Cohen's Old Ideas

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Songs from a Room is a Picasso, man-with-guitar. It’s poetry and it worked, still does—when you are in the mood. There were some subsequent Cohen albums that may not have worked so well, part of a transition from that era to the hits of the late 80s and early 90s.   Those albums contained some of his greatest work, like “Hallelujah,” “Dance Me to the End of Love,” and “The Guests”—to hint at what he accomplished at that time.  But it was the I’m Your Man and The Future albums that introduced him to those who would not know him as a poet.

If you know Cohen as a poet then you have probably followed him through his phases, maybe you even have a book or two.  Others know him just as well, in their way, through red wine after a breakup while blaring “Everybody Knows.”   

Cohen spans that chasm, at least for the generation that became conscious in the late 80s. Some know him for poetry and Songs from a Room and some know him for pop music, and some know him now for both.  The problem is, his 2012 album—Old Ideas—is all one, like American beer as a stereotype of blond blandness. There are good American beers, as there are for any country.  So this homogenous album by Cohen isn’t varied, isn’t pointed, isn’t Picasso or disco.  “The Darkness” will tell you what it is.

Cohen’s Old Ideas is for those who’ve followed him from poet to Coachella-draw.  It’s poetry again and, if the past is any thing to go by, he is getting down to spring.


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