Leonard Co­hen at 82, darker and soli­tary

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in New York

Leonard Co­hen has spent a life­time med­i­tat­ing on his re­la­tion­ship to God and, at 82, he finds him­self soli­tary as he wres­tles with the ul­ti­mate meta­phys­i­cal ques­tions.

You Want It Darker, the 14th al­bum by the Canadian singer and poet, brings out Co­hen at his most clas­sic and most prob­ing as he pon­ders the na­ture of the in­di­vid­ual and of the Almighty.

Cel­e­brat­ing his 82nd birth­day on Wed­nes­day, his record la­bel an­nounced that You Want It Darker, pro­duced by his mu­si­cian son Adam Co­hen, will come out on Oct 21.

The al­bum im­me­di­ately opens with a flash­back to the cul­tural icon’s Mon­treal child­hood with a rich yet mourn­ful cho­rus from his home­town’s Can­tor Gideon Zel­ermyer and Shaar Hashomayim Syn­a­gogue choir.

Yet the sig­na­ture sound on You Want It Darker is sparse, with res­o­nant acous­tic gui­tar and string bass, the mu­sic re­in­forc­ing Co­hen’s lone­some spir­i­tual quest.

Co­hen— whose best-known song, the oft-cov­ered Hal­lelu­jah, ex­plored God and the mean­ing of mu­sic— re­turns to bi­b­li­cal heritage on the ti­tle track of YouWant It Darker.

Co­hen in the song strug­gles to rec­on­cile with the ex­is­tence of evil— and how his life’s own bour­geois con­cerns stack up in com­par­i­son.

Co­hen, his in­flu­ence and legacy undis­puted, had un­of­fi­cially retired in the 1990s and re­treated to a Bud­dhist monastery in the Los Angeles area.

He ini­tially re­sumed mu­sic for an un­spir­i­tual rea­son — his long time man­ager was found to have stolen much of his sav­ings.

But Co­hen has found a new burst of cre­ative en­ergy since his re­turn, with You Want It Darker fol­low­ing the emo­tion­ally in­tense yet more mu­si­cally di­verse al­bum Pop­u­lar Prob­lems in 2014.

Af­ter the death in July of Mar­i­anne Ihlen — the Nor­we­gian woman with whom he lived on the Greek is­land of Hy­dra and who in­spired his song So Long, Mar­i­anne— her friend re­vealed a fi­nal let­ter from Co­hen in which he de­clared his “end­less love” and wrote: “I think I will fol­low you very soon.”

With the se­ri­ous­ness of You Want It Darker, Co­hen shows lit­tle of the more ironic side that gave him a pop cul­ture mys­tique in the 1980s.

Yet there­may be a hint of his old play­ful side. Af­ter re­leas­ing his last al­bum, he joked that his res­o­lu­tion at age 80 was to re­sume smok­ing af­ter years of de­priv­ing him­self for health rea­sons.

The cover of You Want It Darker shows a grim, un­shaven Co­hen sport­ing a top hat— and a cig­a­rette dan­gling be­tween his fin­gers.


Canadian song­writer Leonard Co­hen will re­lease a new al­bum in Oc­to­ber.

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