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.
Clicking on link after the start date automatically connects you to the correct streaming provider for your region: Popular Problems – SmartURL
Sept 15, 2014
Sept 16, 2014
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
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.
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,”
Note: Any lyrics quoted below are not official but are transcriptions of what I heard listening to the recordings. I’ve made every effort to be accurate but …
5. Did I Ever Love You
In “Did I Ever Love You,” Leonard Cohen lists all those questions about love he has asked repeatedly in his novels, poems, and songs throughout his career:
Did I ever love you Did I ever need you Did I ever fight you Did I ever want you Did I ever leave you Was I ever able Or are we still leaning across the old table
The song opens slowly with Cohen’s voice in a lower register, then speeds up with percussive beats that have the listener swaying as the female singers take up the refrain, finally joined by the violin.
6. My Oh My
“My Oh My” is an examination of a past relationship (“I held you for a little while, My Oh My Oh My”) and its implications about the participants and the nature of love itself.
Although substantially reworked with greatly extended lyrics, “My Oh My” remains clearly recognizable as the same song recorded at the 2010 Ghent soundcheck.
Leonard Cohen – My Oh My
Ghent Soundcheck: August 21, 2010
Video by Maarten Massa
“Nevermind” echos “Darkness” in tempo, mood, and the notion of treachery within relationships. If anything, the lyrics of the newer song are more vehement.
I should’ve seen it coming
It was red behind your eyes
You’re young and it was summer
I just had to take a dive
Winning you was easy
But darkness was the price.
I caught the darkness It was drinking from your cup I caught the darkness Drinking from your cup I said, “Is this contagious?” You said, “Just drink it up.”
The war was lost The treaty signed I was not caught across the line I was not caught though many tried I live among you well-disguised I had to leave my life behind I dug some graves you’ll never find The story’s told with facts and lies I had a name, but nevermind Nevermind, nevermind
… Our law of peace which understands A husband leads, a wife commands And all of this, expressions of the sweet indifference some call love
… I could not kill the way you kill I could not hate, I try to fail You turned me in, at least you tried,
you side with themwho you despise This was your heart, this swarm of flies, This was once your mouth, this bowl of lies
“You Got Me Singing’ is the album’s gently triumphant conclusion. It is, in fact, a reaffirmation of the premise on which “Anthem” and “Hallelujah”are based with an unabashed and undisguised allusion to the latter in the chorus. As Cohen explained to an interviewer in 1995,
I wanted to write something in the tradition of the hallelujah choruses but from a different point of view…The other song closely related to that is ‘Anthem.’ It’s the notion that there is no perfection–that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances.1
You got me singing even though the news is bad You got me singing the only song I ever had You got me singing ever since the river died You got me singing all the places we could hide You got me singing Even though the world is gone You got me singing And I’d like to carry on You got me singing Even though it all looks grim You got me singing the hallelujah hymn
Credit Due Department: The Duchess contributed significantly to the comments on “My Oh My” and “Did I Ever Love You.”
From “Robert Hilburn Interviews Leonard Cohen” by Robert Hilburn (Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1995) Found at Speaking Cohen. [↩]
Note: Lyrics quoted in this post are not official but are transcriptions of what I heard listening to the recordings. I’ve made every effort to be accurate but …
I’m slowing down the tune I never liked it fast You want to get there soon I want to get there last It’s not because I’m old It’s not the life I’ve led I always liked it slow That’s what my mama said
The opening lines of “Slow,” the first song on Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems set an unmistakable tone, speaking directly to the issues of aging, life, love, and death, all expressed in that now familiar, sensual, comforting voice. As is true of most of the tracks, female vocals are used to sweeten Cohen’s rasp.
2. Almost Like The Blues
Listening to “Almost Like The Blues” provides far more insight than I could provide.
In some sense, Samson In New Orleans conceptually hearkens back to Cohen’s “On That Day” from Dear Heather:
But answer me this I won’t take you to court Did you go crazy Or did you report On that day On that day They wounded New York
From Samson In New Orleans:
Did you really love the city or did you just pretend You said you loved her secret and her freedom hid away She was better than America That’s what I heard you say
Political allusions abound and Cohen’s presentation is suitably mournful yet insistent on the need to take a stand:
Was our prayer so damn unworthy the sun rejected it So gather up the killer, get everyone in town. Stand me by those pillars, Let me take this Temple down The King so kind and solemn, He wears a bloody crown. So stand me by that column Let me take this Temple down
Alex Bublitchi’s violin is featured.
4. A Street
Cohen’s performance of “A Street” is essentially spoken word linked to instrumentation (primarily organ and drum) and supported by a female chorus. Compared to the lines of this poem published in the March 2, 2009 issue of the New Yorker, the lyrics on this album track have been substantially rearranged. A few lines have been totally rewritten.
Compared to Cohen’s usual style (e.g., the recitation of “A Thousand Kisses Deep” during the recent tours), the rhythm is accelerated and the placement of the stresses is irregular, focusing attention to certain lines and phrases.
Credit Due Department: The Duchess contributed significantly to the comments on “Slow”
One reference page with links to the best and most useful Leonard Cohen online resources: discography, concordance, articles, press coverage, humor, ...
Latest Addition: Is Leonard Cohen’s New Album His Best Yet? by Liel Leibovitz (Tablet Magazine: Sept 19, 2014) Smart, insightful, & accessible essay on Popular Problems that uses Judaism as a prism for apprehending the methodology and significance of Cohen’s songwriting genius.
Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1
This video features the first version of the song Leonard Cohen would later revise into "Chelsea Hotel #2" along with images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin - whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song, the Hotel itself, and other associated people & places.
Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling in the 1960s that, for unspecified reasons, was short-lived, with Cohen instigating the parting.
It was then and is now a complex connection. In 1988, Cohen said, I'm still very friendly with Joni - I had dinner with her before the tour, and I have the same admiration for her as you do. But I think it was Noel Harrison who came up to me in the LA Troubadour and said "How do you like living with Beethoven?"
Do I Have To Dance All Night Surpasses 70,000 Views
"Do I Have To Dance All Night" was performed many times in concerts but was never released in the US.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I've cobbled together 2 videos - one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version - that kinda sorta fit the music.
As of Dec 19, 2012, the video of the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night has been viewed 70,152 times.
This Heck Of A Guy compilation includes unreleased Leonard Cohen performances over a 30+ year period.
Track List: Vol 1
1. Feels So Good (The Other Blues Song)
2. Book Of Longing
3. The Darkness
6. Do I Have to Dance All Night (1976)
7. Blues By The Jews
Track List: Vol 2
1. Red River Valley
2. Never Got To Love You (Duet with Anjani)
3. Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Ride Around
5. The Union Makes Us Strong
6. We Shall Not Be Moved
7. To Love Somebody
8. The Hypnotist (Poem)
9. Chelsea Hotel #1
10. There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me
11. Streets Of Laredo
12. Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Now, Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, the second collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs joins the popular The Other Leonard Cohen Album to offer fans of the iconic singer-songwriter a total of 3 CDs of musical treats. Another Other Leonard Cohen Album includes the following tracks plus liner notes by Sylvie Simmons.
1. Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul
2. Kevin Barry
3. Die Gedanken Sind Frei
4. Store Room
5. As Time Goes By
6. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on
7. Blessed is the Memory
8. Silent Night
9. Dead Song
10. Another Saturday Night
11. Ballad of the Absent Mare
13. The Butcher
14. Un As Der Rebbe Singt
15. Song to the Machines
16. If It Be Your Will
17. Thirsty for the Kiss
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep
19. I Tried To Leave You
20. Whither Thou Goest
21. Mr Cohen Must Be Going
Photos of or related to Leonard Cohen that fall into specific themes have been among the ongoing features at DrHGuy, HOAG's sibling site. Galleries displaying collected images of 3 of these themes are now available at
And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – Julie’s Story & Video
... I never had a chance. I was - and this is the only word that fits - smitten. I still am.
She was smart and quick-witted, although it would take me 3 years to recognize that she was, in fact, much smarter than me, and then another 2 years to forgive her for that. She was also good-looking and unabashedly sexy.
And, we fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love.
Complementing the unlikely story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and - 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later - got together to spend an outrageously wonderful 20 years together before her death, a video, set to the poignant "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, is now available that evokes the role Julie, who died 10 years ago, continues to play in my life.