Los Angeles

"Leonard Cohen previews new album at L.A. soiree"

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Laura Ferreiro, January 20, 2012

"I love to speak with Leonard, he's a sportsman and a shepherd. He's a lazy bastard, living in a suit." So begins Going Home, the elegiac opening song of Leonard Cohen's new album, Old Ideas, which will be released Jan. 31.

Thousands of fans have been able to hear Going Home this week, streamed via The New Yorker -- the first time the magazine has featured a song on its website. But a smaller, more exclusive group was treated to a full hearing of the album at a recent L.A. party at the palatial estate of Canadian Consul-General David Fransen.

As a buzzing crowd of about 80 gathered in the courtyard over white wine and mini-quiches, music veterans rubbed shoulders with entertainment industry insiders, and the dress code ran the gamut from sequinned dresses to skinny jeans. Lucky fans who scored an invite were a mix of well-dressed, middle-aged folks and rock-and-roll types, many of them women.

Fransen's definitely a Cohen fan. "He's someone who has contributed to Canadian content and culture in a way that very few have," he said. "So to have an opportunity to experience him like this -- I'll take every opportunity I can get... The artistry in his language, the way he puts words and concept together, they always surprise you."

The guest of honour, now 77, made his appearance in the salon, where folding chairs were set up between a set of massive speakers. Sitting quietly in the front row, dressed in his trademark dark suit and with his salt-and-pepper hair cropped close, he kept his back to the room as the audience filed in.

Then, after glowing introductions from Fransen and Columbia Records chairman Rob Stringer, Cohen addressed the crowd. "I'm going to sit facing the speakers so I won't be monitoring your reactions," he said, adding simply, "I hope you enjoy these songs."

Cohen sat with his hands folded while the album played, mouthing the words to his songs. The 10 tracks address familiar Cohen themes of love, loss, redemption, spirituality and sexuality. Many of the songs possess a hymnal quality that would sound appropriate in a church. His voice has become richer and deeper with age, rendering his trademark speak-singing technique all the more affecting. The arrangements, often anchored by pianos, organs and acoustic guitars, are sparse, giving his voice plenty of room.

The crowd barely moved during the 40-minute playback, listening in rapt attention. Afterward, Cohen confessed, "I'm always slightly nervous about the reception of my work." He added that there's also a voice that says he doesn't care. "But then there's that other voice and it was very active tonight."

Cohen also offered a glimpse into his creative process. "I know the spiritual journey is going on but I have so little mastery over it," he said. "I act as a secretary. I don't really know how it works. I wish I did."

"A new album and a 'slightly nervous' Leonard Cohen"

The Gazette (Montreal) by Bernard Perusse, January 20, 2012

Hearing Leonard Cohen's new album almost two months before its release date would seem to be excitement enough for one night. Having Cohen in the room listening as well -- only a couple of rows in front of you -- brings the experience into the dimension of the surreal.

A private listening session for Old Ideas, the singer-songwriter's twelfth studio album, was held Dec. 13 at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles, Calif. Some 100 people -- mostly employees of Sony Music, other entertainment-business people, friends and a tiny handful of journalists -- sat in rows in a welcoming consulate room with white-painted wood, adorned by ornate mirrors and gold Christmas decorations.

"I'm going to sit facing the speakers, so I won't be monitoring your reactions," Cohen joked during his opening remarks. For the duration of the disc, just over 40 minutes, the audience remained silent, gazing thoughtfully at the sound system and holding its reaction until the final notes died down. At that point, a lengthy, enthusiastic burst of applause filled the room.

"I'm always slightly nervous about the reception of work," Cohen said when it was all over. "There's a part of me that is very thick-skinned. I've been doing this for a long time, and there's always some voice that says 'I don't give a s--t.' But there is another voice...," he said, to laughter. "And that voice, curiously enough, was very active tonight."

He needn't have worried, as the general consensus seemed to be that you have to go back quite some time to find a Cohen album so consistently rewarding.

As always with Cohen, the spirit is at least as prominent as the flesh in the song lyrics.

"I'm totally unaffected by the spiritual journey," Cohen said in response to a question alluding to his own spiritual pursuit. "I know it's going on, but I know that I have so little mastery over the phenomenon -- over this activity -- that I just kind of resign and act as a secretary. So it isn't really a spiritual journey. It's just writing it down."

Musically, the disc turns slightly away from Cohen's fascination with synthesizers and electronic instruments, which has informed his albums for more than two decades. It's not inconceivable that his highly-acclaimed world tour between 2008 and 2010, with a stellar group of musicians, had some bearing.

Cohen, however, said he wasn't able to make a definite connection between the tour and the sound of the new album. He did, however, take time to speak fondly about his highly-praised shows.

"Life on the road for the past three years, with this particular crew and the musicians I worked with, was an experience that went beyond the usual rock n' roll experience," he said. "I can't put my finger on it, but I think everybody involved felt a special kinship, one with the other, and a special devotion and dedication to the whole enterprise. And I think we were all nourished by that experience and, to a certain extent, liberated."

In a private conversation with the Gazette and La Presse's Alain de Repentigny after the session, Cohen praised Patrick Leonard, who co-produced and co-wrote four of the album's 10 songs. Leonard, who is best known for working with Madonna, also produced Like a Man, the latest album by Cohen's son Adam.

"I don't like collaborating," Cohen said. "It's only with Sharon (Robinson) that I really collaborate. I was very reluctant, but (Patrick and I) started working together and it was like a dream. Both of us just surrendered one to the other."

Asked whether he would perform the new songs on the road, Cohen said he hoped so. When it was suggested that his recent touring schedule would have proved taxing on musicians in their 20s, Cohen broke into a broad smile and alluded to Kyozan Joshu, his elder master at the Mount Baldy Zen Centre in California, born in 1907. "I'm well trained by my old teacher, who's 104 now," he said.


"Leonard Cohen: un homme de devoir"

La Presse (Canada) by Alain de Repentigny, January 21, 2012

Old Ideas. À 77 ans, le poète et musicien d'origine montréalaise prouve hors de tout doute qu'il a toujours sa place parmi les plus grands de sa profession. La Presse l'a rencontré.

Malgré son amitié pour le consul général, Leonard Cohen aurait sans doute préféré être ailleurs que dans un salon du consulat du Canada à Los Angeles le 13 décembre dernier. N'empêche, cet «homme de devoir» - l'expression est de son fils Adam - a accepté ce soir-là d'écouter en compagnie d'une centaine d'invités les 10 chansons de son nouvel album Old Ideas. Toujours vêtu de façon impeccable, le petit monsieur a pris place dans la première rangée, face aux haut-parleurs, pour ne pas être témoin des réactions du premier véritable public de son premier album en sept ans, a-t-il blagué.

Puis la grand-messe a commencé. Ces auditeurs privilégiés, parmi lesquels se trouvaient les patrons américain et canadien de sa compagnie de disques Columbia/Sony, des producteurs de spectacles, des acheteurs de musique pour le cinéma, la télé et même la chaîne Starbucks, quatre journalistes et au moins un artiste (Tom Morello du groupe Rage Against The Machine), ont écouté les 10 chansons les textes en main dans un silence remarquable.

Quand la toute dernière, Different Sides, s'est terminée en fondu, les bravos ont fusé de toutes parts. L'artiste s'est levé, s'est tourné vers ce public d'un soir et l'a remercié d'un hochement de la tête avant de lui adresser quelques mots.

La couenne pas si dure

Leonard Cohen le reconnaît, l'accueil réservé à son oeuvre l'a toujours un peu angoissé: «Il y a une partie de moi qui a la couenne très dure. Je pratique ce métier depuis longtemps et il y a toujours une petite voix en moi qui dit je m'en fous. Mais il y a aussi une autre voix qui, curieusement, était très active ce soir.»

Fidèle à lui-même, il a minimisé l'importance du «voyage spirituel» auquel faisait référence un collègue à propos de cet album où le sacré et le profane cohabitent plus que jamais et dont certaines chansons sont de véritables hymnes (Show Me The Place, Come Healing).

Il y a surtout dans Old Ideas une diversité musicale que ne s'était pas autorisée Cohen depuis belle lurette. Dans la chanson érotico-jazzée Anyhow, dans le blues de Darkness, dans l'irrésistible Going Down où Cohen se moque de lui-même à la troisième personne («A lazy bastard living in a suit»), mais aussi dans Crazy To Love You qu'il nous sert en mode guitare-voix, une façon de faire qu'il semblait avoir reléguée à un passé lointain.

Comment ne pas y voir l'effet bénéfique de cette tournée de près de trois ans au cours de laquelle son plaisir de jouer de la musique n'a jamais été aussi palpable? Cohen, que nous avons retrouvé dans le salon du consulat entre deux séances de photos avec des fans, parlait ce soir-là d'un groupe de musiciens spéciaux, d'une aventure qui a transcendé l'expérience rock and roll habituelle. Puis il a concédé: «Nous avons tous été nourris et, dans une certaine mesure, libérés, par cette expérience.»

Pourtant, son groupe de tournée ne participe pas vraiment à Old Ideas à l'exception de la chanson Darkness, presque enregistrée en direct, et la participation occasionnelle de Sharon Robinson, du multi-instrumentiste Dino Soldo et du claviériste Neil Larsen. Les chansons écrites avant et pendant la tournée ont été retravaillées, y compris Crazy To Love You qu'il avait donnée à Anjani Thomas pour son album Blue Alert et dont elle réalise la nouvelle version qui tranche avec la sienne, tout en piano et voix angélique.

Un disque organique

Old Ideas a été créé de façon organique, explique Leonard Cohen: «ça s'est fait chez moi et ceux qui passaient par là y participaient, comme Jennifer Warnes (qui chante dans Show Me the Place).» Ce que confirme en riant son fils Adam: «Pour lui, c'était inconcevable de bouger de son salon. Mais la grande différence entre mon père et un petit groupe d'icônes vivantes qui ont changé la face de la musique, c'est que pour lui, ce n'est pas affaire de nostalgie. Ce disque en est la preuve: il est pertinent et ce qu'il a à offrir continue à évoluer. On sent quelque chose de vrai, de transcendant.»

Leonard Cohen a toujours fui la redite et les recettes, même celles qu'il a inventées, mais cette fois, il voulait toucher à presque tout ce qu'il a fait dans sa carrière, estime son fils: «(le minimalisme de) Crazy To Love You n'est pas un clin d'oeil à une vieille architecture qu'il a bien établie jadis, mais il a compris que cette chanson n'avait besoin de presque rien pour exister. Je pense aussi que c'était sa façon de dire à tous ceux qui l'emmerdent depuis des années pour qu'il fasse ce genre de chanson qu'il en est capable s'il le veut bien. Ses nouvelles chansons sont à la hauteur de son répertoire.»

Et la scène?

Le Leonard Cohen que nous avons rencontré à Los Angeles avait le sourire, le ton et la poignée de main d'un homme satisfait du travail accompli. «Un homme soulagé», corrige Adam en ajoutant que son père n'a jamais aimé le processus d'enregistrement d'un disque qu'il trouve contre-nature.

C'est pourtant ce même «homme de devoir» qui, pas plus tard que lundi dernier à Paris, a annoncé qu'il travaillait encore à de nouvelles chansons qui pourraient sortir d'ici un an. Et qui, quand je lui ai demandé s'il avait le goût de chanter ses nouvelles chansons sur scène, m'a répondu dans un large sourire: «Je l'espère bien!»

Les patrons de AEG, les producteurs de sa dernière tournée, l'espèrent eux aussi. Ils estiment toutefois que Cohen attendra de voir l'accueil réservé à Old Ideas - en magasin le 31 janvier - avant de se commettre.

«Il veut se tester, croit pour sa part Adam Cohen. Il est très conscient du fait qu'il va bientôt avoir 80 ans (Cohen père aura 78 ans le 21 septembre). Ce qui l'intéresse le plus maintenant, c'est de savoir s'il a vraiment la force de continuer. Il se pose plein de questions et la seule façon dont il pourra y répondre, c'est en prenant un risque immense.»

Comme il l'a fait en 2008.

"Leonard Cohen: a man of duty"

La Presse (Canada) by Alain de Repentigny, January 21, 2012

One year after the end of his triumphant tour of shows marathons in which he drew in his classic Leonard Cohen is back with 10 new songs together in one album under delicious: Old Ideas. At 77, poet and musician from Montreal proves beyond a doubt that he still has a place among the greatest of his profession. La Presse met him.

Despite his friendship with the Consul General, Leonard Cohen would probably prefer to be outside a salon at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles on December 13. Nevertheless, this "man of duty" - the phrase is his son Adam - agreed that night to listen to in the company of a hundred guests and 10 songs from her new album Old Ideas . Always impeccably dressed, the little man took place in the front row, facing the speaker, not to witness the reactions of the first real public of his first album in seven years, he joked.

And high mass began. These privileged listeners, among whom were the owners of its U.S. and Canadian record company Columbia / Sony, producers of shows, buyers of music for film, television and even the Starbucks chain, four journalists and at least one artist (Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine Group), listened to 10 songs to texts by hand in a remarkable silence.

When the latest, Different Sides, was completed in melted, the cheers have flare on all sides. The artist stood up, turned to the audience one night and thanked him with a nod of the head before him a few words.

Not so hard rind

Leonard Cohen acknowledges the reception of his work was always a little anxious, "There is a part of me that was very hard rind. I practice this profession for a long time and there is always a little voice inside me that says I do not care. But there is another voice, curiously, was very active tonight."

True to himself, he downplayed the importance of "spiritual journey" which referred a colleague about this album where the sacred and the profane coexist more than ever and some songs are real hymns (Show Me The Place, Come Healing).

There are especially Old Ideas musical diversity that Cohen had not allowed a long time. In the erotic-jazzy song anyhow, in the blues of Darkness, in the irresistible Going Down where Cohen makes fun of himself in the third person ("A lazy bastard living in a suit"), but also in Crazy To Love You we used mode guitar voice, a way to make it seemed to have relegated to the distant past.

How not to see the beneficial effect of this tour of nearly three years during which the pleasure of playing music has never been more palpable? Cohen, as we found in the living room of the consulate between two photo sessions with fans, spoke that night of a special group of musicians, an adventure that has transcended the usual rock and roll experience. Then he conceded: "We were all fed and, to some extent, released by the experience."

Yet his touring band does not participate in Old Ideas with the exception of the song Darkness almost recorded live, and the occasional participation of Sharon Robinson, the multi-instrumentalist Dino Soldo and keyboardist Neil Larsen. The songs written before and during the tour have been reworked, including Crazy To Love You he had given to Anjani Thomas for her album Blue Alert, and it makes the new version in contrast to his, while piano and angelic voice.

A hard organic

Old Ideas was created organically, says Leonard Cohen: "It happened to me and those passing by were involved, such as Jennifer Warnes (who sings in Show Me the Place)." This is confirmed by his laughing son Adam, "For him it was inconceivable to move his show. But the big difference between my father and a small group of living icons who have changed the face of music is that for him it is not about nostalgia. This disc is proof: it is relevant and what it has to offer continues to evolve. You feel something real, transcendent."

Leonard Cohen has always avoided the repetition and revenues, even those he has invented, but this time he wanted to touch on almost everything he has done in his career, said his son "(the minimalist) Crazy To Love You is a nod to an old architecture that was established long ago, but he understood that the song did not need to exist almost nothing. I also think that it was his way of saying to all who emmerdent for years for it to do this kind of song he is capable if he so chooses. His new songs are up to his repertoire."

And the scene?

The Leonard Cohen we met in Los Angeles was the smile, the tone and the handshake of a man satisfied with the work. "A man relieved," adding that corrects Adam's father has never liked the process of recording an album that is against nature.

Yet this same "man of duty," which, as recently as last Monday in Paris, announced that he was still working on new songs that could emerge within a year. And when I asked him if he felt like singing his new songs on stage, told me in a broad smile: "I hope so!"

The owners of AEG, the producers of his latest tour, the hope, too. They believe, however, that Cohen will wait to see the reception of Old Ideas - in stores Jan. 31 - before committing.

"He wants to test, for its part believes Adam Cohen. He is very aware that it will soon be 80 years (Cohen father has 78 years September 21). What interests him most now is whether it really has the strength to continue. This raises lots of questions and the only way he can answer, is taking a huge risk."

As he did in 2008.

"A Night with Leonard Cohen"

Starbucks by Timothy J., program manager, February 21, 2012

months ago, I received an invitation in the mail from Columbia Records to hear the new Leonard Cohenalbum "Old Ideas" played at the home of the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles - Leonard in attendance.

I've been a disciple of Leonard's music and poetry since 1968 when his first record, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was released. Attending meant I would be paying for my travel from Seattle to Los Angeles out of pocket. But I told myself: "You want to do this, so go and do it! You'll never get this chance again."

And so I arrived in L.A. on December 13 and cabbed it first to my hotel, and then, with only minutes to spare, headed to an area of the city called Hancock Park. The Canadian consulate's home is old and gorgeous and surrounded by a dazzling landscape illuminated with flood lights from the ground up. I was in for a night!

Perhaps 50 folks were milling on the patio. After a short while, we were ushered into a small room filled with white wooden folding chairs. Coming through a side entrance, I managed to grab one in the second row and noticed the chair in front of me was reserved. "Hmmm. Leonard would be occupying that seat in a few moments," I thought. "Oh, man!"

After being introduced, the great singer-songwriter stood up and thanked us for coming. He was a man of few words that night. He then turned his back to the small crowd, took his seat and the music began.

There was total silence from the audience for 45 minutes as his beautiful new record played. I hadn't been in company that respectful (or terrified) for many years. I mean, folks really behaved!

After the record ended the artist took a few questions. "What was it like to have all these folks listening to your record tonight with you in the room?" someone asked. Part of him was very nervous, he said, and the other part didn't give a damn what people thought. The small crowd laughed.

Another person asked how his spiritual journey was going. Without hesitation he replied: "I'm not and never have been on a spiritual journey. I recognize there is a greater power. However, I'm just the secretary taking down notes."

He was speaking to me, one of his many disciples.


"Leonard in Paris"

Daylife, January 16, 2012 (Photos by Getty Images)

Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen smiles as he poses on January 16, 2012 in Paris. Leonard Cohen's new album 'Old Ideas' will be released in France on January 30.

Thank you to Susanne Harlacher for finding these photos.

"Leonard Cohen's Showcase At Hotel Crillon"

La Informacion, January 16, 2012 (Photos by David Wolff - Patrick/WireImage)

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 16: Leonard Cohen poses as he launches his new album "Old Ideas" at Hotel Crillon on January 16, 2012 in Paris, France.

"Leonard Cohen"

The Washington Post, January 16, 2012 (Photo by Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen removes his hat as a salute in Paris. Cohen's new album, "Old Ideas," will be released in France on Jan. 30.


"Nouvel album de Leonard Cohen: un très bon cru"

Le Figaro (France) by Olivier Nuc, January 17, 2012 (Photo by Joel Saget/AFP)

Le poète et chanteur canadien présentait lundi ses nouvelles chansons dans le cadre d'une conférence de presse.

Old Ideas. Soit, littéralement, de vieilles idées. Tel est le titre choisi par Leonard Cohen pour son nouveau recueil de chansons originales, le premier depuis Dear Heather, en 2004. Depuis lors, le septuagénaire a effectué un spectaculaire tour du monde en 2008 et 2009, donnant des dizaines de concerts, notamment afin de se refaire une santé financière. Il avait été escroqué par son ancien manager alors qu'il effectuait une retraite spirituelle au sein d'une communauté zen.

Ce regain d'activité inattendu nous valait lundi une rare visite parisienne du Canadien. «J'ai toujours considéré que la tradition dans laquelle je m'exprime, la chanson, était particulièrement bien comprise ici, en France» a-t-il déclaré au terme de l'écoute de l'album. Devant l'assemblée de journalistes venus d'Europe entière confortablement installée dans un salon de l'hôtel Crillon, Leonard Cohen, 77 ans, a fait la démonstration de sa grande vivacité d'esprit. Et ce en dépit de la grotesque flagornerie de Jean-Luc Hees, chargé d'animer cette rencontre. «Je suis le juge le plus féroce de mon propre travail» dit ainsi l'écrivain et musicien.

À rebours de ses précédentes livraisons, garnies de synthétiseurs et de boîtes à rythmes, Old Ideas marque un retour bienvenu à une instrumentation acoustique dans laquelle guitare, piano et orgue se taillent la part du lion. Le timbre de plus en plus grave du chanteur est tempéré par les interventions de choristes féminines. Plus que jamais, les textes du disque explorent l'amour dans sa part la plus spirituelle. «Il semblerait qu'en vieillissant, les cellules du cerveau liées à l'anxiété meurent plus rapidement» affirme-t-il en souriant.

La gravité de l'album trouve un beau contrepoint dans l'humour avec lequel Cohen traite chacune des questions. «Je suis arrivé à la conclusion que j'allais finir par mourir» avoue-t-il en souriant, expliquant qu'il serait un peu pathétique pour lui de se considérer comme un homme à femmes (Death of A Ladies Man est le titre de son album de 1977).

«Je ne crois pas vraiment à la réincarnation, mais si cela existe, j'aimerais être le chien de ma fille dans une vie future» dit-il. Amaigri et diminué par l'âge sur le plan physique, Leonard Cohen est visiblement doté d'un cerveau en parfait état de marche. Il a avoué être déjà au travail sur un nouvel album. «J'aimerais le terminer dans le courant de l'année.» Et la rumeur bruisse d'une nouvelle série de concerts, peut-être même dès le printemps prochain.

"New album of Leonard Cohen: a very good year"

Le Figaro (France) by Olivier Nuc, January 17, 2012 (Photo by Joel Saget/AFP)

The Canadian poet and singer presented his new songs Monday as part of a press conference.

Old Ideas. Or, literally, old ideas. This is the title chosen by Leonard Cohen for his new collection of original songs, the first since Dear Heather, in 2004. Since then, the septuagenarian has made ??a spectacular world tour in 2008 and 2009, giving dozens of concerts, in particular to rebuild their financial health. He had been defrauded by his former manager while on a spiritual retreat in a Zen community.

This unexpected increase in activity was worth Monday we visit a rare Parisian Canadian. "I always believed that the tradition in which I speak, the song was particularly well understood here in France," he said after listening to the album. Before the assembly of journalists from all over Europe comfortably installed in a room of the Hotel Crillon, Leonard Cohen, 77, has demonstrated its great alertness. This is despite the grotesque flattery of Jean-Luc Hees, responsible for leading the meeting. "I am the judge the most ferocious of my own work" and said the writer and musician. Down from its previous deliveries, garnished with synthesizers and drum machines, Old Ideas marks a welcome return to acoustic instruments in which guitar, piano and organ carve the lion's share. The timbre of increasingly serious singer is tempered by the interventions of female singers. More than ever, the text explores the hard love in its most spiritual. "It seems that with age, brain cells linked to anxiety die faster," he says, smiling.

The severity of the album is a nice counterpoint to the humor with which Cohen treats each question. "I came to the conclusion that I would eventually die," he admits with a smile, explaining that it would be a bit pathetic for him to consider himself a ladies man (Death Of A Ladies Man is the title his album of 1977).

"I do not really believe in reincarnation, but if it exists, I want to be my daughter's dog in a future life," he said. Thin and decreased with age in the physical, Leonard Cohen is obviously has a brain in good working order. He confessed to being already at work on a new album. "I want to finish later this year." And the rumors abuzz of a new concert series, perhaps even next spring.


"Les bonnes vieilles idées de Leonard Cohen"

Télérama (France) by Hugo Cassavetti, January 17, 2012

Privilège de quelques grands de la pop music, Leonard Cohen donnait lundi 16 janvier une conférence de presse pour parler de son nouvel album, "Old Ideas". Propos réfléchis, et recueillis.

Lundi 16 janvier au soir, dans un élégant salon de L'Hôtel Crillon, à Paris, le vénérable Leonard Cohen présentait son nouvel album, intitulé avec humour et pertinence Old Ideas (à paraître le 30 janvier 2012), devant un aréopage de journalistes (une cinquantaine venus d'Angleterre, d'Espagne, d'Allemagne, du Danemark, d'Italie, du Portugal, d'Israël...) plus ou moins triés sur le volet. Tel est le privilège des plus grands artistes de couper aux interminables journées de rencontre en tête à tête, en se contentant d'un « chaleureux échange » en guise de conférence de presse.

Entre plaisir de voir et d'entendre le chanteur poète canadien en petit comité, et frustration d'être privé d'une rencontre exclusive, plus intime et au long cours, on recueille les dernières pensées du plus élégant et courtois des interviewés, un homme qui a peaufiné l'art de donner toujours beaucoup avec retenue, sans jamais totalement se livrer....

Morceaux choisis.

« Merci d'être venus si nombreux et de si loin pour cette écoute. Je ne vous ferais pas face pendant que le disque sera diffusé, afin de ne pas influencer vos réactions, quelles soient d'appréciation ou de rejets. De toute façon, je ne connais pas pire juge ou critique de mon æuvre que moi. »

« La tradition musicale dans laquelle je m'inscris existe en France, mais aussi en Europe, depuis toujours. Ici, je n'ai rien à expliquer. La présence et la prééminence du texte et le positionnement de la voix font partie d'une tradition européenne, notamment française. Ce n'est pas le cas dans la musique nord américaine. »

« C'est formidable de recueillir autant de louanges, de susciter un tel respect. Je ne peux que me sentir bien. La difficulté est d'y répondre autrement qu'en disant simplement 'merci'. Je vis aux avant-postes de mon existence, je ne suis pas bien placé pour regarder en arrière et l'analyser. »

"« Je me suis effectivement retiré quelques années dans le monastère bouddhiste de mon ami et maître Roshi. La religion n'a rien à voir avec ma sagesse apparente. C'est le résultat de la pratique d'une très grande discipline. Je crois que c'est avant tout l'âge qui me permet d'être un esprit libre. En vieillissant, il semble que la plupart des cellules grises associées à l'angoisse auraient tendance à disparaître. Il s'agit donc bien plus d'une question de neurones et d'âge que de religion. Mon maître zen, Roshi, 104 ans, est toujours épargné par les ravages d'un âge avancé. C'est un honneur pour moi d'être proche de lui, de le fréquenter. Il ne parle jamais de religion. Son enseignement n'est pas religieux, il apprend à observer et analyser la nature des choses, la rencontre entre les sujets et les objets. Son enseignement est scientifique. Il n'est pas question chez lui ou dans son monastère de Dieu ou d'adoration. Il s'agit d'une initiation à l'engagement, à vivre au sein d'une communauté, à être attentif à ses sentiments et à ceux des autres. Ni foi, ni croyance, juste un travail rigoureux au quotidien. »

« On a toujours à apprendre. On ne vient jamais à bout de sa propre stupidité et incompétence. Les occasions de s'humilier sont infinies. Je me confronte perpétuellement à la plus intense des auto-critiques. »

« L'album s'appelle Old Ideas. Il s'agit juste des thèmes éternels que je traite depuis toujours et qui nous concernent tous, je pense. Des interrogations ordinaires et quotidiennes, rien de plus. »

« La dépression est une affaire sérieuse. Il ne s'agit pas que de la contrariété causée par un rendez-vous galant raté ou un week-end pourri. La dépression est le contexte dans laquelle s'installe toute une vie d'anxiété : rien ne va jamais vraiment, tout ce que l'on espère s'écroule toujours... Mais je suis heureux de vous annoncer que ma dépression chronique a fini par progressivement se dissiper. En tout cas, depuis une dizaine d'années, elle n'est jamais réapparue avec la même intensité qu'autrefois. Avec un peu de chance, ça restera ainsi. »

« Je ne dirai rien de mon rapport à la scène et au public. Je ne parle jamais en public de mes relations in times. »

« Je ne crois pas au boycott artistique. Je ne le comprends pas. Je crois que l'art est le seul moyen de communiquer entre les hommes. J'ai joué en Israël devant 50 000 personnes. On s'est assuré que les Palestiniens puissent également assister au concert. Tous les bénéficies ont été reversés à un fonds d'aide pour des ateliers de création, à la transmission de cultures traditionnelles. Ce n'est sûrement qu'une goutte d'eau dans l'océan, mais c'est déjà ça. Le concert était fantastique, forcément très chargé émotionnellement. Mais je considère chacun de mes concerts comme un événement spécial. Chacun me touche de manière différente. »

« J'ai pas mal de textes en cours d'élaboration. Je travaille déjà sur un nouvel album qui, je l'espère, verra le jour d'ici un an. »

« Longtemps, je ne me sentais pas autorisé à chanter le blues. Mais j'ai l'impression d'en avoir récemment reçu la permission. D'où sa présence sur Old Ideas. »

« J'adore le flamenco. J'en joue même sur ma guitare... quand personne n'écoute ! J'ai eu l'honneur d'entendre certaines de mes chansons chantées en espagnol par le regretté Enrique Morente. Un immense chanteur novateur de flamenco. Sur Omega, un disque admirable, on entend mes chansons adaptées en flamenco. Notamment The Gypsy's Wife. C'est bouleversant. »

« Les bonnes chansons ont la capacité de toucher le cæur dans ses douleurs et ses échecs. Mais elles aident aussi à faire la vaisselle ou servent de toile de fond à la romance. Elles peuvent tout. Elles ont le pouvoir d'apaiser, de donner du courage. »

« Lorsqu'une chanson paraît parler de souffrance, c'est que vous souffrez vous-même. A vrai dire, j'étais plutôt de très bonne humeur et bien dans ma peau lorsque j'ai écris celles de Old Ideas. Mais je crois que dans toutes les chansons que l'on aime profondément, il existe toujours une certaine tristesse. Le joyeux Jingle Bells, chanté lentement, peut devenir très mélancolique. Happy Birthday chanté par Marilyn Monroe se mue en envoûtante invitation érotique... Une chanson est comme le tofu : elle prend la saveur et le goût du bouillon dans laquelle elle est trempée. Dans une bonne chanson, on trouve la réponse à toutes ses questions. »

« Me définir, à mon âge avancé, comme un homme à femme (« ladies man ») nécessiterait une dose d'humour. Je suis arrivé à la conclusion, un peu à contre-cæur, que je vais mourir un de ces jours. ça donne à réfléchir. J'espère le faire sans être trop morbide. J'aime évoquer la mort, mais en rythme. Je ne crois pas beaucoup au concept de réincarnation. Mais si je dois vraiment revenir sur terre, alors que ce soit dans la peau du chien de ma fille Lorca ! »

"The good old ideas of Leonard Cohen"

Télérama (France) by Hugo Cassavetti, January 17, 2012

Privilege of a few large of pop music, Leonard Cohen Monday, January 16 gave a press conference to talk about his new album, "Old Ideas." Thoughtful remarks, and collected.

Monday, January 16 at night, in an elegant room Hotel Crillon in Paris, the venerable Leonard Cohen presented his new album, with humor and relevance Old Ideas (forthcoming January 30, 2012), followed by a gathering of journalists ( fifty from England, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Israel ...) more or less hand-picked. Such is the privilege of the greatest artists to cut the endless days of meeting face to face, by simply a "friendly exchange" as a press conference.

Between pleasure to see and hear the Canadian poet singer in small groups, and frustration of being deprived of an exclusive meeting, more intimate and long-term collects the last thoughts of the most elegant and gracious interviewees, a man has refined the art of giving always a lot with restraint, never fully engaging .... Excerpts.

"Thank you for coming so numerous and so far to this listening. I do not would face while the disc will be released in order not to influence your reactions, be they of appreciation or rejection. Anyway, I know of no worse judge or critique my work than me. " "The musical tradition in which I register exists in France but also in Europe forever. Here, I have nothing to explain. The presence and the rule of the positioning of text and voice are part of a European tradition, especially French. This is not the case in the North American music. "

"It's great to collect as much praise, encourage such respect. I can only feel good. The challenge is to respond other than to say simply "thank you". I live at the forefront of my life, I am not in a position to look back and analyze it. "

"I actually retired a few years in the Buddhist monastery of my friend and Master Roshi. Religion has nothing to do with my wisdom apparent. This is the result of the practice of great discipline. I think it's primarily the age where I can be a free spirit. As we age, it seems that most brain cells associated with anxiety tend to disappear. It is therefore more a question of age as neurons and religion. My Zen master Roshi, 104 years, is still untouched by the ravages of old age. It is an honor for me to be close to him, to attend. He never talks about religion. His teaching is not religious, he learns to observe and analyze the nature of things, the encounter between subjects and objects. His teaching is scientific. There is no question at home or in his monastery of God or worship. This is an introduction to the commitment to live within a community to pay attention to her feelings and those of others. No faith, no belief, just hard work every day. "

"We always learn. It never comes at the end of his own stupidity and incompetence. The opportunities are endless humiliation. I constantly confronted with the most intense self-criticism. "

"The album is called Old Ideas . This is just eternal themes that I have always been treated and that affect us all, I think. Ordinary, everyday questions, nothing more. "

"Depression is a serious matter. It is not that of the vexation caused by a failed tryst or a rotten weekend. Depression is the context in which installs a lifetime of anxiety: nothing is ever really all that we hope always falls apart ... But I am happy to announce that my chronic depression has come gradually dissipate. In any case, the past ten years, it never reappeared with the same intensity as before. With any luck, it will remain so. "

"I will say nothing of my report to the scene and the public. I never talk publicly about my intimate relationships. "

"I do not think a boycott of art. I do not understand. I believe that art is the only way to communicate with men. I played in Israel before 50,000 people. We made sure that the Palestinians can also attend the concert. All proceeds were donated to a relief fund for creative workshops, the transmission of traditional cultures. Surely this is a drop in the ocean, but that's something. The concert was fantastic, always very emotionally charged. But I think each of my concerts as a special event. Each affects me differently. "

"I have a lot of texts being prepared. I'm already working on a new album which I hope will come within a year. "

"For a long time, I did not feel entitled to sing the blues. But I feel I have recently received permission. Hence his presence on Old Ideas . "

"I love flamenco. I play my guitar ... even when no one is listening! I was privileged to hear some of my songs sung in Spanish by the late Enrique Morente. A huge innovative flamenco singer. Of Omega , an admirable drive means adapted to my songs flamenco. Including The Gypsy's Wife . It's upsetting. "

"Good songs have the ability to touch the heart in his pain and failures. But they also help with the dishes or serve as a backdrop for romance. They can do everything. They have the power to soothe, to give courage. "

"If a song seems to speak of suffering is that you have yourself. Actually, I was pretty high spirits and good about myself when I wrote those of Old Ideas . But I think all the songs that we love deeply, there is always some sadness. The Merry Jingle Bells , sung slowly, can become very sad. Happy Birthday sung by Marilyn Monroe turns into a haunting erotic invitation ... A song is like tofu: it takes the flavor and taste of the broth in which it is soaked. In a good song, found the answer to all questions. "

"I am set in my old age, as a male to female ( "Ladies Man" ) would require a dose of humor. I concluded, somewhat against the heart, that I will die someday. It's sobering. I hope to do without being too morbid. I raise the dead, but in rhythm. I do not think much to the concept of reincarnation. But if I really need to come back to earth, while it is in the dog's skin for my daughter Lorca! "

"Leonard Cohen"

Netscape Internet Service, January 16, 2012 (Photos by AFP Photo/Joel Saget/Getty Images)

Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen poses on January 16, 2012 in Paris. Leonard Cohen's new album "Old Ideas" will be released in France on January 30. )


"Leonard Cohen Ïle Bir Paris Aksam"

Zülal Kalkandelen/Müzik Yazilari (Turkey) by Zülal Kalkandelen, January 18, 2012 (Photos available on site.)

Ozan sarkici, sair, romanci, kültür ikonu Leonard Cohen, bu ay yeni bir albüm yayinliyor. "Old Ideas" adini tasiyan albümün tanitimi için Paris'te düzenlenen toplantiya Türkiye'den ben katildim. Pazartesi aksami, dünyanin çesitli yerlerinden gelen bir grup gazeteci ile birlikte Paris'in ünlü otellerinden Hotel Crillon'da yerimizi alip Leonard Cohen'i beklemeye basladik.

Saat tam 19:30'da siyah takim elbisesi, siyah fötr sapkasi ve gri gömlegiyle, her zamanki gibi en sik haliyle karsimizdaydi. Gazetecileri kisaca selamlayip, hos geldiniz dedi ve menajeriyle birlikte bizimle ayni koltuklara oturarak albümünü bastan sona dinledi. Arkasindan da sorularimizi yanitladi.

Albümden kisaca söz etmek gerekirse, "Old Ideas", 2004'ten bu yana Cohen'in yayinladigi ilk çalisma. 10 sarkidan olusan olusan albüm, her zamanki gibi Cohen'in ask, sevgi, günlük hayatin isleyisi ve insanoglunun zihnini mesgul eden endiseler üzerine düsüncelerini ve gözlemlerini aktariyor.

Bu albümde blues formunda sarkilara da yer verdigi için mutluydu Cohen. "Blues'u ve müzikal yapisini her zaman sevdim. Ama blues söylemeye hakkim olmadigini düsünmüstüm hep. Bir otorite tarafindan verilmis degil ama sonunda bir sekilde bu formu kullanma hakkim oldugunu hissettim. Bazi sarkilar o sekilde ortaya çikti ve artik blues söyleme hakkim var" dedi. Sesine de çok yakismis blues, yazdigi sözlere de...

Sarkilarda odak noktasi ask ve sevgi olsa da hüzün hep hissediliyor. Bu tespitimi Cohen'a aktarip "Aci çekmek, sevmenin gerekli bir parçasi mi?" diye sordum. Bunu duymanin kendisi için ilginç oldugunu; çünkü albümü yaparken iyi bir ruh hali içinde oldugunu söyledi.

Sonra da sunu ekledi: "Insanlar yasgünlerinde 'Happy Birthday' sarkisini söylüyor. Ama Marilyn Monroe da söyledi ve o izlenimi degistirdi. Bir sarki bulasik yikamakla da ilgili olabilir, daha büyük meselelere de isaret edebilir. Bu onu nasil söylediginizle ilgili. Ama bana göre iyi bir sarkida bu unsurlarin hepsi olur."

Cohen'in müzigindeki sir da burada; hayatin her yönü var onun yazdigi sözlerde, sarkilarin hüznün en zarif ve esprili halini yansitiyor. Sözlerindeki ironiler depresif degil, aksine sakinlestirici bir etki yapiyor. Espri unsuru soruldugunda, "Kadinlarin erkegi (Ladies' man) olarak, hayatimin bu döneminde onlarla iliskim çok miktarda espri içermek zorunda" diye yanit veriyor.

Kendisiyle de dalga geçebilme olgunluguna erismis, bilgelige uzanmis bir sanatçi o. "Going Home" adli sarkisinda "takim elbise içinde yasayan tembel piç" diye söz ediyor kendisinden ama bizler onun geldigi bu noktada siirlerine, müzigine, çizimlerine bakinca hâlâ ögrenebilecegi bir sey kalmis midir diye düsünüyoruz. O ise, tüm alçakgönüllülügüyle "Kendi aptalliginizdan asla kurtulamazsiniz. Yetersizliginize ya da utanç duyulacak davranislariniza iliskin bolca örnek bulabilirsiniz. Kendi kendinizi aci verici sekilde elestirme firsatlari bulsaniz da bu gerçekler asla tam olarak çözüme ulasmaz." diyor.

Toplantida albüm kapagindaki fotografin Cohen'in "çalisma arkadasim, genç bir Türk dostum" diye andigi Kezban özcan tarafindan çekildigini ve fotograftaki kadin gölgesinin de ona ait oldugunu ögrendik.

Daha sonra Cohen'a plak imzalatmak için yanina gittigimde konusurken, torununun da bir Türk bakicisi oldugunu söyleyip, "Türklerle yakin iliskilerimiz var" dedi. Gülerek imzasini atti plagima, sesi, karizmasi, agirligi ve akliyla 16 Ocak aksamini unutulmaz ve çok özel kildi 77'lik essiz delikanli!


Leonard Cohen'a sorulan sorulan diger sorulari ve verdigi yanitlari da asagida bir araya getirdim. (Cohen, albümü dinledikten sonra önce Fransiz bir radyocunun sorularini yanitladi, sira sonra gazetecilerin sorularina geldi.)

-Gazetecilerle birlikte oturup kendi albümünüzü dinlemek nasil bir deneyimdi?

LC: Bunu anlatmak çok zor.

-Herkes çok sessizce dinledi. Sanirim iyi bir isaret.

LC: Kimse salonu terk etmedi.

-Fransizlarla özel iliskiniz dikkatimi çekti. Toplantidan önce Fransizlarin sizin çalismalarinizi daha rahat anladigini söylüyordunuz.

LC: Benim çalisma gelenegimin kusaklar önce burada kuruldugunu düsündüm hep. Bu nedenle hiçbir seyi ayrica açiklama geregi duymadim. Bir sarkinin müzigi, sözleri, müzisyenin pozisyonu Fransa'da ve diger Avrupa ülkelerinde açiklikla anlasilmis durumdaydi. Ancak bu Amerika'da bütünüyle alisilip benimsenmis bir durum degildi.

-Bizim için ne anlama geldiginizin farkinda misiniz? Bazen size gösterdigimiz saygidan sikilabilirsiniz belki de. "Mükemmel sarkici", "mükemmel sair" "mükemmel akil" vb. ifadeler ne hissettiriyor?

LC: Muhtesem. Gerçekten iyi hissettiriyor. Bu tür bir kibarliga karsilik tesekkür etmekten baska bir sey söylemek çok zor.

-çok akilli ve parlak bir insansiniz. Daima söylediginiz, yazdiginiz çizdiginiz ve yaptiginiz her sey hakkinda düsünüyorsunuz. Bir sanatçinin insanlar üzerinde nasil böyle bir etki birakabilecegini düsünüyordum...

LC: Ben de herkes gibi kendi hayatimi yasiyorum. Günlük acil isler söz konusu oldugunda benim de o tür sorulari sorma lüksüm olmuyor. Daha büyük boyutlu alanlarda onlara kafa yoruyorum.

-Dindar bir insansiniz saniyorum. Yanlissam düzeltin. Sizin için dinin anlami ne? Albümü dinlerken dinin insani gerçekten özgürlestirebilecegini düsündüm. Siz gerçekten özgür bir ruha sahipsiniz, özgür bir insansiniz. Bunun yasla ilgili oldugunu da sanmiyorum.

LC: Itiraf etmeliyim ki yasla çok ilgisi var. Bu konuda pratik yapmanin ya da disiplinin sonucu mu bilmiyorum ama bir yerde yaslandiginizda beynin anksiyete ile ilgili belli hücrelerinin öldügünü okumustum. Bu nedenle kendinizi ne kadar disipline ettiginizin bir önemi de yok. Hücrelerinizin durumuna göre çok daha iyi a da kötü hissedebilirsiniz.

Bir Zen hocasi dostum var. Su anda 104 yasinda ama yasliliga karsi hiç taviz vermiyor. Onunla zaman geçirmek çok güzel. Dinden söz ettiniz ama bu yasli hoca asla dinden konusmaz. Konusabildigi her sefer bu özel çalismayi isaret eder. Bu dindar bir çalisma degil. Dogadaki isleyis, kisi ve cisim arasindaki ayriligi ve bir olma yöntemini anlatiyor. Bir anlamda bilimsel bir temeli var. Kesin durumlara degil, bireysel deneyimlere dayali. Bir tapinma, tanri yok. Bir toplumda yasama baglilik, kendi duygulariniz ve digerlerinin duygularinin farkina varmak konusunda asiri duyarli olmak anlamina geliyor. Dinle gilili herhangi bir etkinlikten daha çok bu tür bir etkinlik. Iman, inanç yok. Din tanimina girmiyor.

-"Old Ideas" ne anlama geliyor? Eski düsünceleri gözden mi geçiriyordunuz yoksa eski düsenceler en iyisi midir?

LC: Tam olarak ne anlama geldigi konusunda emin degilim. Sadece bir düsünce. Bizi en çok ilgilendiren konulara dönüp bakmak anlaminda. Tan ne oldugunu söylemek zor. Bizimle kalip yasayan, günlük endiseler.

-Neseli depresyon gibi ifade, kavram olabilir mi?

LC: Depresyon ciddi bir konu. Kötü bir bulusma ya da kötü bir hafta sonundan söz etmiyorum. Depresyon dediginde klinik bir depresyondan, tüm geçmisinizden, anksiyete denilen durumdan, hiçbir seyin iyi gitmedigini ve zevk alinabilecek hiçbir seyin olmadigini hissettiginiz ve bütün stratejilerinizin çöktügü durumdan söz ediyorum. Bu tür depresyonu çok yasadim. Ama açiklamaktan mutluyum ki, yasamimin belli bir döneminde, hayatimin geç bir döneminde, iyi hocalarin ve iyi sansin sayesinde depresyonu astim ve tekrarlamadi. Umuyorum ki bitti ve bir daha dönmez.

-Hiç kötü bir özelliginiz var mi?

LC: Hayir, yok. (Bunu gülerek söyledi.)

-Insanlar sizi sahnede gördügünde hep büyüleniyor. Insanlardan bu tür tepkiler alinca ne hissediyorsunuz?

LC: Her yakin, yogun iliskide oldugu gibi, iliskiyi tartismak çok zararlidir.

-Dinledigimiz ilk sarkiniz Going Home'da, "Leonard ile konusmayi severim. O bir centilmen ve kilavuz. Takim elbise içinde yasayan bir piç" diyorsunuz. Kim bu Leonard?

(Leonard Cohen, bu soruya eliyle kendini isaret edip gülerek yanit verdi.)

-Israil'e son ziyaretiniz hakkinda sormak istiyorum. Herkes büyüleyici oldugunu söylüyor. Insanlar, elestirmenler Israil'deki son konserinizin çok özel oldugu fikrinde. Siz de aynisini hissettiniz mi? Ayrica Israil'i boykot etmeniz için size baski yapanlara nasil karsilik verdiniz?

LC: Sanatsal iletisimde boykota inanmiyorum. çünkü iletisim için son umut o. Biz insanlar arasinda iletisim kurulmasi umuduyla bir açiklama yaptik, bu konuda bir fon olusturduk. Konserden elde edilen tüm geliri o fona bagisladik. Orada 50 bin kisi var. Iki toplum arasinda iletisim kurulmasini tesvik etmeye çalistik. Biliyorum umutsuz bir durum. Biliyorum birçok kisi için tartisma disi ama bir noktada insan bir seyler yapmak istiyor. Bizim yaptigimiz da buydu.

-Albüm kapagindaki fotgrafta bir kadin gölgesi var. Kim o? LC: Evimin bahçesinde çekildi o. O gölge fotografçinin gölgesi. Kezban özcan, bir Türk çalisma arkadasim, genç dostum. O gölge fotografta aslinda daha asagida, farkli bir yerdeydi. Onu Photoshop'la yukari çekince iki tane gölge daha gizemli oldu. Sanirim böyle de iyi oldu.

-Bir keresinde birçok çalismanizin hazir halde oldugunu ve aralarinda sarkilarin da bulundugunu söylemistiniz. Onlari kullanmayi düsünüyor musunuz?

LC: Bitmemis çok materyalim var elimde. Ama su anda üzerinde çalistigim yeni bir albüm için yeterli malzemem de bulunuyor. 1 yil ya da biraz daha uzun bir süre içinde yeni bir albüm yapabilirim.

-Hepimiz için geçerli olan kesin sonla ilgili nihai bir düsünceye vardiniz mi?

LC: Bir sonuca vardim. ölecegim. Düsündükçe çesitli olasiliklar bu tür sorulari gündeme getiriyor tabii ama ben bunu bir galibiyetle yapmak istiyorum.

-Bu albümde eskilere göre daha çok flamenko etkisi hissediliyor. Burada Enrique Morente'yi anmak isterim. Dostunuzdu saniyorum ve geçen sene öldü. Flamenko seviyor musunuz, dinliyor musunuz?

LC: Flamenkoyu çok seviyorum. Kimse dinlemezken ben flamenko dinlerdim. Bana derinden dokunan bir müzik. Flamenko, fado, blues, rembetika, country bunlar daima beni en çok etkileyen müzikler. Müzik hayatimdaki en büyük ayricaliklardan birisi, Enrique Morente'nin müzigimi flamenko formunda yorumlamasiydi. Enrique Morente'yi buradaki insanlar taniyor mu bilmiyorum ama geçen sene öldü. Kendi kusaginin en önemli sanatçilarindandi. Rocksteady etkisini flamenkoya yansitti, tutkuyu ve özgünlügü feda etmeden diger birçok unsuru flamenkoya tasiyip saglam bir füzyon yaratti. çok iyi bir sarkici ve müzik alaninda çok yaraticiydi. Benim çalismamla ilgilenip kendi geleneklerinde yorumladigi için büyük bir onur duydum. Bu sarkilari topladigi Omega adli bir albüm yapti. Principe Asturias ödül Töreni'nde ünlü flamenko sarkicisi Duquende'nin "The Gypsy's Wife" adli sarkimi flamenko formunda söylemesi beni derinden etkileyen bir olaydi.

"A Parisian Evening with Leonard Cohen"

Zülal Kalkandelen/Müzik Yazilari (Turkey) by Zülal Kalkandelen, January 18, 2012 (Photos available on site.)

Ozan singer, poet, novelist, cultural icon Leonard Cohen, is releasing a new album this month. "Old Ideas" to promote the album with the name of Turkey, I attended a meeting held in Paris. Monday evening, a group of journalists from around the world with well-known hotels in Paris Hotel Crillon'da Leonard Cohen's hold our place started to take.

Hour full at 19:30, a black suit and black felt hat and gray shirt, the usual The most elegant form, such as been around. Journalists brief greeting, he said, and menajeriyle welcome us with the album sitting in the same seats, listened to from beginning to end. From behind answered the questions.

If you need to talk about an album, simply, "Old Ideas" Since 2004, Cohen published the first study. Consisting of 10 songs of the album, as usual, Cohen love, love, daily life and functioning of the human mind that has occupied the thoughts and observations over concerns about the transfers.

This album was happy for the blues in the form of Cohen's songs. "Always liked the blues and musical structure. But I always thought that the right to sing blues. Issued by an authority, but at the end, it felt like the right to use this form. Some songs have a right to say that the blues emerged, and now," he said. Yakismis blues voice too, in his words ...

The songs even though the focus of love and affection always felt sadness. This tespitimi Cohen'a transfer "to suffer, is a necessary part of loving?" I asked. It is interesting to hear him because the album when it is in a good mood, he said.

Then he added, "People yasgünlerinde 'Happy Birthday' song, he says. But the impression of Marilyn Monroe said, and he changed. Dish-washing may also be relevant in a song, also may point to larger issues. This is how it related söylediginizle. But all of these elements in a song is good for me."

Cohen's music in a secret here, I have every aspect of life, he wrote his words, melancholy songs reflect the state of the most elegant and witty. Depressive irony is not his words, but rather is a calming effect. When an element of humor, "women's men (ladies' man), in this period of my life, my relationship with them must contain a large amount of humor," he responds.

Him to cross the wave has reached the maturity, wisdom, an artist lying o. "Going Home" song called "lazy bastard who live in the suit," he talks about himself, but at this point, we came of his poems, music, drawings, Is Looking still think that had something to learn. That is, in all modesty "aptalliginizdan never get rid of your own. You can find plenty of examples Yetersizliginize or behavior, which, embarrassingly. Opportunities to criticize the way you find yourself in this painful truth will never reach full settlement." he says.

The meeting, the album cover photo Cohen "work my friend, a young Turkish man," he mentioned by Kezban Without the shadow of the woman belongs to her that the photo was taken by have learned.

Cohen'a Then when I went up to him to sign the record talking, saying that the grandson of a Turkish sitter, "the Turks have close relations," he said. Plagima has signed a laugh, his voice, charisma, weight and intellect on January 16th Assembly made ??a memorable and very special 77 unique boy!


Cohen'a Leonard asked questions and answers to other questions also prepared a I brought. (Cohen, a French radyocunun answered questions before the album after hearing, the order came from the journalists' questions.)

-Journalists sit together to listen to their album What was it like?

LC: It is hard to describe.

-Everyone listened very quietly. I think a good sign.

LC: No one did not leave the hall.

-special relationship with the French who caught my attention. Before the meeting, the French understood the söylüyordunuz your work more comfortable.

LC: I always thought working tradition established here generations ago. Therefore, no disclosure requirement also did not hear anything. Of a song, music, lyrics, musician position in France and other European countries remained clearly understood. However, this is a situation in America was not entirely alisilip adopted.

-Are you aware that you came for us to understand? Sometimes you show respect, perhaps bored. "Great singer", "excellent poet," "excellent mind" and so on. What makes you feel expressions?

LC: Great. I really feel good. This kind of hard to say anything more than to thank you for kibarliga.

-Very smart and bright person. Always say, you write that you draw and think about everything you do. I was thinking how such an impact on people birakabilecegini an artist...

LC: I'm having my own life like everybody else. In the case of emergency work that day I also do not ask such questions are not luxuries. The larger head size in areas yoruyorum them.

-pious a man, I think. Incorrect, correct. What is the meaning of religion for you? Can free people really thought of listening to albums of religion. You really have a free spirit, a free person. I do not think this is an age-related.

LC: I must admit I have a lot to do with age. Practical to do on this subject or discipline, but I do not know if as a result of anxiety related to certain brain cells die in a place I've read lean. Therefore, how to discipline yourself when you do not have importance. According to the state of the cells from the bad can feel a lot better. There is a Zen teacher, my friend. Currently, 104 years old, but old age does not make any concessions to. Very nice to spend time with him. You mentioned religion, but religion will never speak of this old teacher. Every time you talk, it refers to the specific work. This is not a religious work. Operational in nature, the separation between person and object, and describes a method of becoming. In a sense, there is no scientific basis. The exact circumstances, but based on individual experiences. One of worship, no god. Commitment to live in a society, to recognize their own feelings and emotions of others to be susceptible to extreme means. Listen gilili more than any event of such an event. Faith, not faith. Religion does not enter the definition.

- "Old Ideas," What does it mean? Review of old ideas or old düsenceler geçiriyordunuz Is the best?

LC: I'm not sure exactly what it means. Just a thought. Back issues of most interest to us in terms of look. Diagnosis is difficult to say what it is. Who die with us, everyday concerns.

-cheerful expression, such as depression, may be the concept?

LC: Depression is a serious issue. Poor do not mean the end of a meeting or a bad week. Depression is a clinical depression, says, all the history, the so-called state of anxiety, nothing has gone well and enjoy the feeling that nothing can be collapsed and the situation I'm talking about all the strategies. This type of depression is very experienced. But I'm happy to announce that a certain period of my life, a late period of my life, depression, asthma, and to echo the thanks to good teachers and good luck. I hope that a more finished and returned.

-Did you ever have a feature that bad?

LC: No, no. (I said with a laugh.)

-People always enchanted by seeing you on stage. How do you feel when you receive this kind of reaction from people?

LC: Every close, intense relationship, the relationship is very harmful to discuss.

-We heard the first song Going Home, "I like to talk with Leonard. He is a gentleman and guide. The team is a bastard living in a dress," you say. Leonard Who is this?

(Leonard Cohen, this question is answered, laughing and pointing hand itself.)

-Israel, 'I want to ask you about your last visit. Everyone says that it is fascinating. People, critics agree that Israel's recent konserinizin very special. You feel the same? Also how did you respond to those who pressure you to to boycott Israel?

LC: I do not believe a boycott against artistic communication. Because the last hope for communication o. We are hoping to establish communication among the people made ??a comment on this issue created a fund. All proceeds from the concert, he donated to the fund. There are 50 thousand people there. We tried to encourage the establishment of communication between the two communities. I know a hopeless case. I know I talk to many people off, but at some point people want to do something. That's what we are doing. fotgrafta

-album cover has a woman's shadow. Who is it?

LC: the garden of my house and filmed o. Then the shadow of the photographer's shadow. Kezban Ozcan, a Turkish colleague, a young man. That photo is actually lower than the shadow of a different roaming. Photoshop it up and made ??a reservation two was more mysterious shadow. I think that was the best.

Once I was ready for a lot of your work-and you said that there were among the songs. Do you intend to use them?

LC: I have unfinished so the material in my hand. But for right now working on a new album also has enough material. Over a period of 1 year or a little longer to do a new album.

-all of us that apply to the final outcome is a final thought, Did you come on?

LC: I came to a conclusion. I will die. I think about these questions raises a variety of possibilities, of course, but I would like to make it a win.

-flamenco influence can be felt on this album more than older ones. Here I would like to commemorate Enrique Morente'yi. I think Dostunuzdu and died last year. Do you love flamenco, Are you listening?

LC: I love Flamenco. No one dinlemezken I listen to flamenco. A music that touches me deeply. Flamenco, fado, blues, Rembetika, country music, they always impressed me most. One of the greatest privileges of my life music, Enrique Morente'nin yorumlamasiydi my music in the form of flamenco. Enrique Morente'yi people here know I do not know, but died last year. Sanatçilarindandi the most important of his generation. Reflected the impact of Rocksteady flamenco, move flamenco passion and originality of many elements without sacrificing the other has created a solid fusion. Very good singer and music in a very innovative. çalismamla I heard a great honor for your concern and interprets its own traditions. This was an album that the songs collected by Omega. Principe Asturias Award Ceremony of the famous flamenco singer Duquende'nin "The Gypsy's Wife" was an event which deeply affected me by telling my song in the form of flamenco.


"A 77 ans, Leonard Cohen s'offre 'la permission de chanter le blues'"

Actualíte (France), January 18, 2012 (Photo by Joel Saget, AFP)

A 77 ans et après 45 ans de carrière, Leonard Cohen s'est enfin senti "autorisé à chanter le blues" sur "Old Ideas", son premier album de chansons originales en huit ans, auquel le poète canadien envisage déjà une suite.

Frêle et élégant en costume et trilby noirs, le chanteur est venu présenter en avant-première à la presse française et internationale à Paris son disque à paraître le 30 janvier (Columbia/Sony).

"Old Ideas" est un recueil de dix chansons inédites, sur lequel Leonard Cohen renoue avec un style musical plus dépouillé que celui de son dernier essai "Dear Heather", publié en 2004.

Certains titres, habillés de banjos et de guitares, ont une coloration nettement blues et rappellent que Leonard Cohen avait tenté de s'établir à Nashville lorsqu'il croisa la scène folk de Greenwich Village à ses débuts.

"J'ai toujours aimé le blues, sa construction musicale. Mais j'ai toujours eu l'impression que je n'avais pas le droit de le chanter", raconte le poète de sa voix de baryton.

"Mais en quelque sorte, ce droit m'a été octroyé, je ne sais par quelles autorités. J'ai senti que j'étais autorisé à utiliser cette forme et beaucoup de chansons me sont venues de cette façon. Maintenant, j'ai la permission de chanter le blues", dit-il.

Leonard Cohen évoque sur "Old Ideas" les thèmes qui lui sont chers : la spiritualité, l'amour, la sexualité, le temps qui passe, la mort.

Pourtant le musicien était "plutôt de bonne humeur" quand il a écrit ces chansons, dont certaines remontent à 2007.

Si Leonard Cohen a longtemps souffert de dépression, "celle-ci s'est lentement dissoute et n'est plus revenue avec la même férocité que ce qui avait prévalu pendant la plus grande partie de (sa) vie". "Elle n'est plus là et j'espère qu'elle ne reviendra plus", confie-t-il.

Mais, estime-t-il, "comme le tofu, une chanson prend le goût de la sauce émotionnelle que vous y mettez. Si quelqu'un a besoin qu'on s'adresse à sa propre souffrance, il trouvera cette composante dans une chanson".

La gravité des thèmes abordés dans les chansons d'"Old Ideas" est d'ailleurs souvent contrebalancée par l'humour et l'autodérision dont fait preuve leur auteur.

Ainsi, l'album s'ouvre sur "Going Home", un titre dans lequel Cohen s'adresse à Leonard, décrit comme "un sportif et un berger, un bâtard paresseux habillé en costume".

Devant les journalistes non plus, le poète ne se départit jamais de son sens aigu de la dérision.

Interrogé sur sa réputation d'homme à femmes, il répond pince-sans-rire : "au point où j'en suis être un homme à femmes implique une bonne dose d'humour".

A un journaliste qui lui demande pourquoi il s'intéresse autant à la mort, il réplique : "Je suis parvenu, à contrecoeur, à la conclusion que j'allais mourir, et cette possibilité amène quelques réflexions".

A un autre qui lui demande en quoi il aimerait être réincarner, il dit du tac au tac : "le chien de ma fille".

Poussé à remonter sur scène par des problèmes financiers, Leonard Cohen a parcouru le monde de 2008 à 2010, lors d'une tournée acclamée par le public et la critique. Blessé au dos, il avait dû en reporter une partie.

Un retour sur scène en 2012 est "certainement dans ma tête", dit-il, tout en laissant entendre que rien n'est moins sûr.

Une suite à "Old Ideas" pourrait en tout cas voir le jour rapidement.

"J'ai beaucoup d'éléments inachevés. Suffisamment pour un nouvel album sur lequel je suis en train de travailler. Donc, si Dieu le veut, je serai en mesure de finir un autre album d'ici un an environ".

"At 77, Leonard Cohen offers 'permission to sing the blues'"

Actualíte (France), January 18, 2012 (Photo by Joel Saget, AFP)

A 77-year and 45-year career, Leonard Cohen has finally felt "entitled to sing the blues" to "Old Ideas," his first album of original songs in eight years, which the Canadian poet is already planning a sequel.

Frail and elegant black suit and trilby, the singer came to present a preview to the French and international press in Paris, its hard to appear Jan. 30 (Columbia / Sony).

"Old Ideas" is a collection of ten new songs, which Leonard Cohen returns to a musical style more stripped than its last attempt "Dear Heather", published in 2004.

Some titles, dressed in banjos and guitars, have a distinctly blues coloration and recall that Leonard Cohen had tried to settle in Nashville when he crossed the Greenwich Village folk scene in its infancy.

"I've always loved the blues, her musical construction. But I always felt that I was not allowed to sing," said the poet of his baritone voice.

"But somehow, I was granted this right, I do not know by what authority. I felt that I was allowed to use this form and a lot of songs came to me this way. Now I permission to sing the blues," he said.

Leonard Cohen speaks on "Old Ideas" themes that are dear to him: spirituality, love, sexuality, the passage of time, death.

Yet the musician was "rather good mood" when he wrote these songs, some dating back to 2007.

If Leonard Cohen has long suffered from depression, "it has slowly dissolved and no longer returned with the same ferocity than had prevailed for most of (his) life." "She's gone and I hope it will not come back," he says.

But, says he, "such as tofu, a song takes a taste of the sauce you put emotional. If someone needs to be addressed to his own suffering, he will find this component in a song".

The severity of the themes in the songs of "Old Ideas" is also often offset by humor and self-deprecating shown by the author.

Thus, the album opens with "Going Home", a title which is for Leonard Cohen, described as "an athlete and a shepherd, a lazy bastard dressed in costume."

To reporters either, the poet never departed from his keen sense of irony.

Asked about his reputation as a womanizer, he replied tongue-in-cheek "to the point where I'm being a ladies' man involves a good dose of humor."

A journalist asked why he is as interested in death, he replied: "I have come, reluctantly, the conclusion was going to die, and this possibility led some thoughts."

To another who asked him how he would like to be reincarnated, he said tit for tat, "the dog of my daughter."

Pushed back on stage by financial problems, Leonard Cohen has traveled the world from 2008 to 2010, during a tour acclaimed by audiences and critics. Injured his back, he had to postpone a game.

A comeback in 2012 is "certainly in my head," he said, while suggesting that nothing is certain.

A sequel to "Old Ideas" could at least see the light soon.

"I have many things unfinished. Enough for a new album that I'm working. So God willing, I will be able to finish another album the next year."


"Le nouveau Leonard Cohen est une vraie perle"

LeSoir (Belgium) by Thierry Coljon, January 17, 2012

Le pèlerin de l'amour est de retour avec son douzième album. Nous l'avons écouté, à l'hôtel Crillon, en sa présence et celle de la presse européenne. « Old ideas», ce sont dix chansons touchées par la grâce d'un artiste inégalé. Récit d'une écoute tutoyant les anges.

De notre envoyé spécial

Hôtel Crillon à Paris. Vue imprenable sur la place de la Concorde, son obélisque et sa grande roue perçant la nuit de ses lumières scintillantes.

Au Salon des Aigles qui, de leurs dorures de stuc, couvent les grands lustres d'un autre temps, entre un pèlerin québécois de 77 ans. Chapeau noir comme le costume et la cravate, légèrement voûté, Leonard s'avance parmi nous pour présenter son douzième album, le premier depuis huit ans, "Old ideas". Sa chaise fait face aux représentants de la presse européenne qui, d'Israël et Pologne jusqu'au Portugal, s'est donné rendez-vous là spécialement pour entendre ce disque dont deux titres, « Show me the place » et « The darkness » avaient déjà été révélés sur Internet.

Leonard, en tout cas, n'a rien perdu de son humour légendaire : « Merci à tous d'être là, j'apprécie du fond du cæur. Permettez seulement que je tourne ma chaise et vous tourne le dos afin que vous puissiez exprimer vos émotions. Sentez-vous libre de le faire selon votre cæur. »

Et Leonard s'assied au premier rang pour écouter l'intégralité des dix chansons écrites sur un long laps de temps (d'où le titre de Old ideas). L'écran ne diffuse que la pochette : un Leonard écrit dans un jardin face à son domicile montréalais, son ombre s'équilibrant avec celle de la photographe. Le disque s'ouvre sur « Going home » et tout de suite, on plonge dans ce monde familier qui est la plus douce et la plus sensuelle des drogues. L'orgue, les chæurs féminins (Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, les Webb Sisters et Jennifer Warnes), le violon... Le son, concocté par le producteur (notamment de Madonna) Patrick Leonard, est respectueux de cette voix grave bien mise en avant. Leonard nous souffle tout son amour dans l'oreille. Leçons de vie et d'humanité, il se permet aussi un clin d'æil d'autodérision à propos de Leonard, ce « lazy bastard living in a suit » (cet enfoiré de fainéant vivant dans un costume).

Une délicatesse folle

La mélancolie klezmer revient dans « Amen », voix angéliques et pont à la trompette... Le temps s'arrête ou plutôt s'écoule autrement. La guitare et l'orgue sont autant de touches impressionnistes d'une délicatesse folle. Il n'y a plus personne aujourd'hui pour réaliser un disque à impérativement écouter dans un silence religieux. Le plus rythmé « The darkness » livre son blues contagieux. On passe en mode lévitation zen là où il n'y a aucune tristesse ou dépression. Leonard chante la vie et l'amour sans oublier les souffrances qui en découlent. Dans « Anyhow », la mélodie s'efface quasi totalement derrière la déclamation. Sur « Crazy to love you », c'est une gigantesque et généreuse brassée d'amour qui nous étreint, avec cette sérénité qui nous permet d'être en paix avec nous-même et le monde. « Come healing » est le médicament indiqué avant un « Banjo » country-blues flirtant avec la Louisiane. L'harmonica vient ensuite décorer la berceuse « Lullaby », le vent soufflant dans les arbres apportant cette fraîcheur qui, à aucun moment, ne quitte le poète troubadour. En terminant par « Different sides », Leonard nous glisse une dernière fois à l'oreille cette voix ensorcelante qui nous fait irrésistiblement l'amour. Chaud devant ! Leonard est un gredin. C'est fini. Avec un petit sourire complice, il se retourne et lance : « Personne n'a ri ! ».

On passe à côté pour le drink de l'amitié, les lumières de la ville sont à nos pieds. Et puis, au moment où on ne l'attend plus, voici Leonard se pliant au jeu des photos et dédicaces, avec une patience et une gentillesse angéliques.

On s'en va, dévoré par la nuit et les grands boulevards illuminés. On se réécoute l'album et on sait déjà qu'on aura souvent besoin cette année de cette dope musicale. Merci Leonard de nous procurer autant de bonheur !

"The new Leonard Cohen is a real gem"

LeSoir (Belgium) by Thierry Coljon, January 17, 2012

The pilgrim of love is back with his twelfth album. We listened to the Hotel Crillon in his presence and that of the European press. "Old ideas" are affected by the ten songs by an artist unparalleled. Story of a listening familiarly angels.

From our special correspondent

Hotel Crillon in Paris. Views of the Place de la Concorde, the obelisk and the Ferris wheel piercing the night of his twinkling lights.

At the Salon of the Eagles, who, with their gilded stucco convent large chandeliers of another age, a pilgrim from Quebec 77 years. Black hat like the suit and tie, slightly arched, Leonard moves us to present his twelfth album, the first eight years, "Old ideas". His chair faces the representatives of the European press that Israel and Poland to Portugal, has made an appointment there specifically to hear this disc including two titles, "Show me the place" and "The Darkness" had already been revealed on the Internet.

Leonard, at least, has lost none of his legendary humor: "Thank you all for being there, I appreciate from my heart. Let only that I turned my chair and turns his back on you so you can express your emotions. Feel free to do so in your heart."

Leonard and sits in the front row to listen to the whole of the ten songs written over a long period of time (hence the title of Old ideas). The screen does not release the cover: a Leonard wrote in a garden in front of his home in Montreal, his shadow equilibrium with that of the photographer. The disc opens with "Going Home" and immediately, we plunged into the familiar world which is the softest and most sensual drugs. The organ, the female chorus (Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, Webb Sisters and Jennifer Warnes), violin... The sound, concocted by the producer (including Madonna), Patrick Leonard, is respectful of the deep voice well highlighted. Leonard blows us all his love into the ear. Lessons of life and humanity, it also allows a flash of self-mockery about Leonard, this "lazy bastard living in a following" (that lazy bastard living in a costume).

Delicacy mad

The melancholy returns to klezmer "Amen", angelic voices and bridge the trumpet... Time stops flowing or rather differently. The guitar and organ are all impressionistic delicacy of crazy. There is no one now to make a disc is essential listening in religious silence. The more rhythmic "The Darkness" delivers his blues contagious. It goes into levitation zen where there is no sadness or depression. Leonard sings of life and love as well the suffering that result. In "anyhow", the melody disappears almost entirely behind the declamation. On "Crazy to Love You" is a huge and generous armful of love that embraces us with the serenity that allows us to be at peace with ourselves and the world. "Come healing" is the drug indicated by a "Banjo" country-blues flirting with Louisiana. The harmonica is then decorate the lullaby "Lullaby", the wind blowing through the trees bringing the freshness, at no time leaves the poet troubadour. Ending with "Different Sides" Leonard the last time we slip into the ear that voice that makes us irresistibly bewitching love. Hot! Leonard is a scoundrel. It's over. With a small knowing smile, he turned and said, "No one laughed!".

It misses the drink of friendship, the lights of the city at our feet. And then when you least expect more, here Leonard folding the game photos and autographs, with angelic patience and kindness.

It leaves, eaten by the night and illuminated boulevards. We replay the album and we already know that this will often require years of this dope music. Leonard thank you to provide us as much happiness!


"'Als ik doodga, dan met een beat eronder'"

De Standaard (Belgium) by Guinevere Claeys, January 21, 2012

Berustende en levenslustige Leonard Cohen bezingt liefde en dood op 'Old ideas'

Hij heeft er een heel leven voor nodig gehad, maar het lijkt zover: Leonard Cohen geniet. Net nog drie jaar getoerd met de glimlach en nu schenkt hij de mensheid ook nog tien nieuwe nummers. Na acht jaar, op zijn 77ste. Verlost van nogal wat pijn van het zijn, zo lijkt. En immer zo galant: 'Jullie Europeanen hebben me altijd het best begrepen.'

Zo breedgeschouderd zijn stemtimbre, zo fragiel zijn frame. Hij is oud geworden, sir Leonard Cohen. De man die zo lang vrouwen kon overtuigen met zijn moordend masculiene tred en pose alleen al stapt vandaag veeleer schuifelend door de ruimte. Aandoenlijk veel breekbaarheid. De Canadees is intussen 77 natuurlijk, waarom hoeft dat dan zo te verwonderen? Allicht omdat dat op een podium en achter die reusachtige stem nooit eerder opviel. Toch veel minder. Natuurlijk is hij dan weer onverminderd en every inch a gentleman. Of dandy, hangt ervan af. In elk geval: altijd in pak, met hoed, en geestig elegant.

De 'lazy bastard, living in a suit' -- zo zegt hij het zelf op zijn nieuwe plaat -- kwam deze week naar Parijs om die plaat, Old ideas, voor te stellen. Cohen heeft nooit van interviews gehouden en op zijn 77ste voelt hij zich er al helemaal te moe voor. Dus ging het zo: een kleine honderd journalisten, vanuit heel Europa, mochten samen met hem naar de nieuwe plaat luisteren. In een mooie zaal, dat wel, in een chic hotel, op Place de la Concorde -- uitzicht op de Obelisk. Nadat zijn manager nogal harkerig had uitgelegd hoe de avond zou verlopen en daarna zonder verdere omwegen de technicus had bevolen de plaat te starten, stelde Leonard Cohen snel zelf voor of hij ons misschien toch niet even moest verwelkomen.

Puur en sober

Duidelijk gegeneerd over de licht surreële gang van zaken, dankte hij ons -- 'thank you my friends' -- om te komen. Dat hij ons niet zou aankijken tijdens het beluisteren, dat zei hij ook, glimlachend -- 'couldn't bare see you rejecting it'. En dat hij na afloop wat vragen zou beantwoorden. Daarna ging hij op de voorste rij zitten, om de hele plaat lang onbewogen voor zich uit te zitten kijken -- af en toe zag ik hem slikken, meer niet.

Een pure plaat is het. Vrij sober gearrangeerd. Wat opvalt bij het eerste beluisteren: zijn stem is nog maar eens een handvol kwinten gezakt. Spoken poems veeleer dan zang is het soms. Maar bovenal dit: de dichter, die op zijn 34ste half per toeval is beginnen te zingen, blijft far and foremost de dichter. Een wonderlijke tekstschrijver, nog altijd. De man die met 'Famous blue raincoat' wellicht de mooiste songtekst op zijn naam heeft (één nummer waarvoor anderen een boek nodig hebben), blijft op zijn 77ste groot uithalen.

Genereus veel Leonard Cohen in de teksten trouwens. Hij laat aardig binnenkijken. En hij bezingt ook alweer zijn long time friend: de dood. Maar: met een zucht van verlichting en berusting deze keer -- 'going home sometime tomorrow, to where it's better than before'. 'Wel, ik ben intussen tot de conclusie gekomen, ten gronde, dat ik echt zal doodgaan', glimlacht hij achteraf, op de vraag hoe hij zich dezer dagen met die dood verhoudt. 'En ik weet niet hoe, ik weet niet wanneer. Maar als ik zal doodgaan, dan wel met een beat.' En dat is een opvallend vrolijke uitspraak uit de mond van Cohen, de patroonheilige der zwaarmoedigen. Kurt Cobain, een intussen heengegane patroonheilige, bad in zijn gitzwarte 'Pennyroyal tea' om een 'Leonard Cohen afterworld, so I can sigh eternally'.


Leonard Cohen lijkt de laatste jaren zielenrust, zelfs levenslust te hebben gevonden. De gouden formule daarvoor, zo zei hij eerder daarover, bleek even simpel als doeltreffend: hij leerde zichzelf te negeren. 'Ik was plots verlost van die chronische neiging tot zelfanalyse. Zoals die mop: Wanneer je met je hoofd tegen een bakstenen muur botst, voelt het goed wanneer je ophoudt.'

Gevraagd naar zijn lange aaneenschakeling van depressies, antwoordt hij uiterst ernstig. 'Gebruik niet zomaar het woord "depressief". Doe dat alleen in de klinische zin van het woord. Depressief zijn, dat is niet je een dagje down voelen, zelfs niet twee. Dat is ronddolen in een landschap van angst, van leegte. Dat is de totale afwezigheid van warmte en blijdschap. Van het vermogen om plezier te maken. Eén grote duisternis. Het is bij mij uiteindelijk moeizaam, maar gaandeweg opgelost. En nooit meer teruggekeerd. Toch nooit zo verwoestend.' Maar zeker ben je nooit. 'One's never free from one's own stupidities.'

Heeft het allemaal met dat zenboeddhistische klooster te maken, Mount Baldy, net buiten LA, waar hij zich jarenlang heeft teruggetrokken, onder de hoede van de Japanse zenmeester Roshi, nu 104? Heeft van alle drugs uiteindelijk religie zijn leven gered? 'Roshi en ik spreken nooit over religie. Het gaat over de studie naar de aard van de dingen. Het is wetenschappelijk haast. Er is geen dogma, geen verering, geen godheid. Wel een grote overgave en toewijding aan een gemeenschapsleven. Maar geen geloof, geen overtuiging, alleen maar: activiteit.'

'Maar goed, of het echt dat is wat me rust heeft gebracht? Ik heb ooit ergens gelezen dat de hersencellen die met angst in verband worden gebracht, sterven naarmate je ouder wordt. Dus misschien had ik mezelf de gestrengheid van het kloosterleven wel kunnen besparen. Had ik alleen maar hoeven te wachten. (glimlacht)'

Everybody knows

Een andere oude geliefde die hij op Old ideas innig omarmt: de liefde. Vervlogen liefde, verboden liefde, onmogelijke liefde. Haar schoonheid, lelijkheid, dodelijkheid. Het verdriet erom. 'Had to go crazy to love you, Had to go down to the pit, Had to do time in the tower, Begging my crazy to quit.' En vooral: 'Crazy has places to hide in, Deeper than saying goodbye.'

Of laconieker: 'Dreamed about you baby, you were wearing half your dress, I know you have to hate me, But could you hate me less?'

Nog laconieker: 'Both of us say there are laws to obey, But frankly I don't like your tone, You want to change the way I make love, I want to leave it alone.'

Leonard Cohen heeft altijd zelf de draak gestoken met zijn reputatie van 'ladies man' (dat doet hij bijvoorbeeld zeer breed glimlachend in 'I'm your man'). Naar eigen zeggen zou hij trouwens nooit goed begrepen hebben waar hij die reputatie vandaan heeft. 'Voor iemand die zoveel nachten in zijn leven alleen doorbracht, heeft die reputatie bovendien veeleer iets bitters dan amusants', zei hij daar ooit over. Meer nog: 'Dat imago heeft me misschien wel vaker tegengewerkt dan geholpen. Er waren vrouwen die ik graag beter wou leren kennen, maar die de boot afhielden vanwege mijn reputatie -- ze wilden niet de zoveelste naam op de lijst zijn.'

Maar de man heeft natuurlijk wel wat vrouwen gekend, als hij al niet een nummer over hen schreef. Het begon met de Noorse Marianne, die hij leerde kennen op het Griekse eiland Hydra, waar hij begin de jaren zestig in een kunstenaarscommune leefde. En die hij 'afsnoepte' van haar man (en zijn goede vriend), een Noorse schrijver. Later in Manhattan raakte hij pas echt op dreef. Hij schreef over Janis Joplin in 'Chelsea Hotel' (I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, You were talking so brave and so sweet, giving me head on the unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street). Ja, dat waren dolle tijden, in het gezelschap van mensen als Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lou Reed en -- vooral -- de Velvet Underground-vamp Nico, voor wie hij het smachtende nummer 'Take this longing' schreef. En er was natuurlijk ook Suzanne. Al zou de Suzanne van het gelijknamige nummer over een andere Suzanne gaan dan de kunstenares Suzanne Elrod, de moeder van zijn twee kinderen Adam en Lorca (over wie hij dan weer wel 'The gypsy's wife' geschreven zou hebben).

Wat die opvallend vaak laconieke toon over de liefde op deze plaat wil zeggen over zijn status als 'ladies man' wil een Portugese journaliste weten. De grootvader van twee glimlacht. 'Welja, om op dit punt van mijn leven een ladies man te kunnen zijn, daar is heel veel humor voor nodig.' Net zo ontwijkt hij daarna de vraag over wat hij (tja) van de huidige wereldwijde crisis denkt. Hij zucht, haalt de schouders op: 'Everybody knows'. (In dat nummer zingt hij: 'Everybody knows the fight was fixed, The poor stay poor, The rich get rich, That's how it goes, Everybody knows').


Waar hij liever op ingaat, is de impact van zijn muziek. Wat hij denkt dat mensen uit zijn nummers halen. 'Een goede song is als tofoe: het neemt de smaak aan van de emotionele saus waarin het gedraaid wordt. Je moet er als luisteraar altijd wel iets in vinden dat op dat moment je gevoelstoestand aanspreekt. Als je wilt dat je eenzaamheid wordt aangesproken, dan hoor je dat. Of als je een erotische impuls zoekt, ook dat moet je erin vinden. In een goed nummer zit alles. Veel hangt trouwens af van de manier waarop een nummer gebracht wordt. Zing "Jingle bells" traag en ingetogen en het wordt dieptriest. Of kijk naar wat Marilyn Monroe deed met "Happy birthday", ze maakte er een erotische invitatie van.' Dat zijn nummers die toch vooral gedraaid worden om die onderstroom van onbenoemde tristesse aan te spreken? 'We zoeken die tristesse overal. There's a quality of sadness in all the songs we love.'

Al zeker Europeanen hebben dat talent voor tristesse. 'Jullie Europeanen hebben me altijd het best begrepen', zegt hij genereus. Als zingende dichter, de 'Lord Byron van de rock-'n-roll', voelde hij zich altijd al meer thuis in de Europese traditie van de troubadours. Europeanen kunnen het ook beter aan, zo verklaarde zijn goede vriendin en zangeres Jennifer Warnes ooit de grote populariteit van Leonard Cohen in Europa: 'Amerikanen willen na regen altijd zonneschijn. Oké, je mag je even wentelen in treurnis, maar geef op zijn minst een teken mee van hoop.' De ellende moet een functie hebben in Amerika. Er moet moraal bij het verhaal. Europeanen hebben daar minder last van.

En wat nu? Een nieuwe plaat, ook een nieuwe tournee? Hij geeft er geen antwoord op. Alleen dit, in het Frans nog wel: 'C'est dans la tête'. Hij speelt met het idee, concreter wordt hij niet. Maar zoals hij het zegt, lijkt hij er in elk geval best wel zin in te hebben.

Zou het dan toch niet per se van 'moeten' zijn, zoals iedereen nochtans vermoedt sinds zijn toenmalige manager begin 2000 met zijn pensioengeld ging lopen? Francis Mus, literatuurwetenschapper aan de KULeuven die onderzoek deed in het Cohenarchief in Toronto, was er deze week bij op de cd-voorstelling in Londen. 'Ik denk niet dat het nog van moeten is, intussen. Ik zie Old ideas vooral als een antwoord op zijn laatste tournee en de twee bijbehorende live-cd's. Die tournee teerde grotendeels op oud werk en scherpte alleen maar het beeld aan van de oude, donkere, wijze bard. Terwijl hij zijn werk liever beschouwt als iets waar hij voortdurend aan schaaft, iets dat blijft ontwikkelen. Met Old ideas lijkt hij daarop een antwoord te geven. Het coverbeeld van de plaat alleen: Cohen in het volle licht, met opvallend felle kleuren. Je hoort duidelijk een soort vredevolle gelatenheid en berusting in de plaat. Old ideas zou een mooi slot zijn voor zijn carrière. Als het dat al is.'

Na afloop van de luister- en (zeer korte) vragensessie in Parijs mengt Leonard Cohen zich nog even onder de journalisten. Of dat probeert hij. Het is bevreemdend, een beetje gênant, om te zien hoe alle journalisten plots alle cool verliezen en elkaar beginnen te vertrappelen om even naast de meester te kunnen poseren voor een foto. Een van hen, een boom van een kerel, geeft hem met trillende handen enkele pagina's met zelfgeschreven songteksten. Leonard Cohen neemt het minzaam aan. Waarna de boom van een kerel het snel weer uit zijn handen grist en met een bloedrood hoofd stamelt: 'Oh never mind, it's rubbish. I'm sorry.'

Leonard Cohen blijft nog een kwartier glimlachen. En schuifelt daarna weer de ruimte uit.

'Old ideas' (Sony Music) verschijnt op 27/1.

"'When I die, then with a beat underneath'"

De Standaard (Belgium) by Guinevere Claeys, January 21, 2012

Driven, spirited Leonard Cohen sings about love and death "Old ideas"

He has needed it for a lifetime, but it seems so far: Leonard Cohen enjoys. Recently toured three years with a smile and he now gives humanity even ten new songs. After eight years, on his 77th. Relieved of a lot of his pain, so it seems. And ever so gallantly, "You Europeans have always best understood me."

Broad-shouldered as his voice timbre, so fragile frame. He has grown old, Sir Leonard Cohen. The man who for so long women could convince his murderous masculine gait and posture alone now gets more shuffling through space. Many touching fragility. The Canadian is 77 now, of course, why do that so surprising? Probably because it is on stage and behind that huge voice never noticed. Much less. Of course he then without prejudice, and every inch a gentleman. And dandy, it depends. In any case, always in a suit, with hat, witty and elegant.

"The lazy bastard, living in a suit" - he says it himself on his new album - came to Paris this week to the album, Old ideas, to up. Cohen has never conducted interviews and on his 77th he feels there is certainly too tired. So it went like this: a hundred journalists from all over Europe, were with him to hear the new album. In a beautiful room, which is in a posh hotel on the Place de la Concorde - a view of the Obelisk. After his manager rather Harker had explained how the evening would proceed without further detours and then the technician had ordered the board to start, said Leonard Cohen himself quickly for us if he was perhaps not as welcome.

Pure and simple

Clearly embarrassed about the light surreal state of affairs, he thanked us - "thank you my friends" - to come. That he would not look at us while listening, that he said, smiling - "standard could not see you reject it" . And he would answer some questions afterwards. Then he went to the front row, the entire album long before him to sit impassively watching - now and then I saw him swallow no more.

A pure record is. Sober arranged. What is striking at first listen: his voice is once again a handful fifths dropped. Ghosts poems rather than singing it sometimes. But above all this: the poet, on his 34th half by chance begin to sing, remains far and foremost the poet. A wonderful writer, still. The man who "Famous Blue Raincoat" probably the best lyrics on his name (a number which others need a book), remains in his 77th big tricks.

Generous lot of Leonard Cohen in the lyrics anyway. He shows nice inside. He also sings again his longtime friend: death. But, with a sigh of relief and resignation this time - "going home sometime tomorrow, to where it's better than before". "Well, I am now come to the conclusion, in substance, that I really will die," he smiles afterwards, when asked how he does these days with the dead. "And I do not know how, I do not know when. But if I will die, or with a beat." And that is a remarkably cheerful statement from the mouth of Cohen, the patron saint of melancholy. Kurt Cobain, a now departed patron saint, prayed in his jet-black "Pennyroyal Tea" to "Leonard Cohen after world, so I can sigh eternally."

Brain cells

Leonard Cohen seems in recent years peace of mind, even for life to have found. The golden formula for this, he said earlier about it, was as simple as effective: he taught himself to ignore. "I was suddenly relieved of the chronic tendency to self-analysis. Like that joke: When your head against a brick wall bounces, it feels good when you stop."

Asked about his long series of depressions, he replied very seriously. "Do not just the word "depressed". Do this only in the clinical sense. Depressed, that's not a day you feel down, not even two. This is wandering in a landscape of fear, of emptiness. This is the total absence of warmth and joy. The ability to have fun. A great darkness. It is difficult for me eventually, but gradually resolved. And never returned. Never so devastating." But surely you're not. "One's never free from one's own stupidities."

Do it all with that Zen Buddhist monastery to make Mount Baldy, just outside LA, where he for years has retired under the auspices of the Japanese Zen master Roshi, now 104? Has religion of all drugs eventually saved his life? "Roshi and I never talk about religion. It deals with the study of the nature of things. It's almost scientific. There is no dogma, no worship, no god. Have a great devotion and dedication to community life. But no faith, no belief, only: business."

"Well, if it really is what has brought me peace? I once read somewhere that the brain cells associated with fear, dying as you get older. So maybe I had myself the severity of monastic life is wasted. Did I just have to wait." (smiles)

Everybody knows

Another former lover who he Old ideas intimate embrace: love. Past love, forbidden love, impossible love. Her beauty, ugliness, lethality. The grief for it. "Had to go crazy to love you, had to go down to the pit, had to do time in the tower, Begging me crazy to quit." And above all: Crazy places to hide in HAS, Deeper than saying Goodbye.

Or laconic: "Dreamed about you baby, you were wearing half your dress, I know you have to hate me, But could you hate me less?"

Yet laconic: "Both of us say there are laws to obey, But Frankly I do not like your tone, You want to change the way I make love, I want to leave it alone."

Leonard Cohen himself has always put the dragon with his reputation as ladies' man (he does such wide smiling, "I'm your man"). According to himself he would never have understood the way he has this reputation come from. "For someone who so many nights spent alone in his life, also has this reputation rather than something bitter amusing," he said, ever. More: "That image has me perhaps more often thwarted than aided. There were women who wanted to know I like better, but the boat distracting because of my reputation - they did not just another name on the list."

But the man has of course some women are known, if he is not a song about them wrote. It started with Norwegian Marianne, whom he met on the Greek island of Hydra, where he was the early sixties in an artists' commune living. And that he afsnoepte of her husband (and his good friend), a Norwegian writer. Later in Manhattan, he became a running. He wrote about Janis Joplin in "Chelsea Hotel" (I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, You were talking so brave and so sweet, giving me head on the Unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street). Yes, those were crazy times in the company of people like Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lou Reed and - especially - the Velvet Underground vamp Nico-for whom the yearning song "Take this longing" wrote. And there was of course Suzanne. Even if the Suzanne of the same song over another Suzanne beyond the artist Suzanne Elrod, the mother of his two children, Adam and Lorca (about whom he then called "The Gypsy's Wife" written would have).

What this surprisingly often laconic Show the love on this album is about his status as a ladies' man wants a Portuguese journalist know. The grandfather of two smiles. "Sure, at this point in my life, a ladies man to be, there is very much needed humor." Then just as he dodges the question about what he is (Oh) of the current global crisis thinking. He sighs, shrugs: "Everybody knows." (In this song he sings: "Everybody knows the fight was fixed, The poor stay poor, the rich get rich, That's how it goes, Everybody Knows").


Where He goes on rather, the impact of his music. What he thinks people in his songs out. "A good song is like tofu: it takes the flavor of the sauce which turned emotional. You have a listener is always something to find that your emotional state at that time appeals. If you want your loneliness is addressed, then you hear it. Or if you are looking for an erotic impulse, that you find it. In a good song is everything. Much depends also on how a song is brought. Sing "Jingle Bells" slow and subdued, and it is deeply sad. Or look at what Marilyn Monroe did with "Happy Birthday", she made ??an erotic invitation of." These are songs that are still mostly be turned to that undercurrent of unnamed sadness to speak? "We find that sadness everywhere. There's a quality of sadness in all the songs we love."

All Europeans certainly have talent for sadness. "You Europeans have always best understood me," he says generously. As a singing poet, the "Lord Byron of rock and roll", he felt always more at home in the European tradition of the troubadours. Europeans can also be better, said his close friend and singer Jennifer Warnes once the popularity of Leonard Cohen in Europe: "Americans want is always sunshine after rain. Okay, you can just wallow in your sadness, but at least give them a sign of hope." The misery have a function in America. There should be moral in the story. Europeans are less bothered by it.

And now what? A new album, a new tour? He does not answer. Only this, still in French: "C'est dans la tête". He plays with the idea, he is not concrete. But as he says, he seems in any case quite feel like to have.

Would it not necessarily of 'need', as anyone yet suspect since his former manager in early 2000 with his retirement money was running? Francis Sparrow, a literature scholar at KULeuven who studied in the Cohen Archives in Toronto, was this week at the CD presentation in London. "I do not think it should still is now. I'm Old ideas especially as a response to his last tour and its two live CDs. Tour which worked largely on old work and focus only on the image of the old, dark, wise bard. While he prefers his work as something he constantly scrapes, something that continues to develop. With Old ideas he seems to give an answer. The cover picture of the plate only: Cohen in broad daylight, with strikingly bright colors. You can clearly hear a kind of peaceful serenity and resignation to the board. Old ideas would be a beautiful ending to his career. If it already is."

After listening and the (very short) question and answer session in Paris mixes Leonard Cohen is still just below the journalists. Or that he tries. It's strange, a little embarrassing to see how all journalists suddenly lose all cool and begin to trample each other to get in next to the teacher to pose for a picture. One of them, a tree of a man, gives him shaking hands with a few pages with self-penned lyrics. Leonard Cohen takes to the condescension. Then the tree of a guy quickly snatched from his hands with a blood-red head and stammers: "Oh nevermind, it's rubbish. I'm sorry."

Leonard Cohen remains a quarter smile. And shuffles out of the room again.

"Old ideas" (Sony Music) appears on 27 / 1.

"Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas: exclusive album stream"

The Guardian (UK), January 23, 2012 (Photo by Alex Sturrock)


"Möte med en mörkröstad - gentleman"

Dagens Nyheter (Sweden) by Nils Hansson, January 20, 2012 (Photo: Sony Music)

PARIS. Vid sjuttiosju års -ålder bryr sig -Leonard Cohen inte längre om att beta av intervju efter intervju när han släpper ny skiva och bjuder i stället in till press-evenemang på ett lyxigt hotell i Paris. DN:s Nils Hansson möter honom i folkvimlet.

Kalaset har börjat, plikten är över, och det är ett av Paris mest exklusiva kalas. Jag har fått mitt andra glas gratis och abnormt artigt serverade champagne i min hand och står och hänger i ett hörn när Leonard Cohen smygs in. Ordet smygs är viktigt här. När jag såg honom på Globen i förfjol stod han på scen i över tre timmar utan paus och liksom smög hela tiden. Mjukt. Varmt. Stillsamt leende. Med hatten i exakt rätt vinkel.

Jag är vid just det här tillfället först på honom. Försöker formulera något artigt om hur bra han var under intervjustunden på scen där alldeles nyss. Lite stolt över de lätt pretentiösa formuleringarna jag lyckas få ur mig där och då: "You're such an eloquent man. Words were made for you." Han ler på sitt lätt generade och liksom zenbuddistiska vis. Säger tack och jag tror att jag har tid att hinna fråga honom en fråga.


En tysk man i samma storleksklass som jag kliver fram med sina väl utvecklade armbågar och vill ställa sin överblivna fråga. Den handlar om skivnummer eller singelbaksidor eller något lika spännande och är ganska lång och jag håller på att somna stående redan innan frågetecknet har kommits fram till och Leonard har fått en chans att börja svara. Men han är lika mild och leende. Regerande världsmästare i artighet.

Sedan är det kö. Folk som vill ha Leonards namnteckning på olika saker. Gärna med deras eget namn rättstavat. Jag har lite svårt för sådant, något börjar krulla sig i mina armveck när jag ser det. Men jag har sett det rätt många gånger.

Nya skivan är bitvis både svart och ful. Han sjunger bland annat om en lat jävla Leonard som bor i sin snygga kostym och erkänner under frågestunden att det verkligen är sig själv han sjunger om. Omslaget ser ut som ett amatörfoto med mobilkamera men Leonard avslöjar att han har varit inne och photoshoppat rätt ordentligt för att få till det. Samt att bilden togs hemma hos honom, i hans egen trädgård.

Det finns lite mer i honom än den där förfinade ytan. Och lite mer fixande och trixande med det konstnärliga materialet än man kanske tror när man hör den där kantstötta rösten med sin snubbliga tonträff.

Jag tycker att han är The Blues. Butter och ytterligt mörkröstad livserfarenhet från någon som låter av att ha levt. En hel del. Och med humor, vilket är en lite för lite erkänd beståndsdel i the blues. Det finns en hel del av the blues på nya albumet och en anledning visar sig vara att Leonard inte anser sig ha haft tillåtelse tidigare att närma sig the blues.

Han har fyllt sjuttiosju. Det tog så länge. Men nu har han fått lov till det.

Då ropar jag ut en följdfråga om vem som gav honom detta lov. Den klingar ut i intigheten, eftersom en grekisk journalist just har fått mikrofonen för att börja med något helt annat från en helt annan ände.

En oönskad del i den moderna medieverkligheten. Som helt undviker det faktum att nästan varje läsvärd intervju bygger på följdfrågor, på ett pingpongande, på ett ömsesidigt spel där man inte i förväg vet vad det ska leda till. Inledningsvis i detta evenemang kämpar jag mig fram till en stol i första raden, av pur beräkning, för att sedan ändå aldrig få fatt i den mikrofon som en kvinna springer runt och ger åt än den ena, än den andra. Efteråt är jag rädd att jag höjde rösten en smula emot henne, för att hon hade styrt saken på detta vis. Och förbi mig.

Men antalet medier i vår moderna värld har blivit så många. Och Leonard Cohen har blivit så pass gammal att han inte orkar med det slit det innebär att sitta och beta av intervju efter intervju dag efter dag. Därför detta upplägg. Tre evenemang, i Paris, London och New York. På de lyxigaste av hotell. Jag snor med mig en monogrammerad servett från Hôtel de Crillon och visar den någon timme senare för några människor vid en bardisk, för att berätta vad jag gjorde tidigare på kvällen. Och de tappar hakan, gemensamt. Va, har du verkligen varit därinne?

Ja, jo, det var ståtligt. Eiffeltornet om man riktar blicken dit, ett bokstavligen äkta pariserhjul om man vänder sig dit. Båda klädda i julgransbelysning. Personalen är så tuktad att de ber om ursäkt så fort man bara råkar titta på dem. Inte exakt samma värld som jag brukar bo i.

Och detta med anledning av att Leonard Cohen nu ger ut en skiva vars omslag ser ut som ett amatörfoto på en äldre man som sitter i sin trädgård på sommaren. Men musiken på skivan är underbar. För oss som trodde att han hade tappat intresset för nya verk ger den hoppet tillbaks. Den minst sagt nedtonade titeln "Old ideas" fullföljer en gammal tradition av att ge hans skivor de allra mest oansenliga titlarna. "Songs from a room". "Recent songs". Han säger också att han är halvvägs in i arbetet med att spela in nästa. Om även de idéerna är lika gamla vet jag inte. Jag fick inte mikrofonen och ingen annan ställde den självklara följdfrågan.

Men han sitter med under uppspelningen av skivan och ser ut som en ledsen staty. Ofattbart orörlig. Jag vet inte om han ens drar ett andetag, och då tittar jag ändå på honom mer än några gånger. Faktum är att han sitter på min plats. Jag var så glad att ha lyckats ta mig fram till en sits i yttre änden på den första stolsraden men sedan kom nån och sa att den här platsen var reserverad av The Management. Efteråt berättar Leonard Cohen att ingen annan i salongen kan ha varit lika kritisk mot vad vi hörde som han själv.

Så varför satt han där med oss? Hade jag just gett ut en skiva kunde jag ha betalat stora pengar till stora människor med stora muskler för att slippa just det. Inte han. Han verkar hellre le ironiskt. Och lite generat. Säger självironiska saker lite senare som att om man ska försöka att vara en "ladies man" vid hans ålder, då behöver man ha ett sinne för humor. Han har det.

Det här med storleksklass är heller inte oväsentligt. Han är pytteliten. En tvärhand hög och väger väl en tumsbredd. Hans väg genom livet måste i någon mån ha präglats av det. Han är "the little jew who wrote the Bible", som han skrev i en av sina bättre låtar. Lyssna på den, gärna. Jag har blivit lite besatt av den. Den heter "The future" och innehåller trevliga rader som "give me crack and anal sex, take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture."

En skillnad mot Suzanne, som bjuder på på te och apelsiner i sin bohemiska båtbostad. Eller den "Hallelujah" som lite för många människor har sjungit, och lite för många människor har uppfattat fel. Också den är rätt besk, om man kikar närmare. En psalm är det inte.

Möjligen lite annorlunda också mot den redan vid Leonards barndom gammaldags far som födde sin familj med att driva en skräddarrörelse. Han hade mustasch och bar monokel. En fläkt från ett annat sekel. Men insikten om vikten av att ha hatten i rätt vinkel bör komma därifrån.

Själv har jag träffat Leonard Cohen redan tidigare. Nämligen 1988, när han gav ut "I'm your man". Inte heller då var jag ensam med honom, vid min sida satt en kvinna från en judisk tidskrift. Hon ställde några frågor som var sådär, men var inget stort hinder i vägen. Han var en äldre gentleman redan då och sa att om han visste var källan till låtskrivandet fanns skulle han besöka den oftare.

Nu tror jag mig kunna tillföra något till honom. Han har för andra gången denna afton en bisvärm av människor runt sig som vill ha hans autograf på något. Jag vill i stället visa honom något. Nämligen den pressbiografi som skickades ut 1988, tillsammans med "I'm your man". Den ser ut att vara skriven på skriv-maskin snarare än dator och sedan fotokopierad av en klant, på snedden.

När bisvärmen har bedarrat lyckas jag komma fram till honom igen. Rycker upp dessa tre sammanhäftade A4-ark och säger att jag inte vill att han ska skriva något på dem, jag vill bara att han ska se dem.

Något tänds i hans ena ögonvrå då, vill jag gärna tro.

Sedan vet han inte om dessa ynkliga papper är en gåva eller ej, så han frågar. Och jag säger att det vet jag inte. Vi håller i var sin ände och vill han ha dem så får väl han dra dem åt sitt håll. Ingen av oss håller hårt. Men han släpper.

Det jag sa när jag visade upp dem var att titta här hur fruktansvärt fult och primitivt skivbolagsmaterial kunde se ut för bara tjugofyra år sedan. Och vi trodde att vi var så moderna då.

Han ler igen och säger, med ett djupt muller i botten av rösten:

-- Well, didn't we all?

"Meeting with a mörkröstad gentleman"

Dagsavisen (Norway) by Geir Rakvaag, January 24, 2012

PARIS. At seventy-seven years old cares Leonard Cohen is no longer on the beta of the interview after interview as he releases new album and offers instead a press event at a luxury hotel in Paris. DN's Nils Hansson meet him in the crowd.

Festival has begun, the duty is over, and it is one of Paris' most exclusive party. I received my second glass for free and abnormal politely served champagne in my hand and stand and hanging in a corner when Leonard Cohen sneak into. The word sneaked is important here. When I saw him at the Globe in the year before last he was on stage for over three hours without pause, and slipped all the time. Soft. A warm. Tranquil smile. With hat in exactly the right angle.

I am at this very moment only to him. Trying to say something polite about how good he was during the interview moment on stage where just now. A little proud of the easily pretentious phrases I manage to get out of me there and then: "You're SUCH an eloquent man. Words were made ??for you. "He smiles at her easily embarrassed and like zenbuddistiska way. Say thanks and I think I have time to keep up to ask him a question.


A German man in the same order as I step forward with his elbows well developed and want to put their leftover question. It is about the record number or single rear or something equally exciting, is quite long and I'm about to fall asleep standing before the question mark has been reached and Leonard have a chance to respond. But he is as gentle and smiling. Reigning world champions in courtesies.

Then there is the queue. People who want Leonard's signature on various things. Happy with their own name spelled correctly. I have problems with this, something begins curling in my armpit when I see it. But I have seen quite a few times.

The new album is at times both black and ugly. He sings include a lazy fucking Leonard living in his nice suit and recognize during question time that it really is himself, he sings about. The cover looks like an amateur photo with camera phone but Leonard reveals that he has been inside and photo jumped right well to get to it. And that picture was taken at his home, in his own garden.

There is a little more of him than that of the refined surface. And a little more fixing and tinkering with the artistic material than you might think when you hear that chipped his voice with his guys tonträff.

I think he is The Blues. Butter and utterly mörkröstad life experience from someone who sounds to have survived. A lot. And with humor, which is a bit too little recognized component of the blues. There are a lot of the blues on the new album and a reason proves that Leonard does not consider itself to have had permission before approaching the blues.

He has reached the age of seventy-seven. It took so long. But now he has been allowed to do so.

Then I shout out a supplementary question as to who gave him this permission. It fades out into nothingness, as a Greek journalist has just got the microphone to start with something very different from a completely different end.

An unwanted portion of the modern media reality. Which completely avoids the fact that almost every interview worth reading is based on the following issues, in a ping-pong spirit, in a mutual game where you do not know in advance what it will lead to. Initially in this event I struggle my way to a chair in the front row, out of sheer calculation, and then never get hold of the microphone as a woman runs around and gives the first one than the other. Afterwards, I'm afraid I raised my voice a little towards her, because she had driven it in this way. And past me.

But the number of media in the modern world have become so numerous. And Leonard Cohen has become so old that he can not cope with the wear-it means to sit and beta of interview after interview, day after day. Therefore this approach. Three events in Paris, London and New York. At the most luxurious of hotels. I snorkel with me a monogrammerad napkin from the Hôtel de Crillon and displays it an hour later a few people at a bar counter, to tell you what I did earlier in the evening. And the truly amazed, in common. What, have you actually been there?

Yes, yes, it was magnificent. Eiffel Tower if you fix our gaze there, a literally true ferris wheel on to go there. Both dressed in Christmas lights. The staff is so smitten that they apologize as soon as you just happen to look at them. Not exactly the same world as I like to live in.

And this on the grounds that Leonard Cohen is now giving out an album whose cover looks like an amateur photo of an elderly man sitting in his garden in the summer. But the music on the album is wonderful. For those of us who thought he had lost interest in the new work offers the hope of return. The say the least dimmed the title "Old ideas" fulfill an ancient tradition of giving his records the most inconspicuous titles. "Songs from a Room." "Recent Songs". He also says that he is halfway through the process of recording another. Even if the ideas are the same age I do not know. I had no microphone and no one asked the obvious follow-up question.

But he sits with the playback of the disc and looks like a sad statue. Unimaginably motionless. I do not know if he even draws a breath, and when I look at him still more than a few times. In fact, he is sitting on my seat. I was so happy to have managed to take me to a seat in the outer end of the first row of seats, but then someone came and said that this place was reserved by The Management. Afterwards, says Leonard Cohen that no one else in the salon may have been equally critical of what we heard as himself.

So why he sat there with us? I had just published a disc, I could have paid big money for big people with big muscles to avoid just that. Not he. He seems rather ironic smile. And a little embarrassed. Says self-mocking things a little later as to whether to try to be a "ladies man" at his age, then you need to have a sense of humor. He has it.

This by size class is also not insignificant. He is tiny. A hand's breadth high and weighs well an inch. His path through life must to some extent have been characterized by it. He is "the little jew WHO wrote the Bible," which he wrote in one of his better songs. Listen to it, please. I've become a little obsessed with it. It's called "the future" and contains nice lines like "give me crack and anal sex Take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture."

A difference with Suzanne, who offers to tea and oranges in his bohemian båtbostad. Or the "Hallelujah" that too many people have sung, and a few too many people have perceived wrong. Also it is quite bitter, if one peers closer. A hymn is not.

Possibly a little different also to the already at Leonard's childhood, old-fashioned father who reared his family to pursue a skräddarrörelse. He had a mustache and wore a monocle. A fan from another century. But awareness of the importance of having the hat at the right angle should come from there.

I myself have met Leonard Cohen earlier. Namely, in 1988, when he released "I'm your man." Even then I was alone with him at my side sat a woman from a jew journal. She asked me some questions that were like that, but was not a major obstacle in the way. He was an older gentleman even then, and said if he knew where the source of the songwriting was, he would visit it more often.

Now I think I can bring something to him. He has for the second time that evening a swarm of people around them who want his autograph on something. I would rather show him something. Namely, the press biography that was sent out in 1988, along with "I'm your man." It looks to be written on a typewriter rather than a computer and then photocopied by a boob, at an angle.

When the swarm of bees have died down, I still come to him again. Uproot these three bound A4 sheet and say that I do not want him to write something on them, I just want him to see them.

Something lights up in his one corner of the eye, then, I would like to believe.

Since he does not know if these puny paper is a gift or not, he asks. And I say that I do not know. We are at opposite ends and he wants them so he'll have to drag them to their quarters. None of us is hard. But he lets go.

What I said when I showed them where to look here how horribly ugly and primitive record label materials could look for only twenty-four years ago. And we thought we were so modern then.

He smiles again and says, with a deep rumble in the bottom of his voice:

- Well, did not we all?

"Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas"

Radio France, January 30, 2012

Video and Audio files -- Exclusive radio interview, conducted Monday, January 16th at the international press conference.


"La 11e réincarnation de Leonard Cohen"

Le Monde (France) by Stéphane Davet, January 30, 2012

Chapeau noir, costume sombre, lunettes de soleil... le duo formé par Leonard Cohen et son manager, Robert Kory, a un petit air de Blues Brothers, quand il pénètre sous les ors du salon des Aigles, pour la conférence de presse organisée, le soir du 16 janvier, à l'Hôtel de Crillon, place de la Concorde à Paris.

On n'apprécie guère, habituellement, ce genre d'exercice destiné à évacuercollectivement les obligations promotionnelles. Comment créer en présence d'une quarantaine de journalistes, venus de toute l'Europe, la complicité d'un entretien qu'on rêverait d'avoir en tête-à-tête avec le chanteur et poète canadien à l'occasion de la sortie d'Old Ideas, son douzième album, le premier enregistré en studio depuis sept ans ? Mais voilà : petit bonhomme aux rondeurs affables et au sourirecarnassier, Robert Kory a décidé que son client, icône de la ballade intimiste, pouvait dorénavant s'éviter, à 77 ans, l'interminable marathon des interviews. Sans doute également parce qu'il sait que le charme de l'élégant gentleman produit toujours son effet.

De fait, celui que ses détracteurs surnommaient ironiquement "Laughing Len"("Leonard le marrant"), en référence à sa voix funèbre et à son incurable pessimisme, emballe son public en maniant avec classe autodérision et humour pince-sans-rire. "Je ne vous ferai pas face pendant la diffusion du disque, pour ne pas influencer vos réactions, qu'elles soient positives ou de rejet, déclare-t-il en prélude. De toute façon, je ne connais pas pire juge ou critique de mon oeuvre quemoi."

Un sourire malicieux toujours dessiné sur son visage d'homme à femmes devenu vénérable sage, Cohen répond en s'adaptant aux particularismes géographiques de chacun. A un journaliste portugais : "J'ai toujours aimé le fado, un des premiers disques que j'ai achetés était un album d'Amalia Rodrigues." A un confrère espagnol : "J'adore le flamenco. J'en joue sur ma guitare... quand personne n'écoute ! J'ai même eu l'honneur d'entendre certaines de mes chansons chantées en espagnol par le regretté Enrique Morente."

Si Old Ideas creuse les sombres thématiques du répertoire "cohenien" (la vieillesse, la mort, l'impossible renoncement à l'amour physique...), le chanteur a toutes les raisons d'être d'humeur avenante : ce retour en studio lui vaut des louanges que n'avaient pas suscitées ses deux précédents albums. Et il fait suite à près de trois ans d'une tournée triomphale lancée comme une bouée de sauvetage à un artiste qui, il y a sept ans, connut une mésaventure dévastatrice. Est-ce à cela qu'il fait allusion quand, dans les salons du palace, il confie : "On a toujours àapprendre. On ne vient jamais à bout de sa propre bêtise et de son incompétence. Les occasions de s'humilier sont infinies" ?

L'histoire commence en 2004, lorsque Leonard Cohen apprend que Kelley Lynch, sa manageuse de l'époque, chargée de ses affaires depuis dix-sept ans, l'a ruiné en détournant plusieurs millions de dollars qu'il avait mis de côté pour sa retraite. Fruit, entre autres, de la vente de son catalogue d'édition à Sony, cet argent avait été placé dans des fonds d'investissement dont les comptes étaient libres d'accès à cette femme de confiance.

L'habitué des vertiges existentiels tombe alors dans un gouffre financier. "Du jour au lendemain, il ne pouvait même plus retirer d'argent avec sa carte de crédit", assure Robert Kory, en aparté, après la conférence de presse. Obligé d'hypothéquer sa maison pour payer les frais de procédures judiciaires, Leonard Cohen s'est tourné vers cet avocat, connu pour avoir permis à Mike Love, un des musiciens des Beach Boys, de récupérer ses droits sur les tubes du groupe. "Nous découvrions chaque jour l'ampleur de l'escroquerie, se souvient Kory. Cinq, puis 7, puis 10, puis 12 millions de dollars... Jusqu'au bout, Leonard a été d'un calme étonnant. Sa longue pratique du zen a été déterminante."

Pour le meilleur et pour le pire, les cinq années d'isolement que le chanteur s'était accordées dans le monastère bouddhiste de Mount Baldy, une montagne de laSierra Madre, ont aussi favorisé l'escroquerie de la manageuse. Il y conserve néanmoins ses habitudes, sous l'égide de son maître, Roshi, aujourd'hui âgé de 104 ans. "C'est un honneur pour moi d'être proche de lui, de le fréquenter, nous rappelle le chanteur. Son enseignement n'est pas religieux, il apprend à observer etanalyser la nature des choses (...). Il s'agit d'une initiation à l'engagement, à vivreau sein d'une communauté, à être attentif à ses sentiments et à ceux des autres."

En attendant la conclusion d'un long et chaotique chemin juridique pouvant éventuellement lui permettre de récupérer sa mise (Kory explique que, si Kelley Lynch est pour l'instant insolvable, il a récupéré plusieurs millions de dollars auprès des impôts, correspondant aux taxes que Cohen avait payées sur des sommes lui ayant été volées), le chanteur, poussé par son avocat-manageur, a choisi de seremettre au travail.

Alors qu'il avait quasiment abandonné la scène, il a dû repartir en tournée pour des raisons d'abord financières. Mais le succès et le plaisir ont dépassé ses espérances et, au lieu des quelques dizaines de spectacles prévus, il donnera finalement, en trois ans, près de 250 concerts.

L'occasion de mesurer la fidélité de son public. De constater aussi que, sur le tard, un de ses vieux titres, Hallelujah, paru sans succès en 1984, s'était élevé au rang de classique par la grâce de multiples reprises (celle de Jeff Buckley étant la plus célèbre des près de 200 versions existantes).

Pour ce retour sur scène, Robert Kory a tendu un cordon sanitaire autour de l'artiste. "Pour être tout à fait serein et concentré, pour qu'il soit à l'aise avec sa voix, il fallait lui éviter toute dissipation extérieure", explique le manager, qui priva les journalistes d'interview et refusa mêmes les rencontres avec de célèbres admirateurs. "J'ai dû dire non à Shimon Pérès et à Joni Mitchell (idole folk et ex du Canadien), rigole Kory, Bono s'est cassé cinq fois les dents."

La dynamique positive de ces concerts a engendré la naissance d'Old Ideas. Cohen imagine repartir bientôt sur la route et dit travailler sur un nouvel album. La mort, n'en doutons pas, sera encore son compagnon de route. Et après ? "Le concept de réincarnation est pour moi difficile à appréhender. Mais, si je dois vraiment revenir sur terre, alors que ce soit dans la peau du chien de Lorca, ma fille !"

"The 11th reincarnation of Leonard Cohen"

Le Monde (France) by Stéphane Davet, January 30, 2012

Black hat, dark suit, sunglasses... The duo of Leonard Cohen and his manager, Robert Kory, has an air of Blues Brothers, when he gets inside the gold room of the Eagles for the press conference on the evening of January 16, at the Hall Crillon, place de la Concorde in Paris.

It does not like, usually, this kind of exercise to evacuate collectively promotional obligations. How to create in the presence of about forty journalists from all over Europe, the complicity of an interview we would love to have one-on-one with the Canadian singer and poet on the occasion of the release of 'Old Ideas', his twelfth album, first recorded in the studio for seven years? But now: the curves affable little guy and smile carnivore, Robert Kory decided that his client, an icon of the ballad intimate, could not now to avoid, at age 77, the endless marathon of interviews. Probably also because he knows that the charm of the elegant gentleman always produces its effect.

In fact, one that critics ironically nicknamed "Laughing Len" ("Leonard the fun"), referring to his voice and his funeral incurable pessimism, packs his audience by wielding class with self-deprecating humor and tongue-in-cheek. "I will not give you face during the broadcast of the disc, not to influence your reactions, positive or rejection, says he ahead. Anyway, I do not judge or worst critic of my work as me."

A smile always malicious drawn on her face womanizer become venerable sage, Cohen responds by adapting to the geographical particularities of each. A Portuguese journalist: "I've always loved the fado, one of the first records I bought was an album of Amalia Rodrigues." In a Spanish colleague: "J'ad ore flamenco. I played on my guitar... when no one is listening! I even had the honor to hear some of my songs sung in Spanish by the late Enrique Morente."

If Old Ideas dig the dark themes of the directory "cohenien" (old age, death, not the renunciation of physical love...), the singer has every reason to be pleasing mood: the return studio earned him praise had not raised her two previous albums. And it follows almost three years of a triumphant tour launched as a lifeline to an artist who, seven years ago, had a devastating mishap. Is it that he alluded when, in the salons of the palace, he says, "We always learn. It never comes at the end of his own stupidity and incompetence. Opportunities for humiliation are infi ned"?

The story begins in 2004 when Leonard Cohen learned that Kelley Lynch, his manager at the time, in charge of business for seventeen years, ruined by diverting millions of dollars he had set aside for his retirement. Fruit, among other things, the sale of its publishing catalog to Sony, this money was placed in investment funds whose accounts were free access to the woman of confidence.

The existential vertigo used falls into a money pit. "From one day to next day he could not even withdraw money from his card CRE said," assures Robert Kory, as an aside, after the press conference. Obliged to mortgage his house to pay the costs of litigation, Leonard Cohen turned to the lawyer, known for having helped Mike Love, one of the musicians of the Beach Boys, to recover its interest in the tubes of the group." We discovered each day the scale of the scam, remember Kory. Five, then 7, then 10, then $12 million... to the end, Leonard was surprising calm. His long practice of Zen was determined ante."

For better or for worse, the five years of isolation that the singer had been granted in the Buddhist monastery of Mount Baldy, a mountain in the Sierra Madre, also contributed to the fraud of the manager. He retains his habits, led by his master, Roshi, now 104 years old. "It is an honor for me to be close to him, to attend, we remember the singer. His teaching is not religious, he learns to observe and analyze the nature of things(...). This is an introduction to the commitment to live within a community, be careful feelings and those of a O there."

Pending the conclusion of a long and chaotic legal way he could possibly afford to pick up his (Kory said that if Kelley Lynch is currently insolvent, he has recovered millions of dollars from taxes, fees corresponding to that Cohen had paid on money having been stolen), the singer, pushed by his lawyer-manager, has chosen to put to work.

While he had virtually abandoned the scene, he had to leave on tour for financial reasons first. But the success and pleasure surpassed his expectations and, instead of a few dozen shows planned, it will eventually, in three years, nearly 250 concerts.

The opportunity to measure the loyalty of its audience. To note also that the later one of his old songs, Hallelujah, released in 1984 without success, was elevated to a classic grace many times (that of Jeff Buckley is the most famous of nearly 200 existing versions).

For back on stage, Robert Kory has laid a cordon sanitaire around the artist. "To be quite calm and concentrated, to be comfortable with his voice, he had to avoid any dissipation extérieu re," says manager, which deprived journalists interview and refused the same meetings with famous fans. "I had to say no to Shimon Peresand, Joni Mitchell (folk idol and former Canadian), Kory laugh, Bono broke five times d ents."

The positive dynamics of these concerts has led to the birth of 'Old Ideas'. Cohen imagines leave soon on the road and told to work on a new album. Death, no doubt, will still be his companion. What next? "The concept of reincarnation is for me difficult to understand. But if I really need to come back to earth, while it is in the dog's skin Lorca, girl!"


"Leonard Cohen: Mijn liedjes zijn als tofu"

de Volkskrant (Netherlands) by Menno Pot, January 26, 2012

In Parijs lanceerde de 77-jarige (!) Leonard Cohen, als altijd in pak, een prachtige nieuwe cd. Volkskrant-journalist Menno Pot sprak daar met de zanger.

De entree van Leonard Cohen in de Salon des Aigles, een gouden zaaltje met deftige kroonluchters in het pompeuze Hôtel de Crillon aan het Place de la Concorde in Parijs, roept onwillekeurig herinneringen op aan zijn opkomst in het Amsterdamse Westerpark op 12 juli 2008, voor een concert dat onvergetelijk zou blijken.

Plotseling staat hij er gewoon, net als toen, schijnbaar als een toevallige passant: geen aankondiging, geen grote gebaren, luidsprekers die nog zachtjes een achtergrondmuziekje neuriën. Cohen, kleine man in keurig pak, 77 jaar oud, tilt bij wijze van groet even zijn stijlvolle zwarte hoed op en vraagt om de microfoon om de Europese journalisten die het zaaltje vullen welkom te heten.

'Dag vrienden', bast hij, met een stem die nog donkerder en lager is dan je onthouden had. 'Bedankt voor jullie komst. Ik weet dat sommige van jullie ver hebben gereisd, daar ben ik erkentelijk voor. Ik blijf niet tegenover jullie zitten als we straks naar het album gaan luisteren, want ik wil jullie gelaatsuitdrukkingen van bijval of afkeuring niet monitoren. Reageer dus gerust zoals je hart je ingeeft.'

En daar klinkt Going Home, het openingslied van het prachtige nieuwe Cohen-album Old Ideas, dat vrijdag verschijnt. Het is zijn twaalfde studioplaat sinds 1967, de eerste sinds Dear Heather (2004), en de openingszin is humorvol: 'I love to speak with Leonard/ He's a sportsman and a shepherd/ He's a lazy bastard living in a suit.'

Een 'luistersessie', heet een evenement van dit type in de muziekindustrie. Na afloop is er gelegenheid voor vragen: een soort persconferentie, eigenlijk. Een paar dagen later zal in Londen nog zo'n evenement plaatsvinden.

We moeten het er maar mee doen, want de Canadees zegde enkele weken geleden vrijwel al zijn interviews af, zelfs het leeuwendeel van de geplande gesprekken met grote Britse en Amerikaanse kranten. Het waarom komt in Parijs uiteindelijk niet aan de orde, dat zul je altijd zien, maar dat is niet omdat hij niet gesteld mag worden. Cohen wil overal wel over vertellen: over de nieuwe plaat, over de ouderdom, over zichzelf. Hij spreekt in glooiende volzinnen en toont zich vaak tegelijkertijd geestig en adrem.

Het album heet Old Ideas omdat zijn liedjes ook op dit album weer handelen over 'de aloude zaken die ons aangaan': liefde, dood, verlies, seksualiteit, religie, de zaken waarover hij in de jaren zestig al met enig succes schreef als jonge bohémien, romancier en dichter, en vanaf 1967 (met veel groter succes) als songschrijver. Hij bedoelt er dus niet mee dat de liedjes al een tijd op de plank lagen: ze zijn allemaal betrekkelijk vers.

En die opmerkelijke hoesfoto, waarop we Cohen op een houten stoel in zijn zonovergoten tuin zien zitten? De foto is gemaakt door een Turkse vriendin, vertelt hij. 'De hoes heb ik zelf ontworpen. Je ziet de schaduw van de fotograaf naast me op het gazon. Die schaduw heb ik naar voren gehaald, zodat diagonale lijnen ontstonden die een mysterieus effect geven. Hoe? Met Photoshop.'

Hij mag onderhand broos ogen, de 77-jarige uit Montréal, maar hij lijkt nog vol energie te zitten. Hij vertelt dat hij nog veel songs heeft liggen en al werkt aan een volgend album dat, 'als God het wil', al over ongeveer een jaar zou kunnen verschijnen.

Een tournee? Er zijn nog geen concrete boekingen of plannen, maar hij zou het graag weer willen, want zijn grote comebacktournees van de laatste jaren (vanaf 2008, toen hij vijftien jaar niet had opgetreden) ervoer hij, zoals iedereen die er getuige van was, als 'glorieus'. Hij stelde er ook financieel definitief orde op zaken mee, nadat zijn ex-manager hem naar verluidt voor vele miljoenen had opgelicht.

Maar pas op: 'We treden niet zomaar wat op. We spelen nooit uit de losse pols. Elke voorstelling is een intense belevenis.'

Welke grote artiest maakte op zijn 77ste nog zulke goede platen als Old Ideas? Wat is Cohens geheim? Is het echt zo simpel als hij zingt in The Darkness: 'I don't smoke no cigarettes/ I don't drink no alcohol'?

Zo'n levensstijl helpt natuurlijk, maar liever verwijst Cohen naar zijn verblijf, halverwege de jaren negentig, in het boeddhistische Mount Baldy Zen Centre in Californië, waar hij een leermeester leerde kennen die inmiddels 104 jaar oud is, maar daar nooit over sprak en ook 'weigerde concessies te doen aan zoiets triviaals als leeftijd'. 'Hij bracht me de persoonlijke discipline bij die ik als jongere schrijver nooit had. Het is geen religie. Er is geen geloof, geen dogma, geen verering. Alleen studie en activiteit. Muziek? Nee, die was er op Mount Baldy niet. Maar je mocht wel in jezelf neuriën.'

Een Franse journalist constateert dat Cohen altijd zo weloverwogen spreekt en schrijft, zo zorgvuldig zijn woorden kiest, en wil weten of hij dat op Mount Baldy heeft geleerd. Of is het gewoon een kwestie van leeftijd?

Cohen houdt het op het laatste: 'Bepaalde hersencellen die opwinding teweeg kunnen brengen, sterven af. Op zeker moment kún je alleen nog weloverwogen schrijven. Een schrijver is gijzelaar van zijn zenuwcellen.'

Toch lijkt de zelfingenomenheid waarvan hij zo vaak werd beticht, de laatste jaren eerder af- dan toegenomen, zo niet verdwenen. Ook daarvoor mogen we de leermeesters van Mount Baldy danken: het keer- en breekpunt in Cohens leven. Wat ze hem leerden? 'Dat je nooit bevrijd kunt worden van je eigen stupiditeit. De voorbeelden van je eigen incompetentie en onkunde dienen zich doorlopend aan.'

Sommige liedjes op Old Ideas klinken opmerkelijk losjes. Het lied waarin hij terloops zijn geheelonthouderschap aanstipt, The Darkness, is een ontspannen, J.J. Cale-achtige blues met een tegen wil en dank opbeurende deining. Cohen liet zich nog niet vaak met het genre in, maar moet nu zelf ook vaststellen dat Old Ideas 'zeker drie bluesnummers telt, misschien nog wel meer.'

'Ik heb lang gemeend dat ik het recht niet heb om blues te zingen. Van die traditie moest ik afblijven, vond ik. Gaandeweg ben ik over dat gevoel heen gekomen. Nu ben ik maar zo brutaal geweest om het feit dat deze bluesliedjes tot me kwamen te interpreteren als permissie om ze ook te zingen.'

Dat de blues hem als gegoten zit, is eigenlijk niet zo verwonderlijk. Op basis van de eerste liedjes van Old Ideas die op internet werden vrijgegeven, werd hij weer veelvuldig aangeduid als een oude misantroop, wiens oeuvre je kunt opvatten als een manual for living with defeat; handleiding voor leven met nederlagen, zoals hij het in Going Home zelf verwoordt.

Met een peinzende grijns: 'Ik zou toch zeggen dat ik in een tamelijk goed humeur was toen ik deze songs schreef.'

Hij realiseert zich dat de somberte hem aankleeft. Hij vertelt over de depressie die hem als jonge jongen in de greep had (een echte klinische depressie, meer dan balen van een mislukte date) en die hij voorgoed wist af te schudden 'dankzij de juiste medische begeleiding'. Leonard Cohen een somber mens? Hij zou het niet zo willen omschrijven.

'Weet u wat het is? Mijn liedjes zijn als tofu: ze nemen de smaak aan van de jus waarin je ze onderdompelt.'

En hij weet het: die stem, die zich in de jaren zeventig en tachtig van een bariton tot een diepe bas ontwikkelde, is een krachtige jus. 'Een blij liedje dat ik op droevige toon zing, wordt een droevig liedje. Kijk maar naar Marilyn Monroe: zij maakte van Happy Birthday een erotische uitnodiging.'

En toch, de somberte zit niet alleen in zijn timbre. In The Darkness horen we: 'I've got no future/ I know my days are few' - en dat is bepaald niet de enige verwijzing naar het einde. 'Ik schrijf veel over de dood, ik heb hem mijn leven lang bestudeerd.' Grijnzend: 'Ik ben tot de conclusie gekomen dat ik ooit zal sterven.'

Het is de paradox van Cohens recente werk: de dood komt, letterlijk en figuurlijk, steeds dichterbij, maar meer dan ooit is er in zijn werk ook ruimte voor de lach. De Portugese journaliste die de laatste vraag mag stellen, formuleert er een nogal omslachtige theorie over: iets over de ladies' man die zichzelf erg serieus nam, maar op gevorderde leeftijd meer relativeringsvermogen uitstraalt. Hoe denkt hij over humor?

Terwijl hij de vraag aanhoort, zit daar plotseling Cohen de eeuwig jonge charmeur, sjansend met de naar woorden zoekende Portugese.

'Ik kan u dit zeggen: mij op deze leeftijd typeren als een ladies' man vereist beslist een grote dosis humor.'

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas. Columbia/Sony (verschijnt 27 januari)

Leonard Cohen is een albumartiest: in Nederland haalde tot 2009 geen enkele single de Top 40. Dat zijn Hallelujah (1984) in 2008 en 2009 in verschillende landen nummer 1 werd, was te danken aan de uitvoeringen van winnaars van talenjachten X-Factor en Pop Idol als Alexandra Burke (Groot-Brittannië), Kurt Nilsen (Noorwegen) en Lisa Lois (Nederland), die vooral de coverversie van Jeff Buckley uit 1994 nazongen. Dus niet Cohens origineel, dat op de hekgolf van het succes wel heel even in de Nederlandse hitlijsten opdook. Met plek '27' was het Cohens enige notering in de hitparade in Nederland.

"Leonard Cohen: My songs are like tofu"

de Volkskrant (Netherlands) by Menno Pot, January 26, 2012

Leonard Cohen, 77 years old (!), as always in suit, launched his beautiful new cd in Paris. Menno Pot, Journalist for the Volkskrant, talked with the singer.

Leonard Cohen's entrance in the Salon des Aigles, a small golden Hall with posh chandelier on the Place de la Concorde in Parijs, unintentionally recalls the memory of his coming out on stage Amsterdam Westerpark on 12th July 2008, a concert that would become as it seems: unforgettable.

Suddenly he just stood there, as he did then, as if he was just accidentally passing by: no introductions, no large gestures, loudspeakers still humming soft background music. Cohen, a small man, 77 years old, lifts his stylish black fedora while asking for a microphone so that he can welcome the European Journalist who had filled the hall.v 'Hallo Friends', he says in his bass voice, a voice that is far darker and lower than one remembers it. 'Thank you for coming. I am not going to stay sitting here before you while we listening to the album later on, because I do not want to monitor your expressions of approval or disapproval. So please react as your heart bids you do.'

And there is the sound of Going Home, the opening song of this beautiful new Cohen-album Old Ideas. It is his twelfth studio-album since 1967, the first since Dear Heather (2004), and the opening sentence is full of humor: 'I love to speak with Leonard / He's a sportsman and a shepherd' / He's lazy bastard living in a suit.'

This 'listening session', is what they call an event in the music industry. After the event there is the opportunity to ask questions: a kind of press conference, really. A few days later a similar event will take place in London.

We have to take it in our stride, because the Canadian cancelled nearly all his interviews, even the greater part of the planned talks with the larger British and American newspapers. The whys and wherefores are not dwelt upon, and that isn't so because that question may not be asked. Cohen likes to talk about everything: about the new record, about old age, about himself. He speaks in flowing sentences and often shows himself to be both funny and quick witted/smart.

The album is called Old Ideas because the songs on this album cover 'the old en lasting subjects that concern us all': love, death, loss, sexuality, religion; the same subjects that he has with some success written about in the sixties as a young bohemian, romancer and poet, and from 1967 onward (with more success) as a songwriter. With this title he does not mean to say that the songs have been lying about on a shelf for a long time: they are all attractively fresh.

And the notable cover photo, on which we see Cohen sitting on a wooden chair in a sundrenched garden? He tells us that the photograph was made by a Turkish (girl)friend. 'I designed the cover myself. You can see the shadow of the photographer beside me on the lawn. I brought the shadow forward, so that diagonal lines were created that give a mysterious effect. How? Photoshop'.

He may look fragile, the 77 year old from Montreal, but he seems yet to have plenty of energy. He tells us that he has many more songs written and that he is working on a next album that, 'God willing', could appear in about a year's time.

And a Tour? There are not any concrete bookings planned as yet, but he would be very willing, because he experienced, as everyone has witnessed, his great comeback tours of the last few years (from 2008, when he had not performed for fifteen years), as 'glorious'. He has also sorted out his financial situation, after his ex-manager had, as rumor has it, swindled him for millions.

But be aware: "We never just performed. We never played lightly. Every performance was an intense experience."

Which great artist makes such a good record as Old Ideas when he is 77 years old? What is Cohen's secret? Is it really as simple as he sings in The Darkness: 'I don't smoke no cigarettes / I don't drink no alcohol'?

Such a life style helps, but Cohen would rather refer to his stay, half way during the 90's, at the Buddhist Zen Centre Mount Baldy in California, where he got to know his teacher who is now 104 years old, but never talks about this, who also 'refuses to make any concession to something as trivial as age'. ' He taught me the personal discipline that I never had as a young man. It is not a religion. There isn't a belief, nor a dogma, no worshiping. Only study and activity. Music? No, there was none on Mount Baldy. But I was allowed to hum to myself'.

A French journalist remarked that Cohen always speaks and writes so very measured (thoughtfully), choosing his words very carefully, and wants to know if he learnt that on Mount Baldy. Or is he just a question of age?

Cohen says it is the latter: 'Certain brain cells that can cause excitement, die off. At a certain moment you can only write thoughtfully. A writer is hostage to his own nerve cells.

Yet the complacency of which he has often been accused, has decreased these pas years rather than increased, or rather has altogether disappeared. For that we may also thank the teachers of Mount Baldy: the turning or breaking point in Cohen's life. What they taught him? 'That one can never be relieved from one's own stupidity. The examples of one's own incompetence and ignorance present themselves constantly'.

Some songs on Old Ideas sound noticeably free(loose). The song in which he casually touches on his total abstinence, The Darkness, is a relaxed, J.J. Cale type bluesy song with an in ignorable optimistic sway. Cohen doesn't often admit to a genre, but determines now that Old Ideas 'counts at least three blues songs, maybe more'.

'For a long time I thought I did not have the right to sing the blues. I felt I had to stay away from that tradition. But along the way I overcame this feeling. But I became so cheeky because I interpreted the fact that these songs came to me as permission for me to also sing them.'

That The Blues befit him well is not surprising. Based on the first song from Old Ideas that were voiced on internet , he was again much referred to as an old misanthrope, who's whole oeuvre can be interpreted as a manual for living with defeat, just as he himself put into words in Going Home.

With a thoughtful grin: 'I would yet say that I was in a rather good humor when I wrote that song'.

He realizes very well that the darkness is sticking to him. He talks about the depression that had a hold on him as a young boy/man (a real clinical depression, other than being fed up over a failed date) and how he rid himself of this 'thanks to the right medical coaching'. Leonard Cohen a depressive person? He would rather not use that description.

'Do you know what it is? My songs are like tofu: they take on the taste of the gravy that you soak them in'.

And he knows it: the voice, that developed from a baritone to a deep bass in the seventies an eighties, is a forceful gravy.

And yet, the gloom lies not only in his timbre. In The Darkness we hear: 'I've got no future / I know my days are few' and that surely is not the only reference to the end. 'I write a lot about death, I have studied death for a long time'. Grinning: 'I have come the conclusion that I will die at some point'.

The paradox in Cohen's recent work: death is coming nearer literally and figuratively, but more than ever there is room for a laugh. The Portuguese lady journalist who may ask the last question, forms a rather intricate theory about: the ladies' man who took himself very seriously, but at a later age emanates more ability for relativity. How does he think about humor?

While he listens to the question, the ever young Cohen the charmer appears, flirting with the word seeking Portuguese.

'I can tell you this: to typecast me as a ladies' man at my age, requires a large dose of humor'.

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas. Columbia/Sony (appears 27 January)

Leonard Cohen is an album artist: he had no top 40 singles in The Netherlands till 2009. That his Hallelujah (1984) got to number 1 in 2008 and 2009 in different countries, was thanks to the winners of talent scouting programs such as X-factor and Pop Idol: Alexandra Burke (Great Britain, Kurt Nilsen (Norway) en Lisa Lois (Netherlands), who all copied Jeff Buckleys cover version from 1994. Not Cohen's original that reached the hit lists in the Netherlands for a while on the wave of this success. The number ' 27' was the only noting hit parade in the Netherlands."

Thank you to TineDoes for translating this review on The Leonard Cohen Files.


"Leonard Cohen passe à confesse"

Le Point (France) by Sacha Reins, January 26, 2012

VIDEO. Après cinq ans passés dans un monastère, le song writer culte livre un dernier album. Nous l'avons écouté en sa présence. Rencontre.

Les convocations de ce genre ne sont généralement pas les bienvenues, mais, quand c'est Leonard Cohen qui vous prie de bien vouloir venir écouter son nouvel album, rares sont ceux qui refusent. Cinquante journalistes internationaux se sont donc retrouvés la semaine dernière à Paris pour découvrir, assis dans un salon en silence et en rang, son dernier opus. Cerise surréaliste sur le gâteau : le vieil ermite était présent, installé au premier rang. Manifestement ailleurs (en méditation, en prière, endormi ?) pendant l'écoute des dix chansons de Old Ideas, son premier album depuis huit ans, il sortit de sa torpeur pour répondre ensuite aux questions. Du luxueux Crillon, on apercevait les lumières de la place de la Concorde, l'obélisque. La dernière fois que nous nous étions rencontrés, c'était au sommet d'une montagne, Mount Baldy, en Californie, dans le dénuement du monastère bouddhique où il s'était retiré. Leonard Cohen ne donne jamais ses rendez-vous dans des endroits ordinaires.

Leonard Cohen a 77 ans et affiche toujours une élégance de Blues Brother (costume et chapeau noirs), frêle et discret. D'ailleurs, pour la première fois de sa carrière, certaines de ses nouvelles chansons exhalent des parfums bluesy avec fanfares tristes et accents à la Tom Waits. "Jusqu'à présent, dit-il, je ne me sentais pas autorisé à aborder le blues, mais j'ai senti que cette interdiction était levée." Son chemin musical est sombre, pessimiste, insolite, et la dévotion fiévreuse que lui voue le monde du rock reste aussi étrange que si les Sex Pistols s'étaient déclarés héritiers de Brassens. Il y a vingt ans, le poète-chanteur canadien - dont certains affirmaient dans les années 70 que ses albums remplaçaient avantageusement le Mogadon en cas d'insomnie - se retrouva promu maître à penser de la génération grunge par un album noir et désespéré, The Future. Tous les groupes de l'époque, Nirvana en tête, lui vouèrent allégeance et respect et, il y a trois ans, il fut officiellement intronisé par le Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Je ne fais pas de rock, se défend-il, mais le monde du rock m'a toujours accueilli avec chaleur, m'en faisant citoyen d'honneur sans que je sache vraiment pourquoi."

Heureux, mais lucide

De sa voix sépulcrale sculptée par l'alcool et les cigarettes, Cohen chante : "I've seen the future, baby, and it's murder" (J'ai vu le futur, baby, c'est un massacre). "Quand j'ai entendu cette chanson pour la première fois, dit Joan Baez, une de ses amies proches, j'ai éclaté de rire. Il n'y avait que Leonard pour pouvoir exprimer aussi placidement une telle violence." "évidemment, nous expliquait-il alors dans un français parfait, ils ont vraiment été étonnés, eux qui se réclament de la génération no future, d'entendre un vieux con encore plus violemment pessimiste. Depuis toujours, je dis dans mes chansons que la fin de notre monde arrive. On m'a toujours pris pour un déprimé chronique. Pas du tout, je suis très heureux. Mais très lucide."

Heureux, Leonard Cohen ? ça n'a jamais sauté aux yeux, encore moins aux oreilles. Cet homme, qui a toujours affiché une placidité désabusée, est un faux serein, un authentique tourmenté empêtré dans mille contradictions. C'est un solitaire qui ne peut pas se passer des femmes, un angoissé qui oscille entre ascétisme et jouissance, un épicurien s'autoculpabilisant, un accro aux plaisirs recherchant sans cesse la bonne clinique de désintox. Il avait pensé l'avoir trouvée dans ce monastère bouddhique installé au sommet d'une montagne californienne. Il y resta cinq ans. L'existence y est rude. Levé à 3 heures pour cinq heures de méditation et, une semaine par mois, méditation de 3 heures du matin à 9 heures du soir. Le reste du temps est voué aux tâches domestiques. "Je suis quelqu'un de faible, expliquait-il alors, et j'ai besoin d'une discipline de vie très stricte, sinon je plonge dans le chaos. Les règles ici sont très rigoureuses, la vie très austère, très dure, et il faut un corps solide pour supporter, je me suis dit que c'était aussi une de mes dernières chances. à 70 ans, cela aurait été impossible ; à 63, ce n'est pas facile, mais c'est faisable. Et j'ai toujours été un solitaire."

"Serial lover"

Une affirmation étonnante pour un "ladies' man", un homme à femmes, un serial lover. "C'est une réputation qui me poursuit et qui m'a fait beaucoup de tort. Beaucoup de femmes que j'ai rencontrées se méfiaient de moi et restaient à distance à cause de cette réputation. J'ai connu de vrais hommes à femmes. Moi, je ne suis pas de ceux-là." à ce niveau de fausse candeur et de sympathique mauvaise foi, il était indispensable de remettre les pendules à l'heure :

"Leonard, je me souviens de tournées dans les années 70-80 où tu n'avais pas une femme dans chaque ville, mais trois ou quatre. Un de tes assistants était chargé uniquement de veiller à ce que tes maîtresses ne se rencontrent pas et que la précédente soit partie quand arrivait la nouvelle. Tu étais pire que Clapton ou Jagger."

Grand silence, il me regarde, ébahi, rougit et éclate de rire :

"C'était le bon temps. C'était le rock and roll. C'était la convention d'une époque. La convention d'être une vedette, sur la route. Il n'y avait pas que la star qui baisait, tout le monde baisait, les musiciens, les roadies, le manager, c'était l'illusion de la liberté que nous avions. C'est fini, tout ça.

- Et les drogues ?

- J'ai tout essayé. Certaines étaient très efficaces. Je n'aimais pas la cocaïne, car je trouvais que son absorption était indigne. Ce qui était agréable, c'était de pouvoir fonctionner intellectuellement rapidement et longtemps, j'ai trouvé cela dans les amphétamines. Malheureusement, j'en ai pris trop et je me suis effondré. C'est le problème de ces drogues. Il m'a fallu dix ans pour me remettre des amphétamines. Mon esprit était en chaos total.

- Qu'est-ce qui te manque le plus ici, dans ce monastère ?

- Potentiellement, tout me manque. Chaque matin, je me demande si je vais rester ou non. C'est comme ça ici. Pour tout le monde. C'est plus particulièrement dur pour les jeunes. Moi, j'ai eu une vie, je sais comment c'est et j'ai pris la décision de m'exclure de cette vie."

Deux passions dévorantes

Mais, tous les six mois, les moines le laissaient partir deux semaines, officiellement pour s'occuper de ses affaires (c'est lui qui subvenait aux besoins de la communauté), il s'installait alors dans un palace et s'adonnait à ses deux passions dévorantes : les femmes et les grands bordeaux.

Il quitta le monastère en 1998 pour découvrir peu de temps après qu'il était ruiné, escroqué par sa manageuse de l'époque (qui était aussi une de ses maîtresses). "Quand on cherche l'illumination divine et l'extase de la chair, dit-il, on ne peut pas en même temps surveiller les cours de la Bourse." Il n'eut donc d'autre choix que de repartir pour une très longue tournée mondiale de trois ans afin de se remettre à l'abri du besoin pour la fin de sa vie. Cette expérience fut exténuante, mais il y trouva beaucoup de plaisir. Et le goût de refaire de la musique. La machine créatrice s'est remise en route et il travaille déjà sur un nouvel album à paraître l'année prochaine. Quant au reste ? "Me définir, à mon âge avancé, comme un homme à femmes nécessite une forte dose d'humour. Je suis arrivé à la conclusion, un peu à contrecoeur, que je vais mourir un de ces jours. Je ne crois pas en la réincarnation mais, si je dois revenir, j'aimerais être le chien de ma fille."

"Leonard Cohen goes to confession"

Le Point (France) by Sacha Reins, January 26, 2012

VIDEO. After five years in a monastery, worship song writer delivers a new album. We listened to his presence. Game.

The invitations of this kind are generally not welcome, but when Leonard Cohen is that you are requested to come and hear his new album, few would deny. Fifty international journalists found themselves in Paris last week to discover, sitting in a room in silence and rank, his latest opus. Surreal cherry on the cake: the old hermit was now installed in the front row. Clearly elsewhere (meditation, prayer, sleep?) While listening to ten songs of Old Ideas, his first album in eight years, he went out of its torpor in response to questions. The luxurious Crillon, one could see the lights of the Place de la Concorde, the obelisk. The last time we met was at the top of a mountain, Mount Baldy, California, in the destitution of the Buddhist monastery where he had retired. Leonard Cohen never gives his appointment in ordinary places.

Leonard Cohen is 77 years old and still shows an elegant Blues Brother (black suit and hat), slender and unobtrusive. Moreover, for the first time in his career, some of his new songs exude perfumes with fanfares sad and bluesy accents to Tom Waits. "So far, he said, I did not feel authorized to deal with the blues, but I felt that the ban was lifted." His musical path is dark, pessimistic, unusual, and the feverish devotion than he devotes the rock world is as strange as if the Sex Pistols had declared heirs to Brassens. Twenty years ago, the Canadian singer-poet - some claimed in the 70's his albums advantageously replaced Mogadon in cases of insomnia - found himself promoted to mentor generation grunge album by a black and desperate, The Future . All groups of the time, Nirvana in mind, it vowed allegiance and respect and, three years ago, he was officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "I do not rock, it defends itself, but the rock world has always greeted with warmth, making me an honorary citizen without my really knowing why."

Happy, but lucid

Of his sepulchral voice sculpted by alcohol and cigarettes, Cohen sings: "I've seen the future, baby, and it's murder" (I've seen the future, baby, it's a massacre). "When I heard this song for the first time, said Joan Baez, one of his close friends, I laughed. There were only able to express as Leonard placidly such violence." "Obviously, we explained it then in perfect French, they were really surprised, those who claim to be no future generation, to hear an old fart even more severely pessimistic. I have always say in my songs that end of our world is coming. I was always mistaken for a chronically depressed. No, I'm very happy. But very lucid."

Happy, Leonard Cohen? It's never obvious, let alone their ears. This man, who has always displayed a disillusioned placidity, is a false calm, entangled in an authentic tormented miles contradictions. It is a loner who can not do without women, an anguish that oscillates between asceticism and pleasure, an Epicurean s'autoculpabilisant, an addictive constantly seeking the pleasures of good rehab clinic. He had thought to have found this Buddhist monastery located at the top of a mountain in California. He remained there five years. The existence is severe. Up to 3 hours to five hours of meditation and, one week per month, meditation 3:00 am to 9 pm. The remaining time is devoted to domestic tasks. "I am a weak, he explained then, and I need a very strict discipline of life, otherwise I plunged into chaos. The rules here are very strict, austere life very, very hard, and you have a solid body to support, I said it was also one of my last chances. At age 70, it would have been impossible to 63, it is not easy, but doable. And I was always a loner."

"Serial lover"

A surprising statement for a "ladies' man", a ladies' man, a serial lover. "It's a reputation that follows me and made me much harm. Many women I met were suspicious of me and stay away because of this reputation. I knew real men to women. I'm not one of them." At this level of candor and friendly fake bad faith, it was necessary to put the record straight:

"Leonard, I remember touring in 70-80 years when you did not have a woman in every city, but three or four. One of your assistants was responsible only to ensure that your master does not meet and than the previous part is when the news arrived. You were worse than Clapton and Jagger."

Silence, he looks at me, stunned, ashamed and laughs:

"Those were the days. It was the rock and roll. It was the convention of an era. The agreement to be a star on the road. There was not the star that kissed, Everyone kissed, musicians, roadies, the manager, was the illusion of freedom we had. It's over, all that."

- And the drugs?

- "I tried everything. Some were very effective. I did not like cocaine, because I found that its absorption was unworthy. Which was nice, it can operate quickly and intellectually a long time, I found this in amphetamines. Unfortunately, I took too much and I collapsed. This is the problem with these drugs. It took me ten years to get over amphetamines. My mind was in chaos."

- What do you miss the most here in this monastery?

- "Potentially, all I miss. Every morning I wonder if I'll stay or not. It's like that here. For everyone. This is especially hard for young people. I've had a life, I know how it is and I decided to opt out of this life."

Two consuming passions

But every six months, the monks from two weeks left, ostensibly to attend to his business (he provided for the needs of the community), he then settled in a palace, and indulged in his two consuming passions: women and the great Bordeaux.

He left the monastery in 1998 to discover shortly after it was ruined, defrauded by his manager at the time (who was also one of his mistresses). "When we look divine illumination and ecstasy of the flesh, he says, can not simultaneously monitor stock quotes." He had therefore no choice but to leave for a very long world tour in three years to get back to freedom from want for the rest of his life. This experience was grueling, but he found a lot of fun. And taste of the music again. The machine designer has re-started and it is already working on a new album to be released next year. As for the rest? "I am set in my old age, as a ladies' man needs a strong dose of humor. I concluded, somewhat reluctantly, I will die one day. I do not believe in reincarnation but if I go back I want to be my daughter's dog."


"Leonard Cohen a de la Suite Dans les Idées"

Lagardère Paris Match (France) by Benjamin Locoge, January 28, 2012

Après le succès de sa tournée mondiale, le chanteur publie enfin un nouvel album « Old Ideas ». Il le présentait à Paris à la presse européenne. Récit.

Quand il apparaît dans un petit salon du Crillon, Leonard Cohen a d'abord l'air très vieux. Vêtu d'un costume trop large et de son éternel chapeau noir, il salue poliment l'assemblée réunie autour de lui pour se prêter à un exercice pas forcément agréable. L'écoute de son nouvel album au milieu des journalistes de la presse européenne. Cohen apparaît tout de suite très humble. Il explique malicieusement qu'il s'installera parmi le public et non face à lui. « Je n'ai pas envie de voir vos visages, je préfère attendre vos réactions à la fin », dit-il.

Le voilà donc présentant « Old Ideas », son douzième album studio, composé de dix chansons plus ou moins nouvelles, jamais enregistrées jusqu'alors. Mais entre « Dear Heather » (2004) et « Old Ideas », Cohen n'a pas chômé. De 2008 et 2010, l'auteur de « Suzanne », de « Famous Blue Raincoat », de « So Long, Marianne » a donné plus de 250 concerts, sillonnant le monde entier à la tête d'un groupe impeccable. Pendant près de trois heures chaque soir, Cohen a bouleversé les foules, avec sa voix plus grave que jamais, son ton religieux, son approche élégante de la musique. A l'origine de ce vaste tour du monde, des problèmes financiers.

Escroqué par son précédent manager, Cohen, retiré dans sa communauté zen près de Los Angeles, s'est retrouvé quasiment ruiné, l'obligeant, à 75 ans, à remonter sur scène. L'expérience fut plus que bénéfique. A l'écoute de « Old Ideas », une chose frappe immédiatement. L'artiste a conservé le meilleur de son groupe. Il n'a pas hésité à mettre

les vieux synthétiseurs au placard pour revenir à des instrumentations simples. Des chansons accompagnées juste d'une guitare ou d'un piano. Des chæurs féminins discrets, jouant avec la voix grave du maître. Surtout, Cohen a retrouvé une plume alerte, pleine d'ironie.


« The Darkness », « Amen », « Crazy to Love You » ou « Different Sides » -reprennent les thèmes récurrents du poète. L'amour, la mort, les tourments de la vie, mais l'humour n'est jamais loin, la légèreté non plus. « J'ai lu récemment que, lorsque vous vieillissez, les cellules liées à l'anxiété meurent. Alors on se sent beaucoup mieux... » -Estimant que, sa réputation d'homme à femmes est désormais usurpée (« A mon âge, ce ne serait pas raisonnable »), -Cohen est pourtant plus séducteur que jamais, plus cabotin et plus serein. Interrogé sur la possibilité d'une nouvelle tournée, il dit « en avoir très envie. J'ai des idées, c'est quelque chose de présent dans ma tête, qui n'est pas de l'ordre de l'impossible ».

Sobre, libéré de ses démons, Leonard Cohen avoue que les interrogations simples de la vie le taraudent : « Je mets le doigt sur des questions essentielles comme "Qu'est-ce qu'un vieil ami ?" dit-il. On n'est jamais totalement libéré de sa propre -stupidité, mais l'important ce n'est pas la foi, c'est le fait d'être en activité. » « Old Ideas » en est la plus belle illustration.

"Leonard Cohen Has the Sequence of Ideas"

Lagardère Paris Match (France) by Benjamin Locoge, January 28, 2012

After the success of his world tour, the singer finally releases a new album "Old Ideas." He presented in Paris in the European press. Story.

When he appears in a small room at the Crillon, Leonard Cohen First look very old. Wearing a suit too wide and his eternal black hat, he politely greets the assembly gathered around him to lend themselves to an exercise not necessarily pleasant. Listening to his new album in the middle of European journalists. Cohen immediately becomes very humble. He says he will install malicious among the public and not in front of him. "I did not want to see your faces, I prefer to wait your reactions to the end," he said.

So here he is presenting "Old Ideas," his twelfth studio album, comprised of ten songs more or less new, never previously recorded. But between "Dear Heather" (2004) and "Old Ideas," Cohen has been busy. Between 2008 and 2010, the author of "Suzanne" and "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "So Long, Marianne" has given over 250 concerts, traveling the world to head a group impeccable. For nearly three hours every night, Cohen shocked the crowds with his deeper voice than ever, its religious tone, its elegant approach to music. The origin of this vast world tour, financial problems.

Defrauded by his former manager, Cohen, retired to his Zen community near Los Angeles, found himself almost ruined, forcing him to 75 years to get back on stage. The experience was more than beneficial. Listening to "Old Ideas", one thing strikes you immediately. The artist has kept the best of his group. He did not hesitate to put the old synthesizers in the closet to return to simple instrumentation. Songs accompanied by just a guitar or piano. Discreet female choirs, playing with the deep voice of the master. Above all, Cohen has found a ready pen, full of irony.

"Going Home," the first song, is an address to a "Leonard, this lucky old veteran, who lives in his suit." Cohen paints a portrait malicious, that of a happy man, refreshed after his long absence. "I knew early in my career real depression, says the singer. I came out and I hope it is a state that I will never recover. When I recorded this album, I was rather in a good mood. But I am the first judge of my work, which is the fiercest. I do not want that we can laugh at me."

"The Darkness", "Amen," "Crazy to Love You" or "Different Sides" repeat the themes of the poet. Love, death, the torments of life, but humor is never far away, the light either. "I recently read that when you get older, the anxiety-related cells die. So you feel much better ... "Considering that, his reputation as a ladies' man is now usurped ("At my age, it would not be reasonable"), Cohen is yet more seductive than ever, more ham and more serene. Asked about the possibility of a new tour, he said "have really wanted. I have ideas, is this something in my head, not the order of the impossible."

Sober, free from his demons, Leonard Cohen admits that the simple questions the torment of life: "I put the finger on key issues such as What is an old friend?" He said. You can never be totally free from his own stupidity, but the important thing is not of faith is being active." "Old Ideas" is the best illustration.

"Leonard Cohen sings the blues"

InterAksyon (Philippines) by Benedicte Rey, January 31, 2012

PARIS -- For four decades Leonard Cohen's brooding lyrics won him fans and accolades the world over, but the folk-rock poet never felt legitimate singing the blues -- until now.

Elegantly clad in a suit and black trilby, the 77-year-old Canadian was in Paris this month to promote his new album "Old Ideas," the first in eight years -- 10 pared-down songs with a strong blues flavor.

"I've always loved the blues, I've always loved the musical construction of the blues, but I've always felt that I didn't have the right to sing the blues," he explained, in his distinctive baritone.

"But somehow, the right was granted to me, I don't know by what authorities, but I felt that I had the right to use that form and a number of songs came to me that way.

"Now I have the permission to sing the blues," he said.

Born in the tiny English-speaking quarter of Montreal, Cohen published books of poetry before embarking on a singing career with his debut album "Songs of Leonard Cohen," featuring such tracks as "Suzanne" and "So Long, Marianne."

Since then the singer has inspired countless artists, who have produced more than 1,000 cover versions of his work including "Hallelujah," a cult favorite covered by the late singer Jeff Buckley.

Released on January 30, the sound of "Old Ideas" marks a departure from Cohen's last work, the 2004 "Dear Heather," but it returns to the often weighty themes he holds dear, of spirituality, love, sexuality, the past and death.

"I think like tofu the song takes on the flavor of the emotional gravy of what you sense," he said. "If one needs one's own suffering to be addressed, I think you can find that component in a song," he added.

But there is a vein of humor and self-deprecation on the album as well, like on the opening track "Going Home," in which Cohen addresses "Leonard," "a sportsman and a shepherd," "a lazy bastard, living in a suit."

Cohen suffered in the past from long-term depression, but says he has now escaped from under its shadow.

"I am happy to report that at a certain point in my life that depression slowly dissolved and it has not returned with the same kind of ferocity that prevailed during most of my life."

"So hopefully that's gone, and it won't return," he said.

On the whole, Cohen said he was "quite in a good mood" when he wrote the 10 songs on the album, some as early as 2007.

Asked about his reputation as a charmer, he said wryly: "For me to be a ladies' man at this point involves a great deal of humor."

And to another journalist's question probing his interest in death: "I've come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that I am going to die, so the possibility produces some thoughts.

"I'd like to come back as my daughter's dog," he quipped.

Cohen quit the music scene in the early 1990s to join a Buddhist monastery in California, where he was ordained a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and took the name Jikhan, meaning "silence."

But the singer-songwriter, whose music has featured in dozens of movie soundtracks from "Natural Born Killers" to "Shrek," was forced to make a comeback after being swindled out of his retirement nest egg by his former manager.

He went on a world tour from 2008 to 2010, with a series of performances that received rave reviews from the public and critics, although some shows had to be postponed due to a back injury.

Nevertheless, Cohen says a return to the stage in 2012 is "certainly in my head."

And a sequel to "Old Ideas" could also surface fairly quickly.

"I have enough for a new record which I'm working on now. So, God willing, I'll be able to finish another record within a year or so," he said. "I have lot of unfinished material," he said.


"Stay well, Leonard! Unser Gewinner über seine Begegnung mit Leonard Cohen in Paris"

Rolling Stone (Germany) by Peter Spranger, January 24, 2012

Peter Spranger hat bei unserem groβen Gewinnspiel zu Leonard Cohens neuem Album "Old Ideas" eine Reise nach Paris gewonnen - zum exklusiven Pre-Listening, bei dem auch Cohen selbst anwesend war. Für uns schrieb er auf, wie er das Wochenende erlebte.

Nein, meine schlimmsten Befürchtungen bewahrheiteten sich nicht. Noch etwa zwei Stunden vor dem angekündigten Album-Listening, als ich mit Hanns-Peter Bushoff von der Plattenfirma Sony Music telefonierte, um abzuklären, ob ein Ausweis nötig wäre, um in die Veranstaltung mit Leonard Cohen reinzukommen, schoss mit die bohrende Befürchtung durch den Kopf, gleich würde jemand "ätsch, reingefallen, versteckte Kamera, verstehen Sie Spaβ" rufen und den Traum jäh zum Zerplatzen bringen.

Es schien ja auch völlig unglaublich, was ich an diesem Abend noch erleben sollte. 1979 hatte ich als kaum 20-jähriger Abiturient den damals schon berühmten Sänger, Rock-Poeten und Schriftsteller Leonard Cohen auf der griechischen Insel Hydra getroffen, dessen glühender Fan ich schon damals gewesen war. Wir hatten einen Abend zusammen in der von Cohen in dem Lied "The night comes on" besungenen "Bills Bar" geredet und getrunken, und ich hatte mir von ihm einen Bierdeckel mit einer kleinen Widmung signieren lassen. Als für Januar 2012 ein neues Album von Leonard Cohen angekündigt war, hatte die Musikzeitschrift "Rolling Stone" ein Gewinnspiel veranstaltet, bei dem eine Reise nach Paris zur Präsentation dieser CD aus Hauptgewinn ausgelobt war. Doch nicht eine einfache Gewinnmail oder eine SMS "Ich will gewinnen" sollte für die Teilnahme genügen, sondern es musste schon eine "besondere Bewerbung" sein, wenn man den Hauptpreis gewinnen wollte. Ich hatte daraufhin eine Mail mit einer Schilderung meines damaligen Erlebnisses und einem Scan des ominösen Bierdeckels eingeschickt und war tatsächlich als Preisträger ausgewählt worden.

Und so saβ ich nun mit meiner Freundin Birgit, die ich in gewisser Weise auch durch oder zumindest dank Leonard Cohen kennengelernt hatte, denn wir waren uns im Juli 2008 bei seinem Konzert in Lörrach erstmals begegnet, in der Lobby eines Pariser Hotels am Montmartre und wartete auf die Fahrt zu der CD-Vorstellung.

Doch zunächst einmal lernten wir in dieser Lobby Christof Graf kennen, der mehrere Bücher über Cohen geschrieben hat, und dessen jüngstes Werk "Titan der Worte" zufällig (obwohl es mir schwer fällt, dabei noch an Zufälle zu glauben) gerade meine aktuelle Lektüre war. Denn - so unglaublich das auch klingen mag - ich hatte dieses Buch "zufällig" einige Tage, bevor ich von dem Gewinnspiel erfahren hatte, zu lesen begonnen. Auch Graf gehörte zu den insgesamt nur fünf Personen aus Deutschland, die an dem Album-Listening teilnehmen durften. Die beiden anderen waren Hanns-Peter Bushoff, der uns zum Ort der Veranstaltung brachte, und ein weiterer Journalist, der erst dort zu uns stieβ.

Das Hotel de Crillon an der Place de la Concorde in Paris gehört zu den besten Hotels in Europa. Es handelt sich um einen im 18. Jahrhundert erbauten ehemaligen Adelspalast, vor dem 1793 der letzte Franzosenkönig Ludwig XVI. enthauptet wurde. 1907 wurde es zu einem der exklusivsten und luxuriösesten Hotels weltweit umgebaut. Auf der Getränkekarte in der Hotelbar findet sich zum Beispiel ein edler Champagner, von dem eine Flasche so viel wie ein Mittelklassewagen kostet.

Im "Salon Aigles" dieses Luxushotels sollte Leonard Cohen einer ausgewählten Schar von rund 50 Journalisten aus ganz Europa, von Portugal bis Dänemark und von Frankreich bis Israel, an diesem Abend seine neue CD "Old Ideas" erstmals präsentieren. Wir waren frühzeitig dort und so konnten Birgit und ich Plätze in der zweiten Reihe ergattern. Die Spannung stieg von Minute zu Minute, während sich der opulent ausgestattete Salon langsam füllte. Der Zutritt zu den Räumlichkeiten war nur über einen eigenen Lift und mit Einladung möglich. Livriertes Personal sorgte geräuschlos dafür, dass nur die geladenen Gäste zugelassen wurden und später für die exquisite Bewirtung.

Doch zunächst einmal öffnete sich pünktlich um 19.30 Uhr eine der vier Meter hohen Spiegeltüren an der Stirnseite des Salons. Und Leonard Cohen betrat den Raum, wie man ihn von seiner 2008 begonnenen Welttournee kennt - im eleganten schwarzen Zweireiher, darunter ein graues Flanellhemd, den "schwarzen Fedora", der zu seinem Markenzeichen geworden ist, auf dem Kopf, verneigte er sich mehrmals in den Beifall über seine Ankunft hinein mit jener charismatischen Mischung aus tiefer Demut, groβer Herzlichkeit und milder Altersweisheit, die ihn auch bei den Liveauftritten seiner Tournee ausgezeichnet hatte und mit der er Herzen aller erobert hat, denen das Glück zuteil wurde, ihn bei diesen Konzerten erleben zu dürfen. Christof Graf zitiert in seinem Buch den Band Aid-Gründer Bob Geldof, der Cohen 1993 erstmals begegnete und ihn als "Kombination aus groβer Persönlichkeit und spirituellem Geist" bezeichnete. Cohen lüftete seinen Hut, zeigte sein unglaublich charmantes und gewinnendes Lächeln und nach einigen einleitenden Worten seines Managers ergriff er selbst das Wort.

Er dankte allen Anwesenden für ihr Kommen, er wisse, dass sie teilweise einen weiten Weg zurückgelegt hätten, um mit ihm zusammen sein neues Album zu hören. Dies sei eine "great honour" für ihn (was sollten da erst wir sagen, die wir diesen Abend mit ihm verbringen durften!). Es werde anschlieβend eine Fragerunde geben, bei der er dann an der Frontseite des Salons sitzen werde, wo zwei Biedermeiersessel für ihn und den Moderator dieser Runde bereitstanden, doch vorher wolle er mit allen Anwesenden der Musik lauschen. Und dazu nahm er vorne in die erste Zuhörerreihe Platz. Und so saβ ich in der folgenden Stunde, während die "Ten New Songs" des neuen Albums "Old Ideas" den Raum erfüllten nur etwa einen halben Meter von ihm entfernt schräg hinter Leonard - noch etwas mehr Glück hatte meine Freundin Birgit, die ihm ohne weiteres während der Musikvorführung ins Ohr hätte flüstern können.

Ich bin kein Musikkritiker, und ein musikalisches Urteil über "Old Ideas" kann ich mir daher nicht anmaβen - schon gar nicht nach einmaligem Hören in Gegenwart und unmittelbarer Nähe Cohens. Es ist jedenfalls ein sehr ruhiges und sanftes Album, Lichtjahre vom "Wall of Sound" entfernt, den ein Phil Spector als Produzent der 1977er-LP "Death of a Ladies Man" verordnen zu müssen glaubte. Die Instrumentierung wirkt aber auch sparsamer, als man sie von Cohens Konzerten zuletzt kannte. Es gibt längere Instrumentalpassagen und natürlich fehlen auch die glockenklaren Frauenstimmen im Background nicht, die beinahe ein Wesensmerkmal von Cohens Musik sind. Joan Baez hat einmal über seine Lieder gesagt, sie kämen von so tief in ihm, dass sie auch andere Menschen irgendwie tief berühren würden. Und ja, das tun diese Lieder - sie berühren einen so tief wie der Mensch Leonard Cohen einen in seiner Humanität, in seiner Weisheit, aber auch seiner Unsicherheit und Fragilität und nicht zuletzt auch mit seinem oft durchaus schwarzen Humor zutiefst berühren kann.

Nach dem Album-Listening und der anschlieβenden Fragerunde drängte sich alles um Cohen, um mit ihm zu sprechen oder ein Autogramm zu ergattern. Auch ich nutzte die Gelegenheit, zeigte ihm meinen Bierdeckel von 1979 (wie man auf dem Foto sieht) und sagte, er würde sich sicherlich nicht mehr daran erinnern, aber dies sei bereits unsere zweite Begegnung, und bei unserem ersten Treffen hätte er mir diesen Bierdeckel unterschrieben. Ich weiβ nicht, ob ein winziger Funken Erinnerung in ihm wachwurde, als er mir das kleine Papp-Viereck aus den Händen nahm, es ein paar Sekunden betrachtete und es dann umdrehte, um auf die Rückseite eine weitere Widmung zu schreiben: "For Peter - stay well - Leonard Cohen - 2012".

Diesen Bierdeckel werde ich nun aufbewahren bis ins Jahr 2034, dann gibt es hoffentlich wieder ein Gewinnspiel von "Rolling Stone" mit einer Reise zur Feier des 100. Geburtstages von Leonard Cohen als Hauptgewinn, um ihn ein drittes Mal zu treffen. Stay well, Leonard!

"Stay well, Leonard! Our winner about his meeting with Leonard Cohen in Paris"

Rolling Stone (Germany) by Peter Spranger, January 24, 2012

Peter Sprague has won our big contest at Leonard Cohen's new album "Old Ideas," a trip to Paris - an exclusive pre-listening, in which Cohen himself was also present. For us, he wrote, how he survived the weekend.

No, my worst fears had been hoped. About two hours before the announced music-listening, when I phoned Hanns-Peter Bushoff by the record company Sony Music to find out whether a passport would be needed to get into the event with Leonard Cohen, shot through with the nagging fear of the head, like someone would "grapeshot fell for, hidden camera, you take a joke" call and bring the dream to burst suddenly.

It seemed absolutely incredible, too, what should I do this evening. In 1979, I had hardly taken as a 20-year-old graduate of the already famous singers, rock poet and writer Leonard Cohen on the Greek island of Hydra, whose ardent fan, I was already at that time. We had an evening together in the Cohen's in the song "The Night Comes On" sung "Bill's Bar" talked and drank, and I had it signed by him a beer mat with a little dedication. As for January 2012 a new album of Leonard Cohen was announced, had the music magazine "Rolling Stone" is organizing a raffle in which a trip to Paris for the presentation of this CD was awarded first prize. Not an easy win mail or a text message "I want to win" should be sufficient for participation, but there had been a "special job" if they wanted to win the grand prize. I then had an email with a description of my experience and then a scan of the ominous coaster returned and was actually selected as the winner.

And so I sat with my friend Birgit who I had met in a way, through, or at least, thanks to Leonard Cohen, as we did in July 2008 at his concert in Lörrach first met in the lobby of a Paris hotel on Montmartre, and waited on the drive to the CD presentation. But first we got to know in this lobby Christof Graf, who has written several books about Cohen and his latest work "Titan of the words" happen (although I find it hard to believe it to still believe in coincidences) was just my current reading. Because - as incredible as it may sound - I had this book "by accident" a few days before I had learned of the contest, began to read. Graf also was one of the only five people from Germany, who were allowed to participate in the music listening. The other two were Hanns-Peter Bushoff that brought us to the place of the event, and another journalist, who only joined us there.

The Hotel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde in Paris is one of the best hotels in Europe. It is a 18th -Century former nobleman's palace, before 1793, the last French King Louis XVI. was beheaded. 1907 it was converted into one of the world's most exclusive and luxurious hotels. On the drinks menu at the hotel bar is found as a fine champagne, a bottle of which costs as much as a midsize car.

In the "Salon Aigles" Leonard Cohen as a luxury hotel should present a select group of some 50 journalists from all over Europe, from Portugal to Denmark and from France to Israel, that night his new CD "Old Ideas" for the first time. We were there early so I could Birgit and grab seats in the second row. The tension was rising from minute to minute, while the opulent salon filled slowly. The entrance to the premises was possible only via a private elevator and by invitation. Livriertes staff made noise that only the invited guests were admitted and later for exquisite dining.

But first opened on time at 19.30 clock one of the four-meter mirror doors on the front of the salon. And Leonard Cohen entered the room, as seen from its 2008 began a world tour knows - in sleek black double-breasted suit, including a gray flannel shirt, the "black fedora," which has become his trademark on his head, he bowed several times in the applause on his arrival in with those charismatic blend of deep humility, great warmth and gentle wisdom of age, who had distinguished him even at the live performances of his tour, and with it the heart has conquered all, where the good fortune, his experience at these concerts to allowed. Christof Graf cites in his book the Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, who first met Cohen in 1993 and him as a "combination of a great spiritual personality and spirit" called. Cohen raised his hat, showing his incredibly charming and winning smile, and after a few introductory words of his manager, he took the word itself.

He thanked everyone for coming, he knew that they had partially come a long way to listen to him together with his new album. This was a "great honor" for him (which should only because we say we spent the evening with him). It will then be a question and answer session at which he would then sit at the front of the salon, where two Biedermeier chair for him and the moderator of this round were ready, but first he wanted to listen to music with all those present. And he took to the front in the first audience row. And so I sat in the next hour, while the "Ten New Songs" of the new album "Old Ideas" space filled only about half a meter away from him at an angle behind Leonard - a bit more lucky my girlfriend Birgit, who without him Another would have during the musical performance can whisper in his ear.

I'm not a music critic, and a musical judgment on "Old Ideas" therefore I can not pretend - especially not after a single hearing in the present and the immediate vicinity Cohen. It is certainly a very calm and soft music, light years from the "Wall of Sound" from the need to prescribe a Phil Spector as a producer of the 1977 LP "Death of a Ladies Man" did. The instrumentation has also economical, as they knew of Cohen's last concerts. There are long instrumental passages, and of course missing the bell-like female voices in the background is not that almost an essential feature of Cohen's music is. Joan Baez once said about his songs, they came from so deep in him that they would also affect other people somehow deep. And yes, do these songs - they touch a human being as deep as the Leonard Cohen is one in his humanity, his wisdom, but also its fragility and uncertainty and do not last well with his black humor often quite deeply.

After listening to the album and the subsequent question and answer session is all about Cohen urged to talk to him or to get an autograph. I also took the opportunity to show him my beer coasters of 1979 (as seen in the photo) and said he would not remember a reason, but this was our second meeting, and at our first meeting, he would have liked this beer mat signed. I do not know if a tiny spark alive was a reminder to him that he gave me a small cardboard square from the hands, it is a few seconds, looked and then turned around to write on the back of another dedication: "For Peter - stay well - Leonard Cohen - 2012 ".

I will keep these coasters now to the year 2034, then there will hopefully be a contest of "Rolling Stone" with a trip to celebrate the 100th Birthday of Leonard Cohen as first prize, to meet him a third time. Stay well, Leonard!


"Leonard Cohen :éternel contemporain"

Les in Rocks (France) by Pierre Siankowski, February 8, 2012

C'est un jeune homme de 77 ans qui cite Jay-Z dans le texte et sort un splendide nouvel album. Rencontre avec le toujours zen Leonard Cohen. Critique et écoute.

C'est dans le salon des Aigles de l'Hôtel de Crillon, à Paris, que Leonard Cohen a donné rendez- vous aux journalistes d'une Europe affaissée. Ils sont venus du Danemark, d'Espagne ou même du Portugal pour écouter en sa compagnie, sous les plafonds à caisson et les ornements à la feuille d'or, son nouvel album Old Ideas. Deux chaises ont été disposées face aux critiques, sous une reproduction de la pochette du disque : Cohen photographié assis dans le jardin de sa maison de Montréal, en costume noir, avec des lunettes de soleil et un chapeau identique à celui qu'il arborait lors de sa dernière tournée. La décontraction apparente de l'homme sur l'image contraste avec l'empressement de la salle.

Deux Allemands s'assoient à l'extrémité gauche du premier rang. Un type vient gentiment leur demander de laisser les deux places libres, sans véritablement expliquer pourquoi. Disciplinés, les Allemands s'exécutent. Je me poste au deuxième rang, juste à côté d'une doublette espagnole - une femme et un homme. Enfin, une porte s'ouvre et Cohen fait son entrée sous des applaudissements maîtrisés. Jean-Luc Hees, patron de Radio France, l'accompagne. Cohen, mains dans les poches, est quasiment vêtu comme sur son album, lunettes de soleil en moins. Il salue les journalistes de quelques petits hochements de tête, puis prend la parole d'une voix calme et profonde."Je sais que vos chaises ne sont pas très confortables, j'espère que vous tiendrez jusqu'à la fin de l'écoute. J'ai choisi de ne pas m'installer face à vous, je crois que je ne supporterais pas les grimaces et les rictus qui témoigneraient de votre désapprobation. Je vais donc m'asseoir parmi vous", explique-t-il avec un léger sourire. Nouveaux applaudissements.

Quelques secondes avant que la musique ne commence, Cohen s'installe avec Jean-Luc Hees sur l'une des deux chaises vacantes du premier rang, face à sa propre photographie. Il croise les mains entre ses jambes, les deux pieds à plat sur le sol, la tête légèrement inclinée en arrière, comme s'il scrutait le plafond. Ses yeux se ferment lentement dès l'entame de Going Home, premier morceau qui débute sur cette confession : "I love to speak with Leonard/He's a sportsman and a shepherd/ He's a lazy bastard/Living in a suit" ("J'aime parler avec Leonard/C'est un athlète et un pâtre/C'est une grosse feignasse/Qui vit en costume").

Je suis à un mètre cinquante à peine de Cohen, et alors qu'Old Ideas se déroule, je ne peux m'empêcher de m'attarder sur son visage - qui ne bougera pas d'un pouce durant l'écoute, à l'exception de quelques mouvements de glotte. Alors que les journalistes tentent de traverser cette épreuve piégée qu'est la découverte d'un disque avec son auteur - petits mouvements d'épaules ou de tête sur la mesure, rictus de satisfaction, prise de notes compulsive, air hagard calculé -, Leonard Cohen semble avoir bel et bien choisi de disparaître : sa politesse légendaire, certainement.

Pourtant, les nouvelles de ce dernier album sont plus qu'excellentes. Ceux qui avaient buté sur Dear Heather, sorti en 2005 et qui marquait peut-être la fin du couple "Bontempi-chæur de cousines" accompagnant le Canadien depuis des lustres (et n'est pas totalement absent du disque), seront peut-être d'emblée rassurés par le banjo entendu sur Amen, le deuxième titre, et qui donne même son nom à un autre morceau (Banjo, donc). Les mots de Cohen sont toujours aussi précis et envoûtants, portés par une voix de plus en plus caverneuse (écoutez Show Me the Place, sublime supplique posée sur un lit d'instruments à cordes, qui rappelle Tom Waits). Le blues est présent par endroits (The Darkness, bien sûr, et l'atmosphérique Anyhow, qui s'enchaînent), les amours et autres déclarations aussi (l'absolument folk Crazy to Love You, qui semble tout droit sorti de Songs from a Room, mais aussi Lullaby - qui conduira mes deux voisins espagnols à se prendre la main. Etaient-ils ensemble avant l'écoute d'Old Ideas ? Je n'ai pas osé le leur demander).

Ce que l'on aime par-dessus tout, c'est le génie avec lequel Cohen, facétieux commandant de son armée solitaire, prend son monde à revers sur ce disque que beaucoup auraient aimé voir comme son dernier (il serait déjà en train de travailler sur de nouveaux morceaux). Pas de chanson bilan, pas de testament bon marché sur Old Ideas, qui n'est au final qu'un tome de plus (et très réussi) de ce fondamental "manuel pour vivre avec la défaite" (les mots sont issus de Going Home) que le Canadien élabore méticuleusement depuis ses premiers poèmes. Leonard Cohen est en vie, et c'est avec une vigueur certaine qu'il se lève de sa chaise comme un cabri après la nouvelle salve d'applaudissements qui marque la fin de l'écoute. Il s'assoit en face de ses convives d'un soir, reçu comme un chef d'Etat (quel chanteur ferait déplacer le président de la radio publique nationale pour jouer le partenaire de ping-pong ?), écoute les questions et y répond avec la patience d'un paysan du Danube.

Est-ce qu'il aime le flamenco ? (un journaliste espagnol). Oui, bien sûr : "J'en joue même sur ma guitare, quand personne n'écoute." Est-ce qu'il aime le fado ? (un journaliste portugais). Oui, bien sûr : "Quand je possédais peu de disques, j'écoutais en boucle un album d'Amália Rodrigues qui me fascinait littéralement." Est-ce qu'il croit au boycott artistique ? (une journaliste israélienne). Non, pas du tout : "Je crois que l'art est le seul moyen de communiquer entre les hommes." La réincarnation ? (un journaliste illuminé)."Je ne suis pas un adepte de ce genre de croyance. Mais si par bonheur il m'arrivait de me réincarner, j'aimerais être le chien de ma fille." La crise qui rend les riches plus riches et les pauvres plus pauvres ? (un journaliste engagé). "Everybody knows." La mort ? (un journaliste pessimiste). "J'en suis arrivé au point où j'ai compris que j'allais mourir."

Cohen désamorce, Cohen badine, Cohen est sublime. Ses mots résonnent dans le salon des Aigles, la conférence de presse s'achève, l'Europe, déjà à genoux, se retrouve à plat ventre devant ce Canadien errant qui remercie ses invités avec une sincérité troublante (quand Cohen vous dit merci d'être venu, vous y croyez vraiment). Il enlève son chapeau, salue une dernière fois (en français) et disparaît derrière une porte.

C'est à ce moment que Robert Kory, son avocat, l'homme qui l'a remis sur scène et renfloué après que sa précédente manageuse l'eut arnaqué, m'invite à traverser le miroir pour une brève rencontre avec Cohen. Assis paisiblement sur un petit fauteuil, Cohen tripote une bague. A mon arrivée, il épelle lentement "I-N-R-O-C-K-U-P-T-I-B-L-E-S". Je lui demande, pour commencer, s'il songe encore à l'écriture d'un roman (il n'en a plus écrit depuis Les Perdants magnifiques, en 1966). "Je n'exclus pas cette possibilité. J'ai envie d'écrire, j'aime la vie sédentaire qui va avec l'écriture. Ce serait formidable d'y parvenir, peut-être vais-je y parvenir, je ne sais pas. En tout cas, vous me rappelez qu'on m'attend encore sur ce terrain-là, ce qui m'honore."

Sur Montréal, sa ville natale où il se rend de plus en plus souvent, Cohen joue encore le contre-pied. "Montréal est ma ville. J'y retourne toujours avec beaucoup de bonheur, c'est un des lieux où je puise mon inspiration. Mais c'est aussi un endroit où il est très difficile de trouver quelqu'un qui vous répare un chauffage au gaz. J'ai expérimenté ça cette année." Lorsque j'évoque Tom Waits, les yeux de Cohen s'illuminent. "Tom est un ami, un homme formidable. J'écoute ses disques très souvent, ils font partie de ma vie. Je suis heureux que ma musique puisse évoquer la sienne." Il cite aussi son ami poète Irving Layton, décédé en 2006, comme son inspiration fondamentale. "Je ne cesse de relire ses textes depuis sa disparition, il est une des sources de ce dernier disque." Cohen n'exclut pas une prochaine tournée. "Il faut que je trouve le carburant nécessaire. Ce sera peut-être du vin."

Et le rap dans tout ça ? Jay-Z fait-il partie de la vie de Leonard Cohen ? Il s'arrête, me fixe dans les yeux et, de sa voix inimitable, lance la punchlinemythique du patron du hip-hop mondial : "I got 99 problems/ But a bitch ain't one" ("J'ai 99 problèmes/Mais une pute n'en est pas un"). Leonard Cohen a 77 ans. Notre brève interview s'arrête sur ce K.O. technique d'une incroyable douceur, il en promet une plus longue, un jour peut- être : "Je suis encore jeune, nous avons le temps."

Il salue poliment, je m'éclipse, rasséréné pour les six mois à venir : une rencontre avec lui équivaut à la prise de six anxiolytiques et vous ajoute trois ans d'espérance de vie. Puis sa voix résonne à nouveau. "Jeune homme, vous avez oublié quelque chose." Leonard Cohen tient mon magnétophone à la main.

"Leonard Cohen: Eternal Contemporary"

Les in Rocks (France) by Pierre Siankowski, February 8, 2012

He is a young man of 77 years who cites Jay-Z in the text and a splendid new album comes out. Meeting with Leonard Cohen always zen. And critical listening.

It is in the living room of the Eagles Hotel de Crillon in Paris, Leonard Cohen has made an appointment to reporters of a Europe collapsed. They came from Denmark, Spain or even Portugal to play with him, under the coffered ceilings and ornaments in gold leaf, his new album Old Ideas. Two chairs were arranged face of criticism, as a reproduction of the album cover: Cohen photographed sitting in the garden of his home in Montreal, in black suit, with sunglasses and a hat identical to the one he sported during his last tour. The apparent relaxation of the man on the image contrast with the eagerness of the room.

Two Germans are seated at the left end of the first rank. A guy just ask them politely to leave the two remaining places, without really explaining why. Disciplined, the Germans run. I post the second highest, next to a Spanish doublet - a man and a woman. Finally, a door opens and Cohen entered under controlled applause. Jean-Luc Hees, head of Radio France, accompanies him. Cohen, hands in pockets, is almost like wearing on his album, sunglasses and less. He welcomed the journalists a few small nods, then speaks in a calm and deep. "I know that your chairs are not very comfortable, I hope you take until the end of listening. I chose not to settle in front of you, I think I could not bear the grimaces and grins that would demonstrate your disapproval. So I will sit with you", he says with a smile. More applause.

Few seconds before the music begins, Cohen moved with Jean-Luc Hees on one of two vacant chairs in the front row, facing his own photography. He crosses his hands between his legs, both feet flat on the floor, his head slightly tilted back, as if scrutinizing the ceiling. His eyes close slowly from the start of Going Home, the first song that begins with this confession: "I love to speak with Leonard / He's a sportsman and a shepherd / He's a lazy bastard / Living in a suit" ('J' like talking to Leonard / This is an athlete and a shepherd / It's a big lazy / Who lives in suit ").

I'm barely five feet of Cohen, and then that Old Ideas takes place, I do I can not help to dwell on his face - that will not budge an inch during playback, with the exception of a few movements of the glottis. While journalists are trying to bomb through this ordeal of discovering a disk with its author - small movements of the shoulders or head to the extent grin of satisfaction, compulsive note-taking, haggard calculated - Leonard Cohen seems to have indeed decided to disappear: the legendary politeness, certainly.

But the news of this latest album is more than excellent. Those who had stumbled on Dear Heather, released in 2005 and which marked perhaps the end of the couple "Bontempi-choir cousins" accompanying the Canadiens for ages (and is not totally absent from disk), may be immediately reassured by the banjo heard on Amen, the second title, and even gives his name to another song ( Banjo, therefore). Cohen's words are always so precise and haunting, carried by a voice increasingly cavernous (listen to Show Me the Place, sublime plea resting on a bed of strings, reminiscent of Tom Waits). The blues is present in places (The Darkness, of course, and the atmospheric Anyhow, that are linked), loves and also other statements (the folk absolutely Crazy to Love You, which seems straight out of Songs from a room, but Lullaby - which will lead both my Spanish neighbors to take control. Were they together before listening to Old Ideas I did not dare ask them).

What one loves- Above all, this is the genius with which Cohen facetious commander of his army alone, takes back his world on this record that many would have liked to see as his last (he is already working on new songs). No song record, will not cheap on Old Ideas , which is ultimately a volume of more (and very successful) of this fundamental "to live with manual defeat" (the words are from Going Home ) that Canadian meticulously prepares for his first poems. Leonard Cohen is alive, and it is with a certain force that rises from his chair like a kid after the new round of applause which marks the end of listening. He sits in front of his guests for the evening, greeted like a head of state (what singer would move the president of National Public Radio's partner to play tennis?) Listens to questions and answers with the patience of a peasant of the Danube.

Does he like flamenco? (A Spanish journalist). Yes, of course: "I play my guitar even when nobody is listening." Is it love fado? (A Portuguese journalist). Yes, of course: "When I had a few disks, I was listening to an album of looped Amália Rodrigues fascinated me literally." Does he believe in artistic boycott? (An Israeli journalist). No, not at all: "I think art is the only means of communication between men." Reincarnation? (Lit a journalist). "I'm not a fan of this kind of belief. But if by chance I happened to be reincarnated, I would be the dog of my daughter." The crisis that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer? (A committed journalist). "Everybody Knows." Death? (A pessimistic journalist). "I got to the point where I realized that I was dying."

Defuses Cohen, Cohen kids, Cohen is sublime. His words resonate in the living room of the Eagles, the press conference ended, Europe, already on its knees, finds himself groveling before the Canadien errant who thanks her guests with a disturbing sincerity (Cohen when you said thank you to coming, you truly believe). He removes his hat, greets once more (in French) and disappears behind a door.

That's when Robert Kory, his lawyer, the man who presented on stage and bailed after his previous manageuse the was scammed, invites me to go through the mirror for a brief meeting with Cohen. Sitting peacefully on a small chair, fiddling with a Cohen ring. When I arrived, he slowly spelled "INROCKUPTIBLES". I ask him to begin with, if still dream of writing a novel (he no longer writes for The Losers magnificent, in 1966). "I do not exclude this possibility. I feel like writing, I like the sedentary life that goes with writing. It would be great to do this, maybe I'll get there, I do not know. Anyway, you remind me that I am still waiting on that ground, which honors me."

In Montreal, his hometown where he goes more often, Cohen still plays against the foot- . "Montreal is my city. I keep going back with lots of happiness is one of the places where I draw my inspiration. But it is also a place where it is very difficult to find someone who repairs a gas heater. I experienced it this year. " When I mention Tom Waits, Cohen's eyes light up."Tom is a friend, a wonderful man. I listen to his records very often they are part of my life. I am glad that my music can evoke his own. " He also quotes his friend poet Irving Layton, died in 2006, as its fundamental inspiration. "I keep reading his books since his disappearance, he is one of the sources of the latter disk. " Cohen does not preclude a subsequent tour. "I must find the necessary fuel. This may be the wine. "

And the rap part? Jay-Z is it part of the life of Leonard Cohen? He stops, stares at me in the eye and, in his inimitable voice, launches the punchline of the legendary boss of hip-hop world: "I got 99 problems / But a bitch Is not one" ("I got 99 problems / But a bitch is not one"). Leonard Cohen is 77. Our brief interview stops on the TKO incredibly soft, it promises a longer, maybe one day: "I'm still young, we have time."

He politely greets, I eclipse serene for the six months to come: a meeting with him is equivalent to taking six anxiolytic and you add three years of life expectancy. Then his voice sounds again. "Young man, you forgot something." Leonard Cohen is my tape recorder in hand.

Additional Articles on the Paris promotional tour

"Notwendigkeit der Befreiung" by Christof Graf, Mannheimer Morgen (Germany), February 2, 2012. Photo by Bild/Christof Graf.

"'Es ist harte Arbeit'" by Christof Graf, Rheinpfalz (Germany), January 31, 2012. Photo by AFP.


"Leonard Cohen - Interview With Jarvis Cocker"

BBC 6 Music, interview by Jarvis Cocker, January 29, 2012

BBC Radio 6 Music - Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service: Sincerely, L. Cohen

29.01.12 Jarvis speaks exclusively to the legendary Leonard Cohen about song-writing, loves and life ahead of the release of 'Old Ideas' his 12th studio album. (May not be available in your area.)

"Leonard Cohen to Jarvis Cocker: 'I've always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel'"

NME (UK), January 18, 2012

The two songwriters were in conversation in London ahead of Cohen's 'Old Ideas' album release

Leonard Cohen discussed his 12th studio album, 'Old Ideas', tonight (January 18) in London, with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker ahead of the album's release on January 30.

In conversation with the Pulp frontman at The May Fair Hotel, Cohen stated of his songwriting: "I never had a strategy, I always felt I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get a song together... I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table, with a multitude of choices."

He continued, to laughs from the crowd: "There are people who work from a sense of great abundance, and I'd love to be one of them, but I'm not."

Jarvis Cocker then asked Cohen about his distinctive vocal style which he said, "seems to be getting even deeper", to which Cohen responded: "It's what happens when you give up cigarettes, contrary to public opinion... I thought my voice would rise a soprano... it's not going that direction." Later Cohen, who is 77, said: "I'll start smoking again when I'm 80, I'm looking forward to that."

When asked by Cocker how 'old' the ideas on 'Old Ideas' were, Cohen jokingly responded "about 2614 years old - some of them a little older, some fresher." Cocker then inquired about Cohen's songwriting notebooks and if he was scared of losing them, to which he said: "I live in deep fear of losing a notebook. I've lost a lot of them - there were some masterpieces."

'Old Ideas' is the legendary singer songwriter's first new offering since 2004's 'Dear Heather', and his 12th studio album since 1967. The album was produced by Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo and features backing vocals from Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters and longtime Cohen collaborator Jennifer Warnes.

"Leonard Cohen shows there's life in the old dog yet with launch of new album"

The Guardian (UK) by Alex Needham, January 18, 2012 (Photo by Alex Sturrock)

Songwriter on Old Ideas, his first album in eight years: 'This record invites one to be swept along, even if you have written it'

His detractors may sarcastically call him Laughing Len, but Leonard Cohen kept a roomful of journalists entertained on Wednesday night as he launched his first album in eight years.

"How is it for you to listen to your own records?" asked onstage interviewer Jarvis Cocker after the album, Old Ideas, had been played.

"I wasn't listening," said Cohen. He went on to say that he did keep an ear out to see whether he had "ratcheted it up to the right degree of excellence. But mostly I was wondering if I myself could be swept along with it. This particular record invites one to be swept along with it even if you happen to have written it yourself."

Cohen's tones have become even more sepulchral with age. "We have to mention the voice -- its seems to have got even deeper," said Cocker. "Do you think there's a bottom it can get to or can it go all the way?"

"It's what happens when you give up cigarettes, contrary to public opinion," he told Cocker. "I thought it would destroy my whole position and my voice would rise to a soprano." He joked that his aim is to take up smoking again at 80, so if he continues to tour, "I can smoke on the road".

Old Ideas proves that Cohen's long-term preoccupations with sex, death and salvation have endured. The inside cover features a drawing, by Cohen, of a naked woman and a skull.

The 77-year-old said that being a songwriter used to be popular with the opposite sex: "It was agreeable to have some kind of a reputation or some kind of list of credentials so you didn't have to start from scratch with every woman you walked into. Now it doesn't really matter one way or the other."

Cocker said that he had always been impressed with the "intimacy" of Cohen's work.

"You know, you just work with what you got," said Cohen, after a pause. "I always felt I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get the song together. I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table with a multitude of choices. I felt I was operating in more like what Yeats used to say was the 'foul rag and bone shop of the heart'."

He persistently rebuffed Cocker's attempts to decode his songwriting, warning him: "We've got to be careful analysing these sacred mechanics because somebody will throw a monkey wrench into the thing and neither of us will ever write a line again."

He said that songwriting involved "perseverance, perspiration, but also a certain kind of grace and illumination."

Cocker asked that as Cohen's publishing company was called Old Ideas, was it something he'd always wanted to call an album?

"You know, I don't have that many ideas," jousted Cohen.

"In another song, Come Healing, there's a line 'the penitential hymn' and it struck me that that could work as a label for a lot of your songs," Cocker persisted.

"I'm not sure what that means, to be honest," responded Cohen, to guffaws from the audience. "Is the penitence appropriate to God or to man? Who's to blame in this catastrophe? I never figured that out."

Cocker also asked about the song Banjo, which uses the image of an instrument floating in the sea. "The banjo can be a funny instrument," he said.

"It's hilarious," Cohen deadpanned, after a pregnant pause. "If it was a Stradivarius that wouldn't be so interesting." "The sea would be full of art dealers plunging in to rescue it," he concluded.

Cocker responded by asking Cohen if he realised 'banjo' was Sheffield slang for a sandwich, since the person eating it brushed crumbs off their jumper with a strumming gesture.

The Pulp frontman finished by asking how Cohen felt about being awarded the PEN New England award for literary excellence in song lyrics.

"The thing I liked about this award was that I'm sharing it with Chuck Berry," said Cohen. "'Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news' -- I'd like to write a line like that."

Once questions were opened to the floor, Cohen revealed that he is likely to tour after the album's release, despite fainting on stage after a bout of food poisoning in Spain two years ago. The singer said he had been "invigorated and illuminated" by his last tour, which took in 247 shows over two years to huge audiences and ecstatic reviews.

Before he'd started the tour, Cohen said, "I hadn't done anything for 15 years. I was like Ronald Reagan in his declining years. He remembered he'd had a good role -- he's played the president in a movie and I felt somewhat that I had been a singer. Being back on the road really re-established me as being a worker in the world and that was a very satisfactory feeling."

The tour had been prompted by Cohen's precarious financial situation. The singer sued his former manager for stealing £2.8m from his retirement fund while he was on a five-year retreat in a Zen Buddhist monastery. However, Cohen said: "When I finished the tour I didn't feel like stopping, so I wrote the record." He added that a further record and tour were likely.

When asked whether having two grandchildren made him think about his artistic legacy, Cohen said: "I cannot associate those little creatures with any larger idea such as a legacy. It's just a delight to be in the presence of this amazing expression of family destiny."

Last February, Cohen's daughter Lorca had a baby with Rufus Wainwright, but Cohen denied that a duet with Wainwright was on the cards. "He can keep a tune and that puts me at a disadvantage."

Cohen's first album was released in 1968. Cocker told Cohen that he found the rudimentary nature of his guitar playing "touching", despite Cohen long being self-deprecating about it. The singer said that critics in England had initially been mean about him: "They said I knew three chords when I knew five".

He also revealed that he would never have written his first novel, The Favourite Game, in 1959 without his landlady in Hampstead, London, where he lived, threatening to throw him out if he didn't write three pages a day.

When asked how a new song, Darkness, tallied with his famous line in the 1992 song Anthem that "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in," Cohen replied: "You've got me stumped there."

After some prompting from Cocker, he finally divulged: "It's just the song that allows the light to come in. It's the position of the man standing up in the face of something that is irrevocable and unyielding and singing about it. It's the position that the Greek Zorba had -- that when things get really bad, you just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig and that's about all you can do."

"Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas album: new gems from an old master"

The Telegraph (UK) by Bernadette McNulty, January 19, 2012

Leonard Cohen's new album Old Ideas is unexpected delight, says Bernadette McNulty.

Being invited to an exclusive first listen of an album at a record company playback is usually a poisoned chalice, especially if the musician themself will be present. While you sit in a windowless room, being bombarded by unfamiliar songs blaring at you at cinematic volumes, innate human politeness dictates that under the watch of the star and their publicists, you betray no opinion on your face but delight.

There was no need for such artifice though yesterday when Leonard Cohen arrived in London to unveil his latest album Old Ideas. Entering the Mayfair hotel like a genteel gangster in his trademark double-breasted dark charcoal suit, he politely doffed his fedora to the audience. "Don't worry," he said with a mischievous smirk before the music began, "I'm not going to sit facing you."

It set the tone perfectly for an album full of classic Cohen: poetic, philosophical and funny lyrics matched to sparse sinuous melodies and delicate harmonies, the effect of the eight new songs was almost magically hypnotic. Speaking to former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker afterwards, Cohen said, "I think this particular album invites you to be swept along with it."

After hundreds of cover versions the Canadian singer-songwriter affectionately known as Laughing Len is probably now best known for his serious epic Hallelujah and Old Ideas moves in those same waters of religious allegory and spiritual reckoning alongside intimate portrayals of love and relationships. More pointed though, seemed to be themes of ageing leavened with his trademark humour. Opening song 'Going Home' presented an acutely observed self - portrait, where Cohen slyly presented himself as "a sportsman and a shepherd... a lazy bastard/ Living in suit." If you were going to boil the album down to any maxim it would be 'make 'em laugh, make 'em cry.'

Although it would be unfair to describe Cohen as a lazy bastard. While the album comes eight years since his last major CD, Dear Heather, Cohen explained that he had never stopped writing, and that he produced work slowly because of his painful perfectionism, a trait that led him to originally write 80 verses for Halleluljah. "My trouble is that before I can discard a verse I have to polish it first. It takes a long time." He added," I never feel like I've stopped working. It might look to the marketplace that nothing is happening but the workshop has never shut down."

The results of such meticulous work on Old Ideas aren't overwrought though. If anything, there is a greater simplicity and directness to the album both thematically and musically, aided by the pop nous of Madonna producer Pat Leonard. What is most striking is Cohen's voice. At 77, the singer-songwriter is ageing elegantly in the flesh, his once Cubist-sharp aquiline face now smudged around his wide smile and flashing eyes. But on record, it was a shock to hear how low his voice had become. The Canadian's baritone has always been sonorous but now it has deepened to the kind of elemental, dark-wooded timbre you imagine God might have. Cocker funnily asked him if he thought there was a limit to how low his voice could go and Cohen said that when he gave up smoking he thought his voice "would rise to a soprano, but it had gone the other way."

The effect is intensified by the vocal being recorded so intimately that it feels as if Cohen is intoning right into your ear. And secondly surrounded by dreamy female choruses, delicately plucked guitars and lilting organ rhythms, his voice becomes an anchor in the depths of the song while the melodies bob gently like ships on a turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Cocker was the perfect host, enough of a reverential fan to know Cohen's work intimately, but funny enough to not be fawning. Even he couldn't draw Cohen into too much self-examination of his methods and motivations. "It's dangerous territory to look too deeply. You can end up in a state of paralysis."

But he did talk animatedly about how his last world tour has reinvigorated him. "I was like Ronald Regan in his declining years, who had a vague memory of playing a really great role of the president in a movie. I'd forgotten I was a singer so it felt good to feel like a worker in the world again." He tantalisingly suggested he would like to play live in the future, if only for the pleasure of taking up cigarettes again. "I said I would start smoking when I was 80 so at the rate that I am going, I could be smoking on the road again."

Whether he gets his wish or not, Old Ideas is an unexpected and precious gift of new gems from an old master.

"10 things we learned from Leonard Cohen being quizzed by Jarvis Cocker"

Q (UK), January 19, 2012

Last night (18 January) Leonard Cohen was quizzed by Jarvis Cocker at an event in London has he previewed his new album Old Ideas (released 30 January) before an invited audience. Q was there and here's what we learnt from the great men.

1. Leonard Cohen feels like he's barely scraping by
"You just work with what you got! I never had a strategy [for creating his sound]. I always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get the song together. A beginning, a middle and an end. I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a table with a multitude of choices... I was working in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. No sense of abundance at all, just trying to get it together. That's the feeling I have. There are people who are working with a great sense of abundance, I'd like to be one of those but I'm not. [laughs]"

2. Giving up smoking has made Leonard Cohen's voice deeper!
Jarvis: "We have to mention the voice, it seems to be getting even deeper. Do you think there's a bottom it can get to, or can it go on?"
Leonard: "It's what happens when you give up cigarettes contrary to public opinion. I thought I would destroy my whole position if I gave up smoking, my voice would rise to a soprano or at least go in that direction."

3. Cohen's on record personas have been handy in the romance department
"When I was interested in those matters it was agreeable to have some kind of reputation, some kind of credentials where you didn't have to start from scratch with every women you bumped into. Now it doesn't really matter one way or the other."

4. The ideas on new album Old Ideas are very old indeed
Jarvis: "How old are the Old Ideas."
Leonard: "From 1970 up to 2000, so 614 years old most of them. Some of them are a little older."
Jarvis: "Your publishing company is also called Old Ideas, have you always wanted to call an album that?"
Leonard: "I don't have many ideas [laughs]."

5. Leonard Cohen knows how to play six chords on guitar, not that he's always been given credit for that
"Journalists, especially English journalists are very cruel to me. They said I only knew three chords."

6. Cohen says he always struggles for ideas, which is why he gave his friend and producer Patrick Leonard access to his notebooks to help write songs for Old Ideas
"You always feel you're at the end of the line. I always find that there's no sense of abundance. I blank a lot of pages [in my notebooks], it is my work and I try to do it everyday, but most time one is discouraged by the work that you've done. Now and then something stands out and invites you to work on in and elaborate or animate it in some way. It's a mysterious process."

7. Not that he takes care of his notebooks too well
"I have a deep fear of losing notebooks. I've lost a lot of them. There were some masterpieces there."

8. Old Ideas is a record to get swept up in, even if Leonard Cohen says so himself
Jarvis: "How was it to listen to your own record there?"
Leonard: "I wasn't listening."
Jarvis: "You did a good impression of someone listening."
Leonard: "I guess I'm testing it over and over again, and hoping it will find favour among listeners. Also listening from a technical point of view to see if I've ratcheted it up to exactly the right degree of excellence. The critical faculties were engaged but mostly I was wondering if I myself could be swept along with it. I think this record invites you to be swept along, even if you have written it yourself."

9. Interviewing Leonard Cohen in front of an audience was good karma for Jarvis he made a long-over due apology for plagiarism.
Jarvis: "I'm sure like a lot of people in this room, I've been listening to the music of Leonard Cohen for a long time and - now what's the clever phrase? - it's provided me with education, inspiration and information about the world. In fact so much that when I started a group back in the 80s, the first album I ever released called It is a blatant rip off of Leonard's earlier work. I apologise for that."

10. Leonard Cohen is jealous of Chuck Berry
"The thing I liked about it is, I'm sharing this award [PEN New England's prize for Lyrics Of Literary Excellence] with Chuck Berry. Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news, I'd like to write a line like that too. I'm looking forward to meeting Chuck Berry."

"Leonard Cohen's difficult compositions"

MusicRooms (UK), January 19, 2012

Leonard Cohen feels like he's "scraping the bottom of the barrel" when writing songs.

'The Stranger Song' singer is preparing to release his 12th album, 'Old Ideas', and admitted he finds the process of writing songs difficult and time consuming.

He said: "I never had a strategy, I always felt I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get a song together. I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table, with a multitude of choices.

"There are people who work from a sense of great abundance, and I'd love to be one of them, but I'm not."

77-year-old Leonard -- who reportedly took around a year to write his track 'Hallelujah' -- also told how he worries about losing the notebooks which he plans his compositions in.

He added: "I live in deep fear of losing a notebook. I've lost a lot of them -- there were some masterpieces."

The legendarily low-voiced crooner also said his voice is actually got deeper since he gave up smoking, the opposite of what he thought it would.

He joked: "It's what happens when you give up cigarettes, contrary to public opinion. I thought my voice would rise a soprano. It's not going that direction.

"I'll start smoking again when I'm 80, I'm looking forward to that."

"The wisdom of Leonard Cohen"

GQ (UK) by Kevin Perry, January 19, 2012

"We've got to be very careful, exploring these sacred mechanics. Someone will throw a monkey wrench into the thing, and we'll never write another line..." Leonard Cohen cracked a smile even as he ducked Jarvis Cocker's questions like a veteran prize fighter last night at a special playback of his twelfth studio album Old Ideas. The elegant pair were sat in the basement of a Mayfair hotel, in front of what looked like every BBC arts critic and broadsheet music writer in the country but Cohen seemed mindful that pulling apart poetry, like dissecting a frog, has a tendency to kill it. Regardless, this new record from the 77 year-old stands up to even the most forensic examination. It's a masterfully crafted record that feels like the return of old truths and forgotten melodies. "I think this particular record invites one to be swept along with it," he remarked, "even if you happen to have written it yourself." One of the pre-eminent songwriters of the Twentieth Century, when Cohen moved to New York to become a singer in 1966, he told fellow songwriter Jackson Browne that although he loved Bob Dylan, "Dylan wrote really long lines, and I want to write really short lines." In conversation he now shies away from the "mysterious and dangerous territory" of such technical scrutiny, and as he once told an interviewer, "I never discuss my mistresses or my tailors". Nevertheless he had plenty of field notes to pass on from his years of labour in the tower of song.

Leonard Cohen on....

Being perceived as depressing

"It's the song that allows the light to come in. It's the position of the man standing up in the face of something that is irrevocable and unyielding... and singing about it. It's the position that the Greek Zorba had. When things get really bad, just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That's about all you can do."

The death of a ladies' man
"Back then it was agreeable to have some kind of a reputation or some kind of list of credentials so you didn't have to start from scratch with every woman you walked into. Now it doesn't really matter one way or the other."

His voice getting still deeper
"It's what happens when you give up cigarettes, contrary to public opinion. I thought it would destroy my whole position and my voice would rise to a soprano."

His technical ability
"Journalists, especially English journalists, were very cruel to me. They said I only knew three chords when I knew five!"

The invigorating effects of a sell-out world tour
"I'd kinda forgotten. I hadn't done anything for 15 years. I was sort of like Ronald Reagan. In his declining years he remembered he'd had a good role. He'd played the role of a President in a movie. I kind of felt that somewhere I'd been a singer. Being back on the road re-established me as a worker in the world, and that was a very satisfactory feeling."

The possibility of touring again
"I decided that I'll start smoking again when I'm 80. I'll be 78 this year, so if I go out on tour for a couple of years I'll be able to start smoking on the road. I'm looking forward to that, so it is a possibility."

Rock'n'roll lyricism
"The thing I liked about [the PEN New England award for literary excellence in song lyrics] was that I'm sharing it with Chuck Berry. "Roll over Beethoven / Tell Tchaikovsky the news"... I'd like to write a line like that."

The benevolent dictatorship of London landladies
"I lived at the corner of Gayton Road and Hampstead High Street in 1959. I lived with my landlady, Mrs Stella Pullman. I had a bed in the sitting room and I had some jobs to do, like bringing up the coal to start the fire every morning. She said to me, 'What do you do in life?' and I said 'I'm a writer.' She said, 'How much do you write?' and I said, 'Three pages a day.' She said, 'I'm going to check at the end of every day. If you haven't written your three pages and you don't bring up the coal, you can't stay here.' She did that, Stella Pullman, and it was under her fierce and compassionate surveillance that I wrote my first novel, The Favourite Game."

Drinking from the well of inspiration
"I never had a strategy. I always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get a song together. I never had the sense of standing in front of a buffet table with a multitude of choices. It's more like what Yeats used to say, working 'in the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart'. You always feel like you're at the end of the line. There's no sense of abundance but I blacken a lot of pages. It is my work and I try to do it every day. Most of the time one is discouraged by the work, but now and again by some grace something stands out and invites you to work on it, to elaborate it or animate it in some way. It's a mysterious process. This place is filled with writers, and we all know that the activity depends not just on perseverance and perspiration, but also a certain kind of grace and illumination. We depend on that."

Failing better
"I wrote "Hallelujah" over the space of at least four years, I wrote many, many verses. I don't know if it was eighty, maybe more or a little less. The trouble... my trouble... it's not the world's trouble, and it's a tiny trouble, I don't want you to think that this is a significant trouble. My tiny trouble is that before I can discard a verse, I have to write it. I have to work on it, and I have to polish it and bring it to as close to finished as I can. It's only then that I can discard it, so the process takes a long, long time. I can work on a verse for a long, long time before I understand that it isn't any good, but I can't discard it before it's finished."

The advice he'd give to a young writer
"I'm reminded of the advice my old friend Irving Layton, who has passed away now but probably is the greatest Canadian poet that we've ever produced, and a very close friend. I would confide in him, and after I'd told him what I planned to do and what my deepest aspirations were, he'd always say to me, "Leonard, are you sure you're doing the wrong thing?""

"An Audience With Leonard Cohen"

Uncut (UK) by Allan Jones, January 19, 2012

The clock was ticking yesterday afternoon as we approached the final deadlines for the next issue of Uncut. But we were finished early enough for me to rush hot-foot across London to The May Fair hotel, near Hyde Park, where Leonard Cohen was due to present a playback of his new album, Old Ideas, to a specially invited audience.

I didn't know the hotel by name, but recognised it as soon as the cab pulled up outside. Many years ago, Neil Young had kept me waiting for an unseemly number of hours while he attended to some urgent business or other, our allocated interview time dwindling with every passing minute, not much of it left at all when I was finally summoned into his suite with an imperial indifference to how long I'd been cooling my heels and staring at the walls, quietly fuming.

There was no such slack time-keeping last night, things starting as promptly as promised with the appearance of Jarvis Cocker, here to first introduce Cohen and then, following the album's playback, interview him. Cocker fair bounded into the room, carrying a large tub of popcorn and a carrier bag, and looking with his beard and corduroy jacket and slacks like a lecturer at a provincial art school in about 1972 or someone about to present an Open University programme on town planning and traffic flow systems. He stood on a little podium, facing the audience, and was quickly joined by Cohen. At 78, the great songwriter appeared uncommonly dapper in an elegant suit and rakish trilby.

"Thanks, friends, so much for coming," he said, as we'd done him a favour by turning up. "I don't want to take up to much of your time," he went on, eager to get on with things. It turned out he would sit among the audience for the playback of his album, rather than retiring to some cloistered room. "I will not be facing you during the playback," he added reassuringly. "So you need not guard your expressions."

The album was duly played, accompanied by a series of slides, presumably part of the record's artwork, projected on a large screen. Typically sonorous opener "Going Home", for instance, plays against a backdrop of a self-portrait dated Sunday 7.30am, October 14, 2007. There's a scrawled note beneath the drawing that reads: 'Speak truth to power? Rather speak truth to the powerless.'

"How is to listen to your own records?" Cocker asked him after the album had been played.

"I wasn't listening," Cohen told him, smiling.

"You did a good impression," Cocker said, which prompted Cohen to admit that he had in fact been paying attention to the record, but only to confirm to himself that he had "ratcheted up to the right degree of excellence. But mostly I was wondering if I myself could be swept along with it. This particular record invites one to be swept along with it even if you happen to have written it yourself."

Cocker made some vague comments about the way in which Cohen had always framed his voice with arrangements that supported its limitations, which he thought had been clever on Cohen's part.

"I never had a strategy," Cohen explained. "I always felt I was kind of scraping the bottle of the barrel trying to get the songs together. I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table with a multitude of choices. I felt I was operating in what Yeats called 'the foul rag and bone shop of the heart'."

Cocker mentioned the deepening with age of Cohen's voice, which often on Old Ideas sounds like it's reaching us from the bottom of time.

"You work with what you have," Cohen shrugged, which got a laugh. "It's what happens when you stop smoking, contrary to public opinion. I thought my voice would rise to a soprano." He later mentioned he was looking forward to taking up smoking again when he was 80, and touring if for no better reason than it would give him an opportunity to "smoke on the road".

Cocker noted that the new album shared its title with the name of Cohen's song publishing company.

"I don't have that many ideas," Cohen deadpanned. "If I have a good one, I call everything after it."

Cocker pressed him to explain how he wrote, where his inspiration for songs came from. Cohen was unforthcoming, almost superstitiously guarded.

"It's my work and I try to do it every day," he said. "By some grace something invites you to work on it and illuminate it, but you can't own the source of inspiration. I think we should move on," he added a little uncomfortably, "or we'll end up in a state of paralysis. It's tough enough as it is."

Cocker wasn't to be put off and a little later returned to the same question. This time Cohen was a little more adamant.

"We really do have to be careful analysing these scared mechanics," he said, "because somebody will throw a monkey wrench into the thing and you'll never write another line."

Cocker was more specific. He referred to "Going Home" and a line that mentioned 'the penitential hymn', which Cocker thought somehow summed up much about Cohen's work.

"I'm not sure what that means," Cohen said, provoking more laughs. "is the penitence appropriate to God or to man? Who's to blame in this catastrophe? I never figured that out."

A song called "Banjo" opened with a startling image of the instrument afloat on an ocean. Had Cohen actually seen such a thing? "I don't know if I saw it," he replied. "I certainly imagined it."

Cohen was shortly to receive the PEN New England Award for literary excellence in song lyrics. He was excited that Chuck Berry would be a co-recipient.

"'Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news.' I'd like to write a line like that."

He talked elsewhere about how unexpected the response to his last tour had been, how the affection and acclaim that had come his way had invigorated him.

"I'm not insensitive to that kind of appreciation. And when the tour finished, I didn't feel like stopping. So I wrote this record. Before the tour, I hadn't done anything for 15 years. I was like Ronald Reagan in his declining years. He remembered he'd had a good role in a movie, as president. I felt somewhat that I had been a singer. Being back on the road re-established me as a worker in the world. That was a very satisfactory feeling.

There was a question from the audience about his thoughts on destiny and fate.

"I can trot out ideas to be cordial or convivial," he said. "But I really have no deep convictions, no worthwhile ideas."

Someone pointed out that it had been eight years since his last album, Dear Heather. Between albums, did he continue to write? "I'm always writing," he said. "There's never a sense of hiatus. I wrote a lot of songs on tour that I still have to record. In this workshop, it never shuts down."

Jarvis asked him about a song on the new album called "Darkness" and how it connected to 1992's "Anthem", in which he wrote: "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

"You got me stumped there," Cohen said, and laughed again.

Several people were now trying to get his attention, hoping he'd elaborate, which he finally did.

"It's just the song that allows the light to come in," he said. "It's the position of the man standing up in the face of something that is irrevocable and unyielding and singing about it. It's the position the Greek, Zorba, had. When things get really bad, you just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That's about all you can do."

See also Allan Jones's Editor's Diary: Leonard Cohen - London, June 1974

"Leonard Cohen: 'All I've got to put in a song is my own experience'"

The Guardian (UK) by Dorian Lynskey, January 19, 2012 (Photo by Darcy Hemley/Corbis Outline)

Sombre prophet, mordant wisecracker, repentant cad: Leonard Cohen is back with a great new album, Old Values [sic Ideas] - and more wit and wisdom

On Leonard Cohen's gruelling 1972 world tour, captured in Tony Palmer's documentary Bird on a Wire, an interviewer asked the singer to define success. Cohen, who at 37 knew a bit about failure and the kind of acclaim that doesn't pay the bills, frowned at the question and replied: "Success is survival."

By that reckoning, Cohen has been far more of a success than he could have predicted. There have been reversals of fortune along the way but 40 years later he enters an ornate room in Paris's fabled Crillon Hotel to a warm breeze of applause. Looking like a grandfatherly mobster, he doffs his hat and smiles graciously, just as he did every night of the 2008-10 world tour that represented a miraculous creative revival. The prickly, saturnine, dangerously funny character witnessed in Bird on a Wire has found a measure of calm and, as he often puts it, gratitude.

These days, Cohen rations his one-on-one interviews with the utmost austerity, hence this press conference to promote his 12th album, Old Ideas, a characteristically intimate reflection on love, death, suffering and forgiveness. After the playback he answers questions. He was always funnier than he was given credit for; now he has honed his deadpan to such perfection that every questioner becomes the straight man in a double act. Claudia from Portugal wants him to explain the humour behind his image as a lady's man. "Well, for me to be a lady's man at this point requires a great deal of humour," he replies. Steve from Denmark wonders what Cohen will be in his next life. "I don't really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I'd like to come back as my daughter's dog." Erik, also from Denmark, asks if he has come to terms with death. "I've come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that I am going to die," he responds. "So naturally those questions arise and are addressed. But, you know, I like to do it with a beat."

Cohen falls into the odd category of underrated legend. To his fans, including many songwriters, he is about as good as it gets, but he has never enjoyed a hit single or (outside his native Canada and, for some reason, Norway) a platinum album. He has said that a certain image of him has been "put into the computer": the womanising poet who sings songs of "melancholy and despair" enjoyed by those who wish they could be (or be with) womanising poets too. These days the database will also note that he wrote Hallelujah, a neglected song on a flop album that, via an unlikely alliance of Jeff Buckley, Shrek and The X Factor, eventually became a kind of modern hymn.

Its creator was born in Montreal on 21 September 1934, three months before Elvis Presley. When he first shopped his songs around New York, the ones that became 1967's Songs of Leonard Cohen, agents responded: "Aren't you a little old for this game?" By then he had already lost his father while very young, met Jack Kerouac, lived in a bohemian idyll on the Greek island of Hydra, visited Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion, and published two acclaimed novels and four volumes of poetry. In short, he had lived, and this gave his elaborate, enigmatic songs a grave authority to younger listeners who sensed that he was privy to mysteries that they could only guess at. He was neither the best singer, the best musician nor the best-looking man around, but he had the charisma and the words, and the eroticised intelligence. Perhaps because his style owed more to French chansonniers and Jewish cantors than American folk, he was always more loved in Europe than north America. An early write-up in folk gazette Sing Out! remarked: "No comparison can be drawn between Leonard Cohen and any other phenomenon."

Under interrogation he would explain certain details in his songs, such as whether his friend's wife Suzanne Vaillancourt really served him "tea and oranges" (kind of: she drank a brand of tea flavoured with orange peel) or whether Janis Joplin really gave him "head on the unmade bed" in the Chelsea Hotel (yes, but he later regretted his ungallant candour), but never their meanings.

He still resists explaining them and his relentlessly dry self-deprecation works as a very effective, very entertaining shield. Two nights after the Paris playback, Cohen appears at one in London, hosted by Jarvis Cocker. A fan since adolescence, Cocker keeps running up against Cohen's reluctance to delve too deeply into the "sacred mechanics" of songwriting, lest they stop working. Songs come painfully slowly to him and when he has a good idea he perseveres with it: Hallelujah took around two years and 80 potential verses. During the playback, a screen shows pages from his notebooks, full of scribbled amendments and discarded verses. "There are people who work out of a sense of great abundance," he says. "I'd love to be one of them but I'm not. You just work with what you've got."

Cohen's modest star began to wane with 1977's raucous Death of a Ladies' Man. In the studio a crazed Phil Spector held a gun to Cohen's head and the producer handled the songs just as roughly. Columbia Records mogul Walter Yetnikoff declined even to release 1984's Various Positions (the one with Hallelujah), reportedly explaining: "Look, Leonard, we know you're great, but we don't know if you're any good." But his next album, I'm Your Man, was both. Armed with synthesizers, acrid wit and a voice that now sounded like a seismic disturbance, he was reinvigorated just in time to enjoy an avalanche of praise from younger admirers including Nick Cave and the Pixies. But on songs such as First We Take Manhattan, Everybody Knows and The Future his depression took on geopolitical proportions. He told the journalist Mikal Gilmore: "There is no point in trying to forestall the apocalypse. The bomb has already gone off." In Paris someone asks him what he thinks about the current economic crisis and he replies simply: "Everybody Knows."

In 1993, resurgent and well-loved but in a dark frame of mind, Cohen disappeared from the public gaze. He spent the next six years in a monastery on Mount Baldy, California, studying with his old friend and Zen master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, whom he calls Roshi and who is now a resilient 104 years old. "This old teacher never speaks about religion," Cohen tells the Paris audience. "There's no dogma, there's no prayerful worship, there's no address to a deity. It's just a commitment to living in a community."

When he came down from the mountain his lifelong depression had finally lifted. "When I speak of depression," he says carefully, "I speak of a clinical depression that is the background of your entire life, a background of anguish and anxiety, a sense that nothing goes well, that pleasure is unavailable and all your strategies collapse. I'm happy to report that, by imperceptible degrees and by the grace of good teachers and good luck, that depression slowly dissolved and has never returned with the same ferocity that prevailed for most of my life." He thinks it might just be down to old age. "I read somewhere that as you grow older certain brain cells die that are associated with anxiety so it doesn't really matter how much you apply yourself to the disciplines. You're going to start feeling a lot better or a lot worse depending on the condition of your neurons."

Can it really be that simple? Can the mood of his classic songs really be explained by unfortunate brain chemistry? He recently told his biographer Sylvie Simmons that in everything he did, "I was just trying to beat the devil. Just trying to get on top of it." As well as Judaism and Zen Buddhism, he briefly flirted with Scientology. He has never married but has had several significant relationships, including Joni Mitchell, actor Rebecca De Mornay and the woman with whom he had two children in the early 70s, Suzanne Elrod (no, not that Suzanne). He was a serious drinker and smoker who experimented with different drugs. On his 1972 tour, as documented in Bird on a Wire, he christened his band The Army and they in turn dubbed him Captain Mandrax after his downer of choice.

In that film he appears fractious and exhausted: a "broken-down nightingale", addressing audiences with irritable humour. Yet on his comeback tour he looked profoundly grateful for every cheer or clap. "I was touched by the reception, yes," he says. "I remember we were playing in Ireland and the reception was so warm that tears came to my eyes and I thought, 'I can't be seen weeping at this point', then I turned around and saw the guitar player weeping."

The tour was partly triggered by financial necessity after his business manager siphoned off almost all of his savings. Was he reluctant to go on the road again? "I don't know if reluctance is the word but trepidation or nervousness. We rehearsed for a long, long time - longer than is reasonable. But one is never really certain." He hopes to play more concerts and to release another album in a year or so. He is already older than Johnny Cash was when he released his final album; soon he'll creatively outlive Frank Sinatra. On the back of one of his notebooks he has written: "Coming to the end of the book but not quite yet."

In Paris, after the press conference, I'm discreetly ushered into a back room for a rare interview alone with Cohen. Up close, he's a calming presence, old world courtesy mingled with Zen, and his smoke-blackened husk of a voice is as reassuring as a lullaby. I ask him if he wishes the long and painful process of writing his songs would come more easily.

"Well, you know, we're talking in a world where guys go down into the mines, chewing coca and spending all day in backbreaking labour. We're in a world where there's famine and hunger and people are dodging bullets and having their nails pulled out in dungeons so it's very hard for me to place any high value on the work that I do to write a song. Yeah, I work hard but compared to what?"

Does he learn anything from writing them? Does he work out ideas that way?

"I think you work out something. I wouldn't call them ideas. I think ideas are what you want to get rid of. I don't really like songs with ideas. They tend to become slogans. They tend to be on the right side of things: ecology or vegetarianism or antiwar. All these are wonderful ideas but I like to work on a song until those slogans, as wonderful as they are and as wholesome as the ideas they promote are, dissolve into deeper convictions of the heart. I never set out to write a didactic song. It's just my experience. All I've got to put in a song is my own experience."

In Going Home, the first song on Old Ideas, he mentions writing "a manual for living with defeat". Can a listener learn about life from his songs?

"Song operates on so many levels. It operates on the level you just spoke of where it addresses the heart in its ordeals and its defeats but it also is useful in getting the dishes done or cleaning the house. It's also useful as a background to courting."

Is a cover of Hallelujah a compliment he has grown tired of receiving?

"There's been a couple of times when other people have said can we have a moratorium please on Hallelujah? Must we have it at the end of every single drama and every single Idol? And once or twice I've felt maybe I should lend my voice to silencing it but on second thought no, I'm very happy that it's being sung."

Does he still define success as survival?

"Yeah," he smiles. "It's good enough for me."

He's your man Leonard Cohen's greatest albums

Songs of Leonard Cohen Columbia, 1967
Cohen resented John Simon's lush production but the songs, starting with Suzanne, are impeccable. Robert Altman memorably used three of them in his deconstructed western McCabe and Mrs Miller.

Songs From a Room Columbia, 1969
Stark and haunting in sound and theme, his second album took in war, revolution and Biblical sacrifice. Kris Kristofferson said he wanted the opening lines of Bird on the Wire on his gravestone.

Songs of Love and Hate Columbia, 1971
Cohen may be smiling on the record sleeve - but nowhere else. Depression and rage circle these viciously beautiful songs, including Famous Blue Raincoat and the goth-predicting Avalanche.

I'm Your Man Columbia, 1988
His self-produced creative rebirth, by turns funny and frightening. First We Take Manhattan is a terrorist's fever dream; the wry, reflective Tower of Song could be Cohen's theme tune.

The Essential Leonard Cohen Sony, 2002
This excellent anthology, spanning 1967-2002, contains all the classics but also sweeps up some highlights from his patchier albums. Hear his voice get ever lower.

Old Ideas Columbia, 2012
Cohen revisits some favourite roles - the repentant cad, the mordant wisecracker, the sombre prophet, the lost soul - in a voice that sounds as old as time.

"Abi Morgan, Leonard Cohen, Coriolanus"

BBC - Front Row Daily (UK) with Mark Lawson, January 19, 2012

With Mark Lawson, who hears from Leonard Cohen on the inspiration for his new disc; screenwriter Abi Morgan reflects on recent projects, including The Iron Lady and Birdsong; a review of Coriolanus starring Ralph Fiennes who also directs; Anthony Sher stars in the National Theatre's production of Travelling Light - Peter Kemp reviews.

Leonard Cohen portion begins at: 12:02.

Download and Listen to MP3

"Cohen's darkness lets the light in"

The Australian by Jane Cornwell, January 20, 2012

A DISEMBODIED baritone rolled around the screening room at the May Fair Hotel, in London on Wednesday night. "I caught the darkness, it was drinking from your cup," it rumbled over stately guitar-and-organ backing, the lyrics projected over line drawings of faces and watercolours of nudes and Montreal kitchens. "I said is this contagious? You said drink it up."

A hundred journalists sighed. Some sipped their wine, blackened their notebooks. Others rested their heads on the backs of the pink leather seats, their eyes closed as the music -- at once familiar and startling -- swirled around them. With the composer sitting, trilby tilted forward, in the front row, songs with titles such as Amen, Anyhow and Crazy to Love You felt especially profound.

Leonard Cohen means many things to many people. There are those for whom he's a sage, a mystic, a melancholic messiah. His gloomy but beautiful monotone ballads have soundtracked lives for decades, sometimes aiding depression, sometimes curing it.

For Wednesday's host Jarvis Cocker (who bounced on in dark-rimmed glasses clutching a box of popcorn) Cohen represented "education, inspiration and information about the world. My first band's record," he says, "was a blatant Leonard Cohen rip-off".

Old Ideas is Cohen's first album of new material since 2004's Dear Heather. With the Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, novelist and visual artist now pushing 78 years of age, it may well be his last. Sony Music has declared Old Ideas the most overtly spiritual of his records, what with its 10 songs addressing such existential quandaries as love and sexuality, loss and death, even the relationship to a transcendental being. It was no wonder we all came armed with questions. Cohen, we felt, would have all the answers.

"I love to speak with Leonard/ He's a sportsman and a shepherd./ He's a lazy bastard./ Living in a suit," run the lyrics to Going Home, the album's opener. Not the most flattering self-assessment, Cocker later suggests.

"It's a humorous take on a writer's conversation with himself," Cohen replies, shrugging off hidden meanings.

"Let's not examine the nature of images that seem to have their own validity," he says later. "If you look too deeply into things you get into a state of paralysis."

Given all this projection, a screening room is an appropriate venue for one of the press junkets of the year. The Belgian journalist next to me has several Cohen CDs in his bag -- including 1967's seminal The Songs of Leonard Cohen, with its brooding masterpieces Suzanne and So Long Marianne -- just in case the great man deigns to sign them.

The rest of us, including a preponderance of middle-aged men, are content simply to be here, listening to songs of experience sung by a man who has lived what he sings. And just maybe, we'll get to touch the hem of his garment.

This turns out to be his trademark black suit, which he's topped with his trademark black trilby.

"Thank you all for coming" he says as he ambles onstage, raising his hat and twinkling through the awed silence, aware of and bemused by his impact.

"I will not be facing you while you listen to this playback, so you don't have to guard your expressions," he says.

He and Cocker sit side-by-side, with the gangly Englishman a full head above him.

Cohen rarely gives interviews. Even when he dusted himself down after declaring himself bankrupt and embarked on an epic 250-date world tour between 2008 and 2010 (including sold-out dates in Australia, where he donated $200,000 to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal in the wake of Black Saturday), the face time he gave the media was minimal. The world got to know Cohen through his songs, two of which -- The Darkness and Lullaby -- appear on Old Ideas, which was produced in part by Cohen's girlfriend (or if you like, "my very dear friend"), singer Anjani Thomas, and features artwork (drawings and watercolours) by Cohen.

As befits an artist who has wrestled with depression, drawn freely from Jewish religious and cultural imagery and spent a few years living in a Zen Buddhist monastery -- oh, and who in 1984 wrote the hymn-like Hallelujah, which was subsequently covered by a host of singers including a 2009 X Factor winner ("I think it's a good song," Cohen once said, "but I think too many people sing it") -- Old Ideas is an intimate work.

"It draws you in, makes you pay attention," Cocker asserts.

"You just work with what you got," Cohen says. "I've never had a strategy. I operate in what Yeats called 'the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart'. I just pick it together. I don't work with a sense of great abundance. Now and then something invites you to animate it, which you try and do with grace and illumination."

The son of a Montreal clothing store merchant who died when the singer was nine, Cohen became especially interested in poetry at high school -- the work of Yeats and Federico Garcia Lorca in particular -- and had published two poetry books when barely out of his teens. Their work continues to resonate: "Yeats had a willingness to put his personal life on the line. He and Lorca I understood," says Cohen, who named his now 36-year-old daughter after the Spanish poet (last February Lorca Cohen gave birth to a baby girl fathered by singer Rufus Wainwright, who is co-parenting with his partner, "deputy dad" Jorn Weisbrodt). His son Adam Cohen, 40, is also a musician.

"I didn't get Shakespeare at all," he adds. "You had to work too hard to penetrate the lines."

His own creative process is, by his own account, a little arduous. "My tiny trouble -- and can I just say tiny in comparison to all the troubles in the world -- is that before I can discard anything I have to write it and polish it and finish it. Only then can I throw it away. I wrote a lot of songs on the last tour." He pauses and sighs. "I would confide in my friend Irving Layton, the finest poet Canada has ever produced, and I'd tell him what my aspirations were and what I was trying to do and he'd say 'Leonard, are you sure you're doing the wrong thing?"'

He might tour to promote Old Ideas. Then again, he might not. "I've decided that I'll start smoking again when I'm 80, so if I go on tour I could start smoking on the road. I'd be looking forward to that."

In the meantime there's the inevitable five-star-album reviews to read and accolades to collect, including next month's first annual PEN New England Award for Songs of Literary Excellence -- a gong Cohen is sharing with Chuck Berry.

"Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news." Cohen shakes his head. "I would love to have written that line."

For all the heavy-hearted lamenting of Old Ideas, for all its mix of sacred and profane, of heartbreak and suffering and darkness, there are chinks of light. "Just written down on paper, lines such as 'I got no future/ I know my days are few/ I thought the past would last me/ but the darkness got there too,' could be said to be depressing," Cocker ventures, his understatement prompting a ripple of laughter. "But surely there's a dark humour there, daring you to laugh at it."

"I'll buy that," Cohen replies good-naturedly. "It's just the song that allows the light to come in. It's the position of the man standing up in the face of something that is irrevocable and unyielding and singing about it.

"It's the sort of position Zorba the Greek took: that when things get really bad you raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig and just get on with it."

Old Ideas will be released on February 3 through Sony Music.


"Leonard Cohen: «Escucho siempre a Enrique Morente»"

ABC (Spain) by Borja Bergareche, January 20, 2012

El canadiense y reciente Premio Príncipe de Asturias publica, el 31 de enero, «Old Ideas»

Leonard Cohen cumplirá 78 años en septiembre. Su última gira duró tres años y dio 247 conciertos que le conectaron con toda una nueva generación de seguidores, incluida una memorable sesión de tres horas en Baracaldo (Vizcaya) que le hizo desplomarse dos días después en su actuación en Valencia. Dejó de fumar, pero se ha propuesto recuperar el vicio a los 80.

Así que en 2014 espera estar en la carretera con su último disco, «Old Ideas», que ABC ha escuchado en primicia esta semana en Londres. Ver entrar a un menguante Leonard Cohen en el pequeño auditorio del Mayfair Hotel, rapado y ataviado con su característico sombrero negro y traje de rayas oscuro, puede engañar a los sentidos. Su porte es ligero, como si quisiera pasar por la vida haciendo el menor ruido posible. Su actitud es humilde.

Atento siempre con cada uno de los periodistas reunidos para escuchar con él su nuevo trabajo, el primero desde que publicó «Dear Heather» hace ocho años. «No os preocupéis, voy a mirar al escenario como vosotros, así que no veré vuestras caras», dice antes de la audición. Pero llena la escena sin quererlo con su aura de contornos afables y su sentido del humor ilustrado.

«Old Ideas», producido por Pat Leonard (colaborador de Pink Floyd o Madonna) sintetiza el mejor Cohen en diez canciones en las que ha subido el volumen espiritual de sus letras, con una voz en ocasiones más grave y desnuda que nunca. «En contra de lo que cree la gente, es lo que ocurre cuando dejas de fumar. Pensé que iba a arruinar mi reputación y que mi voz se convertiría en soprano», explica. «Pero me he propuesto volver a fumar a los 80».

Su último disco es quizás la mejor muestra del Cohen orfebre de las palabras y los susurros de amor, y en su edición española incluye un libreto con sus letras adaptadas por Joaquín Sabina. «Sé que nunca me amaste, pero por qué no me quieres un poco de todas formas», dice en «Anyhow». Incluye, además, impresionantes letanías de rabia religiosa como «Amen», de más de siete minutos, una larga oración «para cuando esté limpio y sobrio» en la que pide a Dios que le avise «cuando las víctimas estén cantando, cuando las leyes del remordimiento hayan sido restauradas».

En «Come Healing», Cohen eleva un «himno penitencial» cuyo destinatario discute. «¿Para quién es apropiada la penitencia, para Dios o para el hombre? ¿Quién es culpable de esta catástrofe?», se pregunta. Pero se detiene cuando Jarvis Cocker, cantante de Pulp, le intenta adentrar en la charla en terrenos espirituales. «Debemos tener mucho cuidado con esto de las mecánicas sagradas, no quiero que me ocurra nada que me impida escribir», afirma con su sempiterna sonrisa en la boca.

El disco incluye un espectacular blues de tonos oscuros, «Darkness», con gotas de autorretrato irónico, como todo el disco --«No tengo futuro, sé que me quedan pocos días»--. En «Crazy to love you» toca la guitarra el propio Cohen, siempre tímido en cuanto a sus dotes en un arte que, como explicó en la ceremonia de entrega del Premio Príncipe de Asturias, aprendió de un flamenco que encontró en las calles de Montreal. Y se cierra con «Different sides», un tema «coheniano» puro, con el piano y teclados muy presentes en el disco, y el ritmo jovial de domingo soleado de clásicos suyos como «Don't go home with a hard on».

Un disco fruto de versos compuestos disciplinadamente en estos años de trabajo en sus cuadernos negros. «Vivo con el miedo permanente de perderlos, he perdido muchos, algunos con obras maestras...», dice, volviendo siempre a la ironía sin pretensiones presente en otro de sus autorretratos en el disco: «Soy un capullo perezoso que vive en un traje».

Artesano de la música

Cohen es, en realidad, un afanado artesano de la música, envidioso de artistas que trabajan «en un clima de abundancia». «Siempre me he sentido como rascando el fondo de un barril cada vez que compongo una canción», asegura. Y se muestra reverencial con sus fuentes de inspiración, como cuando confirma su «relación íntima con Lorca desde los 15 años, cuando encontré un libro suyo en una librería de segunda mano en Montreal».

A pregunta de ABC, afirma escuchar «mucho a Duquende, y siempre a Enrique Morente». Musas españolas de un poeta humilde que confirma con este disco el estado de gracia creativa que recuperó con su gira mundial de 2008 a 2011. «Tuvo un efecto muy energético para mí, antes de aquello no había hecho nada en quince años, me sentía como Ronald Reagan en su declive, que solo recordaba haber jugado el papel de presidente en alguna película», confiesa.

"Leonard Cohen: 'I always hear Enrique Morente'"

ABC (Spain) by Borja Bergareche, January 20, 2012

The recent Canadian and Prince of Asturias Award published on 31 January, 'Old Ideas'

Leonard Cohen will meet in September 78 years. Their last tour lasted three years and gave 247 concerts that connect you to a whole new generation of fans, including a memorable three-hour session in Baracaldo (Vizcaya) who made ??two days after collapsing on his performance in Valencia. He quit smoking, but it has been proposed to recover the service 80.

So in 2014 expects to be on the road with his latest album, "Old Ideas" , which has been heard on ABC premiere in London this week. View waning enter a Leonard Cohen in the small auditorium of the Mayfair Hotel, shaved and dressed in his trademark black hat and dark pinstripe suit, you can fool the senses. His demeanor is light, as if to go through life with as little noise as possible. His attitude is humble.

Always attentive to each of journalists gathered to hear him his new job, the first since he published "Dear Heather" eight years ago. "Do not worry, I will look on stage as you, so do not see your faces", said before the hearing. But unwittingly filled the scene with its aura of gentle contours and sense of humor illustrated.

"Old ideas" produced by Pat Leonard (Pink Floyd collaborator or Madonna) Cohen synthesizes the best ten songs that spirit has turned up the volume of his lyrics, his voice serious and sometimes more naked than ever. "Contrary to what people believe, is what happens when you stop smoking. I thought it would ruin my reputation and my voice become soprano," he explains. "But I plan to return to smoking at 80".

His latest album is perhaps the best example of goldsmith Cohen and whispers words of love, and its Spanish edition includes a booklet with the lyrics adapted by Joaquin Sabina. "I know you never loved me, but I do not want some anyway," says "Anyhow". It also includes impressive litany of religious rage as "Amen" over seven minutes, a long prayer "for when you're clean and sober" in asking God to let you know "when the victims are singing, when the laws of remorse have been restored."

In "Healing Come," Cohen raises a "penitential hymn" which discusses recipient." Who is appropriate penance for God or man? Who is to blame for this catastrophe?" he asks. But stops when Jarvis Cocker, Pulp singer, he tries to delve into the spiritual realm chat. "We must be careful with that of the mechanical sacred, I do not want anything happen to prevent me from writing," he says with his everlasting smile on your face.

The disc includes a stunning dark-toned blues, "Darkness", with drops of ironic self-portrait, as the whole album - "I have no future, I know I left a few days'-. In "Crazy to Love You" plays guitar Cohen himself, always shy about his talents in an art which, as explained in the ceremony of the Prince of Asturias Prize, learned of a flamingo that found on the streets of Montreal. And he closes with "Different Sides" a subject "coheniano" pure, with the piano and keyboards very much on the disc, and the jovial rhythm sunny Sunday as his classic "Do not go Home with a hard on".

A hard fruit of a disciplined verses composed in these years of work in their black books. "I live in constant fear of losing them, I lost many, some masterpieces ...», says, returning to this unpretentious irony in another of his self-portraits in the album: "I am a lazy asshole who lives in a suit".

Artisan of music

Cohen is in fact an avid craftsman of music, envious of artists who work "in an atmosphere of abundance." "I've always felt like scraping the bottom of the barrel every time you compose a song" he says. And he is reverential to their sources of inspiration, as when he confirms his "intimate relationship with Lorca since I was 15 when I found one of his books in a secondhand bookstore in Montreal."

A question from ABC says listen "much to Duquende, Enrique Morente and always." Spanish Muses humble a poet with this record confirms the state of grace recovered creative world tour from 2008 to 2011. "He had a very energetic to me before that he had done nothing for fifteen years, I felt like Ronald Reagan in his decline, just remember having played the role of president in a movie," he confesses.


"Leonard Cohen napokon pjeva blues"

Vjesnik (Crotia) by Hina/AFP, January 20, 2012

»Old Ideas« sadrzi deset pjesama kojima se legendarni pjevac vraca »ogoljelom« glazbenom stilu, ali u kojima se nastavlja baviti svojim omiljenim temama - dubljim pitanjima ljudskog postojanja, odnosom s »višim« bicem, ljubavlju, seksualnošcu, gubitkom i smrcu

Sa 77 godina i 45 godina karijere, Leonard Cohen napokon je osjetio da mu je »dopušteno pjevati blues«, izjavio je legendarni kantautor predstavljajuci francuskoj i svjetskoj javnosti svoj novi album »Old Ideas« na tiskovnoj konferenciji u Parizu.

»Old Ideas« prvi je Cohenov album nakon osam godina. Sluzbeno izlazi 30. sijecnja, a dosad su s njega objavljena prva dva singla.

»Old Ideas« sadrzi deset pjesama kojima se Leonard Cohen vraca »ogoljelom« glazbenom stilu, ali u kojima se taj kantautor, glazbenik, pjesnik i romanopisac nastavlja baviti svojim omiljenim temama - dubljim pitanjima ljudskog postojanja, odnosom s »višim« bicem, ljubavlju, seksualnošcu, gubitkom i smrcu.

Neke skladbe izvedene su u pratnji bendza i gitare, imaju blues ozracje i podsjecaju da se Leonard Cohen pokušao dokazati u Nashvilleu kad se na svojim pocecima zanimao za folk scenu Greenweich Villagea.

»Uvijek sam volio blues, njegovu glazbenu strukturu. Ali sam uvijek imao dojam da ga nemam pravo pjevati«, kazao je u Parizu. »Sada sam dobio to pravo, ne znam od koga. Osjetio sam da mi je dopušteno koristiti taj oblik i puno pjesama mi je došlo na taj nacin.. Sada imam dopuštenje pjevati blues«, rekao je.

Cohen je predvidio da bi njegov blues album mogao dobiti i nastavak. »Imam puno nedovršenih elemenata. Dovoljno za novi album na kojem radim. Dakle, ako Bog da, moci cu završiti još jedan album za otprilike godinu dana«.

Odgovarajuci na novinarska pitanja Cohen je pokazao i svoj dobro poznati smisao za humor i ironiju. Na upit zašto mu je smrt tako cest motiv, odgovorio je: »Došao sam, teška srca, do zakljucka da cu umrijeti. A to me natjeralo na razmišljanje«. Drugome je na pitanje kako bi se zelio reinkarnirati rekao: »Kao pas moje kceri«.

Prisiljen na povratak na scenu teškim financijskim problemima, Leonard Cohen je od 2008. do konca 2010. proputovao svijet na koncertnoj turneji. U europskom dijelu turneje prva mu je postaja bio Zagreb, 25. srpnja 2010.

Rekao je da mogucnost nove turneje »postoji u njegovoj glavi«, iako naglasivši kako ništa nije sigurno.

"Leonard Cohen finally sings the blues"

Vjesnik (Crotia) by Hina/AFP, January 20, 2012

"Old Ideas" contains ten songs by legendary singer returned to "bare" musical style, but which continues to engage in their favorite subjects - the deeper questions of human existence, relationship with the "higher" self, love, sexuality, loss and death

With 77 years and 45 years of his career, Leonard Cohen has finally felt that he was "allowed to sing the blues," said the legendary singer-songwriter, presenting the French and international public their new album "Old Ideas" at a press conference in Paris.

"Old Ideas" is Cohen's first album in eight years. Officially released 30th January, a date with him, published the first two singles.

"Old Ideas" contains ten songs by Leonard Cohen returns to "bare" musical style, but in which the singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist continues to engage in their favorite subjects - the deeper questions of human existence, relationship with the "higher" self, love, sexuality, loss and death.

Some songs were performed, accompanied by banjo and guitar, with blues and atmosphere reminiscent of the Leonard Cohen tried to prove in Nashville when the beginnings of his interest in the folk scene Greenweich Village.

"I've always loved the blues, its musical structure. But I always had the impression that you have no right to sing, "he said in Paris. "Now I got it right, I do not know by whom. I felt that I was allowed to use this form, and a lot of songs I came in this way .. Now I have permission to sing the blues," he said.

Cohen predicted that his blues album could get the extension. "I have a lot of unfinished items. Enough for the new album where I work. So, God willing, I will be able to finish another album for about a year."

Responding to reporters' questions, and Cohen demonstrated his well-known sense of humor and irony. When asked why his death is so common a motive, he replied: "I came, a heavy heart, to the conclusion that I would die. And it forced me to think." Second is the question that would like to reincarnate said: "As a dog of my daughters."

Forced to return to the scene of severe financial problems, Leonard Cohen since 2008. the end of 2010. traveled the world on concert tour. In the European part of his first tour stop was Zagreb, 25 July 2010.

He said that the possibility of a new tour, "there is in his head," although stressing that nothing is certain.

"Leonard Cohen, Jarvis Cocker, and an Audience at London's May Fair Hotel"

Consequence of Sound by Tony Hardy, January 20, 2012 (Photography courtesy of Sony)

The grand master of bedroom angst was in London Wednesday night to preview Old Ideas, his first album in seven years, to a group of uncommonly awestruck journalists and industry. From the reverential way Leonard Cohen was greeted it seemed the evening would be as celebratory as revealing. At 77, he shows scant signs of slowing down. Maybe this is because Cohen could scarcely decelerate much more, such is his languid pace and ready panache.

"The lazy bastard living in a suit," to quote opening track "Going Home", appeared dapper in dark grey with trilby pulled down over his brow, occasionally lifted to reveal a carpet of closely cropped grey hair. His trim frame and still handsome profile belies his years, similarly remaining mentally sharp. With Cohen taking a front seat by guest interviewer, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, the 10 songs from Old Ideas were replayed to a screen backdrop of song lyrics alongside a collage of Cohen's scribbled notebooks and drawings. The inside cover of Old Ideas, housing his sketch of a naked woman and skull, suggests that his enduring concerns with sex, mortality and redemption remain. On screen, the words crystallized; words, almost always poetic yet allusive as ever, while the music just ebbed and flowed around them.

Albums deserve more than a single listen for impressions to form fully but the attention and applause engendered spoke volumes. In the dialogue that followed, Cocker bravely attempted to tease secrets of the songwriter's art from Cohen, who largely was having none of it. The sparring was nonetheless fascinating with Cocker doggedly dangling the bait and Cohen constantly eluding the line. I mean where do you go when the response to "How is it for you to listen to your own records?" was "I wasn't listening." Though he added postscripts to questions, the skill Cohen used to deflect some all too earnest inquiries was a delight. It's his version of Hamlet's antic disposition you could say; his method in madness. Asked about his deepening vocal timbre, he perversely put it down to giving up cigarettes. "I thought it would destroy my whole position and my voice would rise to a soprano." He vowed to take up the habit again on reaching 80, just so he could smoke on the road!

The wit in Cohen's responses had a dose of realism too; whereas fame as a songwriter once carried much credence with the opposite sex "now it doesn't really matter one way or the other." Cohen declared a love of poetry early on, especially that of Yeats whom he said "had a willingness to put his personal life on the line," and the Spanish writer, Federico Garcia Lorca, after whom he named his daughter. Judging by the notebooks on screen during the album playback, you might expect Cohen to be a prolific ideas generator. Yet he claimed the opposite in that "you just work with what you got... I always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get a song together. I never had the sense I was standing in front of a buffet table with a multitude of choices."

Cohen wouldn't be drawn on hidden meanings. "Let's not examine the nature of images that seem to have their own validity. If you look too deeply into things you get into a state of paralysis." Throughout, Cohen appeared reluctant to dissect his work in front of a bunch of critics and fell back on logic as well as humor to deflect things, putting a metaphorical arm around Cocker, his fellow songwriter. "We've got to be very careful analysing these sacred mechanics because somebody will throw a monkey wrench into the thing and we'll never write a line again." He added that "now and then something invites you to animate it, which you try and do with grace and illumination."

Cocker asked about the album title, Old Ideas, and the gestation of the record. "You know, I don't have that many ideas," Cohen batted back. The sacred and the carnal may be bedfellows in Cohen's work but the songwriter would not say whether it was God or man who should be the penitent one. He added: "I never figured that one out." Cohen was more prosaic when acknowledging the PEN New England award for literary excellence in song lyrics. "The thing I liked about this award was that I'm sharing it with Chuck Berry. Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news. I'd have loved to have written that line."

Questions from the floor followed. Recalling his last tour, a 247-date marathon over two years following a 15 year break, the artist claimed the experience invigorated and illuminated him. Wryly he compared himself to a latter days Ronald Reagan: "he remembered he'd had a good role. He'd played the president in a movie and I felt somewhat that I had been a singer." Being back on the road though redeemed this self put-down. He coyly played down the possibility of a duet with Rufus Wainwright (father of a Cohen grandchild): "he can keep a tune and that puts me at a disadvantage."

Perhaps the most precious moment arrived when Cohen was asked where the light came into "The Darkness", quoting that enigmatic line from 1992 song, "Anthem": "there is a crack in everything/that's how the light gets in." "You got me stumped there" was Cohen's droll retort. Cocker stepped in and prompted Cohen to open up. "It's just the song that allows the light to come in. It's the position of the man standing up in the face of something that is irrevocable and unyielding and singing about it. It's the sort of position Zorba the Greek took; that when things get really bad, you just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig and that's about all you can do."

Maybe it really is that simple and there's no need to break into discussion groups to pull apart lyrics once Old Ideas hits the streets.

"'I never had a strategy': Leonard Cohen launches new album"

Drowned in Sound by James Atherton, January 20, 2012

Leonard Cohen was in fine form on Wednesday night when he chatted with Jarvis Cocker in front of a theatre crammed full of what seemed like every music and cultural editor going.

The singer and song writing legend was met warmly by the audience, giving brief thanks and then settling into the playback of Old Ideas, his first new release in eight years, with each song accompanied by projections of lyrics, sketches and Cohen's handwritten notes on the screen.

Following the playback, Jarvis declared with typical verve that his first ever record was a blatant rip-off of Cohen. Many of the Pulp frontman's subsequent questions were directed at Cohen's writing process, with the results offering intriguing yet carefully guarded insights: "I never had a strategy, I always felt I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get a song together... I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table, with a multitude of choices." After allowing for some laughter from the crowed, Cohen paused and continued dryly: "There are people who work from a sense of great abundance, and I'd love to be one of them, but I'm not."

Insights were also offered into the recording process - the album was recorded in Cohen's 'backyard studio' mainly using local musicians from L.A., along with an appearance from The Webb sisters who were with him on the last 247 date gruelling world tour. For those anxious to grab a chance to see the man in the flesh, on replying to a question regarding the chances of this record being toured, Cohen seemed keen: "I decided that I'll start smoking again when I'm 80. I'll be 78 this year, so if I go out on tour for a couple of years I'll be able to start smoking on the road. I'm looking forward to that, so it is a possibility."

It was refreshing to see that despite recent hardships and the passing of time Cohen's gravitas and personality are still as rich in person as on record; his self-deprecation, sharp sense of humour and impeccable command of the English language kept the audience enthralled throughout the evening.

One particular response to a question about the advice he would give to his younger self offered the sweetest glimpse into the machinations of his mind: "I'm reminded of the advice my old friend Irving Layton, who has passed away now but probably is the greatest Canadian poet that we've ever produced, and a very close friend. I would confide in him, and after I'd told him what I planned to do and what my deepest aspirations were, he'd always say to me, 'Leonard, are you sure you're doing the wrong thing?'"

Old Ideas, Leonard Cohen's 12th studio album is released by Columbia Records on 30 January.


"Leonard Cohen: 'Ve le canto ancora ma sono un poeta ormai scoraggiato'"

La Repubblica (Italy) by Giuseppe Vidette, January 21, 2012

Esce a fine mese il nuovo album del grande cantautore canadese, intitolato Old ideas. Dieci nuove canzoni a otto anni dall'ultima raccolta di inediti. "Io non scrivo canzoni, solo poesie che corteggiano la musica. Ma ho sempre l'impressione di raschiare il fondo del barile, di essere, per dirla con Yeats, lo straccivendolo del cuore"

LONDRA - Ha quindici anni, è il 1949. A Montreal il vento è gelido, tagliente. Il ragazzo non ha una lira in tasca, per riscaldarsi entra nel suo spazio di poesia, un negozio di libri usati. Ne sfoglia uno. Lo prende, poi passerà a pagare. "Da quel giorno non ho più abbandonato Federico Garcia Lorca", dice Leonard Cohen.

La voce baritonale è magnetica, anche quando ironizza. Sulle belle donne, sugli anni che passano, sui vizi e le virtù della vecchiaia. E' entrato in quella fase della vita in cui gli uomini si restringono, tornano bambini. Sembra fragile, quasi scompare dentro il doppio petto. Il Borsalino gli tiene gli occhi in ombra. Deve ringraziare quella voce ancora torbida e sexy se è entrato da mattatore nella terza età con un tour da record di 247 date (2008-10) che ha prodotto un paio di album live e un dvd.

Il 31 gennaio, a otto anni da Dear Heather, pubblica Old ideas, un cd di inediti, alcuni musicati da Patrick Leonard, storico collaboratore di Madonna. Ma non sono motivetti. "Io non scrivo canzoni, solo poesie che corteggiano la musica", mette in chiaro Cohen.

I suoi concerti hanno richiamato un pubblico degno di un idolo pop. Merito della musica o della poesia?

"La poesia viene prima di tutto. Solo raramente i versi diventano canzoni. Per buona volontà di amici o della mia compagna Anjani (Thomas)".

Era un passo quasi obbligato, la sua manager le aveva rubato cinque milioni di dollari lasciando il suo conto a secco mentre lei era nel monastero di Mt. Baldy.

"Non sempre scrivere è un lusso, qualche volta è una necessità. E le assicuro che il poeta non vive in una comfort zone in quest'epoca in cui si parla per slogan. Sono rimasto il Leonard che ero. Non hanno sempre detto che le mie canzoni sono autoindulgenti e mosse da un istinto suicida? Me l'ha ripetuto anche Patrick Leonard quando ha letto il testo di Going home. Come dargli torto? E' un soliloquio".

Otto anni per dieci nuove canzoni sono tanti.

"Non ci sarebbero state neanche queste se la recente tournée non avesse rimesso in moto le energie. L'entusiasmo del pubblico mi ha illuminato. E ringiovanito. Non capisco perché ho aspettato 15 anni. Ero diventato come Ronald Reagan negli anni del declino. Ricordava di aver avuto una buona parte, quella di presidente in un film; io ricordavo a malapena di essere stato un cantante. Quanto alle composizioni... vorrei poterle dire che la mia casa trabocca di manoscritti, che ho così tante idee da avere ogni volta l'imbarazzo della scelta. Non è così. Sono un poeta scoraggiato, ho sempre l'impressione di raschiare il fondo del barile, di essere, per dirla con Yeats, lo straccivendolo del cuore. La poesia è un processo misterioso, inspiegabile, incontrollabile, pericoloso anche; dipende da una certa grazia, dall'illuminazione del momento. E se indugi troppo, rischi la paralisi. Ho un'idea alla volta. E su quella posso lavorare un'eternità".

Ad esempio?

"Hallelujah, una bella canzone che hanno cantato in troppi. E' stata sulla scrivania per quattro anni. Alla fine aveva ottanta strofe".

Ora che ha riscoperto la vita on the road ci sarà un nuovo tour?

"Vede, per conservare questa voce devo fumare moltissimo. Cosa che ho fatto ininterrottamente da quando ho lasciato il mio rifugio zen (nel 1999). Ho quasi 78 anni, potrebbe essere pericoloso. Però se smetto rischio di diventare un soprano".

Ha una compagna di 25 anni più giovane, ma la sua reputazione di tombeur de femmes resta proverbiale. Ci sono ancora ventenni che l'aspettano dopo i concerti.

"Alla mia età è un sollievo avere una certa reputazione con le donne, così non devi perdere tempo in interminabili preliminari".

Com'è finita con Federico Garcia dopo quel primo "incontro" a Montreal?

"Ho mantenuto con lui una relazione intima - mia figlia si chiama Lorca (a febbraio è diventato nonno, Lorca Cohen, 36 anni, ha avuto una bimba, Viva Katherine, da Rufus Wainwright, ndr). Le cose che scopri da adolescente ti restano attaccate addosso. Yeats e Lorca erano poeti che capivo al volo - ci ho messo anni per penetrare i sonetti di Shakespeare".

Fu qui a Londra che prese forma il suo primo romanzo.

"Sì, nel quartiere di Hampstead, era il 1959. L'affittacamere, una signora burbera, mi chiese: che lavoro fa? Lo scrittore. Quante pagine al giorno scrive? Tre. Ok, la controllerò ogni giorno, se non saranno tre finirà in strada. Così nacque Il gioco preferito (1963)".

Che ha in mente per il futuro?

"Le rispondo con i versi di Darkness: 'Non ho futuro / So che ho i giorni contati / Il presente non è così piacevole / Solo tante cose da fare / Pensavo che il passato mi sarebbe bastato / Ma l'oscurità ha inghiottito anche quello'".

E' tempo di riconoscimenti: il New Yorker ha messo in streaming Going home; la Random House lo ha inserito nella collana Everyman, in buona compagnia con Byron e Keats; la Spagna le ha conferito il Principe de Asturias, il più alto riconoscimento letterario; una giuria formata tra gli altri da Bono, Salman Rushdie e Paul Simon le ha assegnato a nome del Pen New England il "Song lyrics of literary excellence"...

"... insieme a Chuck Berry. Che soddisfazione! Vorrei aver scritto io il verso "Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news"".

"Leonard Cohen: 'There still sing them but are now discouraged a poet'"

La Repubblica (Italy) by Giuseppe Vidette, January 21, 2012

Comes out later this month the new album by the great Canadian singer-songwriter, entitled Old ideas. Ten new songs in eight years since the last collection of new songs. "I do not write songs, poems only courting the music. But I always seem to scrape the bottom of the barrel, to be, to quote Yeats, the rag of the heart"

LONDON - He has fifteen years, is the 1949. In Montreal the wind is cold, sharp. The boy has not a penny in my pocket to warm up in its place comes a poem, a used book store. He leafs through one. He takes it, then pass to pay. "From that day I have not abandoned Federico Garcia Lorca," says Leonard Cohen.

His baritone is magnetic, even ironically. On beautiful women, who spend years on, the vices and virtues of old age. And entered at that stage of life where men shrink, returning children. Seems fragile, almost disappears into the double-breasted. The Borsalino takes the eyes in shadow. Must thank that voice still cloudy and sexy when he entered the protagonist in the third age with a record 247 tour dates (2008-10) that produced a couple of live albums and a DVD.

On January 31, eight years from Dear Heather, Public Old ideas, a CD of unreleased, some music by Patrick Leonard, Madonna collaborator town. But they are not tunes. "I do not write songs, poems courting only the music," Cohen makes it clear.

His concerts have attracted an audience worthy of a pop idol. Merit of music or poetry?

"Poetry comes first. Only rarely verses become songs. For good will of friends or my girlfriend Anjani (Thomas)."

It was an almost obligatory step, his manager had stolen five millions of dollars leaving your account dry while she was in the monastery of Mt Baldy.

"Writing is not always a luxury, it is sometimes a necessity. And I assure you that the poet does not live in a comfort zone in this era which speaks in slogans. I was that I was on Leonard. They have always said that my songs are self-indulgent and moved by an instinct suicide? me again repeats Patrick Leonard when he read the text of Going Home. How he's wrong? It's soliloquy."

Eight years for ten new songs are so many.

"There were not even that if the recent tour had not restarted energies. The enthusiasm of the audience enlightened me. It rejuvenated. I do not understand why I waited 15 years. I had become like Ronald Reagan in the years of decline. He remembered that he had a good hand, that of president in a movie, and I barely remembered to have been a singer... As for the compositions that I could tell her my house is full of manuscripts, which I have so many ideas to have plenty of choice every time. It is not. I am a poet, discouraged, I always seem to scrape the bottom of the barrel, to be, to quote Yeats, the rag of the heart. Poetry is a mysterious process, inexplicable, uncontrollable, dangerous even, depends on a certain grace, enlightenment of the moment. And if you delay too much, risks paralysis. I have an idea at a time. And of that I can work forever."

For example?

"Hallelujah, who sang a beautiful song too many. It was on the desk for four years. At the end he had eighty verses."

Now that he has rediscovered the life on the road there will be a new tour?

"You see, I have to smoke to keep this entry a lot. What I have done continuously since I left my Zen retreat (in 1999). I'm almost 78 years, could be dangerous. But if I stop the risk of becoming a soprano".

It has a companion 25 years younger, but his reputation is legendary Tombeur de femmes. We are still in their twenties who are waiting after the show.

"At my age it's a relief to have a reputation with women, so you do not have to waste time in endless preliminaries."

How did it end with Federico Garcia after that first "encounter" in Montreal?

"I have maintained an intimate relationship with him - my daughter is called Lorca (in February has become a grandfather, Lorca Cohen, 36, had a daughter, Katherine Viva, by Rufus Wainwright, Ed.) The things you find out for teenager you get stuck on him. Yeats and Lorca were poets who understand the fly - it took me years to penetrate the sonnets of Shakespeare."

It was here in London that took shape his first novel.

"Yes, in the district of Hampstead, was the 1959. The landlord, a gruff woman, asked me: what do you do? Writer. How many pages per day do you write? Three. Ok, will check every day, if not three will end up in the street. Thus was born The favorite game (1963)."

What he has in mind for the future?

"I answer with the verses of Darkness: 'I have no future / I know I counted the days / This is not so nice / Only so many things to do / I thought that the past would have been enough / But the darkness has swallowed that too.'"

It's time to awards: the New Yorker has streaming Going Home, Random House has inserted in the series Everyman, in good company with Byron and Keats, and Spain awarded the Prince of Asturias, the highest award a literary, a jury composed by Bono, among others, Salman Rushdie and Paul Simon was awarded the PEN New England as the "Song lyrics of literary excellence"...

"... along with Chuck Berry. What satisfaction! I wish I'd written myself into the "Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news"".

"Leonard Cohen's listening session in London"

Hit-Channel (Greece) by Robbie Wyckoff, January 20, 2012

Yesterday we had the honour to attend Leonard Cohen's listening session in London where there was a preview of the songs from his long-awaited new album "Old Ideas" that is being released in the end of this month. We also had the chance to meet and discuss with the artist.

The evening started with Jarvis Cocker, from Pulp, introducing LC and very short greeting from LC. We then all listened to the whole album, including LC, accompanied by a screening of the lyrics and some beautiful drawings and images of his.

Overall, the album is a classic LC, with songs that talk about love and life and are "dressed" with simple music, Cohen's deep voice, and female backing vocals. An intimate record, just like we're used to with LC. With LC's words, it's an album that "invites one to be swept along with it".

1. Going Home -- 3.50, Patrick Leonard/Leonard Cohen
An amazing song. LC talks about himself in the third-person, in a not very flattering way. This song is streamed on the New Yorker website, something that has never been done before.

2. Amen -- 7.39, Leonard Cohen
A rather long song but not boring at all with a violin.

3. Show Me The Place -- 4.08, Patrick Leonard/Leonard Cohen
Musically, if there were no background female vocals, this could be a Tom Waits song. LC sings with a piano and a very deep voice. The lyrics though follow Leonard's classic style, intimate and honest.

4. The Darkness -- 4.30 Leonard Cohen
Accompanied by the Webb Sisters and keyboards, LC sings about darkness and the end in a black-humorous way.

5. Anyhow -- 3.09, Patrick Leonard/Leonard Cohen
A dark but rather humorous song.

6. Crazy To Love You -- 3.08, Anjani Thomas/Leonard Cohen
LC plays the guitar and sings a song written with his friend Anjani Thomas. The song was originally in Anjani's album "Blue Alert".

7. Come Healing -- 2.53, Patrick Thomas/Leonard Cohen
Leonard mixes spiritual and carnal once again.

8. Banjo -- 3.26, Leonard Cohen
Beautiful song, with an interesting jolly melody, and interesting pictures.

9. Lullaby -- 4.48, Leonard Cohen
Ethereal song with harmonica and a repetitive melody.

10. Different Sides -- 4.10, Leonard Cohen
Along with a piano, LC sings about two different sides in a relationship.

In the discussion that followed the listening session, LC talked about his last tour a few years back and the reception he had from people across the world. He said that he was very touched by the response he had and that after the end of the tour he did not feel like stopping. It urged him to write more songs, and do more concerts in the future. He mentioned that he will probably be touring soon but that there are no definite plans at the minute. He also implied, in a few occasions, that he will be releasing more albums in the future. It's worth noting that "Feels So Good", a song sung in some of the concerts in his last tour, was not included in the album. LC said that he really likes the song but he didn't manage to get it to appeal to him yet and that it might be included in a future album later on.

LC also discussed about the way he writes songs. "I've always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get a song together" he said. He never had a strategy, not really a sense of abundance. He explained that he writes a lot and tries over long periods of time to polish the lyrics. He mentioned that "Hallelujah" was originally 80 verses that took him 4 years to write. He said that it's a mysterious process that requires a certain kind of grace and illumination.

After that, he talked about his son, Adam and his talent as a musician and especially a singer ("he's the voice of the family"). He said that Adam is the voice of the family, and that he has been gifted with a great talent that was obvious since he was a little kid. He said that he loves him ("I just love the guy!"), and that Adam is really coming to his own with his new record, "Like A Man".

He also discussed about the influences he has had from Yates and Lorca ("the two poets that spoke to me and I understood"). He said that he discovered Lorca through a second-hand book as a child, when he was 15 years old, and admitted that he still goes back to him. For Yates, he said that he appreciated the rhymes and the subject matter but also that the willingness of the poet to put his personal life on the line was something that touched him deeply. A reference to the Greek Zorba was also given when discussing the song "Darkness". He explained that the man singing that song has a view similar to Zorba's -- when things get really bad, you just raise your glass and dance.

When our short question period was over, we approached LC and met him. We thanked him personally and on behalf of all the Greek fans. He then surprised us by speaking to us in Greek wishing us good evening ("?a??sp??a sa?"). It was a truly amazing experience to meet an artist of such inclination. A true gentleman, a troubled soul, with great sense of humour.

A huge thank you to Thodoris who arranged for us to attend the session.


"Cohen, Palveluksessanne"

Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) by Pirkko Kotiranta, January 22, 2012

Open pdf file for scan of newspaper article.

Thank you to Jarkko of The Leonard Cohen Files for providing the scan and doing the translation.

"Leonard Cohen at Your Service"

Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) by Pirkko Kotiranta, January 22, 2012

Leonard Cohen, 77, will release a new studio album after a break of eight years, writes on a daily basis, and is planning a new tour. Quitting smoking has deepened singer's voice even further, although he jokes having had a fear that it will rise up to soprano. Cohen presented his Old Ideas album in London. Helsingin Sanomat was present as the only Finnish media.

In London. On the stage is standing a bit fragile looking, 77-year-old gentleman, with a twinkle in the eyes, whose charisma easily fills the big space.

Leonard Cohen, the Apostle of Melancholy, the writer-musician who cultivated his decades-long depression and love affairs into big art, takes his audience, once again.

The venue is the theatre at a luxury hotel in Mayfair, the elite district of London, and the audience is a selected group of representatives from major European media; with only Helsingin Sanomat from Finland.

Cohen answers first the question of the British rocker Jarvis Cocker, who has been invited to emcee the session. Then it's our turn. But before that, we listen to the new album Old Ideas that is to be released at the end of January.

"I turn to sit with my back towards you, so that you do not need to protect your expressions," Cohen says, and sits down in the front row. This gesture of a gentleman is pointless because the faces of the journalists are full of committed concentration.

I myself know right away that Amen, Darkness and Different Sides will be rising up to my all-time favorite Cohen's songs.

During the song Crazy to Love You there is some uneasiness in the audience, because Cohen - who often has described himself a unskilled singer -- changes from reciting-singing to singing-singing.

Later Cohen informs us that his son Adam is the one in the family who is able to keep the right key. Even about his guitar playing skills he is joking, victimizing especially British journalists: "They have argued that I know only three chords. But I know five!"

"One has to use the means you are familiar with," Cohen analyzes. "I have never been standing at a buffet table with a huge number of choices. I only have scratched from the same and only barrel over and over again."

And this is indeed enough, because Cohen, who has walked his own distinctive ways, is the wine that only improves with age, a legend, with whom we have searched for comfort in our disappointments for decades; the gloomy artist whose verses may be difficult to interpret, but whose voice forces us to believe in absolutely everything.

That famous singing voice has got lower and lower with every album, and this latest is really in the basement. The sound is so low that it already defies the laws of physiology.

A British reporter described it as "seismic disturbance".

"This is the case, contrary to popular belief, if one abandons the tobacco," Cohen explains. "I thought that stopping smoking would destroy my whole status, with my voice rising up to soprano. But fortunately, it did not go in that direction."

The tobacco strike is not planned to last for ever. Cohen has promised himself that he can resume smoking when he gets 80. At that time he might also be back on the road with his new songs.

"I look forward to it," Cohen says. Arrangements of the new songs will be tested soon with the band, but there are no contracts for a new tour yet.

Old Ideas is Leonard Cohen's twelfth studio album. The name refers to old ideas, thoughts or beliefs, whatever.

The oldest of the ideas are really old, up to about 2640 years, Cohen calculates with a twinkle in his eye, and seems to refer to dimensions of the Old Testament and mythologies. He has drawn on those sources since his debut book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956).

Cohen has devoted his decades to solve the mysteries of mythologies, religions, and life, or at least the time he has not spent with women.

"From the beginning, writing was a way to gain popularity among women, without any need to start completely from zero," the ladies' man tells us. "Nowadays this does not really matter, one way or another."

Poetry still plays a very important role for Cohen, and his old favorites, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) and Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) have maintained their position. "Both spoke to me directly so that I understood."

For example, getting to understand Shakespeare took much more time, says Cohen.

At the Mayfair Theatre, someone asks what kind of advice Cohen would now give to the young himself.

Cohen answers with a story about the Canadian poet Irving Layton (1912-2006).

"I confided to him and told him about my deepest aspirations. "Leonard, are you sure that you are now doing it in a wrong way", was Layton's answer. This is the advice I would now give a young writer."

Someone asks if Cohen believes in fate.

"I can try to answer this one purely out of courtesy, but really, I no longer have any deep convictions about anything", says Cohen, who has turned to many religions during his life. "I do not know why this is so, but I do not feel anymore to have access to any idea. Perhaps the oldest idea in the life is just the fact that there is nothing more important than to carry on."

Cohen says that he tries to work on a daily basis. For writing he needs "some kind of grace" and "state of enlightenment." Cohen does not want to dive any deeper into the source of his creativity.

"It's really mysterious and even dangerous region. If you dig too deep, you may end up in some sort of paralysis. And that's what we don't want. This is already hard enough."

Nobody here mentions Cohen's depression, but he has said that it has loosened its grip. Staying in the Zen Buddhist monastery on Mount Baldy in California in the late 1990s helped, and Cohen also believes in studies he has read that the brain chemistry changes with age.

Cohen has helped his brain chemistry himself by leaving alcohol and other drugs.

Cohen books diligently in note books his ideas along drawings, which are also used to illustrate the album. He's afraid of loosing his note books.

"I have lost many. Many of those were full of masterpieces."

The role of self-ironic humorist fits the Mystic-Cohen as well as a tailor-made suit, and he apparently enjoys the warm reactions of the admiring audience.

Success means survival, defined Cohen in 1974 in Tony Palmer's documentary Bird On A Wire. This is how he still thinks, and rightly so. The tours between 2008 and 2010 were real mega-successes, and their impact "refreshing".

No less than 15 years had passed since his previous tours.

His tour was preceded by Dear Heather (2004), an album received with mixed reactions, and also the mess in his financial affairs forced him back to the road.

Cohen's manager Kelley Lynch betrayed millions from his employer while he brightened his head in the monastery of Mount Baldy. According to Anthony Reynolds, author of a biography of Leonard Cohen (2010), Cohen handled the situation calmly in the Zen spirit.

Mike Smith, CEO of the record company, who flew to London from New York, closes the official part of the Cohen evening.

Cohen, however, still stays with us, to give his press relations the final touch. We stand in a queue to get autographs and have our pal photos taken, just like the good fans do.

I am talking for a while with Cohen about the song Darkness and mention Finland. He right away sends his greetings to Jarkko Arjatsalo, the administrator of his website.

He tells that he worked on Darkness for ??many years, but does not explain the song any further.

"This song does not need to be explained to you Finns," Cohen says, and smiles.

Old Ideas (Columbia / Sony) will be released on January 31. The album will be streaming in advance from 1 pm (local time) on Monday January 23 until Friday at http://www.nyt.fi.

The album is also played during the week on Radio Helsinki as the Album of Excellence.


"Cohen, le vecchie idee di un 'pigro bastardo'"

Quotidiano (Italy) by Andrea Spinelli, January 22, 2012

Il cantautore presenta l'ultimo disco 'Old ideas'

Londra, 21 gennaio 2012 - PER FARE DA SFONDO alle riflessioni sull'inverno dell'anima che gli trascinano dietro quei 77 anni compiuti lo scorso settembre, Leonard Cohen sceglie la cornice uggiosa della Londra di fine gennaio. Anche se gli stucchi e i velluti fra cui annoda le canzoni dell'ultimo album 'Old ideas', nei negozi fra dieci giorni, sono quelli sfavillanti dell'May Fair Hotel. "Durante l'ascolto vi guarderò negli occhi uno ad uno per capire cosa ne pensate" dice il musicista ai giornalisti arrivati da tutta Europa prima di sedersi tra loro e ascoltarsi queste dieci nuove canzoni come fosse la prima volta. Ma, una quarantina di minuti dopo, l'applauso che scioglie le ultime note di 'Different sides' vanifica ogni ansia, spingendolo a ringraziare stringendosi il cappello al cuore. Cohen dice di avere capito solo a questa età le istruzioni per l'uso della sua voce e verrebbe da credergli mentre dall'amplificazione quella voce baritonale densa e cavernosa ("se non fumassi sarebbe probabilmente da soprano") s'insinua nella dolorosa rassegnazione di 'Going home'. "Amo parlare con Leonard, lui è uno sportivo e un pastore, un pigro bastardo che vive in un abito elegante" ammette il testo non senza una punta di autocompiacimento. "Forse ho esagerato con l'abito elegante...", chiosa lui accennando sotto al cappello ad un garbato sorriso. Anche se a puntare il ditto contro il tempo che scivola tra le dita, annerendole con l'inchiostro di un vissuto duro da lavare via, è soprattutto quella 'The darkness' ascoltata pure in tournèe, 247 concerti in due anni davanti a quasi due milioni di fan a cui non è detto che questa nuova fatica formato cd non possa aggiungere un'ulteriore coda. "Non ho futuro, so che i miei giorni sono pochi, ma il presente non è poi così piacevole", canta Cohen vestendo i panni del 'beautiful loser' alla ricerca di un dignitoso tramonto. Più l'ascolto prosegue e più la chiave di lettura dell'album sembra diventare quella del blues. L'Hammond di brani come 'The darkness' o 'Different sides', l'armonica di 'Lullaby', il mesto violino di 'Amen', la sensualità notturna di 'Anyhow' spingono verso questa direzione.

MA IN REPERTORIO ci sono pure brani di segno diverso come "Crazy to love you" dedicata da Leonard alla compagna d'arte e di vita Anjani Thomas, con cui aveva già inciso un apprezzato "Blue alert". Dall'ultimo album in studio a suo nome "Dear Heather" sono passati più di sette anni e forse ne sarebbero trascorsi altrettanti se l'urgenza di ripianare con un tour (monumentale) il vuoto di cassa lasciato dall'ex manager Kelley Linch, volatilizzatosi con quasi 5 milioni di dollari dei suoi risparmi, non avessero costretto il "pigro bastardo" a scuotersi dai suoi torpori rimettendo in moto quel processo creativo che lui paragona alla ricerca del miele nell'arnia da parte dell'orso. «Tutto alla fine può risolversi in un incredibile piacere o in un indicibile dolore, ma non puoi farci nulla. E' la vita». Prodotto da Ed Sanders, "Old ideas" è il dodicesimo capitolo di una discografia iniziata da Cohen nella seconda metà degli anni Settanta quando raccolte di componimenti poetici come "Confrontiamo allora i nostri miti" o "Le spezie della terra" gli avevano confezionato una solida reputazione letteraria. «Qui a Londra qualche giorno fa sono tornado nella viuzza di Hampstead dove presi casa nel '59» ricorda. «Stavo in affitto da una signora che come prima cosa mi chiese che mestiere facessi. Lo scrittore, risposi. "E quanto scrivi?". Circa tre pagine al giorno, replicai. "Bene, mettiti al lavoro perché da oggi controllerò e sappi che se batti la fiacca quella è la porta. "Il gioco preferito", mio primo volume di novelle, è nato così».

"Cohen, the old ideas of a 'lazy bastard'"

Quotidiano (Italy) by Andrea Spinelli, January 22, 2012

The singer-songwriter presents the latest album 'Old ideas'

London, January 21, 2012 - as a backdrop to the debate that dragged on winter soul behind those made ??77 years last September, Leonard Cohen chooses the frame of the dreary London in late January. Although the stucco and velvet tie the songs including the latest album 'Old ideas', in stores in ten days, are sparkling dell'May Fair Hotel. "When you listen you'll look in the eyes one by one to figure out what you think," says the musician reporters came from all over Europe before sitting down together and listen to these ten new songs as if for the first time. But forty minutes later, the applause that melts the last notes of 'Different sides' frustrates any anxiety, prompting him to thank clutching his hat to the heart. Cohen says he only realized at this age the instructions for use of his voice and one might believe from amplification, while the dense and cavernous baritone voice ("if you did not smoke would probably be a soprano") creeps in painful resignation 'Going home'. "I love to talk with Leonard, he is a sportsman and a pastor, a lazy bastard who lives in an elegant dress," admits the text is not without a touch of complacency. "Maybe I exaggerated with the elegant dress...", he glosses in the hat pointing to a polite smile. Although to point your finger against the time that slips between your fingers, blackened with ink from an experience hard to wash off, is above all that 'The Darkness' played well on tour, 247 concerts in two years in front of nearly two million fan base that does not mean that this new effort CD format can not add an additional tail. "I have no future, I know that my days are few, but this is not so nice," Cohen sings about being dubbed the 'beautiful loser' in search of a decent sunset. More and more hearing continues the key to the album seems to become one of the blues. The Hammond songs like 'The Darkness' or 'Different Sides', the harmonica of 'Lullaby', the mournful violin of 'Amen', the sensuality of the night 'Anyhow' push in this direction.

BUT IN REPERTORY there are also passages of different sign as "Crazy to Love You" by Leonard dedicated to art and life partner Anjani Thomas, with whom he had already recorded a popular "Blue Alert". Since the last studio album to his name "Dear Heather" has been more than seven years and perhaps it would have passed if the urge to write off many a tour (monumental) the void left by former cash manager Kelley Lynch, volatilizzatosi with almost 5 million dollars of his savings, had not forced the "lazy bastard" to shake it from its torpor putting in motion the creative process he compares the hive in search of honey from the bear. "Everything can eventually result in an incredible pleasure or unspeakable pain, but you can not do anything about it. And 'life." Produced by Ed Sanders, "Old ideas" is the twelfth chapter of a discography started by Cohen in the mid-seventies, when collections of poems such as "We compare then our myths" or "land of Spices" had packed a solid literary reputation. "Here in London a few days ago are in tornado alley house in Hampstead, where I took in '59," he recalls. "I was from a lady who rented the first thing he asked me what job I did. The writer said. "And what you write?". About three pages a day, said. "Well, get to work now will check it and know that if you beat the weak there's the door. "The favorite game," my first volume of short stories, was born that way."


"Leonard Cohen: 'Ve le canto ancora ma sono un poeta ormai scoraggiato'"

La Repubblica (Italy) by Giuseppe Videtti, January 21, 2012

Esce a fine mese il nuovo album del grande cantautore canadese, intitolato Old ideas. Dieci nuove canzoni a otto anni dall'ultima raccolta di inediti. "Io non scrivo canzoni, solo poesie che corteggiano la musica. Ma ho sempre l'impressione di raschiare il fondo del barile, di essere, per dirla con Yeats, lo straccivendolo del cuore"

LONDRA - Ha quindici anni, è il 1949. A Montreal il vento è gelido, tagliente. Il ragazzo non ha una lira in tasca, per riscaldarsi entra nel suo spazio di poesia, un negozio di libri usati. Ne sfoglia uno. Lo prende, poi passerà a pagare. "Da quel giorno non ho più abbandonato Federico Garcia Lorca", dice Leonard Cohen.

La voce baritonale è magnetica, anche quando ironizza. Sulle belle donne, sugli anni che passano, sui vizi e le virtù della vecchiaia. E' entrato in quella fase della vita in cui gli uomini si restringono, tornano bambini. Sembra fragile, quasi scompare dentro il doppio petto. Il Borsalino gli tiene gli occhi in ombra. Deve ringraziare quella voce ancora torbida e sexy se è entrato da mattatore nella terza età con un tour da record di 247 date (2008-10) che ha prodotto un paio di album live e un dvd.

Il 31 gennaio, a otto anni da Dear Heather, pubblica Old ideas, un cd di inediti, alcuni musicati da Patrick Leonard, storico collaboratore di Madonna. Ma non sono motivetti. "Io non scrivo canzoni, solo poesie che corteggiano la musica", mette in chiaro Cohen.

I suoi concerti hanno richiamato un pubblico degno di un idolo pop. Merito della musica o della poesia?
"La poesia viene prima di tutto. Solo raramente i versi diventano canzoni. Per buona volontà di amici o della mia compagna Anjani (Thomas)".

Era un passo quasi obbligato, la sua manager le aveva rubato cinque milioni di dollari lasciando il suo conto a secco mentre lei era nel monastero di Mt. Baldy.
"Non sempre scrivere è un lusso, qualche volta è una necessità. E le assicuro che il poeta non vive in una comfort zone in quest'epoca in cui si parla per slogan. Sono rimasto il Leonard che ero. Non hanno sempre detto che le mie canzoni sono autoindulgenti e mosse da un istinto suicida? Me l'ha ripetuto anche Patrick Leonard quando ha letto il testo di Going home. Come dargli torto? E' un soliloquio".

Otto anni per dieci nuove canzoni sono tanti.
"Non ci sarebbero state neanche queste se la recente tournée non avesse rimesso in moto le energie. L'entusiasmo del pubblico mi ha illuminato. E ringiovanito. Non capisco perché ho aspettato 15 anni. Ero diventato come Ronald Reagan negli anni del declino. Ricordava di aver avuto una buona parte, quella di presidente in un film; io ricordavo a malapena di essere stato un cantante. Quanto alle composizioni... vorrei poterle dire che la mia casa trabocca di manoscritti, che ho così tante idee da avere ogni volta l'imbarazzo della scelta. Non è così. Sono un poeta scoraggiato, ho sempre l'impressione di raschiare il fondo del barile, di essere, per dirla con Yeats, lo straccivendolo del cuore. La poesia è un processo misterioso, inspiegabile, incontrollabile, pericoloso anche; dipende da una certa grazia, dall'illuminazione del momento. E se indugi troppo, rischi la paralisi. Ho un'idea alla volta. E su quella posso lavorare un'eternità".

Ad esempio?
"Hallelujah, una bella canzone che hanno cantato in troppi. E' stata sulla scrivania per quattro anni. Alla fine aveva ottanta strofe".

Ora che ha riscoperto la vita on the road ci sarà un nuovo tour?
"Vede, per conservare questa voce devo fumare moltissimo. Cosa che ho fatto ininterrottamente da quando ho lasciato il mio rifugio zen (nel 1999). Ho quasi 78 anni, potrebbe essere pericoloso. Però se smetto rischio di diventare un soprano".

Ha una compagna di 25 anni più giovane, ma la sua reputazione di tombeur de femmes resta proverbiale. Ci sono ancora ventenni che l'aspettano dopo i concerti.
"Alla mia età è un sollievo avere una certa reputazione con le donne, così non devi perdere tempo in interminabili preliminari".

Com'è finita con Federico Garcia dopo quel primo "incontro" a Montreal?
"Ho mantenuto con lui una relazione intima - mia figlia si chiama Lorca (a febbraio è diventato nonno, Lorca Cohen, 36 anni, ha avuto una bimba, Viva Katherine, da Rufus Wainwright, ndr). Le cose che scopri da adolescente ti restano attaccate addosso. Yeats e Lorca erano poeti che capivo al volo - ci ho messo anni per penetrare i sonetti di Shakespeare".

Fu qui a Londra che prese forma il suo primo romanzo.
"Sì, nel quartiere di Hampstead, era il 1959. L'affittacamere, una signora burbera, mi chiese: che lavoro fa? Lo scrittore. Quante pagine al giorno scrive? Tre. Ok, la controllerò ogni giorno, se non saranno tre finirà in strada. Così nacque Il gioco preferito (1963)".

Che ha in mente per il futuro?
"Le rispondo con i versi di Darkness: 'Non ho futuro / So che ho i giorni contati / Il presente non è così piacevole / Solo tante cose da fare / Pensavo che il passato mi sarebbe bastato / Ma l'oscurità ha inghiottito anche quello'".

E' tempo di riconoscimenti: il New Yorker ha messo in streaming Going home; la Random House lo ha inserito nella collana Everyman, in buona compagnia con Byron e Keats; la Spagna le ha conferito il Principe de Asturias, il più alto riconoscimento letterario; una giuria formata tra gli altri da Bono, Salman Rushdie e Paul Simon le ha assegnato a nome del Pen New England il "Song lyrics of literary excellence"...
"... insieme a Chuck Berry. Che soddisfazione! Vorrei aver scritto io il verso 'Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news'".

"Leonard Cohen: 'There still sing them but are now discouraged a poet'"

La Repubblica (Italy) by Giuseppe Videtti, January 21, 2012

Comes out later this month the new album by the great Canadian singer-songwriter, entitled Old ideas. Ten new songs in eight years since the last collection of new songs. "I do not write songs, poems only courting the music. But I always seem to scrape the bottom of the barrel, to be, to quote Yeats, the rag of the heart"

LONDON - He has fifteen years, is the 1949. In Montreal the wind is cold, sharp. The boy has not a penny in my pocket to warm up in its place comes a poem, a used book store. He leafs through one. He takes it, then pass to pay. "From that day I have not abandoned Federico Garcia Lorca," says Leonard Cohen.

His baritone is magnetic, even ironically. On beautiful women, who spend years on, the vices and virtues of old age. And entered at that stage of life where men shrink, returning children. Seems fragile, almost disappears into the double-breasted. The Borsalino takes the eyes in shadow. Must thank that voice still cloudy and sexy when he entered the protagonist in the third age with a record 247 tour dates (2008-10) that produced a couple of live albums and a DVD.

On January 31, eight years from Dear Heather, Public Old ideas, a CD of unreleased, some music by Patrick Leonard, Madonna collaborator town. But they are not tunes. "I do not write songs, poems courting only the music," Cohen makes it clear.

His concerts have attracted an audience worthy of a pop idol. Merit of music or poetry?
"Poetry comes first. Only rarely verses become songs. For good will of friends or my girlfriend Anjani (Thomas)."

It was an almost obligatory step, his manager had stolen five millions of dollars leaving your account dry while she was in the monastery of Mt Baldy.
"Writing is not always a luxury, it is sometimes a necessity. And I assure you that the poet does not live in a comfort zone in this era which speaks in slogans. I was that I was on Leonard. They have always said that my songs are self-indulgent and moved by an instinct suicide? me again repeats Patrick Leonard when he read the text of Going Home. How he's wrong? It a soliloquy."

Eight years for ten new songs are so many.

"There were not even that if the recent tour had not restarted energies. The enthusiasm of the audience enlightened me. It rejuvenated. I do not understand why I waited 15 years. I had become like Ronald Reagan in the years of decline. He remembered that he had a good hand, that of president in a movie, and I barely remembered to have been a singer... As for the compositions that I could tell her my house is full of manuscripts, which I have so many ideas to have plenty of choice every time. It is not. I am a poet, discouraged, I always seem to scrape the bottom of the barrel, to be, to quote Yeats, the rag of the heart. Poetry is a mysterious process, inexplicable, uncontrollable, dangerous even, depends on a certain grace, enlightenment of the moment. And if you delay too much, risks paralysis. I have an idea at a time. And of that I can work forever."

For example?
"Hallelujah, who sang a beautiful song too many. It was on the desk for four years. At the end he had eighty verses."

Now that he has rediscovered the life on the road there will be a new tour?
"You see, I have to smoke to keep this entry a lot. What I have done continuously since I left my Zen retreat (in 1999). I'm almost 78 years, could be dangerous. But if I stop the risk of becoming a soprano".

It has a companion 25 years younger, but his reputation is legendary Tombeur de femmes. We are still in their twenties who are waiting after the show.
"At my age it's a relief to have a reputation with women, so you do not have to waste time in endless preliminaries."

How did it end with Federico Garcia after that first "encounter" in Montreal?
"I have maintained an intimate relationship with him - my daughter is called Lorca (in February has become a grandfather, Lorca Cohen, 36, had a daughter, Katherine Viva, by Rufus Wainwright, Ed.) The things you find out for teenager you get stuck on him. Yeats and Lorca were poets who understand the fly - it took me years to penetrate the sonnets of Shakespeare."

It was here in London that took shape his first novel.

"Yes, in the district of Hampstead, was the 1959. The landlord, a gruff woman, asked me: what do you do? writer. How many pages per day do you write? Three. Ok, will check every day, if not three will end up in the street. Thus was born The favorite game (1963 )."

What he has in mind for the future?

"I answer with the verses of Darkness: 'I have no future / I know I counted the days / This is not so nice / Only so many things to do / I thought that the past would have been enough / But the darkness has swallowed that too.'"

It's time to awards: the New Yorker has streaming Going Home, Random House has inserted in the series Everyman, in good company with Byron and Keats, and Spain awarded the Prince of Asturias, the highest award a literary, a jury composed by Bono, among others, Salman Rushdie and Paul Simon was awarded the PEN New England as the 'Song lyrics of literary excellence'..."
.. along with Chuck Berry. What satisfaction! I wish I'd written myself into the 'Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news'."

"First Listen: Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas"

The Skinny (UK) by Finbarr Bermingham, January 30, 2012

At the playback of his first album in eight years, Leonard Cohen proves that as the decades advance, he's still got plenty left to offer

Ten years ago, Leonard Cohen told a journalist that he'd "read somewhere that as you get older the brain cells associated with anxiety begin to die. So, I might have saved myself the rigours of monastic life if I had just waited until it happened." And so, Cohen's Zen-like demeanour tonight in the opulent Mayfair Hotel shouldn't have come as a surprise: after all, his "monastic life" has continued since his ordination as a Buddhist monk 16 years ago, and at the ripe old age of 77 - coaxed out of retirement last decade because of bankruptcy - those anxious brain cells must be few and far between. Pleasingly, they seem to be the only grey matter on the wane.

Cohen's here to hold court over the first playback of his new album,Old Ideas, which alludes as much to his advancing years and the shadow of death as it does to his strong, spiritual beliefs. Greeted onto the stage by the equally dapper, corduroy-clad Jarvis Cocker (this evening's host), Cohen graciously bows to the assembled Who's Who of Europe's music press, removing his signature fedora for the only time in the night. His voice is an octave lower still, the wrinkles more defined on his face, and his shoulders slightly slumped. But he retains what will always be his essence: his wit. If there was ever any doubt that he would grow old gracefully, it's been swiftly dispelled tonight.

"What's it like listening to your own album in a roomful of people?" asks Jarvis, when the playback's complete (there's something wonderfully Lynchian about listening to Leonard Cohen sing about himself in the third person, while his handwritten lyrics are projected onto the wall, then looking up to see the back of his head, listening and reading along with you). "I wasn't listening," says Cohen, instantly, wryly. And so the tone is set. Cocker admits that the early Pulp album It was a rip-off of Cohen's work. Leonard is flattered, but modest. "You just work with what you got. I never had a strategy. I always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. I never had the sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table."

What unfolds is a delightful game of cat and mouse, in which Cohen hilariously shirks his interrogator's attempts to find meaning in his songs. "I'll buy into that," he says, with a smirk, as Cocker expounds his theory on Darkness, one of the best cuts from the excellent Old Ideas. To those assembled, it's a brilliant dose of good-natured schadenfreude. This eminent raconteur leads Cocker, so often an enigma toward the media, on a merry dance, until the questions are open to the floor.

Cohen holds forth on his womanising ("Back then it was agreeable to have a reputation or some kind of list of credentials so you didn't have to start from scratch with every woman you walked into. Now it doesn't really matter one way or the other."), Chuck Berry ("'Roll over Beethoven / Tell Tchaikovsky the news.' I'd like to write a line like that.") and even indulges a populist query on Hallelujah ("I wrote many, many verses. I don't know if it was eighty, maybe more or a little less. My tiny trouble is that before I can discard a verse, I have to write it. I have to work on it, and I have to polish it and bring it to as close to finished as I can. It's only then that I can discard it.") All the while, he's humble, gracious and magnificently entertaining.

In the twilight of his career, Cohen, at last, seems content. The "rigours of monastic life" have vaporised his niggling self-doubt and depression. As he sits back, smiling at each question, no matter how ridiculous, it strikes us that Cohen the lothario has gone, replaced instead by Cohen the patriarch - the most relevant septuagenarian you could ever imagine.


"Un Cohen magistral"

El Periódico de Aragón (Spain) by Begoña Arce, January 22, 2012

El músico explica su nuevo disco, 'Old Ideas', un clásico puro construido a ritmo de blues

A Leonard Cohen el mánager le robó los ahorros de la jubilación mientras él andaba buscando sentido a la existencia en un monasterio budista. El desfalco le obligó a bajar a la tierra y volver a los escenarios. Aquella puñalada del destino fue un regalo de los dioses. La gira mundial del 2008 al 2010 tuvo una respuesta increíble del público. Una fuente de energía e inspiración para Cohen, como reconocía esta semana en Londres. "No había hecho nada durante 15 años. Era como Ronald Reagan en sus años de declive. él se acordaba de que había tenido un buen papel, que había actuado como presidente en una película, y yo tenía la sensación de haber sido un cantante. El haber vuelto a la carretera me devolvió el sentido de estar trabajando. Cuando terminé, no tenía ganas de parar y por eso escribí el disco".

El álbum se llama Old Ideas y es el primero que publica en los últimos ocho años. Diez canciones inéditas, a ritmo de blues, de una pureza sublime. Para escucharlas, Cohen reunió a un grupo de periodistas en el auditorio del Hotel Mayfair de la capital británica. La cita fue un privilegio. A los 77 años, el poeta canadiense es una sombra alargada, rematada por un sombrero breve. El paso del tiempo le ha robado kilos y algunos centímetros de altura, pero sigue poseyendo la elegancia sin esfuerzo y la gracia innata de siempre.

Old Ideas es un gran clásico y un retrato íntimo, lleno de alegorías religiosas y espirituales. "Un álbum que te invita a dejarte llevar", como explicó el autor a Jarvis Cocker, el que fuera cantante de Pulp, que dirigió la charla. Sus nuevas canciones hablan de los asuntos que siempre le han obsesionado. El fracaso, el sexo, el desencanto, la traición amorosa, los reveses de la fortuna y la muerte. La edición española del disco, que sale al mercado el 31 de enero, incluye las letras traducidas y adaptadas por Joaquín Sabina.

Cohen las declama muy pausadamente, con una voz sepulcral, aún más profunda de lo habitual en él. "En contra de lo que cree la gente, esto es lo que ocurre cuando dejas de fumar. Pensé que iba a arruinar mi reputación y que mi voz se iba a transformar en la de una soprano", comentó con humor.

Las canciones iban sonando, mientras en la pantalla aparecían las notas tomadas por el compositor. Páginas llenas de tachaduras, subrayados, dibujos de mujeres desnudas y de una calavera. Unos cuadernillos que siempre le acompañan y siempre teme extraviar. "Vivo con el miedo permanente de perderlos. He perdido muchos, algunos con obras maestras", comenta, burlándose de sí mismo. Como hace también en la primera canción, Going Home en la que alude a "Leonard, un vago cabrón", que "va a hablar con esas palabras magistrales, como un sabio, un visionario, aunque en realidad no sabe nada".

Coros femeninos, acompañan en varios temas los susurros de Cohen, entre los acordes de un piano, una armónica, o como en Crazy to love you, por el rasgar de un guitarra. En Darkness se enfrenta al paso del tiempo: "No tengo futuro, sé que mis días están contados. No es tan agradable el presente, solo mil cosas por hacer", canta.

El creador de aquel himno llamado Hallelujah retorna al ámbito religioso con Amen, una canción que incluye un sobrecogedor solo de trompeta: "Dímelo otra vez cuando los restos del carnicero se hayan limpiado en la sangre de la tierra". Es la oración de un descreído. "No sabría explicar por qué, pero el caso es que no puedo ya defender nada", responde. "Quizá esa es la idea más antigua: que no hay realmente ideas que valgan la pena". Cohen volverá a salir de gira este año. Quiere apurar el cáliz hasta el final. Mientras el cuerpo aguante.

"A masterful Cohen"

El Periódico de Aragón (Spain) by Begoña Arce, January 22, 2012

The musician says his new album, 'Old Ideas', a pure classic blues rhythm built

A Leonard Cohen's manager stole the retirement savings while he was looking for meaning to life in a Buddhist monastery. The embezzlement forced him down to earth and return to the stage. That stab the target was a gift from the gods. The world tour from 2008 to 2010 had an incredible response from the public. A source of energy and inspiration to Cohen, as acknowledged this week in London. "He had done nothing for 15 years. Was like Ronald Reagan in his declining years. He remembered that he had a good job, who had acted as president in a movie, and I had the feeling of being a singer. Having returned to the road, I returned the sense of working. When I finished, I did not want to stop so I wrote the record."

The album is called Old Ideas and is the first published in the last eight years. Ten new songs to the rhythm of blues, a sublime purity. To listen, Cohen assembled a group of reporters in the auditorium of Hotel Mayfair London. The event was a privilege. At 77 years, the Canadian poet is a long shadow, topped by a hat soon.The passage of time has stolen some kilos and centimeters in height, but still possesses effortless elegance and grace always innate.

Old Ideas is a great classic and intimate portrait, full of religious and spiritual allegories. "An album that invites you to let go" as the author explained Jarvis Cocker, former Pulp singer, who led the talk. Their new songs are about the issues that have always obsessed. The failure, sex, disappointment, betrayal, love, reverses of fortune and death. The Spanish edition of the album, which hits stores January 31, includes the lyrics translated and adapted by Joaquin Sabina.

Cohen recites the very slowly, with a sepulchral voice, deeper than usual in it. "Contrary to popular belief, this is what happens when you stop smoking. I thought it would ruin my reputation and my voice was transformed into that of a soprano," she said with humor.

The songs were playing, while on the screen appeared the notes taken by the composer. Pages full of erasures, underscores, drawings of naked women and a skull. A booklet that always accompany fear and always lose. "I live in perpetual fear of losing them. I have lost many, some masterpieces," he says, mocking himself. As does also the first song, Going Home in which alludes to "Leonard, a lazy bastard," which "will talk with these words master, as a sage, a visionary, but really knows nothing."

Female choirs, accompanied on various subjects Cohen's whispers among the strains of a piano, a harmonica, or as in Crazy to love you , by the tearing of a guitar. In Darkness faces the test of time: "I have no future, I know that my days are numbered. It is so nice today, one thousand things to do," he sings.

The creator of that song called Hallelujah returns to the religious sphere with Love , a song that includes an awesome trumpet solo, "Tell me again when the remains of the butcher have been cleared in the blood of the earth." It is the prayer of an unbeliever. "I could not explain why, but the fact is that I can no longer defend anything," he says. "Maybe that's the older idea: that there is really worthwhile ideas." Cohen to tour again this year. Want to speed up the cup to the end. While the drop.


"Wraca Leonard Cohen. Stare pomysly sa dobre"

Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland) by Robert Sankowski, January 27, 2012. Photo - Sony Music.

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"Leonard Cohen returns. Old Ideas are good"

Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland) by Robert Sankowski, January 27, 2012. Photo - Sony Music.

Title of the first album in eight years Leonard Cohen suggests that the old master will look to the past. But who is afraid that cuts the Canadian bard of the "Old Ideas" coupons from their legends, will be pleasantly surprised

"Old Ideas" Leonard Cohen, Sony Music

- I already do not have too many new ideas - smoked a few days ago in London, explaining the title of a new LP (the official premiere on Monday). In conducting a meeting with the journalists, people from the record company chose Pulp leader Jarvis Cocker. He was famed for his intelligent sense of humor, every now and then tossing another lined Leonard delicate irony questions. Therefore, conversation between two artists took the convention brilliant talk show.

Cohen probably good that day was playing. Relaxed, detached, with the freedom and referring to his work, and the biography. He was a bit like an actor in a stand up comedy. - The British press has never treated me too well - he said. - I once wrote here about me that I only know three chords on the guitar. And it's not true, I know five.

About his voice, which recently even dropped him (hear it on "Old Ideas"): - I gave up cigarettes, so I was afraid that suddenly start to sing soprano, which after all would ruin my position.

Meanwhile, sounds even deeper. I'll see what happens next, maybe the eighties I will have to start smoking again so I could hear at all. hard to say whether he felt just fine this type of convention meetings. Crumbling caller jokes definitely buy media more readily than the weary life, serioznego artist. Or decided to scoff the expectations of journalists? He - the master of mood and melancholy, as few men capable of a few lyrical verses talk about the hardships of love and death.

"You're not too old for this?"

While there is such a master of camouflage, as another great pop bard Bob Dylan, but in his career, scored after at least a few rapid phrases that make the character is neither as clear nor as conventional, as you might think after listening to his most famous composition.

Born in Montreal in August 1934, less than half a year later to the world Elvis Presley came. It's good to show what the Cohen tribe. And how different from their peers by follow.

Raised in a well-to-do Jewish family remembers what impressed him the information that belongs to the Kohen family tradition derived straight from God's anointed high priest Aaron. - I was for this reason rather messianic childhood - he says.

As a teenager, he had other fascinations - poetry and folk music. He read Lorca, Yeats, Whitman. He began writing while still a student he won first prize in literature. Then he clutched at odd jobs, and only disappointed by the lack of literary success in the mid-60s decided to return to the second passion - music. He moved to New York, wrote songs for others (as has become the hit of "Suzanne," which she sang Judy Collins), and finally in 1967 he entered the scene. His publisher said, "You're not too old?".

Because it boils around the counterculture, which for years had a password to give the Paris student revolt of the lines of "Do not trust anyone over thirty." Meanwhile, Leonard had 33 years of experience and significant luggage. Although it was accepted by the hippie audience that the heat took it to a few folk festivals, and then bought his debut album, which, together with "Suzanne" included "So Long, Marianne" and "Sisters Of Mercy". For several years Cohen has become a favorite rebellious audience. He probably, however, he realized how fragile is the state, since 1972, when above someone asked him what success he replied without hesitation: "Success is survival."

Platinum in Norway

Country legend Kris Kristofferson (wrote sung by Janis Joplin "Me and Bobby McGee") says that on the tombstone tells the engraved lines of Cohen's song "Bird On A Wire". Lou Reed called it one of the most influential living songwriters. His fans are musicians Nick Cave and the Pixies. Despite this, Cohen never won mass popularity.

This may seem surprising from our perspective - in Poland is the star of the late 60th and 70, when (for example due to enthusiasm and Matthias Zembatego brilliant translations) fell in love with him the next. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, none of his CDs were never to take that zamieniloby it in a massive star. For many in the discography had only one platinum album, and it is received in... Norway. When the economy is over, his nostalgic themes and poetic texts were recognized only with connoisseurs. In 1984, Columbia would not even make the album "Various Positions". - We know that you're great, but if you're good? - Asked him the head of Walter Yetnikoff. And that's on the album's songs, which today is regarded as the flagship work of Cohen - "Allelujah."

This well-known of the many performances of song brought back memories of a wider Kanadyjczyku. The need was so exotic alliance of Jeff Buckley (his version has gained huge popularity among alternative listeners), "Shrek" (the soundtrack album and there are but two different versions) and the "Idol", where participants were inflamed with love for this song. Apparently Cohen fans bombard him with requests that forbade her to sing on the TV show. - For a moment I hesitated, but like why would I protest?

Buddhist saves finances

The same way as his artistic path, bumpy personal life is also a Canadian. It has a reputation as a womanizer, he was associated, among others with Joni Mitchell and actress Rebecca De Mornay. His fling with Janis Joplin described in detail in one of the songs (which indeed is later ashamed). He has two children but never married.

Throughout his life looking for, not only the life partner. Fascination with Judaism, was flirting with Scientology, has been a serious stalker to a Buddhist religious practices. In the mid-90s holed up for several years in a monastery in California. Until the embezzlement came to light his accountant who cleaned Cohen of the savings account. The musician, who considered the full retirement, declared bankruptcy, and had to return to the stage to save their finances.

And what seemed to be an unpleasant necessity, turned out to be the ticket to another success. Scheduled for nearly 250 concerts attracted crowds route. - It was like a revelation - says Cohen. - Playing to the vertical left me after 15 years of doing anything in particular.

Had probably crazy to love you, and now I'm too tired to leave

Cohen is now 77 years old. It happened a few years ago that collapsed at a concert in Spain, but now provides that a long time did not feel so good and now burns with the new route.

Reportedly has a lot of new music and will release another album later this year. For now, fans got ten songs that show a bit more raw, natural face of Cohen. The angle went synthetic keyboards, which were the foundation for his later interior panels. "Old Ideas" is the first sound of acoustic instruments. Discreetly jazzy rhythm section, like the gospel piano, violin and banjo alive, removed from urban folk, sometimes country, which is associated with the harmonica.

It's all the time, Cohen, but curiously breaking the convention of his songs. The most in their own way, almost like the first disc, is the ballad "Crazy To Love You". But in this "Amen" and "Show Me The Place" rubs against the aesthetics of Tom Waits, and "Lullaby" and "Darkness" surprises references to the blues, which in his work to date has not been much. Against this background, singing, and actually melodeklamuje, sometimes even muttering texts, which are back again, typical of his motives.

"I want to write a love song / hymn of forgiveness / book of life after the defeat" - reported in the opening number, "Going Home" conversation with a man, which just happens to also name is Leonard.

"I had probably crazy to love you / and now I'm too tired to go" - he says in "Crazy To Love You".

"You want to live where pain / I want to get out the city / living on both sides of the line / that no one drew a "- sings in" Different Sides".

In London Cocker asked him what is meant by "penitential hymns," which appear in the text "Come Healing". - I do not know - he said. - Who actually should repent? The man, or rather God? Who is guilty of all this disaster and suffering? This leaves us with the attitude of Zorba. When things take a bad turn, I just raise a glass and dance.


"Die neuen 'Old Ideas' des Leonard Cohen"

Die Presse (German) by Samir H. Köck, January 24, 2012

Auf seinem zwölften, zugleich humorvollen und nachdenklichen Album lässt der 77-jährige Sänger auch Gott selbst zu Wort kommen. Er präsentierte es im Londoner Mayfair Hotel.

Diese Idee war eher gut gemeint als gut: Popsänger Jarvis Cocker interviewt live sein Jugendidol, den legendären Poeten und Sänger, ehe die Journalisten fragen dürfen. Leonard Cohen machte sich nämlich einen Jux und lieβ den gut vorbereiteten Kollegen immer wieder an die Wand fahren. Cocker wurde bald zaghaft: „Ich trau mich eh nicht zu fragen, wer diese Person eigentlich ist, die da über Sie spricht. Aber ist es nicht doch eine merkwürdige Art, ein Album zu beginnen?"

Ein Cohen'sches Schweigen war die Antwort. Lachen im Auditorium. Dann antwortete er doch noch: „Ich war selbst sehr skeptisch: Es schien mir zunächst maβlos selbstbezogen. Dann versuchte ich es zu ironisieren. Jetzt ist es auf dem Album."

Selten singt ein Songwriter in der dritten Person über sich selbst. Noch seltener aus der Warte Gottes. Cohen tut das im Eröffnungslied „Going Home" mit spürbarer Lust. „I love to speak with Leonard", lässt er Gott sagen, „he's a sportsman and a shepherd, he's a lazy bastard living in a suit." Später wird es noch ätzender: „He just doesn't have the freedom to refuse, he will speak these words of wisdom, like a sage, a man of vision, though he's really nothing." Solche Selbstbezichtigung gehört zum neuerdings wild ausufernden Humor Cohens.

Einst ein lustvoll Leidender

Jahrzehntelang hat Cohen beinah frohgemut seine Depressionen in Gedichten und Liedern ästhetisiert. Er schien dem Diktum des Philosophen E.M. Cioran zu folgen, der in seinem Buch „Absturz in die Zeit" konstatierte: „Da wir unfähig sind, unsere Leiden zu besiegen, müssen wir versuchen, sie zu kultivieren und an ihnen Gefallen zu finden." Das tat Cohen mit seinen mit gespenstischer Wollust vorgetragenen Klageliedern. Manche warfen ihm Larmoyanz vor. Doch Humor hatte er auch schon früher, etwa in Songs wie „Ain't No Cure For Love". Das wurde aber kaum beachtet.

Im reifen Alter von beinah 78 Jahren ist Cohens Sarkasmus so deutlich geworden, dass er nicht mehr übersehen werden kann. Er dient als Waffe gegen die Erosionen, die die Zeit anrichtet. Die Organe werden unbotmäβig, neue Gedanken sind Mangelware. Klug nennt Cohen deshalb sein Album „Old Ideas" - schon sein letztes, „Dear Heather", hätte so heiβen sollen.

Wie alt sind denn die Ideen? „2614 Jahre", erklärt Cohen: „Nur manche sind ein wenig frischer..." Und es ist nicht immer leicht: „Ich hatte nie das Gefühl, dass ich vor einem groβen Buffet stehe, aus dem ich wählen kann. Es gibt Menschen, die aus einem inneren Reichtum schöpfen. Ich bin leider keiner davon. Bei mir ist es mehr, wie Yeats sagt: 'Working in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.'"

Diese Zeile ist aus dem Yeats-Gedicht „The circus animals' desertion" (1939): „Den alten Stoff bereit' ich auf, mehr bleibt mir kaum", heiβt es darin. Es spricht ein Mann des Zirkus, er resigniert: „Der frohe Mut, der Kampf, die Ruhe: reiner Wahn."

Zuletzt ein Sklave der Frauen

Wie der Artist in diesem Gedicht weiβ Cohen, dass der Kreis seiner Themen eng zwischen Tod und Liebe abgesteckt ist. Auch 35 Jahre nachdem er den „Ladies' Man" in sich für tot erklärt hat, preist er die Wunder des Weiblichen. Vielleicht diesmal ein wenig zu servil, wenn er fleht: „Show me the place where you want your slave to go."

Von all den Affären und Beziehungen mit den vielen interessanten Frauen ist nichts geblieben. Cohen war immer ein Getriebener, einer, der mehr ins Suchen als ins Finden vernarrt war. Gibt es noch Spuren vom Ladies' Man? Cohen lächelt ein wenig bitter. „Da wo ich jetzt angelangt bin, wäre dafür schon eine Menge Humor vonnöten."

Aber noch hat er die Engel in seinen Liedern. Nur zu gerne lässt er sich auch auf „Old Ideas" von weiblichen Stimmen begleiten. Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson und die reizenden Webb Sisters hauchen und säuseln innig zu Cohens abermals tiefer gewordener Stimme. Glaubt er, dass diesbezüglich nun der Tiefststand erreicht ist? „Ich weiβ es nicht", meint er schalkhaft. „Ich dachte, wenn ich das Rauchen aufgebe, würde sich meine Stimme Richtung Sopran entwickeln. Aber gegen die vorherrschende Meinung wurde sie noch tiefer."

Dafür ist sie das perfekte Vehikel für die fast gebetsartigen Lieder, in denen Cohen um ein wenig göttliches Licht fleht. Hier ist es das zarte „Come Healing". Cohen, in dem das Judentum (in dem er erzogen wurde) und der Buddhismus (in dem er sich fast ein Jahrzehnt lang versucht hat) offenbar beide versiegt sind, bietet eine quasi-katholische Buβe an: „And let the heavens hear it, the penitential hymn, come healing of the body, come healing of the mind!"

Das gefällt auch dem sonst gar nicht frommen Jarvis Cocker: „Das ist ein anderes Kennzeichen Ihrer Kunst", schwärmt er, „dass das Heilige und das Profane immer wild durcheinander gemischt sind!"

Cohen schweigt. Die Journalisten lachen. Cohen schweigt. Dann murmelt er, kaum vernehmbar: „Excuse my integrity."

„Man braucht ein wenig Erleuchtung"

Aber gern. Fragen zu seinen Methoden mag der alte Dichter eben gar nicht. „Wir müssen vorsichtig sein beim Erforschen der heiligen Mechanik unserer Kunst. Sonst schreiben wir vielleicht keine einzige Zeile mehr." Eines stellt er aber klar: „Wir alle wissen, Beharrlichkeit genügt nicht. Man braucht ein wenig Gnade, ein wenig Erleuchtung."

Er hat sie wohl gespürt bei der Arbeit an „Old Ideas". Von der Billigsynthie-ästhetik, die er auf „I'm Your Man" und „The Future" gepflegt hatte, ist jedenfalls nichts mehr zu hören. Er spielt auch wieder selbst Gitarre. „Journalisten waren oft sehr grausam zu mir", lächelt er. „Sie sagten, dass ich nur drei Akkorde kann. In Wahrheit sind es sechs."

Im Song „Crazy To Love You" wirft er sich einmal mehr vor seiner Muse in den Staub: „I'm tired of choosing desire, been saved by a sweet fatigue, the gates of committment unwired, and nobody trying to leave." Von ähnlicher Erschöpfung kündete schon vor 25 Jahren das groβe „Tower Of Song": „I ache in the places where I used to play." Dennoch macht er weiter, will auch wieder auf Tournee gehen. Und hat auch eine Idee für die Zeit nach seinem Ableben, eine brandneue Idee: „Falls es so etwas wie Reinkarnation gibt, dann möchte ich als Hund meiner Tochter wiederkommen."

"The new "old ideas" of Leonard Cohen"

Die Presse (German) by Samir H. Köck, January 24, 2012

On his twelfth, both humorous and thoughtful album is the 77-year-old singer also God himself to speak. He presented it in London's Mayfair Hotel.

This idea was well intentioned rather than good: interviewed pop singer Jarvis Cocker live his boyhood idol, the legendary poet and singer, before asking the journalists allowed. Leonard Cohen was in fact a joke and was well-prepared colleagues always go to the wall. Cocker was soon timidly: "I dare not ask me anyway, whoever this person is really who's talking about you. But it is not yet a strange way to start an album?"

A Cohen'sches silence was the answer. Laughter in the auditorium. Then he replied, but added: "I myself was very skeptical at first, it seemed to me extremely self-centered. Then I tried to irony. Now it's on the album."

Rarely has a songwriter sings in the third person about himself even more rarely from the perspective of God. Cohen does so noticeable in the opening song "Going Home" with pleasure. "I love to speak with Leonard," he can say to God. "He's a sportsman and a shepherd, he's a lazy bastard living in a suit" Later it is still caustic: "He just does not have the freedom to refuse, he wants to speak these words of wisdom, like a say, a man of vision, though he's really nothing." Such self-incrimination is the recently wildly escalating Cohen's humor.

Once a pleasurable sufferer

For decades, Cohen has almost cheerfully in his depression poems and songs aestheticized. He seemed to the dictum of the philosopher EM Cioran to follow the stated in his book "Crashing Through Time": "Since we are unable to overcome our suffering, we must try to cultivate them and find them favors." The Cohen did with his eerie delight presented with lamentations. Some accused him of sentimentality. But humor, he had even earlier, as in songs like "Ain't No Cure For Love". But this was hardly noticed.

At the ripe age of almost 78 years, Cohen has become so much sarcasm that he can no longer be overlooked. He serves as a weapon against the erosion that inflicts the time. The organs are insubordinate, new ideas are scarce. Klug called Cohen why his album "Old Ideas" - his latest, "Dear Heather", should have called just that.

How old are your ideas? "2614 years", says Cohen: "Only some are a little fresher ..." And it's not always easy: "I never had the feeling that I am facing a huge buffet to choose from I. There are people who draw on an inner richness. I'm unfortunately not one of them.For me it's more like Yeats says., Working in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart'"

This line is from the Yeats poem "The circus animals' desertion"(1939), "To the old stuff' on me, little more remains for me," it says in it. There speaks a man of the circus, he resigned: "The joyful courage, the fight, the rest: pure madness."

Finally, a slave of women

As the artist in this poem, Cohen knows that the circle of his themes is closely staked between death and love. Even 35 years after the creator of "Ladies' Man" has declared himself to be dead, he extols the wonders of the female. Maybe this time a little too servile, if he pleads: "Show me the place where you want your slave to go."

Of all the affairs and relationships with the many interesting women is nothing left. Cohen has always been a driven man, one was the more fondly than the search to find. Are there any traces of the Ladies' Man? Cohen smiles a little bitter. "Where I am now arrived, would be needed for quite a lot of humor."

But still he has the angels in his songs. Only too happy, he can also be set to "Old Ideas" accompanied by female voices. Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson and the lovely Webb Sisters breathe and whisper directions to Cohen's voice had become deeper again. He believes that now the lowest in this respect has been achieved? "I do not know," he says mischievously. "I thought if I quit smoking, my voice would develop towards soprano. But against the prevailing opinion, it was even lower."

Therefore, it is the perfect vehicle for the almost prayer-like songs in which Cohen begs for a little divine light. Here it is the delicate "Healing Come". Cohen, in Judaism (in which he was educated) and Buddhism (in which he has tried for nearly a decade) obviously both have dried up, offers a quasi-Catholic repentance: "And let the heavens hear it, the penitential hymn, Come healing of the body, healing of the mind come!"

I like also the not otherwise pious Jarvis Cocker: "This is another characteristic of your art," says he, "that the sacred and the profane are always mixed in wild confusion!"

Cohen is silent. The reporters laugh. Cohen is silent. Then he mumbles, barely audible: "Excuse my integrity."

"It takes a bit of enlightenment"

But happy. Questions about his methods may not give the old poet. "We must be careful when exploring the mechanics of our sacred art. Otherwise, we may write a single line of more." One thing he makes clear, however. "We all know, not enough persistence. It takes a little grace, a little enlightenment."

He has probably felt while working on "old ideas". From the cheap synth aesthetic that he had cared to "I'm Your Man" and "The Future", at least nothing more is heard. He also plays guitar himself again. "Journalists were often very cruel to me," he smiles. "They said that I may just three chords. In truth, there are six."

In the song "Crazy To Love You" once more before he throws himself into the dust of his muse: "I'm tired of choosing desire, been saved by a sweet fatigue, the gates of committment unwired, and nobody trying to leave." From Similarly exhaustion announced 25 years ago the great "Tower of Song": I ache in the places where I used to play" Still, he keeps it up, will again go on tour. And also has an idea for the time after his death, a brand new idea: "If there is such a thing as reincarnation exists, then I would come back as a dog of my daughter."


"The old ideological"

Gazeta.ru (Russia) by Alexei Volodin, January 27, 2012

"The old ideological"

Gazeta.ru (Russia) by Alexei Volodin, January 27, 2012

It turns out "Old Ideas" - a new album, singer and poet Leonard Cohen's first studio album in eight years.

The album "Old Ideas" was supposed to appear just eight years ago, in 2004. But then the artist has decided that the public will work with the same name for the collection of greatest hits, while her recorded new material, and the album was named "Dear Heather".

After a considerable hiatus Cohen seems to have lived this fear: ten new songs finally came under the heading, which has long been waiting in the wings.

In this period of life the author, speaker since 1968, and by that time already successful as a writer, he suddenly had to go through so many events and internal changes that would be enough for a movie. A year after the release of "Dear Heather" singer, filed a lawsuit against his manager, Kelley Lynch, accusing her of embezzling $ 5 million from the pension fund, co-owner of which he was (on the left accounts of $ 150,000). To cover the costs - and Cohen had to deal with counter claims from the fund investors - artist signed to a big world tour. The tour lasted two years, dozens of countries covered, in the framework of the Cohen tour, his first visit to Moscow. By the end of his career he continued to watch - in the studio, recording this album. "I worked 15 years that did nothing - quoted the singer The Guardian, - I was like Ronald Reagan at his age. He remembered that he played well the role of President - I remember something about yourself as an artist. In connection with certain events, I had to shake out of the house. I'm working again, and this is definitely a sense of my braces."

It turns out that a date with a Canadian classic and his new album, we are obliged to unscrupulous salesman. "After the tour, I decided not to stop," - said Cohen. But the album in any case does not carry a charge of unnatural vigor and enthusiasm, which is found in the authors who have appeared in his situation, no trace of the deification of labor, as the heroes of the plays of Chekhov, and demonstrative disdain for laziness is not observed in Cohen: had and then became involved. Ten new songs - ten quiet, full of strong brand of melancholy ballads and evening deliberateness, somewhere, do not hesitate, Cohen sings a flat synth (in some songs in the literal sense as a cheap "comb"), accompanied, in others - a warm "mugovy" or a piano.

And that, in general chanson in his understanding of the original: the word is not floating in hand with the music, and a little ahead of her, and Cohen, the poet on this disc comes in a little leg-Cohen, musician ("At one time I was heavily battered by the British music critics who wrote that I know three chords. Slander - I know the five" - Cohen laughed.)

Musically, the new songs have some surprising effect: the ear becomes accustomed to their gloomy melancholy, as his eyes to the darkness, and gradually, as if to touch, begins to distinguish the nuances of the melody: the song "Crazy Love to You" notice leapt Dylan notes, in the "Healing Come" - a fun, on the verge of negligence, roll with the duo back vokalistkok. lyrics as simple and as sung so pure, that seems to be on them to learn English, and their subjects exhaustively describes the envelope is placed inside the disk image Cohen, which depicts a nude woman and a skull. For his text, by the way, Cohen recently won PEN New England.

"The most prestigious award in this was to share it with Chuck Berry "- Cohen told the British public. ' Roll, Beethoven, Tell Tchaikovsky the news" - I never like to write, I would have given much to this line," - talking about the prize Cohen.

"Your new song I would call a "penitential hymns," - said in response to a rock musician Jarvis Cocker, who led the presentation, which represented a Cohen album by British audiences. "repent? - Responded to an artist. - I honestly do not understand what you mean. Who is to blame for the catastrophe described by me - man, woman, or God? I've not undertake to judge." With this album, artist, who is now 77 years old, is going to go on tour - it is possible that in its fall schedule, and Moscow. In this sense, is interesting to compare the effect of the current album, with its performance - so far the only - in the capital. And on the album and a concert at the Moscow Cohen, destroying stereotypes. On that memorable evening, he appeared before the Russian public is not a singer bourgeois press, which is often characterized the most vicious criticism, and a clever, subtle with a great poet, importantly, a sense of humor. On this album, everyone was waiting for hypnotic effect as the previous "Dear Heather", but under these quiet songs hardly fall asleep. Funny thing happens: after Cohen and creates a living - the old wit, departing from his chair with a blanket on the big tour and studio road and fell in love again.

"Leonard Cohen: In his own good time"

The New Zealand Herald by Des Sampson, January 28, 2012

He's one of the most respected and enigmatic songwriters in American history but when Leonard Cohen shuffles into the theatre of the swanky Mayfair Hotel, in London, in a suit and matching trilby to talk about his latest album, Old Ideas, he seems a frail, pale imitation of his former self. On the back of a new album, Leonard Cohen talks about his painstaking songwriting process and proves there's still some fire left in him yet. Des Sampson reports

But as the 77-year-old settles down for a chat with Pulp's erstwhile front man, Jarvis Cocker, who's hosting the intimate playback of the album in front of a gathering of world media, it's soon clear that looks are deceptive. Cohen's wit is as sharp as ever, as he delivers pithy one-liners with glee.

"Why is the album called Old Songs? It's because some of the songs are pretty old - I don't have that many ideas," he jests, before addressing the assembled audience and adding, "I will not be facing you during this playback, so you need not guard your expressions."

With the playback accompanied by images of the album's artwork, scribbled draft lyrics and spectral sketches by Cohen, it's a powerful and poignant introduction to his latest collection.

"It must be strange being in a room, in front of all these people when they're listening to your music and seeing and hearing their reaction," offers Cocker as an opening gambit.

"Oh, it is. But I'm testing it, to see if it finds favour with the audience and also with myself," Cohen teases. "I have to say I've been pretty swept away with it and the reaction to it. But then I think this particular record invites you to be swept away - even if you have no rhythm yourself."

It does sweep you away, because it's an intimate, semi-autobiographical album. Songs like the opening track, Going Home, where Cohen chastises himself for his faults, Show Me The Place and Crazy To Love You entice you in with their simple, evocative mix of the holy and profane, the cerebral and the carnal - themes that habitually reprise themselves throughout his richly woven tapestry of songs. "I never had any kind of strategy to do that," admits Cohen. "And I've never felt a sense of abundance with my writing. If anything, it's the opposite: I've always felt I was at the end of the line, scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get the song together and come up with a beginning, middle and end.

"There are people who work with a sense of abundance but sadly I'm not one of them," he adds, sighing. "I've never had a sense that I was standing in front of a buffet table with a multitude of choices. I just try to piece something together and now and then, by some grace, something stands out and invites you to work on it more. It's a mysterious process, which depends on perseverance, perspiration and also a certain amount of grace and illumination."

It's a surprising admission from one of music's most respected lyricist and poets, as recognised by his Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, in 2010. But his admission partly explains the often lengthy periods between his albums and the eight-year hiatus since his last record, Dear Heather, and new collection, Old Songs.

"It didn't seem that long. It just seems like yesterday," shrugs Cohen. "I certainly never feel like I've stopped writing, or there's been a break because I pretty much work at this every day.

"I understand from the outside that it can look like I'm not doing much, because nothing appears in the shops for a while. But, believe me, this workshop never shuts down," he asserts, tapping his temple. "Part of the delay is I find it very hard to abandon a song until I've polished it and brought it to as close a finish as I can. Only then do I feel I can discard it if it's not working. "That's what happened with Hallelujah, which took me over four years to write. I wrote so many verses for it but I couldn't throw any of them away until I'd made each one the best it could be. Only then did I discard any," he clarifies. "That's a time-consuming process, which is why it takes me a long time to finish an album."

Ironically, it could have taken Cohen even longer than eight years to write Old Songs, had it not been for a tour of his previous album. That tour was originally scheduled for a few shows but snowballed into a two-year, 246-date marathon run, which reignited his passion to perform live.

"That tour really reinvigorated me, in the sense of being touched by the reception of all the people across the world," he concedes, smiling. "I'm not insensitive to that appreciation, so that did have an invigorating effect.

"I'd kind of forgotten what it was like to tour, because I hadn't done anything for 15 years - it was like being Ronald Reagan in his declining years, where he remembered he once had a good role, playing a President in a movie," Cohen jokes.

"I felt a similar thing: that I had once been somewhat a singer. But being back on the road really re-established me as a worker in the world and that was a very satisfying feeling.

"So, when I finished the tour, I didn't feel like stopping because I felt energised by what went on during that tour. Consequently, I wrote this record."

Perhaps that momentum will carry over into yet another record and a new tour? But we'll just have to wait and see if that happens..."

New York

"Leonard Cohen - Words and Music - 2012"

WFUV 90.7, March 2, 2012. Photo by Mike Coppola.

Listen to audio of NY promo event

Head to Joe's Pub in New York City where FUV's Rita Houston hosted a Q&A session with Leonard Cohen, and while the conversation centered around his new album, 'Old Ideas,' Cohen had some other amusing tales to tell as well. [recorded: 01/20/12]


"Session d'écoute avec Leonard Cohen"

Canoe (Canada) by Marie-Joëlle Parent, January 22, 2012

NEW YORK - Leonard Cohen donne rarement des entrevues. Quand il décide de se prêter à l'exercice, les journalistes y accourent comme à la leçon d'un grand sage. Cette fois, c'est pour parler de son nouvel album, Old Ideas, le premier en huit ans. Entretien à New York avec Laughing Len.

La salle sombre de Joe's Pub dans East Village est remplie de quelques journalistes américains, d'amis et de gens de l'industrie. Les consignes sont strictes: pas de photos, pas d'enregistrement, pas de vidéo.

On attend impatiemment l'arrivée de Cohen pour une session d'écoute en sa présence. Il fait finalement son entrée, tel un gentleman gangster, tout de noir vêtu, tenant son Fedora sur sa poitrine. Il s'avance prudemment vers une table au milieu de tous, mince et frêle, entouré d'un halo de lumière. La salle se lève par respect pour la légende.

Cohen brise la glace. Il parle très lentement et pèse ses mots. «N'arrêtez pas de boire pour moi, je ne serai pas dans la pièce pendant l'écoute de l'album, je l'ai déjà entendu. Ne vous inquiétez pas, je ne vais pas observer vos réactions.» Le malaise d'écouter l'album en sa présence se dissipe. «Si vous n'avez pas de questions après, on prendra un verre ensemble. Merci, chers amis, d'être venus», a ajouté le musicien de 77 ans.

Pendant 41 minutes, on est transportés par les mélodies de Cohen et hypnotisés par cette voix si profonde. Je lui pose d'ailleurs la question à son retour. Votre voix semble plus grave que jamais, est-ce le cas?

La remarque le fait sourire. «Ma voix est plus grave parce que j'ai arrêté de fumer. J'aimerais bien recommencer à 80 ans. Qui sait, ma voix va peut-être monter. C'est d'ailleurs une des raisons qui me donnent envie de repartir en tournée: fumer sur la route», a-t-il blagué.

Il s'est écoulé huit ans depuis son dernier album, Dear Heather (2004). «Ce fut une période rare et inhabituelle dans ma vie où les chansons me sont venues rapidement», a-t-il dit au sujet du processus de création de cet album qui parle surtout d'amour, mais aussi de détresse et de vieillesse. La chanson Banjo a été inspirée par le désastre de l'ouragan Katrina.

«Habituellement, ça me prend beaucoup de temps», a dit le génie des mots. Sa chanson préférée est Show me the Place, une pièce magnifique qui fait penser au style de Gilles Vigneault.

La chanson d'ouverture s'appelle Going Home. Je lui ai demandé quelle ville il considérait être la maison. «J'ai deux maisons: Montréal et puis Los Angeles.» Cohen passe aussi beaucoup de temps dans sa villa en Grèce.

En 2005, Cohen a perdu sa fortune après avoir été floué par son ancienne gérante. Il a donc été contraint de revenir sur scène. Il a complété une tournée colossale de 250 concerts en 2010. Avec le recul, il admet que ce retour forcé lui a fait du bien.

«Je n'avais jamais arrêté d'écrire, mais avec le temps, une certaine distance s'était développée entre mon travail et moi. En retournant sur la route, je me suis retrouvé avec des musiciens à nouveau, ce qui a réchauffé certaines parties de mon coeur qui s'étaient refroidies», a-t-il dit, les yeux pétillants. Sur ces sages paroles, Cohen a levé son chapeau avant de retourner dans l'ombre des coulisses.


Leonard Cohen est étroitement associé au légendaire Chelsea Hotel, dont le sort est encore incertain. Il y a séjourné dans les années 1960 et 1970. Chelsea Hotel No2 (1974) a d'ailleurs été écrite en hommage à une certaine Janis Joplin. Cohen a raconté cette délicieuse anecdote mettant en scène feu Edie Sedgwick, la muse d'Andy Warhol.

«Elle était d'une beauté incroyable, sa chambre était au même étage et toujours peuplée de créatures magnifiques, un groupe auquel je n'appartenais malheureusement pas. Il y avait ce magasin de magie sur la 7e Avenue, j'étais si désespéré que j'avais acheté un livre sur le pouvoir des chandelles. Un soir, Edie m'a finalement invité dans sa chambre remplie à craquer. Il y avait des chandelles partout. Je n'ai rien trouvé à dire sauf: "C'est très dangereux tout ça". Bref, je ne suis pas resté longtemps. Le lendemain, sa chambre a pris feu et mon prestige s'est envolé.»

Old Ideas sera lancé le 31 janvier prochain sur l'étiquette Sony. Le disque est produit par Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders et Dino Soldo.

"Listening session with Leonard Cohen"

Canoe (Canada) by Marie-Joëlle Parent, January 22, 2012

NEW YORK - Leonard Cohen rarely gives interviews. When he decided to lend to the year, as journalists rush to the lesson of a great sage. This time, to talk about his new album, Old Ideas, the first in eight years. Interview in New York with Laughing Len. The dark room of Joe's Pub in East Village is filled with a few American journalists, friends and industry people. The guidelines are strict: no photos, no recording, no video.

We eagerly awaiting the arrival of Cohen for a listening session in his presence. He finally enters, like a gentleman gangster, dressed all in black, holding his Fedora on his chest. He moves cautiously toward a table in the middle of all thin and frail, surrounded by a halo of light. The room gets up out of respect for the legend.

Cohen breaks the ice. He speaks very slowly and weighs his words. "Do not stop drinking for me, I will not be in the room while listening to the album, I've heard. Do not worry, I will not watch your reactions." The discomfort of listening to the album in his presence to dissipate. "If you have any questions after we take a drink. Thank you, dear friends, for coming," said the musician of 77 years.

For 41 minutes, is carried by Cohen and melodies mesmerized by that voice so deep. I ask him the question elsewhere on return. Your voice seems worse than ever, is this the case?

The remark made him smile. "My voice is worse because I quit smoking. I would love to start at age 80. Who knows, my voice may go up. This is one of the reasons that make me want to go back on tour: smoke on the road," he joked.

It has been eight years since his last album, Dear Heather (2004). "It was a rare and unusual period in my life where the songs came to me quickly," he said about the process of creating this album, who mostly love, but also distress and old age. The song Banjo was inspired by the disaster of Hurricane Katrina.

"Usually it takes me a long time," said the genius of words. His favorite song is Show me the Place, a magnificent piece that recalls the style of Gilles Vigneault.

The opening song is called Going Home. I asked him what city he considered to be home. "I have two houses: Montreal and then Los Angeles." Cohen also spends much time in his villa in Greece.

In 2005, Cohen has lost his fortune after being cheated by his former manager. It was therefore forced to return on stage. He completed a tour staggering 250 concerts in 2010. In hindsight, he admits that his forced return was good.

"I never stopped writing, but over time had developed a certain distance between my work and me. Returning to the road, I found myself with musicians again, which heated parts of my heart that had cooled," he said, eyes sparkling. Of these wise words, Cohen raised his hat before returning to the shadows behind the scenes.


Leonard Cohen is closely associated with the legendary Chelsea Hotel, whose fate is still uncertain. He stayed there in the 1960s and 1970s. Chelsea Hotel #2 (1974) has also been written in tribute to some Janis Joplin. Cohen told that delicious anecdote featuring late Edie Sedgwick, the muse of Andy Warhol.

"She was incredibly beautiful, his room was on the floor and still populated by magnificent creatures, a group that I belonged unfortunately. There was this magic shop on 7th Avenue, I was so desperate that I bought a book about the power of candles. One evening I was finally invited Edie to her room filled to capacity. There were candles everywhere. I found nothing to say except: "all this is very dangerous." In short, I did not stay long. The next day her room caught fire and took off my prestige."

Old Ideas will be launched on 31 January on the Sony label. The disc was produced by Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo.

"Leonard Cohen, 'Old Ideas' from an old soul"

MJNY by Marie-Joëlle Parent, January 21, 2012

I was invited yesterday to an exclusive listening session of Leonard Cohen's new album, "Old Ideas", his first in nearly eight years. The 77-year-old music legend showed up as his usual self, dressed in a double-breasted black blazer and coiffed with his signature fedora. He slowly made his way to the stage like gentleman gangster. "Don't suspend your alcohol interest, I won't be in the room, he said with a smirk. I heard the album before. I won't be monitoring your expressions. After, if questions don't arise, we'll share a drink, thank you friends". Cohen set the tone.

Leonard Cohen rarely speaks to the media. No pictures, no tape recording and no video taping were allowed, so I frenetically scribbled on my notepad (so 2008) every word coming out of this old soul. It's a short album, 41 minutes total. I am in no way qualified to critic this album, and will relay the laborious task to music specialists, but I will say this: I was taken away by the intricate yet simple melodies and hypnotized by his voice. Here are snippets of what "Laughing Len" had to say:

The opening line of the first song on the album is "I love to speak with Leonard, he's a sportsman and a shepherd, he's a lazy bastard living in a suit". Where were you when you wrote that? "In trouble!" This song was only an experiment and Pat Leonard (producer on the album) convinced him to record it. Click here to listen and read the lyrics.

Since he chose this title to open the album, I asked him where he considered home to be at this moment in his life. "I have two homes, Montreal and Los Angeles". A fellow reporter asked him if he had reached with age some sort of epiphany and had become more joyful. He quoted one of his mentors, Canadian poet Irving Layton who died in 2006: "Leonard's mind has never been contaminated by a single idea".

Cohen admitted "Show Me The Place" is his favorite song on the album. "It was one of those graceful periods which come out rarely in ones's life, the songs came at a gratifying speed. Usually it takes a long time, it's unsual in my world", said the eternal perfectionist about the creation process.

Listening to his new songs, I couldn't help but wonder how low could his baritone voice go. Your voice seems to be lower than ever, is that the case? "My voice is lower because I gave up smoking. As I mentionned before, I would like to take up smoking again when I'm 80, I expect it to rise. It's one of those things that would convince me to tour again, smoking on the road". Cohen finished an astonishing 250-date tour in 2010.

"For some financial reasons (his fortune was ripped off by his former manager in 2005), I was forced to go back on the road, to repair the fortunes of my family and myself. Suddenly I was dealing with living musicians and it did have a great effect and warmed some parts of my heart that had taken a chill".

One of the songs is called "Banjo" and the chorus goes like this: "There's something that I'm watching. Means a lot to me. It's a broken banjo bobbing on the dark infested sea". Cohen explained: "The origin of every song is pedestrian and obscure. I do have to remember that the song rose out of Katrina. Somehow, I saw that culture dismantle. That image of a broken banjo flotting in the dark infested sea came right out of that deep discomfort imposed from the disaster of Katrina".

Asked to tell a New York anecdote, Cohen shared this one about the Chelsea Hotel, where he stayed in the '60s and 70's and composed the famous "Chelsea Hotel No2? (1974), an homage to Janis Joplin. Cohen's room was near Andy Wahrol's muse, Edie Sedwick's. "She was extremely beautiful, all the beautiful people were in her room, and I was obviously not part of them. There was this store on 7th Avenue selling love powders and magic products. I was so desperate that I started to believe in these products. I bought a book about candles. At a certain point, I was invited into Edie's room. It was filled with a glittering crowd and candles everywhere. I had no credentials and nothing to say other than: "This display of candles is extremely dangerous" like I was some expert in candles. Needless to say, I didn't stay long. Her room burned down the next day and my prestige soared".

"Sing Another Song, Leonard Cohen"

The Village Voice by Maura Johnston, January 25, 2012

Returning with Old Ideas

Thursday night at Webster Hall, the Brooklyn act Cults celebrated a homecoming of sorts. The gloom-pop band's set included what frontwoman Madeline Follin claimed was a rare encore (assisted by the Indiana MC Freddie Gibbs) and a heap of songs that danced across the line separating the feeling of being totally crushed out and the feeling of crushing romantic disappointment. Reverb-swaddled guitars filled the room, Follin's hair swinging in the wind as she swayed in time with the music.

At one point, the band took a breather from playing songs from its 2011 debut to bring a cover into the mix: "Everybody Knows," Leonard Cohen's stormy track from 1988. "Everybody knows the good guys lost; everybody knows the fight was fixed," Follin sang bleakly while keyboards chimed behind her. The power of the Canadian troubadour's statements about a cruel world caused the room to collapse into something more intimate. Follin's band is as notable for somehow managing to be an enigma in the Internet age as it is for its hummable, glockenspiel-assisted pop jewel "Go Outside." And she had clearly practiced this Cohen tune a lot-at home, alone, feeling the weary sentiment underlying its blackest lyrics.

The next afternoon, a clutch of people-some of whom had traveled from as far as Montreal and Los Angles-were invited to Joe's Pub to hear the latest from Cohen, Old Ideas (Columbia). The album, Cohen's 12th, arrives in record stores Tuesday. Its 10 songs are edited down to only the most necessary musical elements. In contrast to the heavier arrangements of his earlier work, the minimalism is so stark at times that the aftermath of a single string being plucked turns into its own sort of instrumentation, thanks to it having so much room to breathe. Cohen's bottomless voice curls around sardonic phrases and lamentations about loves lost; the voices of his female collaborators, including longtime foils Sharon Robinson and Jennifer Warnes, swoop in and out, serving as airy counterpoints.

Label-mandated listening sessions for important new records can be sterile affairs, often set in conference rooms or disused offices. Setting the first listen to Old Ideas at the smartly renovated Joe's Pub was a savvy move, because as the album played through on Friday, the feeling was not unlike being in church: The mid-winter dusk filtered through the windows of Joe's Pub in such a way as to give the low-lit room an added glow; attendees had their heads bowed in concentration, only looking up to glance around the room or sip from the drinks in front of them; the lyric sheets strewn on each cocktail table served as hymnals, full of Cohen's sly rhymes and self-lacerating observations. (The reference to a stone being rolled away on "Show Me the Place" and the cross-splinter imagery on the hymnlike "Come Healing" only added to that atmosphere.) "I love to speak with Leonard/He's a sportsman and a shepherd," Old Ideas begins, and as if to bring that opening line full circle, the formerly reclusive singer was, in fact, in the building and ready to answer questions.

In 2009, I saw one of Cohen's Beacon Theater shows, his first concerts in the United States after about 15 years. The performance didn't show any signs of rust: He ran through his catalog with aplomb and inspired at least 10 standing ovations, and throughout, he was charming and gracious, going so far as to thank even the woman who took care of his hats. Friday's appearance was no different. Even the most hard-headed journalists in the room seemed to be holding their breath, rapt with attention and asking questions with keen attention paid to each word he uttered in his singular voice. Which actually sounded a bit different than it had in previous years, he noted: "My voice is getting lower and lower because I gave up smoking. I expected it to rise. It went the other way."

Cohen, seated at a table just below the stage, talked about the album, the goings-on in his own world ("My own personal life is as shabby, dismal, and uninteresting as the rest of ours," he said at one point), and memories of his time living at the Chelsea Hotel, when things were so rough that he "believed in these powders . . . and bought a book on candles." The book on candles proved to be a somewhat useful conversation piece with fellow Chelsea Hotel resident Edie Sedgwick. In an attempt to chat her up, he blurted out that the arrangement of candles in her room would probably catch fire one day, and, he claimed, that "one day" wound up being the day after he'd blurted out his warning.

It almost didn't matter if the story were true or apocryphal. The room shook with laughter, the assembled collectively thrilled that they were hearing this tale of The Lost New York That Probably Won't Be Coming Back Anytime Soon from as expert a storyteller as Cohen. Old Ideas, with its blend of lyrics old and new (including "Banjo," a mournful tune about love and instruments lost that, Cohen said, was inspired by the imagery coming out of New Orleans post-Katrina) and its foregrounding of Cohen's basso profundo, is similarly intimate, its 10 songs speaking to the heartache that everybody knows in a way that simultaneously enthralls and causes heartbreak.

"Leonard Cohen's new take on 'Old Ideas'"

Reuters (UK) by John McCrank, January 26, 2012

(Reuters) - Sitting in a dimly lit New York City bar wearing a trilby hat and a dark suit, no tie, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen pauses before responding to a question about how his ideas have changed over his lengthy career.

He smiles and recalls something his close friend, the late Canadian poet Irving Layton, once said.

"'Leonard's mind has not been contaminated by a single idea,'" the 77-year-old Cohen quipped dryly, eliciting laughter from an audience gathered for a preview of his first studio album of new material in eight years, 'Old Ideas.'

The album, which sees its release on January 31, touches on themes the Montreal-born poet has spent a lifetime exploring -- love, sex, faith, mortality and others. But there is a lightness to the work, and Cohen refuses to take himself too seriously.

'I love to speak with Leonard/He's a sportsman and a shepherd/He's a lazy bastard/Living in a suit,' he croons in his gravelly baritone on the opening track, 'Going Home.'

The 10 new songs are minimalist in construction, recalling some of Cohen's earlier and most well-known works, like 'Suzanne,' 'Bird on a Wire,' and the often-covered 'Hallelujah.'

Long-time Cohen collaborators, Jennifer Warne, Sharon Robinson, and Anjali Thomas also lend their voices to the album, which is lightly peppered with guitar, keyboards, horns and strings.

Cohen said the album came together more quickly than many of his previous 11 studio recordings, but it is still a struggle to try to manifest one's self in song.

"You are trying to do one of the few things you barely know how to do," he told Reuters following the listening session. "You are dealing with an almost unbreakable silence, and you're grateful if anything comes through."

Cohen also has released several live and best-of albums, and published 10 books of poetry and two novels.


In New York, many of the critics at the preview -- there were dozens -- sat through around 40 minutes of music, listening with eyes closed, heads tilted back, and smiling slightly as though basking in the sunshine of his melodies. Others bobbed their heads gently. Some closely read the lyrics as he sang.

Cohen later entered the room to generous applause and then took questions, offering a glimpse into his reclusive life: His crush on Edie Sedgwick, the beautiful New York socialite, in the mid-1960s; his feelings of deep loss and discomfort after Hurricane Katrina; the honour of sharing a drink from the golden bowl of his 104-year-old Zen Buddhist teacher.

The poet and singer-songwriter, who divides his time between Montreal and Los Angeles, battled depression for much of his life, but in recent years has been in a better mental space.

He said his two-year world tour "warmed some part of my heart that had taken on a chill," and that he would like to go out on the road again in the near future.

The tour, which concluded in 2010, was Cohen's first in 15 years and was born of necessity after his former manager stole the bulk of his savings while Cohen was on a five-year Buddhist retreat in California, forcing the singer to go on the road to rebuild his bank account.

Now, Cohen said he is looking forward to getting back on stage and that it might be a good time to polish another half-dozen songs that he has been working on, but which were not ready for the release of 'Old Ideas.'

"The words are written," he told Reuters. "It's a matter of finding the voice, the right voice, so that it's true, and not just a slogan."

"The Crack In Everything Lets The Light In: Leonard Cohen In New York"

NPR (US) by Rita Houston, January 25, 2012

I love to speak with Leonard
He's a sportsman and a shepherd
He's a lazy bastard
Living in a suit

Those are the words that open the new Leonard Cohen album, Old Ideas, out January 31. The the first studio recording of new songs by Cohen since 2004's Dear Heather, it comes on heels of a massively celebrated tour that marked his return to the stage after more than a decade away. Last Friday, members of the press got a chance to listen to Old Ideas in Cohen's presence. He appeared at Joe's Pub in New York City for a listening party that was followed by a Q&A session moderated by WFUV's Rita Houston. The album doesn't come out until next week, but you can listen to the album now; to complete the experience, we thought we'd ask Rita to fill us in on her conversation with Cohen.

The last time Leonard Cohen came to town, it was for a show at the Beacon Theatre, his first U.S. concert in 15 years. The subsequent tour was a huge success. Did it influence this new album?

"It couldn't not have," Cohen answered. "I was living a kind of hermit's life, for about 10 or 15 years, I didn't know if I'd ever go back on the road, and a certain distance grew ... I think the writing I did took a certain theological or philosophical bent, it became somehow distant from the beating pulse. For financial reasons I was forced to go back on the road, to repair the fortunes of my family and myself, and this was a most fortunate happenstance. I was able to connect with living musicians, and then with living audiences, and yes it did have a great effect, it warmed some part of my heart that had taken on a chill."

Cohen was a published writer and poet before he was 20, and began writing songs after that. The early earnings made him a traveller, a man of the world. The length of his creative run has rivaled the best of them, from those early days through to his late '70s. Asked whether he's reached any epiphanies now that he's in his later years, Cohen quotes his friend and literary mentor, poet Irving Layton: "Leonard's mind has not been contaminated by a single idea."

His speaking voice is amazing to listen to, and like any good storyteller, he knows how to use it. His off-the-cuff anecdotes come out structured, with story arcs, colorful vocabulary and punchy endings.

Were we imagining it, or is his voice lower than ever? "Yes, my voice is getting lower and lower, because I gave up smoking. I expected it to rise, but it's gone the other way," he says.

"I'd like to take up smoking again when I'm 80. One of the things that makes me want to tour again is smoking on the road." He hopes to rehearse a band and tour with these new songs soon.

When he is out on tour, he's accompanied by the women who sing through, around and behind him on his songs, creating his signature sound. Old Ideas is no different. Cohen credits Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson, and Dana Glover with all the vocal arrangements, and says that when they talk, he listens. He brought them the songs and they took it from there.

He's reluctant to say too much about where his inspiration comes from, but reveals that "Banjo" came from Hurricane Katrina. "After Katrina ... I saw that culture dismantled, and I think that the image of a broken banjo floating in the dark came out of that deep discomfort that had been imposed on all our psyches."

Some of Old Ideas is quite new, some quite old, and some a mix. "Going Home," for one, has long-ago lyrics, while their transformation into a song is new.

Which of the new songs is the most meaningful? "I don't like to annoy or anger any of the other songs by stating a preference," he quips, "but 'Show Me the Way' came together with astonishing speed."

It's too tempting, sitting in the East Village, not to ask for any memories of his time living here. He thought a minute, coming up with one he could share, and pulled this from the time he lived in the Chelsea Hotel in the mid-1960s:

"Edie Sedgwick was living a few doors down. Through her door came all the most attractive men and women of the period, I was not among them, but I longed to be among them. There was, on the corner of 7th Avenue and 24th Street, there was a Mexican magic store, with potions, candles and powders, which could be used to draw influences into your life -- to secure love affairs, or to guarantee successes. My situation was such at the time that I believed in them, so I bought a couple of candles, and a book about candles -- I just read that, and the I Ching, though I couldn't follow anything from one paragraph to another. At a certain point, through some graceful accident, I was invited into Edie Sedgwick's room. It was filled with very beautiful young people. It was dark, and illuminated by candles, 30 to 40 candles, burning everywhere, on plates, on the stove ... I had no credentials at the time, there was nothing I could say. I walked into the room of her glittering crew, and I said, 'this display of candles is extremely dangerous.'

"So, I presented myself as... an Expert in The Candle. And this did not go over well. So I left at an appropriate time. The next day, her apartment burned down, and my prestige soared."

While we're looking back, is there any advice he would give the young Leonard Cohen? He answers this question with another quote from Irving Layton. "We were close friends, and he'd ask me what my plans were, what I was doing, and I'd tell him, and he'd shake his head, and say, "Are you sure you're doing the wrong thing?"

Right or wrong, Leonard Cohen is back with a set of songs that bring some hints of optimism into the usually dark musical world he lives in. Asked about the sense of peace and acceptance you can hear in the new songs, and where that source of light is from in his life, he replies, "It's probably not a good idea to do an autopsy on a living thing."

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