The Press Rediscovers Leonard Cohen
While the release of the Old Ideas album is itself, along with the 2012 Tour, one of the two major Leonard Cohen stories of 2012, the press coverage of the album and Cohen himself is a story unto itself. I’ve included a few examples below to provide a sense of the quality of the content and the range of periodicals involved.
The March 2012 issue of MOJO, for example, featured a one on one interview of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons as the centerpiece of a 14 page feature on the Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, novelist, and icon. While the timing of the article was a function of the release of Old Ideas, the content ranged from Cohen’s early life to his connection with Zen teacher, Roshi to the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour, to the Old Ideas album and beyond. A separate two page section focused on Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Cohen’s 1967 debut album. A tribute CD filled with covers of the tracks from the Songs of Leonard Cohen performed by Palace Songs, Low Anthem, Liz Green, Cass McCombs, and others completed the package.
The New Yorker not only presented the lyrics of “Going Home,” but premiered the song online, streaming it from the magazine’s site. In commemoration, I prepared a few illustrations.
Uncut Magazine (February 2012) carried a lengthy, laudatory review of Old Ideas, naming it Album Of The Month.
The Economist and Financial Times
Lucky old Leonard, indeed. You gotta love it. In 2004, Leonard Cohen appeared to have capped a career of – well, let’s go with “suboptimal money management” with a fiscal catastrophe in which his $5 million retirement fund was misappropriated by his longtime manager, leaving Cohen with only $150,000.1 This earned him much attention from the press, generating stories characterized by the cover of the August 22, 2005 Maclean’s, which paired his photo with the single-word title, “Devastated.”
Cut to 2012. In January, Leonard Cohen was nominated by the soberly astute Financial Times for “the job of post-financial crisis elderly sage,”2 going on to observe
As taken aback by his success as the rest of us, Cohen wasn’t trying to be the top dog. Mid-life-crisis proof, he wasn’t even trying to be cool. He was just trying to act his age.3
Then, the Canadian singer-songwriter was spotlighted in the February 25, 2012 issue of The Economist. The following excerpts are from the introductory and closing paragraphs of Enterprising Oldies by Adrian Wooldridge:
“A lazy bastard living in a suit” is Leonard Cohen’s description of himself in his new album, “Old Ideas”. Mr Cohen is certainly fond of wearing a suit, on and off stage. But lazy seems a bit harsh. He is 77, which is 12 years beyond the normal retirement age in Canada, where he was born. But there is no sign of his laying down his guitar. He spent 2008-10 on tour, performing on stage in Barcelona on his 75th birthday. “Old Ideas” has won widespread acclaim. Mr Cohen says he has written enough songs for another album. …
Here, Mr Cohen is a man for our times. In 2004 he faced financial ruin when he discovered that his manager, Kelley Lynch, had misappropriated most of his savings. He sued successfully but could not lay his hands on the money. So he had no choice but to go back to work. Mr Cohen told the New York Times that reconnecting with “living musicians” and “living audiences” had “warmed some part of my heart that had taken a chill”.