in, and that's where the resurrection is and that's where the return, that's where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.

Oh thank you so much for this warm reception this evening. We are those demented and illing and affected creatures whose agony and anguish can only be cured by applause...(Applause)... Oh yes it's good !....I want to unify all your deep concerns, not that I know what they are, or even want to know what they are....I just want to unify just for a moment. Please allow your deep concerns to be unified. Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering - There is a crack in everything -That's how the light gets in - That's how the light gets in.

verse variation

The birds they sang, at the break of day
Start again, I seem to hear them say

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