On 21st September Leonard Cohen had his 80th birthday and in a wonderfully self-ironic move, celebrated the fact two days later with the release of a new album, “Popular Problems.”
The Canadian poet, writer and composer is undoubtedly one of music history’s most celebrated, influential and respected songwriters.
The legend of this extraordinary man has never ceased to shine in the course of his career, until getting to the great beauty of his old age.
The way he looks directly at these “Popular Problems” in the 9 songs on the album, (violence, war, disaster, 9/11, humanity imprisoned by fear, injustice), is the same way in which he has dealt with his own recent history: clearly, candidly and courageously.
Prior to 2005 Leonard Cohen had virtually retired from the scene, spending years in a Zen monastery outside Los Angeles, but once back in society discovering that his manager had actually emptied his bank account. So, for the very simple need of some cash, the poet and his razor voice was forced to go back on tour.
That forced return to the stage has been going on for ten years and culminated in this dignified album. Inseparable from his Borsalino hat, always elegant, Cohen continues to enlighten audiences with the power of his music, one of the highest points of contact between a great song and high literature, but without ever depriving himself of vibrant and new creative stimuli.
Is he a bit tired after all these labours? The greatness of the man before the artist is in his response: “What’s the problem? How can I say I get tired singing when people are dying of hunger, down in mines or rotting in prison? Doing what we don’t like is tiring – in my case, doing the dishes.”
What a legend!