The son of celebrated Canadian poet-singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is releasing a new album of his late father’s music.
The album, titled “Thanks for the Dance,” is largely a meditation on Cohen’s old standbys of spirituality, sexuality, politics and mortality. It is Cohen’s 15th studio album, and will be released through Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings.
Adam Cohen asked some of his gravel-voiced father’s longtime collaborators to flesh out the raw tracks left over from Leonard Cohen’s acclaimed 2016 album, “You Want It Darker.”
That album was released just 19 days before the singer’s death on Nov. 7, 2016, at age 82, the result of a fall in his Los Angeles home. The title track won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.
“There’s that Jewish tradition of bringing a tiny rock or stone to a gravesite,” Adam Cohen, 47, told the New York Times in a story posted on Tuesday ahead of the album’s release on Friday, Nov. 22. “I felt like every person was there to just humbly deposit their little rock near the engraving of his name.”
Among the performers on “Thanks for the Dance” are Jennifer Warnes, who interpreted Cohen’s songs on the well-received 1987 album, “Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen,” and Spanish guitarist Javier Mas.
Also appearing on “Thanks for the Dance” are Beck, Daniel Lanois, Damien Rice Leslie Feist and Richard Reed Parry of the Canadian indie band Arcade Fire.
One of the new album’s songs, “Moving On,” is about Cohen’s longtime muse, Marianne Ihlen, penned just after he learned about her death in July of 2016.
On another track, “Puppets,” Cohen writes about the failure of taking responsibility for one’s actions in society: “German puppets burned the Jews/ Jewish puppets did not choose … Puppet me and/Puppet you/Puppet German/Puppet Jew.” The Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir of Westmount, Quebec, performs on the song.
On the song “Listen to the Hummingbird,” Cohen sings, “Listen to the mind of G-d/Don’t listen to me,” employing the Jewish custom of hyphenating the Almighty’s name in a manner that shows reverence.
In a recent review of the album, Eric R. Danton of Paste magazine writes, “Whether he’s singing about sex or death, or whatever else, Cohen’s voice remains indispensable.”
Among Cohen’s best-known songs is “Who By Fire,” which is based on the prayer Unetanneh Tofkef sung at the Mussaf service during the High Holidays.
Cohen often toured Israel, notably during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 2009, he donated proceeds from a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, to a group that advances dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a 2016 New Yorker profile, Bob Dylan compared Cohen to Irving Berlin, linking the three iconic Jewish songwriters.
Ron Kampeas writes for the JTA global news source.
Jmore staff members contributed to this article.
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