“I saw my old man, an incapacitated old man, get up from his medical chair and dance in front of the speakers.” – Adam Cohen about his father’s reaction when they listened to Leonard’s new album You Want It Darker in his hospital room. Adam produced the album.
Leonard Cohen and Adam speak at an event for the release of You Want It Darker. Frank Micelotta/Courtesy of the artist
My belief that you learn a lot about a person by their children was reinforced when I listened to World Cafe’s Talya Schlanger interview with Leonard Cohen’s son Adam. The interview begins with Talya asking, “Adam, Leonard Cohen produced you, and you produced this record…,”and Adam, humble like his father, says he believed he started as the coffee boy on the project and somehow, unexpectedly, rose to producer.
In complimenting Adam, Talya says about You Want It Darker, “You can hear every cigarette he ever smoked, every woman he ever loved…” and Adam answers that he had very little to do with it. He credits his father with knowing his craft so intimately he made everyone believe that although he was in acute discomfort and pain, he was able to get inside every molecule of every note. In deep admiration, Adam refers to his father as “this beautiful man who devoted his life to his craft.”
Listen to Talya Schlanger’s interview with Adam Cohen about his father Leonard and producing You Want It Darker.
Leonard Cohen hooked me in the 1970s when I heard him on Gene Shay’s folk music show on the Philadelphia public radio station. Immediately, it was his deep, sensual voice, but underneath were the lyrics of a poet. The first song I remember hearing was Susanne…
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.
More on Leonard Cohen at Hallelujah.