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Leonard Cohen — Who By Fire (live)
Album: Cohen Live
Avg rating:
7.3

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2667









Released: 1997
Length: 4:58
Plays (last 30 days): 3
And who by fire, who by water,
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
Who in your merry merry month of may,
Who by very slow decay,
And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
And who by avalanche, who by powder,
Who for his greed, who for his hunger,
And who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,
Who in solitude, who in this mirror,
Who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,
Who in mortal chains, who in power,
And who shall I say is calling?
Comments (237)add comment
I used to think Leonard's music was depressing. Then I saw him live... in 2012. He skipped out onto the stage in a fedora & navy suit, along with the band looking equally classy. The audience rose to their feet in an instant standing ovation. I knew I was in for something special and I wasn't disappointed. It was one of the finest concerts I've ever seen. The passion, the haunting sounds, the background singers, the flamenco guitar, and Leonard... his humility and compassionate way of delivering songs, on his knees, was astoundingly moving. His memory is a blessing indeed. 
All the influential women in my life loved Mr. Cohen
Without sounding too blasphemous, I do absolutely adore the Buck 65 cover.
 GlobalPilgrim wrote:
Perfect mix this afternoon to help manage social distancing in face of the coronavirus pandemic. As I read, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ extraordinary, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” these mournful tunes are paradoxically somehow uplifting. Thanks.
 
Excellent book choice for these days or any!
un mito peccato che l'ho conosciuto e valorizzato da non moto
 markybx wrote:
That's kick-ass mandolin playing!  Who is it?
 John Bilezikjian

Wow. I can see now why Nick Cave admired him so.
Perfect mix this afternoon to help manage social distancing in face of the coronavirus pandemic. As I read, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ extraordinary, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” these mournful tunes are paradoxically somehow uplifting. Thanks.
I believe my corns are flaring up...
 myersei wrote:
rough year.  and my guess is we'll have quite a few more ahead of us as the greats of the 60s enter their 80s.  this song though.  Leonard was one of the GOATs.
 Or as Rickie Lee Jones said in "I  Was There",

"Every generation watches the princes of their nation
file away ..."



That's kick-ass mandolin playing!  Who is it?
The Americans used this song to great effect in its season 4 finale - brought me new appreciation for this fantastic song.  RIP LC
 Wardleader wrote:

BCarn, come to the dark side...  
 
I did. I'm a fan now. Bought some of his stuff. I'm hooked!
The last few songs preceding this, and now this? Clearly I simply have to sit here and enjoy...:)
Ten......still ten
By coincidence, this is the script I give my front desk phone operator.
Moving my 9 to 10....
Great string of songs, and this is perfect.  God bless Leonard Cohen.
 linz_bobinz wrote:
Its been a very heavy few days.
Your election results - Leonard's passing - Remembrance Day
whew!
May you rest in peace Leonard Cohen. You will be missed!
 
....at least Leonard wasn't around for the election results....
RIP to him and Long Live RP!!
Oh, his singers just sound fantastic!
A Montreal fan says Thank you Mr Cohen for your words and music
 rteeter wrote:
It comes from the prayer Jews say during the High Holy Days, which are coming soon.  The prayer is called "Unetaneh Tokef." It reminds us of the various ways people could die in the coming year and to be mindful of that fact. 

"How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,

Who shall live and who shall die,

Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,

Who shall perish by water and who by fire,

Who by sword and who by wild beast ..."


https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/unetanah-tokef/
(click where it says "single view" to get the full text)

 
I'm very grateful for that!  Like so many songs, this was nice enough, but madman-lyrics --- until I saw your post, which snaps it all suddenly into focus.  Very good indeed  -- thanks to all.
I've always enjoyed Coil's cover of this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDteoj-jDpE
Always a good choice.
sounds like a bad christmas concert, only much worse than that
 BCarn wrote:
Damn! Trying hard not to be a fan of his music. I suppose it time to let go. I like it.

 
BCarn, come to the dark side...  
Recently featured in Mr. Mercedes.
 Two weeks later: Chris Cornell. It's enough to make this muhfuh cry. 

nick.pylypiw524 wrote:
You tryna make a muhfuh cry?  Bowie, then Cohen?  What's next?  George Michael?  Sharon Jones?  Prince?

 


You tryna make a muhfuh cry?  Bowie, then Cohen?  What's next?  George Michael?  Sharon Jones?  Prince?
 {#Sunny}BCarn wrote:
Damn! Trying hard not to be a fan of his music. I suppose it time to let go. I like it.

 


Damn! Trying hard not to be a fan of his music. I suppose it time to let go. I like it.
rough year.  and my guess is we'll have quite a few more ahead of us as the greats of the 60s enter their 80s.  this song though.  Leonard was one of the GOATs.
 Larrygrrl wrote:
David Bowie "Lazarus" followed by this song....pure genius!

 
Both now gone, so sad😢
Yet another loss, this man had style. Don't think you'd find his like on a talent show
Its been a very heavy few days.
Your election results - Leonard's passing - Remembrance Day
whew!
May you rest in peace Leonard Cohen. You will be missed!
great legacy...
beautiful.

RIP Mr. Cohen and thank you for the music. 
Read my mind ... thank you.
RIP Leonard
Leonard out-morbids himself. 
It comes from the prayer Jews say during the High Holy Days, which are coming soon.  The prayer is called "Unetaneh Tokef." It reminds us of the various ways people could die in the coming year and to be mindful of that fact. 

"How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,

Who shall live and who shall die,

Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,

Who shall perish by water and who by fire,

Who by sword and who by wild beast ..."


https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/unetanah-tokef/
(click where it says "single view" to get the full text)
 Larrygrrl wrote:
David Bowie "Lazarus" followed by this song....pure genius!

 
And today as well ! 
David Bowie "Lazarus" followed by this song....pure genius!
 lissen wrote:

kcar wrote:

Absotively. Bill, you want me to send money? The frequency of the Leonard Cohen plays (oh hell, and Radiohead too) is pushing my hand away from my credit card. Both of them are wearing their schtick out.

  

 It's Okay, Bill, I will make up for his donations.  Thank you so much for these great choices.  
 
Right on! I'll cover for you when "The Killing Moon" and "Barra Barra" come on. I like Leonard but mostly when he's in a more upbeat mood...which lately doesn't seem to happen that often for him. 


 It's Okay, Bill, I will make up for his donations.  Thank you so much for these great choices. 

kcar wrote:

Absotively. Bill, you want me to send money? The frequency of the Leonard Cohen plays (oh hell, and Radiohead too) is pushing my hand away from my credit card. Both of them are wearing their schtick out.

 


And there are no letters in the mail box.

And there are no grapes upon the vine.

And there are no chocolates in your boxes any more.

And there are no diamonds in your mine!


Long live Leonard and "Songs of Love and Hate"!  
 
 ajlept wrote:

Some Vitamin D (from Lichens, of course) is Rx'ed.

 
Absotively. Bill, you want me to send money? The frequency of the Leonard Cohen plays (oh hell, and Radiohead too) is pushing my hand away from my credit card. Both of them are wearing their schtick out.
not 10 only because the back vocals on this live version are a bit overpowering. what an outstanding tune indeed.
 kcar wrote:

Dammit Leonard: get out in the sun more and lighten up, baby!

 
Some Vitamin D (from Lichens, of course) is Rx'ed.
Studio version is better...
 handwaver wrote:
LC always makes me want to slit my wrists
 
In a good way or a bad way?
 
Like so many of LC's songs, the rendition on his most recent live album a few years back, and later than this, is the better.  Love his work.

Edit: The eloquence of LC's overall work is wonderful to hear (or read). Powerful
 handwaver wrote:
LC always makes me want to slit my wrists
 
.... don't worry about it's just what LC does best!
LC always makes me want to slit my wrists
No, we are listening to a man facing the coming of Death. (Powerful song, by the way. Here we have a man facing his ultimate destiny with courage and dignity.)

ziggytrix wrote:
Odd lyrics.  Are we listening to Shakespeare's receptionist?



 



had to hit psd
Odd lyrics.  Are we listening to Shakespeare's receptionist? 


wlpendley wrote:
Who By Fire lyrics
Songwriters: Cohen, Leonard;

And who by fire?
Who by water?
Who in the sunshine?
Who in the night time?
Who by high ordeal?
Who by common trial?
Who in your merry merry month of May?
Who by very slow decay?
And who shall I say is calling? (Who shall I say is calling?)

And who in her lonely slip?
Who by barbiturate?
Who in these realms of love?
Who by something blunt?
Who by avalanche?
Who by powder?
Who for his greed?
Who for his hunger?
And who shall I say is calling? (Who shall I say is calling?)

And who by brave assent?
Who by accident?
Who in solitude?
Who in this mirror?
Who by his lady's command?
Who by his own hand?
Who in mortal chains?
Who in power?
And who shall I say is calling? (Who shall I say is calling?) 

 


Best nuff daid
Yuck!
Not feeling it.
Can imagine Mark Lanegan doing a good version of this. Actually he could do quite a few good versions of LC songs.
 michaelgmitchell wrote:
I would have loved to have seen him perform this on The Gong Show back in the day. He wouldn't have stood a chance.

 
Can't say it's working for me tonight. Outlasted Chris Isaak on PSD. That was like being rescued from a flood by a boat, only to have the boat spring a leak...and the dark waters rise towards you again, murmuring and crooning like Leonard Cohen off his SSRIs. 

Dammit Leonard: get out in the sun more and lighten up, baby!

MGM, you're right: Lenny woulda gotten the gong.  
I'm so tired of it, and I don't even hear it all that often.  7 v 6 and every time I hear it played -it will move down a notch! {#Ass}
 joelbb wrote:
This is morbid and depressing even by LC standards!

 
Yes, isn't it great!
Actually to find out the LC standard on this you should listen to "Songs of love and hate" Particularly Dress rehearsal rag and Avalanche. 

marvelous...  love it...
 
Sometimes I feel like I'm missing something. Like I appreciate good music about as much as a dog would appreciate Michelangelo or the Rijksmuseum.
I find this palatable, unlike the other pieces he sings in. 
His son does a great version of this song too!!
At the Quiet Knight in Chicago circa 1975. Two nights in a row...
I would have loved to have seen him perform this on The Gong Show back in the day. He wouldn't have stood a chance.
This is morbid and depressing even by LC standards!
An appropriate time for this song, since the words relate to the prayer said on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, taking place this Weds.
Tried to like this guy but it just isn't happening. Poet or not (they all are), Canadian or not (so what) Simply boring. 
I think Leonard Cohen's songs are great until you hit the point where you get sensitized and after that, every time you a particular tune it is like breaking out in poison-ivy.

Enjoy them while you can.
{#Daisy}
 MarkCareerCycles wrote:
One of the great things about this song is its link to the Jewish holy day of yom kippur. In fact, he's taken the lyrics directly from the prayer about coming year, and the unknowable ways people may perish. Dark thoughts for sure, but focuses the mind on who you want to be, what you want to do, in the year ahead, as you too might perish in this unpredictable world. When the prayer comes around, I sing along to Leonard Cohen in my head. 
 
The analysis of song origins, meaning, influence, construction, etc is so very helpful to really understanding music. I enjoy it all, in the best sense - that kind of learning is one kind of pleasure.
Thank you for your comments on this song.  
Who By Fire lyrics
Songwriters: Cohen, Leonard;

And who by fire?
Who by water?
Who in the sunshine?
Who in the night time?
Who by high ordeal?
Who by common trial?
Who in your merry merry month of May?
Who by very slow decay?
And who shall I say is calling? (Who shall I say is calling?)

And who in her lonely slip?
Who by barbiturate?
Who in these realms of love?
Who by something blunt?
Who by avalanche?
Who by powder?
Who for his greed?
Who for his hunger?
And who shall I say is calling? (Who shall I say is calling?)

And who by brave assent?
Who by accident?
Who in solitude?
Who in this mirror?
Who by his lady's command?
Who by his own hand?
Who in mortal chains?
Who in power?
And who shall I say is calling? (Who shall I say is calling?) 
 Darlington wrote:


So don't agree!
 

I don't agree either, even though I understand...
 ckcotton wrote:

SOO AGREEE!

BLAAAAAAAA 
 

So don't agree!
This live version breathes much needed life into the original song. Just lovely.
 coy wrote:
this song is frighteningly beautiful
 

well you're half-correct...

and beautiful it's not.
this song is frighteningly beautiful
 drcrnp wrote:
Ugh I've tried to grow into liking this song.  It reminds me of those tunes they forced us to sing in nursery school.  Ugh.
Please stop!
 
Wow, that must've been some wicked nursery school. 
 ckcotton wrote:

SOO AGREEE!

BLAAAAAAAA 
 
Watch that the door doesn't hit you on the way out. {#Whistle}

 MarkCareerCycles wrote:
One of the great things about this song is its link to the Jewish holy day of yom kippur. In fact, he's taken the lyrics directly from the prayer about coming year, and the unknowable ways people may perish. Dark thoughts for sure, but focuses the mind on who you want to be, what you want to do, in the year ahead, as you too might perish in this unpredictable world. When the prayer comes around, I sing along to Leonard Cohen in my head. 
 
Never knew that. Like the song even more now! Thanks for the clue!
Yep...this is GOOD!
 iTuner wrote:

The recent tear of this guy on RP is driving me away. Holy crap enough of him.
 
SOO AGREEE!

BLAAAAAAAA 
 drcrnp wrote:
Ugh I've tried to grow into liking this song.  It reminds me of those tunes they forced us to sing in nursery school.  Ugh.
Please stop!
 
The recent tear of this guy on RP is driving me away. Holy crap enough of him.
 MarkCareerCycles wrote:
One of the great things about this song is its link to the Jewish holy day of yom kippur. In fact, he's taken the lyrics directly from the prayer about coming year, and the unknowable ways people may perish. Dark thoughts for sure, but focuses the mind on who you want to be, what you want to do, in the year ahead, as you too might perish in this unpredictable world. When the prayer comes around, I sing along to Leonard Cohen in my head. 
 
Thanks for that.  
Thanks for this insight. I will listen to the lyrics more closely.

RRB
 
MarkCareerCycles wrote:
One of the great things about this song is its link to the Jewish holy day of yom kippur. In fact, he's taken the lyrics directly from the prayer about coming year, and the unknowable ways people may perish. Dark thoughts for sure, but focuses the mind on who you want to be, what you want to do, in the year ahead, as you too might perish in this unpredictable world. When the prayer comes around, I sing along to Leonard Cohen in my head. 
 


 sirdroseph wrote:
The guitar is just fabulous!
 
yes
One of the great things about this song is its link to the Jewish holy day of yom kippur. In fact, he's taken the lyrics directly from the prayer about coming year, and the unknowable ways people may perish. Dark thoughts for sure, but focuses the mind on who you want to be, what you want to do, in the year ahead, as you too might perish in this unpredictable world. When the prayer comes around, I sing along to Leonard Cohen in my head. 
 drcrnp wrote:
Ugh I've tried to grow into liking this song.  It reminds me of those tunes they forced us to sing in nursery school.  Ugh.
Please stop!
 
Why don't you just log off?
The guitar is just fabulous!
 Dinges,_the_Dude wrote:
A great CD!!
 
Hé, almost a year ago I wrote my former comment. And still: great album, cool dude (imo)!!

 peacockangel wrote:
Leonard Cohen ~ Live in London  DVD

I think there are a thousand songs on it
 
I'll take 'em all. Love Mr. Cohen.  My very short list of people I want to see in concert before I die:

Leonard Cohen
Jackson Browne
Joni Mitchell
Aerosmith (original band, WITH Steven Tyler)
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Springsteen
Iggy Pop

(I've seen the late Warren Zevon, and Dan Fogelberg passed before I ever got the chance to see him in concert.)  I'm sure there will be more, but off the top of my head, the above artists are people I'd work extra hours and perhaps take a second job to earn the money to buy a ticket to see in concert.

 peter_james_bond wrote:
Who By Fire - Cohen was in Australia during the recent terrible wildfires. He donated $160,000.00 of the profits from the tour to the victims.....classy guy.
 
this is heart warming , especsialy since he is touring at his age cos of financel problems,
his book keeper ran of with most of his money a few years ago

His Lyrics are very deep and a bit to dark fpr my taste. But Cohen is one of the best poets in music scene!!
Ugh I've tried to grow into liking this song.  It reminds me of those tunes they forced us to sing in nursery school.  Ugh.
Please stop!


Ah! That really hits the spot. Fabulous lyrics.

And speaking of Lyrics:

And who by fire, who by water,
who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
who in your merry merry month of may,
who by very slow decay,
and who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
and who by avalanche, who by powder,
who for his greed, who for his hunger,
and who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,
who in solitude, who in this mirror,
who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,
who in mortal chains, who in power,
and who shall I say is calling?



Wow for the first 15 seconds I thought this was Cat Stevens reaching to some newfound baritone level (that's not a dis).
i love this song!
Man, hadn't heard this one! Cool tune!{#Dancingbanana}
 peacockangel wrote:
who by fire...
 
some rise ~ some fall ~ some climb ~ some crawl   {#Wink}
who by fire...

OldMan3 by ~NassIce
Stéphane ©2006-2010 ~NassIce

Commissioned portrait of Québécois singer/songwriter, poet and writer Leonard Cohen.

(Graphite, Photoshop CS)



 peter_james_bond wrote:
Who By Fire - Cohen was in Australia during the recent terrible wildfires. He donated $160,000.00 of the profits from the tour to the victims.....classy guy.
 
It is kind of cool to know little facts like that.

Leonard Cohen ~ Live in London  DVD

I think there are a thousand songs on it
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Sounds good. Why not have a tasty beverage while you shave?  ; )

 
Exactly, let's turn it up a knotch.  I appreciate the dude, don't get me wrong.

 michaelc wrote:
Soooo upbeat -
  he  always makes me want to take a bottle of whiskey and razor to the bath tub.
 
Sounds good. Why not have a tasty beverage while you shave?  ; )

 michaelc wrote:
Soooo upbeat -
  he  always makes me want to take a bottle of whiskey and razor to the bath tub.
 
Who by his own hand?

That's great: I have just - today - bought me a beautiful old edition (Macmillan Company, 1930) of Frazer's Myths of the Origin of Fire.

I ain't supersticious. But I take it as a good omen.
Soooo upbeat -
  he  always makes me want to take a bottle of whiskey and razor to the bath tub.

 lmic wrote:
...and who
shall I say...
is calling?

 

if Cohen comes a calling
open the door and let him
in

...and who
shall I say...
is calling?

mirland wrote:

Very very boring. Fine lyrics but musically? {#Grumpy}
 
where is yours understood for music?{#Drunk}

Very very boring. Fine lyrics but musically? {#Grumpy}