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Old Ideas CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 265 customer reviews

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Old Ideas
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Audio CD, CD, January 31, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

From our master singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen, here are ten new songs that mine the heart, shake the body and break the boundaries as everybody knows only Leonard can do. A signature of our time, Leonard's baritone holds us like the voices of Hank, Frank and Ray. These are songs that nobody knows and everyone will treasure.

Fans were given a hint of what to expect when Cohen made remarks as the recipient of the Principe de Asturias Prize for literature in Spain in October 2011.

"As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these...Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity & beauty."

The album was produced with Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo. Complementing Cohen's signature baritone on Old Ideas are the exceptional vocalists Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) and Jennifer Warnes. The album's cover design and drawings are Cohen's own.
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Digital Booklet: Old Ideas Booklet With Lyrics
Digital Booklet: Old Ideas Booklet With Lyrics
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 31, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B0067LY4WG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,965 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is a truly great Leonard Cohen album in my view - something I've not been able to say for too many years. The music often sounds delicate but has a laid back robustness about it, too, with his trademark simple melodies and a very welcome varied sound and style, with elements of country, blues, gospel and rock. There are also the beautiful and familiar female backing vocals, and some simply magnificent work from a varied band - the trumpet on "Amen," for example, is unexpected and absolutely spellbinding.

Cohen's voice these days has passed through the Whisky & Cigarettes stage and is well on the way to a Chronic Bronchitis sound, but he still has that fabulous depth and resonance beneath the weariness and the creaks. He hovers between singing and speaking for much of this album even more than previously, but as a friend once said to me, "No one can sing a Leonard Cohen song the way Cohen himself can't." How true. He is miked very close so, particularly when listening on headphones, it really feels as though he is present and whispering into your ear.

All this is perfect for the songs here, whose lyrics are Cohen at his best: thoughtful, allusive, melancholy, witty and sometimes provoking. The religious imagery he has always used so brilliantly is well in evidence, and it is striking how much of it is now specifically Christian. Broken relationships, suffering and death have always been in the corner of Cohen's eye whatever he is writing about. They are often in plain sight here and are treated with insight, resignation, compassion and beauty. The old witty twinkle and his self-deprecatory streak are still there, though, and shine through what is often a very elegiac atmosphere.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Carl Sandburg defined poetry as what is seen in that brief moment between the opening and closing of a door. I have listened to Leonard Cohen for much of my adult life and reveled in the mastery and consummate skills shown during the recent tour, especially Live in London. Frankly, I thought that was close to the end of the third act. I knew he cut part of the tour after he injured his back and thought that was the shadow descending. Thus, I was completely unprepared for this recording.

A friend told be to rush to hear it. He had listened to it while driving and had to stop by the side of the road: to think, to feel , to cry. I have just listened and simply cannot recall its equal. This is the essential man and the singular human. Everyone will hear the words through a different ear. It has the deepest sadness I have heard spoken to music in the modern era. " Crazy has places to hid in" and so does genius.

One review said all must be right with the world that a 77 year old man could give such a gift of brilliance. This is what words and music were meant to convey. We live close to Montreal and go to the neighborhood that Leonard lives in. I have always imagined seeing him walk down the street and , in some ways, wait for the waters to part. This is a very rare human being and this is a remarkable and touching reminder of what life can give us. If you have lived life at all, this collection of songs will change you.
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Format: Audio CD
Dear Music Appreciators,

I come to this album as one who knows little about Leonard Cohen and his music. I've admired both the Jeff Buckley and Brandi Carlile covers of "Hallelujah," and I remember liking the Concrete Blonde cover of "Everybody Knows" when it appeared on the PUMP UP THE VOLUME soundtrack. I know Cohen is Canadian and that he is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential singer-songwriters of our time. Despite the countless times I've read his name when reading about music over the years, I just never got around to him. Some of you may consider this an unforgivable admission of musical ignorance, while other Cohen newbies like me can take solace in the knowledge that they are not alone.

And now I see Leonard Cohen, seventy-seven years old, sitting in a black suit, black hat, and black sunglasses on his enigmatic, black-shadowed album cover at the top of the Amazon sales charts and I can't help but think "it must be time for me to get around to Leonard Cohen..."

Hearing OLD IDEAS has taught me that popping my Cohen cherry so relatively late in my musical fandom is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because apparently I have now just skimmed the surface of a true treasure trove that I can savor digging into deeply for the first time. A curse because these are treasures that could have been with me all along. I have been missing out until now but it is time to make up for lost time with Leonard.

I imagine true fans of the man will already know all about this album. They will already know that this is another great one and that it's worth the time they will put into it.
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10 Comments 114 of 133 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is from Banjo, one of the songs on LC's great new album, Old Ideas.

It's a broken banjo bobbing
On the dark infested sea

It's coming for me darling
No matter where I go

Its duty is to harm me
My duty is to know

What's going on here? What is the dark sea infested with? Why is the banjo broken, menacing? How come it's after the 77 year old songwriter, intent on harming the gracious and self deprecating old fellow?

We never learn. Perhaps this is a merciful thing...

Over the course of his lifetime Cohen's ever more gravelly baritone has at times been the voice of the prophet, the muse, the lecher, the lover, the poet, the madman and oftentimes, the priest. All are represented in Old Ideas, a remarkable new collection of songs by the master.

This is a starkly existential album. It traces a thin line along the edge of an abyss. But even as it does so, it holds out the hope of redemption and the promise of restoration - a coming out of the darkness and into the light.

Darkness is one song I just can't get out of my mind. It's a taut and sinister twelve bar that's at any moment ready to snap. The tension is unbelievable:

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."

Meanwhile Leonard finger picks insistently, Neil Larsen weaves a haunting refrain on the Hammond B3, and when Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters kick in with a vocal of urgent and barely restrained desire it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
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Who saw leonard cohen on tour a few years ago and was it not brilliant?
One of my lifetime disappointments to have missed it. I drove 200 miles only to find i was a day late. The attendants said he was genuine, heartfelt and gave it his all going into almost an hour ovetime. saw him im Berkely decades ago and the "gestapo' said they were going to shut the power... Read More
Jan 18, 2012 by Carol Collins |  See all 14 posts
Cohen Cover Campaign for "Old Ideas"
I may die happy if Loreena Mckennitt would cover "Take This Waltz."
Feb 2, 2012 by David Niedel-Gresh |  See all 8 posts
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