You don’t really know Leonard Cohen until you’ve heard him in Frisian

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I heard this on my favorite Dutch radio show a while back, and when I discovered today that it’s on YouTube, I could not but share. It’s the Leonard Cohen song “Dance me to the end of love,” sung by Frisian singer-songwriter Elske de Wall and what appears to be her sister Femke. Sung in Frisian, of course (the new title, “Dunsje my de leafde ut”). It’s part of a whole album, In Frysk earbetoan oan Leonard Cohen. Available in full on iTunes, natch. Because a world without Leonard Cohen songs readily available to all in Frisian is not a world we want to live in:


Frisian, for those of you who’ve never participated in the Elfstedentocht, is a language—stranded somewhere between Old English and modern Dutch—spoken in the northern Netherlands. According to Wikipedia I’m supposed to call it West Frisian to differentiate it from the East Frisian and North Frisian languages spoken in parts of Northern Germany. But I’d prefer not to. In fact, I’d prefer to call it Frysk.

Elske de Wall, meanwhile, is apparently an up-and-coming Frysk singer-songwriter with a new record contract with Universal (for whatever that’s worth nowadays). Sadly, all her own stuff appears to be in English. But here’s the cool part: She’s a graduate of the Academie voor Popcultuur, a higher educational institution founded in 2003 in the Frysk capital city of Leeuwarden. Students can major in pop music or design, and then there’s a minor in pop culture. Applications are due April 16!

Update: WordPress isn’t letting Felix leave a comment, so he e-mails to share this important video news: Leonard Cohen singing “Suzanne”—with Dutch subtitles!