“There is no precedent in popular music for Leonard Cohen” PopMatters 2012

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There is no precedent in popular music for Leonard Cohen. An acclaimed poet and novelist in his 20s, he didn’t record his first album until he was 33, when he had the distinction of being the first “New Dylan” who was older than Dylan himself. Many of the lyrics on his vinyl debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen (released December 27, 1967), were built around his old poems. Three of its gentlest and most melodic tracks, “Suzanne”, “Sisters of Mercy”, and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”, became standards. But most of the record was steeped in the unforgiving religiosity of the Old Testament and saturated by the pain of unsatisfied lust, providing a Winter of Our Discontent counterpoint to the Summer of Love. That bleak path is the one Cohen has followed for the last 40-plus years, though as he memorably put it in 1992’s “Anthem”, “There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.”quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas by Jeff Schwager. PopMatters: 31 January 2012.

Note: Originally posted February 10, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: HMV “King Of Hearts” Valentine’s Day Display

king_of_hearts_ad-smaller-scaled1000In this holiday-appropriate, if commercially convenient, Valentine’s Day proclamation, HMV dubs Leonard Cohen “King Of Hearts,” suggesting perhaps that a male customer might efficiently and economically establish his own romantic credentials for a mere £10 by purchasing the Old Ideas CD as a gift for his main squeeze.

kinghearts-scaled500

The first image above is the original photo taken and shared by Hit Parade. The second image is the same photo realigned for archival purposes. Thanks to Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner, whose post alerted me to this timely post.

Leonard Cohen In Our Hearts – Old Ideas On The Charts

itsahitNote: This entry, originally published Feb 15, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com (a predecessor of Cohencentric), is the third in a series of three posts examining the ascension – unique among Leonard Cohen recordings – of the Old Ideas album’s ascension on the best-selling music charts.

  1. Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe)
  2. Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking
  3. Leonard Cohen In Our Hearts – Old Ideas On The Charts

How Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Made The Hit Parade

The two preceding posts in this series established the following:

1. Old Ideas hit the top of the charts:  Leonard Cohen’s newly released album, Old Ideas, found comfortable lodging in such prestigious addresses as #1, #2, and #3 in the sales charts throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.1  Whether Old Ideas is only shacking up in these notoriously hip and trendy neighborhoods for a week or two or is able to commit to a longer stay,  it is certain that this visit has proved a rewarding one for Leonard Cohen, his management, his record company, and his fans.

While Leonard Cohen’s music has previously enjoyed isolated pockets of popularity (e.g., Leonard Cohen has always been big in Norway), the widespread sales success of Old Ideas is unprecedented.

2. Marketing Leonard Cohen has not been a priority in the past: Historically, the marketing support expended by Cohen’s record company has, at least according to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s own testimony, ranged between abandonment and benign neglect. Cohen’s promotional efforts in his own behalf have been only marginally more effective.2

3. The music industry has changed so dramatically that quantitatively comparing Old Ideas sales to sales of Cohen’s previous albums is difficult, if possible at all: In the past decade, the economics and, consequently, the mechanics, goals, and methodologies of the pop music business have altered so dramatically that making precise distinctions between the marketing and sales of Old Ideas and earlier Cohen albums would require complex and arduous calculations; for practical purposes, quantifying the variations in popularity and sales of Old Ideas via-a-vis its predecessors is impossible.3

That changes are impossible to quantify, however, does not mean it is impossible to judge that a change  has  taken place.  A perpetual preoccupation of sportswriters and fans is comparing teams (e.g., 1985 Bears VS 1962 Packers) or individual players (e.g., Kareem Abdul-Jabbar VS Michaels Jordan) who may have played shorter or longer schedules, against tougher or lesser competition, under different rules, … . Clearly, such calculations are precarious and undependable. On the other hand, it is intuitively clear that the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan, a NBA powerhouse winning six championships in eight years in the 1990s, were far more successful than the pre-Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, regardless of any changes in the game during those years.

Similarly, the gross comparisons between the sales of Old Ideas VS Cohen’s earlier work permits no conclusion other than Old Ideas is more successful.

The question is …

Why Did The Old Ideas Release Meet With Such Success?

Continue Reading →

  1. See Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe) and Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking []
  2. See Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking []
  3. See Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking []

Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking

1norwayNote: Originally posted Feb 10, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com (a predecessor of Cohencentric), this is the second in a series of three posts examining the ascension – unique among Leonard Cohen recordings – of the Old Ideas album’s ascension on the best-selling music charts.

  1. Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe)
  2. Decoding Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Chart Ranking
  3. Leonard Cohen In Our Hearts – Old Ideas On The Charts

It’s 2012 And Leonard Cohen Is #1 Again In Norway

Norwegians have a history of fondness for Leonard Cohen that translates into album sales.  In 1988, for example, Cohen’s I’m Your Man album  was number one for seventeen weeks in Norway, leading the Canadian singer-songwriter to comment,

 That was very strange … Every single household in Norway must have had a copy. It was indispensable for family life.1

Norway has also been the highest rated country by the Human Development Index for the past four years.  Coincidence or Correlation?

Regardless, the real story is …

It’s 2012 And Leonard Cohen Is Charting Everywhere

Billboard describes the US version of the phenomenon:2

At No. 3 this week is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leonard Cohen with the debut of “Old Ideas” (41,000). It’s the icon’s highest-charting album ever and best sales week since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. The beloved artist’s new album is his first studio effort since 2004’s “Dear Heather,” which debuted and peaked at No. 131 (9,000 in its first week).

The official album Press Release cherry picks the high points:

Leonard Cohen’s New Album Old Ideas Receives Unprecedented Worldwide Acclaim
Old Ideas Debuts in a Top Five Position on Charts in 27 Countries

Cohen’s New Studio Album Is the Highest Charting Album of His Career

NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas has reached unprecedented worldwide creative and commercial heights with debuts in the #1 position on the official Album Sales Chart in 9 countries. Additionally, Old Ideas has smashed records with its debut at the top of the charts (official, iTunes or Amazon) in 17 countries (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland {trending to #1}, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA).  The highly acclaimed 10-song collection of new material from poet/singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was also Top 5 in an additional 10 countries. This makes Old Ideas the highest debuting album of Leonard Cohen’s career!

Last week’s headline at The Canadian Press – Online Edition3 trumpets “Old Ideas by Leonard Cohen Tops HMV Canada CD Sales Chart.”

The Dutch media focuses on Cohen’s age: Leonard Cohen Oldest Living Artist To Top Schavotje Ultratop and Leonard Cohen Oldest Artist To Have No. 1 Album. [Google English translation]

Old Ideas is #4 on the German charts, #1 in New Zealand, #2 in Switzerland, #1 in Hungary, and the beat, as Sonny & Cher assured us it would, goes on.

Finally, the Internationalist, authoritatively named United World Chart for week 7 of 2012 lists Old Ideas as its third best selling album.

uwcAll this leads one to ask …

Why Is Leonard Cohen’s Album Hot Stuff Now?

Continue Reading →

  1. Growing Old Disgracefully by Ian Pearson. Saturday Night, March, 1993 []
  2. Lana Del Rey Debuts At No. 2, Adele Holds No. 1 on Billboard 200 by Keith Caulfield. Billboard, February 08, 2012 []
  3. Update: This article no longer online. []