Customer Review

106 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DEAR MUSIC APPRECIATORS, January 31, 2012
This review is from: Old Ideas (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. Casuals and newbies who are wondering about what the true fans already know can know the following now:

This is a musical album of uncommonly unaffected poetry and grace, encompassing a variety of musical styles, and delivered in a gravelly speak-sing baritone. A rich combination to be sure, and it all goes down like an acquired taste - whiskey, or coffee, or...caviar.

At first listen the most immediately accessible songs seem to be both the first ("Going Home") and the last ("Different Sides"), and over the course of the eight tracks in between Cohen confidently plays the game of "Operation" on the body of the human condition.

If you're wavering at all on this purchase, ask yourself if you're the kind of person who might enjoy an album that opens with the singer talking about himself in the third person:

"I love to speak with Leonard, he's a sportsman and a shepherd, he's a lazy b _ s t _ _ d living in a suit..."

Basically, this is music for smart people. And if you're still reading this then either you're already a smart person, or, after hearing this album (like me) you'll be that much closer to becoming one...

Sincerely,

Constant Listener
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 31, 2012 6:32:10 PM PST
R. Demerjian says:
Greetings to you new l.c. fan-
i am speaking to you from the perspective of a former fanatic who has since come back to earth. i have traveled to cohen's homeland of montreal more than once. i have collected all of his books of poetry (i recommend them all, specifically, as a starter, the collection Stranger Music as it won't cost you an arm and a leg and it will be easier to find), his novels (the favorite game is his first novel and an absolute work of genius), his studio albums and other items that are very very rare. i have performed his songs myself in montreal as a sort of tribute. as i write this, i realize just how crazy i was about being an l.c. fan.
with that said, i have left that part of me behind. i have seen heroes (l.c. among them) start to show their age (not literally of course) and i have decided to not allow my former fanatical self to keep me from commenting on new work by old heroes (l.c., tom waits, paul simon to name a few). still, one has to recognize that, no matter how much an artist shows their age, there is often still traces of greatness in their newer output. Old Ideas is no exception. there are certainly very nice moments on the album- show me the place, the darkness, crazy to love you to name three.
If you want to hear cohen at different stages of his career (not quite the chameleon that tom waits is but still, he has undergone some changes), try the following albums...
Songs of Leonard Cohen (his debut from 1968)- absolutely stunning album from beginning to end- mysterious, poetic, atmostpheric with simple chord changes that fit the complexity of the lyrics and the beauty of the melodies well.
Recent Songs- I don't know where to start with this one- his lyrics were seemingly coming from deeper in his poetic soul at this point- there are not too many direct "So Long Marianne" or "Bird on the Wire" type songs here- still, the production, melody and lyrics are gorgeous.
Various Positions- has a few of his staples (dance me to the end of love, if it be your will, and hallelujah)- his first synth/ piano album- a classic as it shows a transition from intimate guitar music into 'pop' music
Ten New Songs- of his 'newer' albums, the best in my opinion- by this point he had reinvented himself and cashed in on the "smooth old ladie's man" act- though it had gotten fairly transparent by this point (and by the follow up album, Dear Heather, it got embarrassingly self promoting with songs like Because of), this album works beautifully- due to his collaboration with Sharon Robinson, this album sounds a little like Cohen meets Sade-
enjoy the new world you've entered here my friend- i strongly recommend a trip to the leonardcohenfiles.com if you want to bone up on all things cohen- i don't know how old you are but don't lament too long on how much time has passed without having this poet in your life- now that you've discovered him, treat yourself to the books and cds i've mentioned and enjoy- the first person to ever recommend him to me handed me The Best Of and said "Buy this, it will change your life." Oddly enough, he was right. Take care!

Posted on Jan 31, 2012 9:53:06 PM PST
You're simply a late bloomer to Cohen. Better late than never.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2012 7:22:36 PM PST
Johnny Boy says:
May I also recommend 'I'm Your Man,' from 1988 to you. Sure, it's very much a product of it's time with the synthesizers and the backing vocalists, but his lyrics and his voice were probably at their peak by this time. He was 54, might I add. 'First We Take Manhattan,' 'Everybody Knows,' 'Take this Waltz,' 'Tower of Song,' and 'I'm Your Man' are not only some of the best songs Cohen has ever written, but some of the best songs ever written PERIOD. Definitely don't pass that record by.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2012 7:22:49 PM PST
Johnny Boy says:
Exactly.

Posted on Feb 4, 2012 2:44:48 AM PST
How nice - a Cohen virgin!! Leonard would be pleased. So am I. No one should die bereft of a little of his magic having been added to their life.

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 7:01:14 PM PDT
Steve Kohn says:
Lee -- Though I've been a LC fan for decades, I almost envy you taking your first steps with him. All that's ahead for you, it almost makes me dizzy.

My favorite LC album, for what it's worth, is "Cohen Live." Many of his best songs are included, and the backup band and vocals are the finest he's ever had, I think.

"Ten New Songs" was a little slow to come to a boil for me, but now it's among my favorites.

The DVD, "Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man," is indispensable, too.

Enjoy.

Posted on Jul 29, 2012 4:57:59 AM PDT
Mike B. says:
"Songs of Love and Hate"----the ultimate Cohen statement.

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 12:58:47 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 5, 2013 1:00:24 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 1:01:19 AM PST
PZio says:
Sooo glad you came around to my way of thinking. Seriously, when you arrive late to the party, it's better than never going. I don't think of L Cohen as a party, by any means. I love and respect this man beyond mere words. Welcome and enjoy. This man gets into your pores and he never leaves. The great part about that is that you don't ever want him to go. Bathe in everything he's ever done; drink it down; inhale him. He will change your life, although I suspect he already has.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2013 11:43:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2013 11:46:08 AM PDT
Telecaster says:
Nice comments - I can say that Ten New Songs is also an unbelievably nice audiophile grade recording.......better than Old Ideas. The background singers seemed to "mail it in' on Old Ideas...
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