“Ten New Songs – There’s a sense of relaxation in the tunes that comes through, there’s a kind of pulse, an invitation to get into it – a groove. A lot of people have danced to it… well, actually, one person. And she was erm, an executive of Sony in France, & she’s a trained dancer.” Leonard Cohen

From I Never Discuss My Mistresses Or My Tailors by Nick Paton Walsh. The Observer, October 14, 2001

“There were dogs barking, birds singing, garbage trucks. Also, occasionally Leonard [Cohen] would forget to turn off the Jacuzzi that is adjacent to the studio” Leanne Ungar On Recording Ten New Songs

Tracking final vocals in Cohen’s home studio (which, despite its reasonably high-tech trappings, [Leanne] Ungar says “is not acoustically isolated”) was an environmental challenge. “There were dogs barking, birds singing, garbage trucks. Also, occasionally Leonard would forget to turn off the Jacuzzi that is adjacent to the studio — the studio resides in a second story Cohen added above his garage, next to his Los Angeles home. When you’re involved in doing vocals and your ears are full of track, it is easy to not notice these noises,” Ungar says. She removed most of these sounds, but says she can still hear their remnants on the finished CD.

Leanne Ungar is a sound engineer and producer, who worked on several Leonard Cohen albums, beginning with New Skin for the Old Ceremony.

Leonard Cohen by Eric Rudolph (Mix: Feb 1, 2002)

“Working with Leonard [Cohen] was a dream. In terms of the man/woman thing, he always respected you fully as an equal.” Sharon Robinson

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As soon as I met Leonard at that Field Commander Cohen audition, we seemed to hit it off. There was a really nice chemistry. He was extremely gracious and hospitable and warm. He seemed to like me right off the bat, so it was very comfortable. He hadn’t made an album for six years before Ten New Songs and was looking for a way to express these lyrics he’d written that would feel like a whole body of work – that’s how we ended up doing the whole project together. He was interested in soul and blues and R&B, all of that. We often referred back to the blues greats and to the Muscle Shoals stuff. Working with Leonard was a dream. In terms of the man/woman thing, he always respected you fully as an equal. Discussing all sorts of things that were on his mind was part of the friendship, part of the interaction. Leonard had an immeasurable wisdom and intellect, and was able to access it and put it into his work. He spent a lot of time on these words. Working and then re-working them brought another level of depth that probably even he couldn’t predict. That’s why his songs are so timely – and so timeless. He worked on it so much. Leonard would send me a lyric, and I’d go to my piano and try to understand where the verse was and what the chords should be, and just shape it into less of a poem and more of a song lyric, if you will, without changing any of the words. Sometimes I would change the order, or I’d decide, ‘Okay, this stanza should be the chorus.’ And I would build a melody and chord changes based on my interpretation of the lyrics. I’d present a couple of ideas to Leonard and then we worked through the rest of it together.quotedown2

Sharon Robinson

 

Quotation from Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen by Abby Steward. Hot Press: Sept 2017. Photo by Dominique BOILE.

How Sharon Robinson Came To Sing On As Well As Co-Write Ten New Songs With Leonard Cohen

The path of Ten New Songs had veered mightily from the original plan. When they started, Cohen, Robinson and Ungar planned to hire musicians and background singers and complete the project in a conventional manner in a regular recording studio. Initially, “My vocals were supposed to be just sketched out ideas, to be sung in sessions by others,” Robinson says. But then a curious thing happened: Cohen fell in love with the sound of the sampled instruments and Robinson’s layered vocal parts. “We decided that bringing in musicians and singers would actually be a compromise,” Robinson explains. “When Leonard heard the first completed track, ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep,’ he was enthralled,” adds Ungar.

Leanne Ungar is a sound engineer and producer, who worked on several Leonard Cohen albums, beginning with New Skin for the Old Ceremony.

Leonard Cohen by Eric Rudolph (Mix: Feb 1, 2002)

“I was able to take the time to find exactly the right mood for the narrator, until the vocals married with the track and the song’s content, so the voice represented the song rather than simply unfolded it.” Leonard Cohen On Recording Ten New Songs At 4 A.M.

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I had to start singing before the birds, and the traffic on Olympic, and before my daughter’s dogs started barking. It was very relaxed at those times, four or five a.m., to come in and find the right place to stand or sit, and have the right drink or smoke in your hand, lean back, go back, erase, go forward. It was a very luxurious way to do the vocals. I was able to take the time to find exactly the right mood for the narrator, until the vocals married with the track and the song’s content, so the voice represented the song rather than simply unfolded it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen by Eric Rudolph (Mix: Feb 1, 2002). Photo of Leonard Cohen taken by Ethan Hill in 2001 and published in Rolling Stone.

Q: Your new record…was such a wonderful surprise for us all. When was it that you first felt you needed to put some more music into your life? Was this moment related to something particular? Leonard Cohen: “Nothing particular. Just the job.”

DrHGuy Note: The “new record” was Ten New Songs .

From October 16, 2001 Online Web Chat

A Leonard Cohen Koan: The Sound Of Two Zen Monks Hearing Ten New Songs

How do you feel your experience of Buddhism has influenced you and why is your experience of meditation not reflected more in your songs?

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A while ago I played the record [Ten New Songs] for two Zen monks. When it was finished they were silent for some time. Then one of them said, ‘That was as good as two weeks of session’ (an intensive meditation retreat). The other monk kept his eyes closed and only opened them when I filled his glass. Then we kept on drinking.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Online Web Chat October 16, 2001