There’s nothing like it: his voice, his music, his lyrics. There are so many lines that break me open in gratitude and heartbreak for being alive — especially “There’s a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in” or “I love to see you naked, especially from the back.” But today I want to land on one of my favorites of favorites, “If It Be Your Will,” especially as performed with Cohen speaking the first two or three stanzas of the poem/song/prayer, and then having the Webb Sisters, with their haunting and twining harmonies, “unfold it,” to use Cohen’s description of the performance.
First, there are the words: “If it be your will/ that a voice be true/ from this broken hill/ I will sign to you/ from this broken hill/ all your praises, they shall ring/ if it be your will/ to let me sing.” I also love how he prays for alignment with the greater will of the universe, and how he speaks of everyone “in their rags of light/ all dressed to kill/ and end this night/ if it be your will.” It’s an amazingly simple song that opens to turtle upon turtle of meaning, and I know of no other better plea for connection, healing and wholeness.
Then there is the singing — his low voice speaking with such earnestness and simplicity these words, and then having these words lifted on the wings of winding and climbing harmonics in angelic voices of Charley and Hattie Webb.
As this ends walks toward it end and turning, I let this song land in me, willing it to rise through my words and deeds, and show me more about how to live out this coming year. May we all have such shimmering voices to guide us.