Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas

"'Old Ideas' is an autumnal album, musing on memories and final reckonings, but it also has a gleam in its eye. It grapples once again with topics Mr. Cohen has pondered throughout his career: love, desire, faith, betrayal, redemption. Some of the diction is biblical; some is drily sardonic. 'They’re old ideas in the sense that they’re old unresolved ideas, old moral questions,' he said backstage. 'They’re ideas that have been rattling around in the mind of the culture for a long time.' In many of the songs, true to ancient traditions of mystical poetry, the singer could be speaking to a lover or to God. The lyrics often build associations around a repeated phrase. In 'Amen' — a slow shuffle with a banjo tickling at its fringes — Mr. Cohen sings, 'Tell me again/When I’ve been to the river/And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst/Tell me again/We’re alone and I’m listening/I’m listening so hard that it hurts.' ... 'Going Home' starts the album with a hymnlike melody and a droll twist; it’s sung by an unnamed narrator — a manager? God? Satan? — using someone named Leonard as a mouthpiece: 'He’s a lazy bastard living in a suit'" (Jon Pareles, "Final Reckonings, a Tuneful Fedora and Forgiveness," New York Times, 1/27/12.

View catalog record here!