Songs For The Next Leonard Cohen Album: Feels So Good

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Leonard Cohen – Rosemont Theater, 2009

Leonard Cohen’s Next Album

I suspect some folks may wonder why I’m already focusing on Leonard Cohen’s next album.The answer is simple – it should be out any time now. Consider this report from The Guardian:

Some of the songs on the new record [Popular Problems] came together at “shockingly alarming speed”, Cohen said, and the duo have already finished “half of another” LP

Consequently, if the next album is to benefit from my recommendations, the time to make them is now.  And, I do have a couple of songs on my personal wish list, including today’s suggestion, …

The Other Blues Song – Feels So Good

Leonard Cohen first performed this song in concert at the October 29, 2009 Rosemont Theatre (Chicago) concert. I was lucky enough to hear it twice that day, once at the concert itself and, a few hours earlier, at the soundcheck.

The soundcheck was already underway by the time we had been credentialed and had wended our way through the backstage labyrinth to the auditorium. Shortly after we had settled into our seats, Leonard Cohen1 brought the song they were playing to an end, saying, “Let’s try the other blues song.”

Following which, I heard – for the first time – the song beginning, “Feels so good, … .”

I heard it again, from better seats but in a less exclusive environment, during the concert that evening.2

Writing the post about the Rosemont concert, it occurred to me to refer to it as Cohen did during soundcheck, which is how the title for the first post to mention the piece became Leonard Cohen Premieres “The Other Blues Song” At October 29, 2009 Chicago Concert.3

Eventually, of course, the song came to be known as “Feels So Good” for lots of reasons. I came around when it began appearing on the stage setlists as “Feels So Good.”

Leonard Cohen – Feels So Good
Rosemont Theatre – Chicago: Oct 29, 2009
Video by albertnoonan

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  1. Or, as I then identified him mentally, “That is really Leonard Fuckin’ Cohen” []
  2. The depth of my respect for Leonard Cohen is evidenced by the fact that when I recognized the song during that night’s performance from the first bars played, I did not arise in my seat, turn to the audience, and announce “You have never heard this song before – but I have.” []
  3. For the reasons I thought this was a good idea and other background, see How Leonard Cohen’s “The Other Blues Song” Got That Name []

Listen To Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Now Via NPR

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Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems now streaming free of charge via NPR First Listen.1

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  1. I was able to connect from my location in the US. It appears to work in the UK, Australia, and Europe as well.  I do not know, however,  if this site can be reached from all countries. []

Baby, Baby, Baby – All The 1985 Leonard Cohen Norway Videos Are Back Online

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Now You See Them, Now You Don’t, Now You Do, … The Spectacular Leonard Cohen Kalvøya Videos

In 2009, Heck Of A Guy posted Baby, Baby, Baby – Leonard Cohen & Anjani Sing The Blues In Norway celebrating the YouTube appearance of three spectacular videos, “I Tried to Leave You,” “Heart With No Companion,” and “Story of Isaac,” taken from a TV broadcast of a 1985 performance by Leonard Cohen in Kalvøya (“Isle of Calf” – near Oslo), Norway. The color and clarity of these recordings were outstanding, the performances, with Anjani on the keyboards and vocals, were  solid, and watching these videos was moving, exhilarating, and fun. Since then, the videos have reappeared and been removed at least once. Then, in 2013, some of the Kalvoya performances, including “Memories,”  a performance not previously available, were uploaded to Daily Motion. Sadly, “I Tried To Leave You” was missing.

Until now.

NRK has put their entire broadcast of the festival online, including all four Leonard Cohen songs: “Memories,” “Heart With No Companion,” “Story of Isaac,” and “I Tried to Leave You.” In addition, a brief interview with Cohen is included.

lc-mem2And, with his hair slicked back, his beard stylishly scruffy, a cigarette in one hand, and a microphone in the other (note the dramatic microphone dip at 1:58), Leonard Cohen’s matinee idol persona, typically used in the performance of “Memories,” has never been more enjoyable.

Good Afternoon, My Darling
I Tried To Leave You

While all the songs are interesting and well worth watching, the most entertaining and intriguing of the lot is “I Tried To Leave You.”

Anjani’s Mean Streakin’ Pearl of the Pacific Blues

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Then as in the 2008-2013 tours, “I Tried To Leave You” is used as a showcase for the band members’ talents. Unlike the more contemporary rendition of “I Tried To Leave You,”1 however, the 1985 version is performed as a blues number.

Also Starring …

The video of “I Tried To Leave You” also features an impressive display of guitar skills by band members, Leonard Cohen in stylishly scruffy mode2 improvising lines and being crowned with a wreath of laurels, and a huge crowd of incredibly wholesome-looking, uniformly well-behaved Norwegians.

The Boys In The Band

“I Tried To Leave You” also serves as background for Cohen’s introductions of the band members which are generous and laudatory as those he performed in more recent concerts. He creates a couple of titles congruent with those he has used for band members in the World Tour. His 1985 drummer, for example, is designated the “Master of Surfaces” while his 2009 counterpart, Rafael Gayol, is labeled the “Prince of Precision” or “Our Timekeeper.”

In addition to Anjani Thomas on keyboards, fans are likely to recognize Mitch Watkins, the guitarist on the recent Cohen tours.

Only The Lonely

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And then as now, he has a special concern for those alone. Since 2008, it often took the form of this blessing, “May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if none of these is yours, may the blessings find you in your solitude. ” In 1985, however, he urges his audience to remember him and his band “… even when you find yourself alone in your room making passes at yourself.”

The Video

The video cannot be embedded here but can be viewed at Det er fest på Kalvøya igjen (Kalvøyafestivalen 1985)

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Note: The contents of the entire video are displayed below the viewing screen.  One can access the desired sections by clicking 0n those headings (see highlighted “Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You” section in above screen capture)

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this video by a Facebook post authored by Gordana Stupar

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  1. For example, see the 2009 Belfast performance “I Tried To Leave You,” which is the first video in the post, Leonard Cohen – Best Of Belfast. []
  2. Think “Miami Vice,” a 1986 episode of which would feature Cohen. See Leonard Cohen, Miami Vice Guest Star []

How To Listen To Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album The Week Before Its Release

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Sony Streaming

Sony is promoting Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems album by streaming its tracks free of charge the week prior to its release. The dates below indicate when the streaming of Popular Problems begins in a given country. The pre-release streaming appears scheduled to continue until the release date of the album, Sept 23, 2014. This information is current as of 13 September 2014.

Update: As of 7  AM Sept  15, I am unable to reach the streaming via the Canadian site or the SmartUrl listed below from my location in the US. I am, however, able to access sites streaming the album at Kurier and NPR.

Canada

English – Sept 15, 2014: Information at CBC Music – Leonard Cohen Week

French – Sept 16, 2014: Information at ICIMusique.ca – Le Nouveau Disque De Leonard Cohen – Bientôt En Primeur Sur

Europe

Clicking on link after the start date automatically connects you to the correct streaming provider for your region: Popular Problems – SmartURL

Sept 15, 2014
France
Hungary
Poland
Czech Republic
Slovakia
Turkey

Sept 16, 2014
Belgium
Sweden
Portugal
Denmark
Norway

USA

I can find no direct reference to pre-release streaming in the US, but Sony’s European memo notes, “Any countries not listed below will be pointed to the NPR player in the US on September 15th. Consequently, I suspect the same link will work for the US as well, beginning Sept 15, 2014: Popular Problems – SmartURL

Credit Due Department: The information re pre-release streaming in Europe was found in a Sony memo posted at LeonardCohenForum

Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album – Updated Amazon Sales Ranking

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Amazon-USA: 13 September 2014

Yesterday’s post, Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album – The Sept 12, 2014 Update, noted that Popular Problems was “popular enough to rank #1 in sales on today’s US Amazon Album-Oriented Rock list.” While that statement was true, it was incomplete. As the above graphic (click to enlarge) indicates, Leonard Cohen’s soon to be released album is not only #1 in Album-Oriented Rock on the US Amazon site but is also #1 in Rock Music, #4 in Pop Music, and#5 in Music.

Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album – The Sept 12, 2014 Update

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1. With a minimum of promotion (compared to the Old Ideas sales campaign), Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album is – well, it’s popular.

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It’s at least popular enough to rank #1 in sales on today’s Amazon Album-Oriented Rock list. That’s in the US. On the Canadian Amazon site, Popular Problems is #1 in Music. Update: See Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album – Updated Amazon Sales Ranking

2. The early reviews are positive. The best of the lot so far is Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems is a portrait of the artist in his joyful late period by Bernard Zuel (The Age: Sept 12, 2014). Of course, I also suggest my own notes:

3. Credits: The Leonard Cohen-Patrick Leonard collaboration accounts for most of the songs of the album. Anjani Thomas is credited, along with Cohen, on A Street and Born In Chains is credited to Cohen alone. The only member of the Tour band who plays on the album is Alex Bublitchi. The backup singers are Dana Glover (who also sang on the Old Ideas album) and Charlean Carmon.

4. There is the prospect of another album. Rolling Stone reports:

Cohen and Leonard say they have “half of another record finished,”

5. There may or may not be a Tour promoting Popular Problems. As I reported on our conversation in early August:

At one point, Leonard responded to a comment I made about the wonders of his doing concerts lasting more than three hours with “We’ll have to do that again.”

Being the intrepid blogger I am, I prompted “So, there’s going to be another tour?”

Without hesitation, Leonard Cohen leaned forward, flashed his grandest smile, and immediately replied in a firm, clear voice, “Maybe.”

Not satisfied with that equivocation, I pushed forward with “Is that a definite maybe?”

Leonard smiled again, answering “A tour is a definite maybe.”

I countered with “Well, you have to do something. Your retirements haven’t been very successful.”

Now that Rolling Stone and Billboard report that Leonard Cohen commented that the road is “beckoning,” the prospect of a tour has risen to – a definite maybe.

6. You can listen to the full album next week. ICIMusique.ca has announced they will broadcast the nine songs from Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problem album from 16 to 23 September, a week before its official release, on ICIMusique.ca and cbcmusic.ca.Update: See How To Listen To Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems Album The Week Before Its Release