The Songs We Love: ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’ (Leonard Cohen)

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love…

Lyrics from the Leonard Cohen classic, “Dance me to the end of love”

Cerebral yet sensual, poet, novelist, songwriter and singer, Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) is easily one of the greatest lyricists of all time. “Dance Me to the End of Love” (1988) is an undisputed classic. It belongs to the pantheon of dance melodies, and was the signature song of every concert Cohen performed since 1988. Remarkably, Cohen wrote the song with a toy synthesizer he bought from Times Square, but it was subsequently given an exquisitely majestic treatment with the accordion and violin.

Seductive yet engrossing, the song is actually a poetry of doomed romance with strong references to the Holocaust. But, says Cohen in an interview: “it’s not important that anybody knows the genesis of (the song), because if the language comes from that passionate resource, it will be able to embrace all passionate activity.” (Source: 1000 Songs That Rock Your World by Dave Thompson)

Listen: Leonard Cohen sings ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’


Full Lyrics

Oh, let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love.

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