Roll Magazine, Turkey
February 2002

Ten New Songs

by Gökalp Baykal

Contributed by Kadir Ercan and translated by Roza Hakmen

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Let me first say this: For a while now, I have been listening to the album Ten New Songs continuously and I can never have enough. I got hold of the CD before it was released and I always carry it with me. Ever since my adolescence I have loved the songwriter, he was the one who gave me the belief that I could one day be a musician and thanks to him I still have this belief. I can criticise everyone (and I have often done so) including Bob Dylan, whom I have researched for years without being a fan, Neil Young who is one of the few people I can admit to really admire every single second and even Paul Simon. But when it comes to Leonard Cohen who once, in the late eighties, wrote a blues classic like the "Tower of Song", for years now, I have been at the point where words have long been exhausted.

We fell in love with him with "Suzanne", we loved his primitive guitar arpeggios; we got to know him a little with "The Partisan"; "Joan of Arc" was his song; we bowed with respect to "The Guest" and with a masterpiece (and an album) like I'm Your Man which he played on a bistro organ, he rose to the level of the unreachable. Dignified members of the musical community made two "tribute" albums for him, one as awesome as the other. Yes, he was always our hearts' prophet, to use that perfectly fitting nickname and it has never crossed our minds to even touch the banister of the stairs leading to that summit. It was unthinkable...

For years he was misinterpreted as a pessimist and he couldn't care less and he smilingly kept throwing confetti from his unreachable height to the broken hearts in the whirlpool of this misinterpretation, he filled us with passion. We cried, we dressed our wounds, we split them open, we lighted a cigarette in the darkness, then we took fire and we burned to ashes in unbearable pain when we were mistreated. Then with a single movement he resurrected us. He was the one who wrote "The Future". And also the cult books The Favorite Game and of course, Beautiful Losers...

The years passed. We waited and waited, waited almost ten years for him to write new songs. One morning I woke up with Ten New Songs, with exactly ten new songs... Then a ray penetrated through the curtains and followed the light. I felt my gridded body being overlaid with colored surfaces. I shook myself up and stood on my feet. Though I had just laid my head on my pillow. Day was about to break. And it actually did, with the nonchalance of a well-practiced hand, without a single utterance.

I have since been living a long morning, the sun rises and sets, I sometimes go to work and come back, I play my own songs (are they really mine I wonder) in stolen moments and in those undefinable "cool" moments of the day I always listen to those ten brand new songs and I listen again. The sun rises and sets, I wake up with ten thousand new songs and go to bed with ten thousand new songs lamenting the never arriving sleep. I shake off the ashes and when the cooling embers turn gray I give myself a break until the next fire. I roll over and trying not to wake you, carefully, softly I caress the hair tucked behind your ears which are waiting for the ever unexpected shriek of the alarm clock. Afraid of hurting your dream...

For a while now, I have been listening to ten new songs. Modern? Yes! Old fashioned? Yes, yes, how wonderful! Are the lyrics long? Yes, of course, but not "too" long! Is the music a little monotonous? Yes, isn't Madonna's or the dear Cure's or lovely Nick Cave's or whoever's?! Does the singer seem a little too calm? Yes, but L. Cohen is not a singer, first and foremost, he is a "poet"!

Very personal in fact... Indeed as always, "In My Secret Life" isn't about the secret life of plants either, whichever way you look at it! Have we loved enough? No exaggeration intended, "A Thousand Kisses Deep"...

Now what will I gain by buying this album? Try it, maybe you won't lose anything. But it talks a lot about love, doesn't it? Yes, "Love Itself"! Isn't love, love itself? Probably, how should I know? Well, what is the setting? Boogie Street, don't you know? Doesn't he sometimes include "disco" or "pop" themes in his songs? Listen to something else if you like and we are drifting off; just forget it, I won't say a word to anyone!

On the album cover we see the picture of a mysterious woman in tête-à-tête with L. Cohen; her name is Sharon Robinson. I go back a little to describe her somewhat. L. Cohen had written "Everybody Knows", undoubtedly the most magnificent song of the reluctantly best-seller album I'm Your Man with her.

"Waiting for the Miracle", the main theme as it were of The Future was also written by the two of them. Try to remember... She was the one who recorded all of L. Cohen's albums since 1984. The last two concert recordings were her production. And now we see Ms. Robinson as the co-writer of each of the ten new songs. Is this all? Ms. Robinson has produced the album, single-handedly arranged it, backed up the vocals, played all the instruments, prepared the computer groundwork, supervised the recording and taken her place beside "the conqueror of hearts" proudly, as nobody has ever been able to. Even Phil Spector hadn't reached this degree of madness once upon a time with the album Death of a Ladies' Man. Ms. Robinson had previously given her songs to a long list of singers, to Diana Ross, Aaron Neville, Randy Crawford, Brenda Russel, Ute Lemper, to name a few. Finally, L. Cohen and S. Robinson have collaborated in a way seldom witnessed in the history of music, undersigned an unexpected masterpiece and posed for the camera together. They are really splendid... Very, very handsome... Very sweet... Very successful...

Listen to these ten new songs and in a time when the music industry is trying to break speed records in self-destruction, stop and think for a moment, O good people: What a lofty flight this is!

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