Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

How Popular Is Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems?

cmpold-popComparing Sales Rankings:
Popular Problems Vs Old Ideas

By Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner

Give Me Back Times Square Billboard

While we are not privy to Sony’s Leonard Cohen advertising budgets for his last two albums, inferences can be made from the respective geoeconomics: the center of Leonard Cohen’s 2012 Old Ideas marketing campaign was the world’s main square. The center of this year’s Popular Problems promotions has been located somewhere between Leonard Cohen’s backyard and … well, his front yard.

It certainly appears that, whatever the reason, the marketing effort for Popular Problems has been less vigorous and extensive than the Old Ideas campaign, an observation which leads to the question: which album has been more popular with buyers?

Happily, there is an effective, albeit imperfect, means by which to compare the success of two most recent Leonard Cohen albums: a simple juxtaposition of country by country sales rankings.

Measure Of All Measures

New Zealand: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #1.

Australia: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #6.

South Korea: Old Ideas #30, Popular Problems #34.

Old Ideas leads 2-0.

Greece: Old Ideas #14, Popular Problems #7.

Croatia: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #1.

Hungary: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #6.

Czech Republic: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #1.

Poland: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #3.

Croatia: Old Ideas reached #1 in a chart of foreign albums, while Popular Problems topped the combined chart.

Old Ideas leads 4-2.

Finland: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #2.

Sweden: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #5.

Norway: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #1.

Denmark: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #1.

6-3: the goal difference grows; Queen Silvia looks confused.

Germany: Old Ideas #4, Popular Problems #4.

Austria: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #1.

Switzerland: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #1.

Both Alpine republics now have their first ever Leonard Cohen album with a #1 ranking, making the situation more balanced: 6-5.

Italy: Old Ideas #14, Popular Problems #5.

Spain: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #3.

Portugal: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #1.


France: Old Ideas #4, Popular Problems #2.

Wallonia (Belgium): Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #2.

Flanders (Belgium): Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #1.

Netherlands: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #1.


United Kingdom: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #5.

Scotland: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #3.

Ireland: Old Ideas #2, Popular Problems #2.


Canada: Old Ideas #1, Popular Problems #1.

United States: Old Ideas #3, Popular Problems #15.


Global Album Chart: Old Ideas #3, Popular Problems #5.3

Conclusion: I Guess That Makes Us Equal

Re the final result (10-8), let’s summarize: … even though Popular Problems did not receive the same level of promotional support as Old Ideas, the sales rankings of the two albums have been equivalent across the globe except the US and the UK

Old Ideas Popular Problems
11 Number One 11
24 Top 5 21
24 Top 10 24

Note: The sales chart performance of Popular Problems can be followed on the Leonard Cohen Forum at Popular Problems – Various Chart Positions


  1. If you need a reason to support European separatist movements, check the Flemish national and Scottish regional charts. []
  2. Note: Old Ideas was ranked #3 in Slovenia and #85 in Mexico, but the most recent charts published for these countries predate the release of Popular Problems. []
  3. This is a  composite chart created from individual country rankings []

Now Online: Leonard Cohen Looks To The Future (1992) by Paul Verna

Leonard Cohen Looks To The Future by Paul Verna
Billboard (Published in Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Nov 27, 1992)

This article focuses on the release of Cohen’s ninth studio album, “The Future,” and includes

  • The catalytic role played by “his friend and collaborator De Mornay”
  • Pairing bleak lyrics with “a hot little track”
  • An exposition on the underlying concept of “Democracy”
  • “Anthem” as the “philosophical background of the album


Video From Upcoming “Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin” CD/DVD: “Come Healing”


This clip is from the “Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin” CD/DVD, due for release Dec 2, 2014 (see It’s Official: Leonard Cohen “Live In Dublin” DVD/CD/Blu-Ray Announced By Columbia)

Leonard Cohen – Come Healing
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013

Credit Due Department: Thanks go to Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner and Laurence of Paris, who alerted me to this video.

Now Online: Leonard Cohen’s Poems Court The Universe (1968) By Mary Campbell

“I used to write poems to court ladies. But … your courting gets wider and wider and you end up trying to court the universe”

Leonard Cohen’s Poems Court The Universe By Mary Campbell
AP; Published in The Evening News (New Burgh NY): Feb 24, 1968

As the title indicates, this article focuses on Leonard Cohen’s poetry, just mentioning “he has made his first recording,1 which is selling substantially.” I’ve pulled a few quotes as teasers:

  • “[Greece] was the first place where I realized what the difference between north and south was. I was there two months and I was lying on a rock. I felt a little shiver. It was the last sliver of ice melting from inside a bone. I was finally warm.”
  • “I like to feel that I’m being kissed sadly by the world when I write [poetry]”
  • “[Selected Poems by Leonard Cohen] was a limited edition. I don’t think they meant it to be limited, but it was.”


Note: The text of this article has been previously posted online. I am posting this version because it is significantly easier to view and read.


  1. According to the piece, the album “is titled ‘Leonard Cohen'” []

Alberto Manzano On Translating Popular Problems & Leonard Cohen’s Latin American Influences


Alberto Manzano & Leonard Cohen

Alberto Manzano has produced some of the most insightful, enlightening, and entertaining books and articles about Leonard Cohen as well as translating his lyrics and poetry and taking some of the most telling photos of the Canadian singer-songwriter.1  And, he is prolific, contributing over a dozen volumes to the Cohen bibliography.  Most of his work, however, is published in Spanish, severely limiting its accessibility. I’m posting Helen Ketcham’s English translation of this article about Monzano not only to communicate its content is significant but also to increase awareness in the Cohen fan community of this especially important journalist.

La conexión hispana de Leonard Cohen comenta el último regreso del músico

La conexión hispana de Leonard Cohen comenta el último regreso del músico
By Marcos Moraga
La Tercera: Oct 13, 2014

Translated by Helen Ketcham

Leonard Cohen’s Spanish Connection Comments On The Latest Return Of The Musician

Spaniard Alberto Manzano is the Canadian’s biographer and translator.

“It’s not because I’m old, it’s not the life I’ve led, / I always liked it slow, that’s how my mother taught me.” That’s the conclusion of the chorus of “Slow,” the first song on Popular Problems, the latest album by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, released on September 20. He has his reasons: when his latest work hit the street, the author of Hallelujah had just crossed the barrier of 80 years.

“His Zen Master, Roshi died just a couple of months ago, at age 106, and his sister, Esther, died a couple of weeks ago. Leonard has seen many of his best friends depart lately: the Canadian poet Irving Layton, his publisher, Jack McClelland. It is normal for him to feel the wolf at his heels. But Cohen has been concerned about this issue since the mid-70s, when he published his book and album Death of a Lady’s Man. I think he has always considered himself old.”

The speaker is Alberto Manzano, editor, biographer and translator of most of Cohen’s work into Spanish. A few days ago, the author received an email in which the American bard requested his services, this time to put the verses of Popular Problems into Spanish. Manzano agreed, and as with previous albums by the musician, his work may appear in an edition prepared for Latin America (“I think that he wants to put it up on his website,” says the Spaniard).

Barring a few exceptions– Joaquin Sabina was commissioned to do the translation of Old Ideas, the previous album — Manzano has been a consistent collaborator with Cohen, where the Canadian has placed his interest: his daughter was named Lorca in honor of the poet of that name; in 2012, Cohen won the Prince of Asturias Prize, and upon receiving it, took off his hat to the flamenco tradition, singling it out as responsible for his approach to the guitar.

Manzano has been close to Cohen for more than three decades. From there he observes the latest verbal darts from his Canadian friend: “He’s succeeded in distilling the essence of things, their substantiality, with very few words, accurate, simple. He’s creating gold. I’m Your Man and The Future are albums of the 90’s on which he had, in effect, exchanged his guitar for electronic keyboards. And that continues, except now its rhythms are much more placid and silky, like a kind of balm for the wounds of the soul. You can tell he is a man who has found peace. “


For his previous album, Old Ideas (2012), Cohen put together an edition for Spain, with the lyrics translated by musician Joaquín Sabina. “Jorge Luis Borges has been widely criticized for his translations, for not being exactly true to the original text. It could be the same with Sabina. There are poets (because only a poet can translate another poet) who pour too much of themselves into foreign territory for which they feel some attraction or even identification,” comments Manzano.

Only Cohen knows whether the songs of Popular Problems will go out live on a world tour. Any interest in visiting South America, where the singer has never toured? “Honestly, it’s not likely,” Manzano responds, while reviewing the Latin American influences in his work: “I know he really likes the tango. He is a lover of Carlos Gardel. In the mid-80s, he asked me to write an adaptation in English of the song “Goodbye, Boys.” And I did one. He probably has it put away in some corner of his desk. He has also read Borges.”

Any option, then, depends on the mood of the North American, who appears to be stepping on the accelerator of productivity in the final stretch. He recalls the flirtatious remark Cohen whispers hoarsely from the stage whenever some young lady shouts out to him from the crowd: “If only I were two years younger.”


  1. Monzano has also written about and translated for other artists, including Dylan, Jackson Browne, Tome Waits, Lou Reed, and Jim Morrison. []

It’s Official: Leonard Cohen “Live In Dublin” DVD/CD/Blu-Ray Announced By Columbia


Lensed and recorded at Dublin’s 02 Arena on September 12, 2013

11-song first set, a 10-song second set and an 8-song encore – DVD features bonus live tracks recorded in Canada in 2013

Official Press Release1 follows:

Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings Set to Release Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin, the Artist’s First High Definition Full Concert Recording, on Tuesday, December 2

Recorded at Dublin’s O2 Arena in September 2013, Evening’s Length Leonard Cohen Concert Available in 3CD/DVD, 3CD/Blu-ray and Digital Configurations

* * * * *

Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin, an extraordinary full-length concert recording and film, on Tuesday, December 2.

The first (and only) release of a complete Leonard Cohen concert to be shot in high definition, Live In Dublin will be available in 3CD/DVD, 3CD/Blu-ray and digital configurations.

Lensed and recorded at Dublin’s 02 Arena on September 12, 2013, Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin documents a peak performance from the musician’s monumental sold-out 2012-2013 world tour, introducing Cohen’s then-latest release (2012’s Old Ideas) within a major canonical on-stage retrospective.

This state-of-the-art audio-visual HD presentation of a full-length concert from the Old Ideas World Tour delivers this artist’s repertoire (backed by a band recognized by critics as his best ever) with the intimacy, intensity and poetic beauty that have become hallmarks of a Leonard Cohen concert. Live In Dublin recreates the deep emotional connection that audiences felt so powerfully and critics praised universally with five-star reviews during Cohen’s most recent tour.

Live In Dublin is the singer-songwriter-novelist-performer’s second new release this year. On September 23, 2014, two days after Cohen’s 80th birthday, Columbia Records released Popular Problems, the Canadian bard’s 13th studio album of new material since his 1967 debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen. An international success, Popular Problems reached #1 on the iTunes chart in 31 countries and entered the Billboard 200 at #15 while debuting at #1 on the Austrian, Canadian, Dutch, New Zealand and Swiss album charts; the new album also debuted Top 5 in Belgium (#2), Finland (#2), Germany (#4), Italy (#5) and Sweden (#5)

An immersive viewing experience, Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin’s three hours of music and magic includes an 11-song first set, a 10-song second set and an 8-song encore. The DVD features bonus live tracks recorded in Canada in 2013.

Leonard Cohen – Live In Dublin

Set 1
Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Bird on the Wire
Everybody Knows
Who By Fire
The Gypsy’s Wife
Come Healing
Lover Lover Lover

Set 2
Tower of Song
Chelsea Hotel #2
Waiting for the Miracle
The Partisan
In My Secret Life
Alexandra Leaving (Sharon Robinson)
I’m Your Man
Recitation w/ N.L.
Take this Waltz

So Long, Marianne
Going Home
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will (Webb Sisters)
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You
Save the Last Dance for Me

DVD Bonus songs
Show Me The Place – Halifax, NS, Canada – April 13, 2013 – Halifax Metro Centre
Anyhow – St. John’s, NL, Canada – April 20, 2013 – Mile One Centre
Different Sides – St. John, NB, Canada – April 15, 2013 – Harbour Station


  1. Source: LeonardCohenForum []