Leonard Cohen’s experience as a Buddhist monk is the inspiration for the new video for “Happens to the Heart,” the first official single off the late poet-singer’s posthumous final album Thanks for the Dance.
The “Happens to the Heart” video, directed by Sia collaborator Daniel Askill, is the latest in a series dubbed Nowness, a partnership between the Cohen estate and Sony Music Canada that will feature international filmmakers creating visuals to accompany Thanks for the Dance tracks.
Nowness creative director Bunny Kinney said in a statement: “Our ambition with this series of short films is not only to uphold and celebrate Leonard Cohen’s incredible artistic legacy with new visuals, helmed by some of the most exciting image-makers working today, but to also further explore Cohen’s work and the core thematics of his music: from love and loss to artistic expression itself, identity, self-reflection, transformation and transcendence.”
For “Happens to the Heart,” Askill found inspiration in the five years that Cohen spent as a Buddhist monk while living at California’s Mount Baldy Zen Center. “I wanted to make something that spoke to Leonard’s years as a zen monk,” Askill said in a statement. “This film is a quiet, symbolic narrative that charts the letting go of ego and the trappings of fame.”
While Thanks for the Dance‘s introductory track “The Goal” was a sparse minute-long spoken word piece, “Happens to the Heart” is a more traditional Cohen work as the rock laureate weaves an intricate, lyrically dense tale with a subtle melody and potent chorus over the song’s five minutes.
Thanks for the Dance, out November 22nd and available to preorder now, also features musical contributions from Beck, Damien Rice, Feist, the National’s Bryce Dessner, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Daniel Lanois and more.
“In composing and arranging the music for his words, we chose his most characteristic musical signatures, in this way keeping him with us,” Leonard’s son Adam Cohen said in a statement. “What moves me most about the album is the startled response of those who have heard it. ‘Leonard lives’! they say, one after the other.”