Song Lyrics

Hi, this is Bono, um, I’m choosing, “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen.

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

The wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
and signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
The widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

Can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
they’re gonna hear from me.

Ring the bells that can still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
but there is no drum
Every heart to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Holy smoke, Leonard Cohen’s voice on this one is incense: part offering, part noxious.
Perfume…getting up the nose of anyone who might stray into the contradictions of religion.
God.

The idea that all of us are equal is essential tenet to Christianity but we don’t really believe it, do we?
Not of Jews, not of women, not of Africans. Not of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists. There’s too many of them.
And they’re too far away for us to share their grief when their houses and their lives evaporate.
Deep down we think they’re not worth as much as us. Really.

Neither God or history will let us away with this.

But back to the poet and his big baritone sliding down to a bass, like the drunken arm of a trombone player.
Bel Legosi canto, I call it. I can still hear this voice when I read these words.
I’ve chosen them though because these words stand up on their own.
They stand up for comedy and the right to be ridiculous, as much as they stand up for dignity and the right
To live like a human.

Human rights. They stand up for human-ness.

The voice cracks, that’s how the light gets in.

I heard a story that in the days following September the eleventh, New Yorkers jammed the switchboards
Of TV stations with the request not to round out the numbers of people who lost their lives on that day.
‘Be specific’, was the message. Each death had the life behind it and many around it. The demand was
Adhered to across the United States and Europe. That’s no small victory…for love.

I just wish we could be bigger. Big enough to take the whole world in.
Like the voice of Leonard Cohen.