God is Alive

God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot

Leonard Cohen & Buffy Sainte-Marie

 I love this song.  If you have never heard it, look it up.  I am republishing my interpretation so as to help preserve interest in this great, timeless song.


words: Leonard Cohen  music: Buffy Sainte-Marie © Stranger Music, Inc./Caleb Music-ASCAP

Tablature for guitar from the author’s web site:




Quote from Buffy interview:

Leonard Cohen’s book “Beautiful Losers” stole my heart in 1963 and so did the idea of electronic processing on a vocal record.

I had a recording session scheduled and Leonard was in town. I propped two pages of his book up on a music stand and I just sang it out, ad libbing the melody and guitar music together as I went along. I’ve always wanted to re-record it, as I love the way the power of the words obviously commands the music and drives it beyond any consideration of time signature.



God is alive; Magic is afoot

God is alive; Magic is afoot

God is afoot; Magic is alive

Alive is afoot…..  Magic never died.


God never sickened;  

many poor men lied

many sick men lied

Magic never weakened

Magic never hid

Magic always ruled

God is afoot

God never died.


God was ruler

though his funeral lengthened

Though his mourners thickened

Magic never fled

Though his shrouds were hoisted

the naked God did live

Though his words were twisted

the naked Magic thrived

Though his death was published

round and round the world

the heart did not believe


Many hurt men wondered

many struck men bled

Magic never faltered

Magic always led.

Many stones were rolled

but God would not lie down

Many wild men lied

many fat men listened

Though they offered stones

Magic still was fed

Though they locked their coffers

God was always served.



Magic is afoot.

God rules.

Alive is afoot.

Alive is in command.

Many weak men hungered

Many strong men thrived

Though they boasted solitude

God was at their side

Nor the dreamer in his cell

nor the captain on the hill


Magic is alive

Though his death was pardoned

round and round the world

the heart did not believe.


Though laws were carved in marble

they could not shelter men

Though altars built in parliaments

they could not order men

Police arrested Magic

and Magic went with them,

for Magic loves the hungry.


But Magic would not tarry

it moves from arm to arm

it would not stay with them

Magic is afoot

it cannot come to harm

it rests in an empty palm

it spawns in an empty mind

but Magic is no instrument

Magic is the end.


Many men drove Magic

but Magic stayed behind

Many strong men lied

they only passed through Magic

and out the other side

Many weak men lied

they came to God in secret

and though they left him nourished

they would not say who healed

Though mountains danced before them

they said that God was dead

Though his shrouds were hoisted

the naked God did live



This I mean to whisper to my mind

This I mean to laugh with in my mind

This I mean my mind to serve

’til  service is but Magic

moving through the world

and mind itself is Magic

coursing through the flesh

and flesh itself is Magic

dancing on a clock

and time itself the magic length of God.

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