leonard cohen happens to the heart lyrics meaning

Leonard Cohen – Happens to the Heart (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)

The “Hallelujah” maestro, Leonard Cohen, passed away in November 2016, at the age of 82 leaving us with some great music. It is a fond sensation to know that there is yet more music to be released from Leonard Cohen even several years after his demise. In such spirit, Cohen’s camp released a new posthumous video for “Happens to the Heart” track from an upcoming project.

“Happens to the Heart” follows a previous release “The Goal” which serves as the first taste of what is to come in the upcoming album ‘Thanks for the Dance.’ Cohen’s fifteenth studio album and first posthumous album, produced by Cohen’s song, Adam Cohen, is scheduled to release on November 22, 2019.

The music video for “Happens to the Heart” was directed by Daniel Askill, who spoke about the concept of the video with Rolling Stone magazine; “I wanted to make something that spoke to Leonard’s years as a zen monk. This film is a quiet, symbolic narrative that charts the letting go of ego and the trappings of fame.” Watch the video below.

The song describes the events in the life of a man. He worked his whole life until he drove himself crazy over it. He thought he was becoming whole by reading The Bible and Carl Marx. But none of these helped him achieve greatness. He only witnessed his flicker of light diminish.

In events that follow in his life, the singer questions ‘what happens to the heart?’ In his troublesome escapades, in his ugly trades, in the prison and within the loose women he associated, he probably witnessed a little part of his heart dying away. Every struggle we face takes a toll on our soul; “it left an ugly mark.”

Leonard Cohen sings of a woman he was with, in “Happens to the Heart.” He knew she was trouble and they were not meant to be in love. But they looked stellar on the outside, so he continued to play the part of the ‘boyfriend.’ In this entrapment of ‘love,’ Leonard Cohen now suffers. He has no satisfaction in work, personal life, his trades, or his lover. There is one last escape available–a 0.303-inch calibre rifle!

The music video shows a troubled young girl stripping off her worries (resembled by clothes) and getting into robes and wandering through the woods. In the end, she finds the light (a clearance), where she starts to meditate and achieve inner peace. These events are in perfect sync with the lyrics of the song.

Let us hear what you think about this song and video by Leonard Cohen in the comments below. If you liked this article, do share it with your friends and check out more articles like this on our blog.

3 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen – Happens to the Heart (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)

  1. I read somewhere else it was a man, not a woman. I assumed the figure represented Cohen in his youth as they are dressed like him. Cohen is looking back on his own life not some woman’s life, so why have a woman in it. It doesn’t make sense.

  2. Great song and disturbing video, both in symphony however is manifestation of our lost age. Failing to grasp the teaching of Christ, taking all for grunted, a man toys with Marx, he stumbles through life lacking convictions but hiding under mask of pretension and cliches. His women are just as troubled as he is himself. In the end his desperation degrade him to the final stage – a rifle that will take his life or simone else’s. A final ultimate sin. And video begins with a girl in a man’s clothes, with a shaved head. He could have been a model for a 19th century Celtic revival in Art with her lioness like red hair flowing down to her feet. But she is deprived or robbed if her feminity by our gender confused age. She walks to ease the inner pain or vague panic , she sheds a clothing away but not to reclaimed her mystic feminity, no. She walks into loneliness and solitude of Eastern meditation foreign to her genetic culture. All in all it is very very sad video. Great reflection of our lost age.

  3. Is the girl in this video supposed to be gay, sorry it’s been playing on my mind, why a girl was chosen to shoot this one …. Tks

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