"Anthem" as written by and Leonard Cohen....
I caught the darkness, it was drinking from your cup
I caught the darkness drinking from your cup
I said is this contagious?
You said just drink it up.

I got no future,
I know my days are few
The present's not that pleasant
Just a lot of things to do
I thought the past would last me
But the darkness got that too

I shoulda seen it coming
It was right behind your eyes
You were young and it was summer
I just had to take a dive
When I knew was easy, the darkness was the price.

I don't smoke no cigarette, I don't drink no alcohol
I ain't had much loving yet
But that's always been your call
Hey I don't miss it baby
I got no taste for anything at all

I used to love the rainbow
And I used to love the view
Another early morning, I'd pretend that it was you
But I caught the darkness baby
And I got it worse than you

I caught the darkness, it was drinking from your cup
I caught the darkness, drinking from your cup
I said is this contagious?
You said just drink it up


Lyrics submitted by lypsyl

"Anthem" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Anthem song meanings
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  • +8
    General CommentThe line "a crack in everything" seems to come from a book by Jack Kornfield on buddhism. The story is that a young man who had lost his leg came to a buddhist monastary thing, and he was extremely angry at life, and always drew these pictures of cracked vases and damaged thing, because he felt damaged. Over time, he found inner peace, and changed his outllook, but still drew broken vases. His master asked him one day: "Why do you still draw a crack in the vases you draw, are you not whole?" And he replied
    "yes, and so are the vases. The crack is how the light gets in"
    neptune235on April 17, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light" is a quote attributed to that great Zen monk Spike Milligan.
    futatoriuson September 21, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is also a reminder that in the grand scheme of things all you can do is move forward and do the best you can with what you have.
    radiotoaston October 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningLeonard Cohen once explained the meaning of the song as follows:

    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 or 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.
    – from Diamonds in the Line
    liminaon March 05, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThanks. This is one terrific song and now it has a new look.
    quilceneon August 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti agree the chorus is saying its the flawed things that are the most beautiful because they are the ones with character.

    it reminds me what someone said about imagine: its a great thing to aim for but if the world was like that it would just be boring
    kdanceon February 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere is a wonderful passage in the essay 'What I believe' by E.M. Forster (spichtinger.net/otexts/…) which goes:

    "The more highly public life is organized the lower
    does its morality sink ; the nations of today behave to each other
    worse than they ever did in the past, they cheat, rob, bully and
    bluff, make war without notice, and kill as many women and
    children as possible; whereas primitive tribes were at all events
    restrained by taboos. It is a humiliating outlook - though the
    greater the darkness, the brighter shine the little lights, reassuring
    one another, signalling: "Well, at all events, I'm still here. I
    don't like it very much, but how are you ?" Unquenchable lights
    of my aristocracy! Signals of the invincible army ! "Come along
    - anyway, let's have a good time while we can. "I think they
    signal that too."

    And when you put it like that it doesn't seem so bad, after all. Things are crap - of course they are, they always have been - but oh well, never mind. Carry on regardless: make the most of it. The crack is how the light gets in. You'll be hurt, you'll be screwed over, everything that is sacred will be rendered profane - but remember the words of the wise man. This too shall pass. And when you're tired, cold, ready to surrender - that's just when love will come to you. To make it all worthwhile. It is a tremendously hopeful message. In spite of all this adversity, well, there's still beauty. There's always something worth living for.
    tcoboon April 29, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhile some of Leonard Cohen's songs may be a little pessimistic and concerned with the trivial pursuits of the flesh, this one is lyrically optimistic and I like that. I think Cohen has some insight into spiritual things but struggles with hope. So this song it quite refreshing in it's hopefulness.

    There are some really good lines, aside from the crack in everything, which is a great line I like;

    "while the killers in high places
    say their prayers out loud. "

    It is Christian to say your prayers in private(Matthew6:5-6), so this line highlights the fact that those in 'high places' or positions of power in the world are acting in a hypercritical way when they pray out loud to be seen as righteous people.

    "Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering "

    We need to get active spreading the truth now, and not to worry that we have to first become perfect to do so. If we wait for perfection we will never get round to it.

    "every heart
    to love will come
    but like a refugee. "

    Everyone that desires love (the divine type, not romantic) will come together to the truth, but they will be like refugee's in a foreign land. As the place of Truth (with a capital T) is very foreign to the way the world is.

    That is just the way I take the song anyway.
    bobuon April 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhere the heck do these credits come from:
    "Anthem" as written by Alex Harvey, Hugh Mckenna
    ??
    I'm pretty sure Cohen wrote this song!
    qsilentqon December 09, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy humble critique to this song Anthem by Leonard Cohen is really quite simply put -for there is a crack in everything, thats how the light gets in. I believe that for those who have, and acknowledge their own limitations and at times when we are somewhat low in ourselves we can appreciate there is that lifeline to which we cling.And within that light that does get in we feel a love so pure and outreaching,and healing within itself.
    oldcrowon December 31, 2013   Link

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