What’s New In The Leonard Cohen Line At The Paris Old Ideas Show

Leonard Cohen Presents

Perhaps, given the congruency between marketing pop music and haute couture, it was fitting that the only Old Ideas promotion Leonard Cohen has attended has been the Paris event.

Cohen’s responses to the queries at the press conference were, as one would exprect, predominantly based on his classical forms.

He opened, for example, with  a reflex genuflection to the country of the venue. Asked if he had a special relationship with France, Cohen responded

I always believed that the tradition in which I speak, the song was particularly well understood here in France.1

(For the record, Leonard Cohen has also presented his credentials for a special relationship with Canada, Ireland, Poland, Spain, and several other countries.)

Similarly, he again attributed the remission of his many years of depression to the notion that with old age, one loses a certain kind of brain cells responsible for causing anxiety,  he once more  explained the difference between clinical depression and ordinary disappointment, and revealed, for the 30th time, his passion for flamenco.

Dominique Issermann - Photographer and Friend of Leonard Cohen

There was, however, a bit of new material.

Probably the most significant new expression from the press conference has to do with the inclusion of blues songs on the album:

I’ve always loved the blues, her musical construction. But I always felt that I was not allowed to sing the blues. … 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.2

According to Winnaar58, reporting at LeonardCohenForum,

[Cohen said he] will not stay in his chair at front when the songs are going to be played, but he also will sit with the audience and he sat on a chair at the first row: ‘So feel free to react’

One notes this is the same reason psychoanalysts traditionally seated themselves behind the patient, with their face out of the client’s line of sight.

While he has laughed about the irony of his being called a “ladies’ man” in the past, the humor was gentler in this session:

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.”3

Cohen’s take on sadness in songs is interesting as well:

I think there’s a quality of sadness in all the songs we love. You can take Jingle Bells and sing it slowly and it can capture the deepest emotions. In fact, people do that: look what Marilyn Monroe did with Happy Birthday. She turned it into an erotic invitation. I think like tofu, a song takes on the flavor, the flavor of the emotional gravy in which it sits.4

And in conclusion,

Q: What will you do in your next life?

LC: I don’t really understand that process of reincarnation. But if there is such a thing I would like to come back as my daughter’s dog.5

Rober Kory - Business Manager For Leonard Cohen

Credit Due Department: All photos are by Dominique BOILE

  1. Nouvel album de Leonard Cohen : un très bon cru by Olivier Nuc. Le Figaro. Jan 17, 2012 []
  2. Leonard Cohen : “maintenant, j’ai la permission de chanter le blues”  RTL, January 18, 2012 []
  3. Leonard Cohen: “maintenant, j’ai la permission de chanter le blues”  RTL, January 18, 2012 []
  4. Quoted by Maarten at LeonardCohenForum []
  5. Quoted by Maarten at LeonardCohenForum []

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