Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems

I’m gonna try tightening these posts up a little bit. I’ll bet I could keep it shorter and still get the point across…

We’re huge fans of Leonard, my lovely wife and I, we have all his records. Bought this latest release on our anniversary trip last weekend. We played it twice through in the car on the way home, and I played it once more yesterday, and I have to say it’s really damn excellent. Leonard’s voice is just golden, that bass rumble with the cracks in it, perfectly delivering his poetry and humour. The music is the same as ever – bluesy, funky, sometimes like a church hymn, sometimes with middle eastern bursts, and still sometimes what can ony be described as toy music. Wouldn’t have it any other way, at this point.

Here we have all the longing, searching, joy and sorrow we adore about Leonard, with the intelligence and the sly wink and the perfectly chosen words. Initially I thought 9 tracks was a pretty lean album, but on hearing it, most certainly it is nothing of the sort. The only oddball was Did I Ever Love You, with its plain verses and then a country gallop on the chorus parts. It’s like two songs pasted together, jarring. Otherwise, I can’t pick a favourite, they’re all gems. We’ll love this album like all the rest. Released around his birthday (which shares our wedding anniversary date, making this a great gift for us!), this year Leonard turned 80. This act of his career has been glorious.

Thanks, Leonard. Thanks so much.


Posted on September 29, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Looking forward to getting my hands on this one …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Highly recommended. Was only $12 at HMV, worth WAY more than that. 🙂


      • That’s actually really good. I’m looking at £22 for the vinyl … ouch.


        • Wow! £22 is $40 CDN!! Our Amazon here has the LP (with CD included) for $21.99 CDN, which would be £12. Shoot me an email with an address if you want me to mail you one. It could probably be cheaper for you, even with shipping.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’ve found this a fair bit when looking around – I really ought to just save all my vinyl purchasing and take a trip out to Canada and the US just to buy it a little cheaper.

            I’ll hold off just now, as there’s a few other records that are on my purchase list ahead of Leonard (I know! Shocking!) but I certainly appreciate the offer.

            Also, I haven’t forgotten about that grail list, either!


            • No worries, J.! You ever see anything that’s stupid-expensive on your end, but way better here, just let me know. Offer stands to all of you guys, of course! Let’s help each other get the records we want!

              Absolutely come out to Canada! Now’s a really pretty time, all the leaves changing colours yet the weather’s still warm, and if you’re a photo buff at all, you get that great fall light, too…

              You betcha, get in your grail list. Looking like we go to Toronto on October 18…


        • Oh yeah, and it’s pre-order at that price, it’s released October 7 on vinyl, here, according to the Amazons.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Concise and to the point with passion. Well done.

    I’m curious if Did I Ever Love You will grow on you, and the seam between the two parts blurs the more you hear it. Follow up in a month and let us know?


    • Thanks Mike! I want to try to tighten things up a bit. This was a dry run.

      That song may grow on me (it’s certainly not the first clunky song he’s ever released, and I liked the others well enough).

      Here, see for yourself:


      • I would consider it a successful dry run.

        Amazing how quick new releases end up on Youtube.

        On one listen I hear the clunkiness, yes. I’ll try again later and see how I feel!


        • Thanks! I’ve mentioned before about trying a bit more brevity, so we’ll see if it (generally) does albums justice. The temptation is to comment on every song but… yeah.

          Oh man, the youtubes get everything so fast. More fuel for my Physical vs. Digital debate!

          Yeah, it’s like two ideas that don’t mesh real well…


          • You know what I find? And this is just personal habit, not advice really.

            I tend to go long or go home when it’s a mega, mega, mega album. Like the Van Halens for example were mega, to me.

            When I do a Poison review, screw it. Three paragraphs and I’m out!


      • I dunno man, it’s definitely jarring…but I think it’s like two really good songs.


        • I don’t think I could listen to a whole track of the country bits, but the Leonard parts would make a great (shorter) track.


          • You should revisit the song in a month and see how you feel. It’s definitely a unique, interesting experiment and that alone is worth praise, even if it was ultimately deemed a failure.


            • Oh believe me, this record will get A LOT Of plays in our house, in the playlist with the rest of Leonard’s records, so it’ll be in the mix for all eternity now. I doubt I’ll skip it. You’re right it’ll be interesting to see what time will do to my opinion of it.


    • Was thinking more about it, I suppose what they were going for was the male and female perspectives. The man, here, is quieter, slower, feeling the hurt more, while the female is obvious of higher energy, perhaps more forgiving. I get that now, but it doesn’t make it any easier to listen to whilst in the flow of the album. It’s not a bad track, just… different.

      But there are so many other gems, like the single, Almost Like The Blues (which I already posted in these pages), Samson In New Orleans, My Oh My… lots of great songs that are pure Leonard and worth every second.


  3. For years I’ve een trying to figure out why I just can’t get Leonard. Heard a song recently and I’m like, it’s the guys voice. Now, I listen Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Peter Hammill, etc. That should say something, right? So I listen to this track and I think, he didn’t always sound like that did he? I may have to check this out.


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