"First We Take Manhattan" is a song written by Leonard Cohen. It was originally recorded by Jennifer Warnes on her 1986 Cohen tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat, which consisted entirely of songs written or co-written by Cohen.
Ben Hewitt writing for The Guardian in 2015 drew attention to the lyric's apocalyptic nature, imagining Cohen "greedily eyeing world domination like a Bond villain".
An explanation[change | change source]
Cohen explained himself in a backstage interview: "I think it means exactly what it says. It is a terrorist song. I think it's a response to terrorism. There's something about terrorism that I've always admired. The fact that there are no alibis or no compromises. That position is always very attractive. I don't like it when it's manifested on the physical plane – I don't really enjoy the terrorist activities – but Psychic Terrorism. I remember there was a great poem by Irving Layton that I once read, I'll give you a paraphrase of it. It was 'well, you guys blow up an occasional airline and kill a few children here and there', he says. 'But our terrorists, Jesus, Freud, Marx, Einstein. The whole world is still quaking.'"
References[change | change source]