Video: Leonard Cohen’s Spoken Word Recitation Of Democracy

Democracy As Spoken Poetry Vs Song

Since the recitation of “Democracy” by Leonard Cohen from the “United States of Poetry” DVD was initially posted here in 2010 as Democracy Is Coming To The USA – So Sayeth The Prophet Leonard Cohen, better quality versions have surfaced. By my reckoning, the one uploaded by (aka Tom Sakic) is among the best and perhaps the best of the lot.

My previous description, however, of the performance still holds:

Maybe it’s the sunglasses he’s wearing – or the podium on which he’s leaning – or the backdrop of an American flag that transforms into a bar code – or the ominous instrumental soundtrack – or the komboloi (worry beads) – or the closeups of Cohen’s face – or … but there’s a surreal, visionary tone that imparts an angst-provoking ambiguity to this 1992 video of Leonard Cohen reciting his poem, “Democracy,” that is absent from his more stirring presentation of the lyrics as a song in concert.

It’s heavy handed video dramaturgy in the service of irony, but it works.

Leonard Cohen – Democracy (Spoken Word)

Leonard Cohen – Democracy (Song)

For comparison, watch the video, uploaded by , of “Democracy” as performed at the HP Pavilion in San Jose on Nov 13, 2009.

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Aug 4, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

2 thoughts on “Video: Leonard Cohen’s Spoken Word Recitation Of Democracy

Leave a Reply