For this new posthumous Leonard Cohen album, a collection of previously unheard Leonard Cohen material has been arranged by the singer’s son, Adam, and features various collaborators. Thanks for the Dance is an unexpected harvest of new songs and a continuation of the work of one of the world’s greatest songwriters. Listen to Leonard Cohen’s album Thanks for the Dance right here, on Creative Feel:
Leonard Cohen had asked his son, Adam, to complete the sketches leftover from their prior collaboration on You Want It Darker that had been released in October 2016, shortly before Cohen died, aged 82.
In an interview with the New Yorker, published a month before his death, Cohen expressed doubt that he would be able to finish his unreleased song sketches. ‘Maybe I’ll get a second wind, I don’t know,’ he said. ‘But I don’t dare attach myself to a spiritual strategy. I don’t dare do that. I’ve got some work to do. Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.’
For this final interview, David Remnick sat down with Cohen in the summer of 2016, at the musician’s home in Los Angeles, to discuss Cohen’s career, his spiritual influences, his triumphant final tours, and what he was doing to prepare for his end. ‘I am ready to die,’ Cohen said. He was already suffering from a number of health problems at the time and died in November 2016. ‘At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.’
Seven months after his father’s death, Cohen Jr began working on the material alone in a garage near his father’s old house, later inviting other contributors to be part of the process.
In September 2018, Adam Cohen published The Flame, a collection of his father’s final poems and lyrics, a stunning collection of Leonard Cohen’s last poems and writings, selected and ordered by Cohen in the final months of his life. The book contains an extensive selection from Cohen’s notebooks, featuring lyrics, prose pieces and illustrations, which he kept in poetic form throughout his life, and offers an unprecedentedly intimate look inside the life and mind of a singular artist and thinker.
‘An enormously powerful final chapter in Cohen’s storied literary career, The Flame showcases the full range of Leonard Cohen’s lyricism, from the exquisitely transcendent to the darkly funny. By turns devastatingly sad and winningly strange, these are the works of a poet and lyricist who has plumbed the depths of our darkest questions and come up wanting, yearning for more.’
Was he, in the end, a musician or a poet? A grave philosopher or a grim sort of comedian? A cosmopolitan lady’s man or a profound, ascetic seeker? Jew or Buddhist? Hedonist or hermit? Across his 82 years, the Montreal-born Leonard Cohen was all of these things – and in his posthumous book of poetry, given the Lawrentian title The Flame by his son Adam, all sides of the man are present.
I can’t leave my house
Or answer the phone
I’m going down again
But I’m not alone
Settling at last
Accounts of the soul
This for the trash
That paid in full
As for the fall, it
Began long ago
Can’t stop the rain
Can’t stop the snow
I sit in my chair
I look at the street
The neighbor returns
My smile of defeat
I move with the leaves
I shine with the chrome
I’m almost alive
I’m almost at home
No one to follow
And nothing to teach
Except that the goal
Falls short of the reach
Now, another year later, the posthumous Leonard Cohen album, Thanks for the Dance, is being released. Collaborators include Javier Más, the Spanish laúd player who formed part of Cohen’s band for his last eight years of touring, and indie music stars Beck, Bryce Dessner of The National, Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, Damien Rice and Leslie Feist.
The album features further contributions from composer Dustin O’Halloran, producers Daniel Lanois and Patrick Watson, the Stargaze Orchestra, Berlin-based choir Cantus Domus and the Shaar Hashomayim choir who performed on You Want It Darker. Former Cohen collaborators Jennifer Warnes and Michael Chaves also appear.
‘In composing and arranging the music for his words, we chose his most characteristic musical signatures, in this way keeping him with us,’ says Adam Cohen. ‘What moves me most about the album is the startled response of those who have heard it. “Leonard lives!” they say, one after the other.’
The album’s release has been trialled with a new song, ‘The Goal’, in which Cohen confronts his mortality: ‘Settling at last / Accounts of the soul / This for the trash / That paid in full.’
Adam told The Guardian that his father ‘was very interested in preserving the magic of his process and not demystifying it.’ In Cohen’s final months, says Adam, ‘he was a man on a quest, on a mission.’
Leonard Cohen CD give-away:
Win a copy of Leonard Cohen’s posthumous Thanks for the Dance AND a copy of his previous album, You Want It Darker.
To win, email email@example.com with the answer to the following question: Name one of the collaborators featured on Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album Thanks For the Dance.
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