Note: Originally posted Jan 12, 2015 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Leonard Cohen Collaborations
Although Leonard Cohen’s professional persona is that of the consummate solo artist, he has a long history of collaboration. Sharon Robinson, for example, co-wrote and produced Ten New Songs as well as singing and playing all the instruments on the album.1 A single sentence from Robert Christgau’s commentary on New Skin for Old Ceremony economically attests to the significance of two of Cohen’s best known producers:
Some of the new songs are less than memorable, but the settings, by John Lissauer, have the bizarre feel of John Simon’s “overproduction” on Cohen’s first album, which I always believed suited his studied vulgarity perfectly.
Similarly, Jennifer Warnes, Bob Johnston, Lewis Furey, Anjani Thomas, and Henry Lewy, among other musicians, songwriters, and producers, have influenced Cohen’s music. And, while the impact of some individuals has been limited to a single instance, e.g., Phil Spector’s work on “Death Of A Ladies’ Man,” several collaborators have left their imprints on a number of projects over a period of years.2
The Two Leonards
Patrick Leonard, who co-wrote three songs on the Old Ideas album and co-wrote eight of the nine songs on Popular Problems, is Cohen’s confederate in the current edition of these musical partnerships. The pair, in fact, are said to have “half of another album in the can.”3 This post offers an introduction to the nature of this collaboration.
Patrick Leonard’s efforts have changed how Leonard Cohen songs are created. Perhaps the most obvious effect has been the acceleration of Cohen’s notoriously slow, laborious development process:
“Some of them came together with shockingly alarming speed,” said Cohen, who recorded many of the songs at his home studio. “Usually, I take a long, long time – partly because of an addiction to perfection, partly just sheer laziness.”4
- Except Bob Metzger’s guitar work on “In My Secret Life” [↩]
- Thanks to Jugurtha Harchaoui (personal communication) for this insight. [↩]
- Leonard Cohen on Collaborating with Madonna Collaborator Patrick Leonard for Upcoming ‘Popular Problems’ By Phil Gallo. Billboard: September 11, 2014 [↩]
- Leonard Cohen Offers Rare Peek Into His Process at ‘Popular Problems’ Preview by Steve Appleford. Rolling Stone: September 11, 2014 [↩]