Tag Archives: Old Ideas

Come Healing! – A Powerful Offering Of Solace & Succor Built On Leonard Cohen’s Mesmerizing Hymn Of Universal Mercy And Salvation


A Hymn For Our Times

In posting previous Oana Cajal videos inspired by Leonard Cohen,1  I asked her about her calling and received this reply:

I am a poet, a playwright, a painter. I believe the poetry created the world. My hobby: Survival! My message is urgent: In the Spotlight of Death, Life shines in its brightest colors. Celebrate! This very second! Right Now!

Clearly that drive informs and compels this video published yesterday after a traumatic, terrifying week in this county.

All posted other Cajal videos can be found at  .

Come Healing!
Oana Maria Cajal’s Picto-Healing, In Memoriam, April 2013, Graced By Leonard Cohen’s Mesmerizing Hymn Of Universal Mercy And Salvation.
Music: Come Healing by Leonard Cohen
Published: April 19, 2013
Video by oana maria cajal

  1. Oana Cajal is an artist whose work is currently on exhibit at Centaur Theatre in Montreal, during the Danish theatre-dance production of  ”Dance Me To The End Of Love.” You can read more about her as well as view two other Cohen-inspired videos she has created at In The Moment – Right Now: The Cohen Upstairs Video & Exhibition and Video: Dreaming Suzanne – Dedicated To Leonard Cohen. []

2013 Old Footage-Old Ideas Tour Promotional Video


The Recycled Old Ideas Tour Video Ad

This 16 second video from AEGLive promotes the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas Tour using clips from concerts that took place during the 2008-2012 Tour, when Dino Soldo and Bob Metzger last appeared in the band (see circled figures in screenshot below).


Equally awkward is the final scene (see screenshot below) advising viewers that the Old Ideas album is “Available Now,” a term connoting the recent availability of a given item or service. While the Old Ideas album is indeed “available now,” it would have been equally accurate to note that it has been “available for over a year now.”


The 2013 Tour promotional video, in fact, differs little from the 2012 Tour video other than updates such “Spring 2013″ replacing “Fall 2012.”

The misapplication of “Available Now” and the anachronistic appearance of Dino Soldo and Bob Metzger thus seem the result of casual production, and long-term Cohen fans could be forgiven if they are concerned lest this signal a return to the benign neglect marketing mode historically employed by Leonard Cohen’s record label until the more aggressive campaign that accompanied the release of Old Ideas in 2012.1

Leonard Cohen 2013 Old Ideas Tour Promotional Video

  1. See Leonard Cohen In Our Hearts – Old Ideas On The Charts []

Top Leonard Cohen Stories Of 2012: Old Ideas Press Coverage

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.


New Yorker

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”.

Leonard Cohen – illustration from The Economist

  1. Wikipedia []
  2. See heading, “Leonard Cohen In The Financial Times” at Must-Read Leonard Cohen Posts And Resources []
  3. Bow Down Before The Sage From Mt Baldy by Gautam Malkani. The Financial Times, January 27, 2012 []

Arts Desk Names Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas CD Of The Year

The beauty and honesty of this work is almost too great to bear. Cohen isn’t just a consummate poet and musician, but a guy who’s been scorched by wisdom and bears his wounds with grace rather than self-pity. No other album this year, even Dylan’s magisterial Tempest, comes near the depth achieved so effortlessly in Old Ideas. A classic.

Read the full review at CD of the Year: Old Ideas – Leonard Cohen by Mark Kide. Posted 24 December 2012 at theartsdesk.

PopMatters Confers Miss Congeniality Award On Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas

Miss Congeniality?

Now, PopMatters does put it differently:

PopMatters spotlights a few additional 2012 albums [Old Ideas] that didn’t quite crack the Best 75 list

Like I said – Old Ideas won the Miss Congeniality title.

The Flip Side Of The Ratings

Posting Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits “Best Album Of 2012″ Lists about the high rankings Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas has achieved on various “Best Of 2012 Albums” listings implicitly activates, one supposes, the counterbalancing obligation to also report less enthusiastic evaluations of the  Canadian singer-songwriter’s 2012 album, such as the PopMatters assessment – even as one speculates on the intellectual and moral failings that would result in such faint praise as “Bubbling Under the Top 75: Leonard Cohen – ‘Old Ideas.'”

Peculiarly, given that at least 75 albums released over the past 12 months that were, according to PopMatters’ assessment, superior to Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas, the review of that recording they published (see below) is remarkably laudatory. In fact, the only explanation for this apparent discrepancy that comes to mind is the dubious proposition that Mr Cohen had the back luck to release his album in a year that hosted an unprecedented number of pop music masterpieces.

For the curious, PopMatters’ #1 selection was Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. The complete list can be viewed at The 75 Best Albums of 2012.

While my perspective is admittedly skewed by my admiration of Leonard Cohen – and the fact that I recognize less than 15 of the albums on the PopMatters list – I suggest we revisit the 2012 PopMatters 75 Best Albums list next year to  compare how Old Ideas has fared in comparison and determine how many of those 75 PopMatters’ picks even rise to the consciousness of the musically-aware.

Anyhow, … the following is from PopMatters: Bubbling Under the Top 75: Leonard Cohen – ‘Old Ideas’:

Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas by Colin McGuire

Assuming his position as a sad world’s Poet Laureate, Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas was his best collection in years, a stark moment of proof that the singer truly is like the finest of wines—better with age. From the haunting low croons of opener “Going Home” to the playful, relatively upbeat nature of “Different Sides”, these 10 songs have more references to death and sex than three seasons of HBO’s The Wire. He isn’t breaking new ground any more than he’s using it as a placeholder for the victory lap that this record is. That doesn’t mean the work suffers. “Banjo’s” darkness is wry and beautifully selfish while “Crazy to Love You” is as romantic as the singer has ever been. And at seven-plus minutes, “Amen” sits next to “Dress Rehearsal Rag” as one of his longer, more breathtakingly hopeless journeys. Leonard Cohen is 78 years old now, so who knows if we’ll get another set of all-new material while he’s still able to don that derby on stages around the world. Though if Old Ideas does end up being his musical swan song, it’s hard to imagine two better ways to say goodbye: Sad and sexy.

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits “Best Album Of 2012″ Lists

In The Beginning: Times Square Billboard introduces Old Ideas. Photo: Kezban Özcan

First, Old Ideas Hits the Charts

Leonard Cohen found himself in unfamiliar territory when his Old Ideas album quickly and decisively garnered high rankings on the sales charts in countries around the world.1 The chart below, for example, show the Feb 2, 2012 iTunes Store Top 10 albums by country.

iTunes Top Albums By Country – Feb 2, 2012

Now, Old Ideas Hits The Best Of 2012 Lists

Now it’s the time of year when music journals and other institutions announce their choices for the best album of the year.  Here’s how Old Ideas is doing so far.

Old Ideas By Leonard Cohen – Uncut’s Album of the Year 2012


Uncut January 2013 Album of the Year 1. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas – Columbia

In many ways, 2012 has been a vintage year. Six of Uncut’s Top 10 albums this year were made by artists over 63, the most senior of all being Leonard Cohen: when his 12th album was released, in January, Cohen was a sprightly 77 years old.

From the moment he began his recording career, of course, Cohen always seemed more mature than most musicians. It wasn’t just his age — he was already 33 when Songs Of Leonard Cohen came out in 1967 — it was something about his worldview, the patina of experience which settled on his words about love and sex and faith and, even then, death. We are blessed, really, that the ’60s singer-songwriter who should be first to countenance his 80th year is also the wisest and most eloquent of that gilded generation. Old Ideas might have had its roots in expediency, and the financial crisis which forced Cohen back onto the road in 2008. But the fastidious poetic vision, the perfectionist’s anxiety, the high seriousness and self-deprecating wit, remained as pronounced as ever. Unlike his last few albums, the album found Cohen backed by his exemplary live band rather than bedroom synths, and among his new collaborators were one or two surprising ones: co-writer Patrick Leonard, for instance, made his name working with a less elevated juggler of the sacred and profane, Madonna.

All of them though, built the ideal environment in which Cohen could move and meditate. Old Ideas was a record about, among other things, mortality — “I’ve got no future, I know my days are few,” he noted on “The Darkness”. But it was also subversively light on its feet, because Cohen was still too sharp — and, defying his reputation, wryly optimistic — to avoid the doom and nostalgia which would consume lesser writers.

If Old Ideas was a valedictory statement, it was a magnificent one, from a man who had been making them for years, and knew that, somewhere down the line, he might yet make even more.

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Is #5 On Spinner’s 50 Best Albums Of 2012

Posted Dec 7, 2012 at Spinner’s 50 Best Albums Of 2012. Spinner had also listed Old Ideas in its July 9, 2012 post, The Best Albums of 2012 So Far — And How to Enjoy Them!:

Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas: The 77-year-old legend’s voice has deepened so richly over the years that it would be a pity not to listen to this album by sipping a finely aged scotch and contemplating life.

Spinner’s Top 5 Albums for 2012 follow:

1. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
2. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
3. Japandroids, Celebration Rock
4. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A. d city
5. Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Is #4 On American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums Of 2012

From American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums Of 2012 (American Songwriter December 4th, 2012):

4. Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas

The album title is Leonard Cohen’s little joke, implying that his latest album will have more of the same explorations of love, sex, faith, death, and all the other weighty topics he has assayed over his long recording career. Old Ideas is far from derivative of past glories though. Cohen’s self-deprecating humor perfectly balances out the philosophical stuff. Take “Going Home,” in which the singer imagines himself as God and describes his servant Leonard as “a lazy bastard living in a suit.” As usual, the instrumentation is pretty spare, allowing Cohen’s fathoms-deep voice to take center stage. That instrument is still surprisingly potent, especially when it shows its vulnerability on the questing “Show Me The Place.” Leonard may feel that God has a harsh opinion of him, but we mortals can’t help but be swayed by these Old Ideas.

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas #4 On MOJO’s Best LPs of 2012

MOJO’s Best LPs of 20123
1. Jack White – Blunderbuss
2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
3. Bill Fay – Life is People
4. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
5. Dexys Midnight Runners – One Day I’m Going To Soar
6. Black Keys – El Camino
7. Django Django – Django Django
8. Dr John – Locked Down
9. Julia Holter – Ekstasis
10. Bob Dylan – Tempest

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Is #13 On Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2012

At 78 years old, the dapper Canadian sage came back to whisper his heavier-than-ever poetry about sex and spirituality, complete with bedroom scenes like “I’m naked and I’m filthy/And there’s sweat upon my brow.” As a man who never really sounded young he was well into his thirties when he dropped his classic debut album in 1967 – Cohen adapts to this uncharted age with a lifetime’s worth of grace and wit. Best lines: “I dreamed about you, baby, you were wearin’ half your dress/I know you have to hate me, but could you hate me less?”

50 Best Albums of 2012 Rolling Stone

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Makes NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums Of 2012 List

The ever-polite NPR folks (the same folks, no doubt, who disallow keeping score at their kids’ T-ball games) don’t rank the individual albums on their 50 Favorite Albums Of 2012 List; rather, the entries are listed alphabetically (see full list below). Similarly, their graphic (see above) does not betray their preferences. I have adjusted that graphic (see below) to properly apportion the space to quality ratio. This refined version does lose some nuance along the periphery but the clarification of significance more than compensates.

From NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums Of 2012:

LEONARD COHEN OLD IDEAS We don’t receive the gift of a Leonard Cohen record often; there’s been a dozen studio records in 45 years and nothing since 2004. So when I heard that a new record was coming in 2012, a voice deep inside said, “Oh, please be good, please be good.” It didn’t disappoint. If ever any singer/poet was going to shed wisdom on aging, it was always going to be Cohen. He’s now in his late 70s, so we’re not likely to have this experience too many more times, but for now, Old Ideas is a thoughtful slice of philosophy, well aged and sparingly told. —Bob Boilen

Dec 15, 2012 Update: Since the original posting, Old Ideas has been listed on several other “Best If 2012″ lists:

  1. See Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe), Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking, and Leonard Cohen In Our Hearts – Old Ideas On The Charts []
  2. From A Leonard Cohen Minute []
  3. From Brooklyn Vegan []