Leonard Cohen’s The Future Named Greatest Canadian Album

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From View From The Cheap Seats – Music best a varied field to consider by Thom Barker (Yorkton This Week: September 28, 2016)

Ultimately, I am going with Leonard Cohen. Cohen, of course, is a legend in his own right and a number of his records (The Songs of Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man, Songs of Love and Hate) have shown up on every best Canadian album list ever compiled.

My favourite, and an objectively great album that gets overlooked, is Cohen’s The Future. Its core is dark, moody and melancholy, which I love. Songs such as the title track, “Democracy” and “Anthem” are dystopian masterpieces of lyric and sound. Others, such as “Closing Time” pick up the mood and pace just when needed, but still retain the classic acerbic Cohen wit.

The album, one of his later efforts, came out in 1992 and his smoky growl has never been better. Plus, the band he put together for it is stellar, the musicianship beyond reproach. From the compelling opening organ riff and drum roll of “The Future” to the soothing piano and strings of “Tacoma Trailer” there is not a single note or word out of place on this album.

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: 1992 British Ad For The Future

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The text on this large, especially attractive 1992 English print ad for The Future is severely limited, leading one to ponder the implications of the choices made by the advertising folks to include this particular set of information:

  • the name of the artist
  • the name of the album
  • a listing of available formats (“CD, MC, LP”)
  • the name of the record label
  • the information that the album includes “7 NEW COMPOSITIONS,” none of which are named, “Plus 2 COVER VERSIONS, IRVING BERLIN’S ‘Always’ and “FREDERICK KNIGHT’S ‘Be For Real.’”

Contributed by Dominique BOILE

Note: Originally posted October 21, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Now Online: No Mercy – Leonard Cohen’s Tales from the Dark Side by Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone: Jan 21, 1993)

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No Mercy – Leonard Cohen’s Tales from the Dark Side by Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone: January 21, 1993), an excellent article with a nonexclusive  focus on The Future album, has been available online only in part until recently.  The complete piece, replete with Cohen quotes and pertinent analyses of his work, is now accessible at the link.  Highly recommended.

The opening paragraphs are representative of the quality of the piece:

“I always experience myself as falling apart, and I’m taking emergency measures,” says Leonard Cohen, entirely deadpan. “It’s coming apart at every moment. I try Prozac. I try love. I try drugs. I try Zen meditation. I try the monastery. I try forgetting about all those strategies and going straight. And the place where the evaluation happens is where I write the songs, when I get to that place where I can’t be dishonest about what I’ve been doing.”

That penchant for unadulterated honesty is precisely what liberates Cohen’s music from the tastes of the moment and renders it timelessly alive. Through a body of work that ranges from the somber folk meditations of his debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), to the jagged art songs of his current album, The Future, Cohen’s resonant croak of a voice delivers lines like “Give me crack and anal sex/Take the only tree that’s left/And stuff it up the hole in your culture” with the deranged authority of an Old Testament prophet battling an addiction problem. Self-described as “the little jew who wrote the bible,” he informs his songs with the force of moral significance – though, as he would be the absolute first to insist, neither his work nor his life should be taken as a moral example.

No Mercy – Leonard Cohen’s Tales from the Dark Side by Anthony DeCurtis

Leonard Cohen On His Vigorous, Cheerful Treatment Of Catastrophe


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I’ve been talking about this catastrophe, this interior catastrophe for a long time… All the songs [in The Future album] are about that position, but I think treated vigorously, and if I may say so, cheerfully.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From The Loneliness of The Long-Suffering Folkie By Wayne Robins (Newsday – Long Island, November 22, 1992). Originally posted November 12, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The dismal situation & the future, there’s no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself & your job & your love.” Leonard Cohen

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That is the background of the whole record [The Future]. If you had to come up with a philosophical ground, that is it. Ring the bells that still can ring. It’s no excuse. The dismal situation and the future, there’s no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards your self and your job and your love. Ring the bells that still can ring. They are few and far between. You can find ’em. Forget your perfect offering. That is the hang-up. That you’re going to work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea, we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution, of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect. Neither your marriage nor your work nor anything. Nor your love of G-d nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect, and, worse: There is a crack in everything that you can put together — physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But, that’s where the light gets in; and, that’s where the resurrection is; and, that’s where the return — that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation with the broken-ness of the thing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen’s The Future Interview by Bob Mackowitz (a radio special produced by Interviews Unlimited for Sony Music, 1992).

Note: Originally posted April 5, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric