@janbb Yeah, I know. I just had a feeling the first line wasn’t from the Salem trials, maybe that it was a variation inspired by Robert Frost’s poem Fire and Ice(poem) so I went a searchin’ and by the time I got back and went to paste in my comment, I realized the matter had already pretty much been settled by you. But I’d put enough effort into it that didn’t feel like just abandoning it. :-)
janbb ,lillycoyote good research! By a strange coincidence I had this line from an old prayer I learned in Catholic school stuck in my head just this week. The phrase “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears” was stuck in my head. And just now I see it is a line form the Jewish prayer Un’taneh Tokef. Shows you how Christianity is so tied to Judaism. The full version of the Catholic prayer is the Salve Regina. Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salve_Regina
@GabrielsLamb Leonard Cohen is a musician, songwriter and lyricist. I believe the mention of barbiturates falls under the “poetic license” clause of laws regarding song lyrics inspired by Jewish prayer, but I really think a Rabbi or at least a possibly an actual Jewish person, not me, should probably weigh in here on this one.
@GabrielsLamb The lyrics were inspired by a Jewish prayer; they are not a Jewish prayer. Leonard Cohen was riffing on the idea of the prayer which is about the ways G-d might take us,and making it his own work. Cohen is a Jew by birth and the lyrics echo the prayer (the tune sounds a bit liturgical too.)
I love pretty much anything Leonard Cohen does. I do like this song, though it’s not my favourite. I’m watching the interview @ratboy posted and when he starts off saying “who by fire” he sounds a little like Alan Rickman…