LEONARD COHEN-YOU WANT IT DARKER.
LEONARD COHEN-YOU WANT IT DARKER.
In 2004, Leonard Cohen’s daughter Lorca started to suspect her father’s manager of financial impropriety. Deep down, this was something Lorca didn’t want to believe. Kelley Lynch wasn’t just a business manager, but a close personal friend. So close was the friendship that Kelley Lynch was almost regarded as part of the Cohen family. This was why Lorca must have hoped that her suspicions would prove unfounded.
Having told her father of her suspicions, Leonard Cohen decided to check his bank accounts. It transpired that Kelley Lynch had paid a $75,000 credit card bill using Leonard Cohen’s money. On discovering this, Leonard Cohen began checking all his bank accounts. They had just about been cleaned out. This was a huge shock. Leonard Cohen had been betrayed by one of his closest friends.
Now that Leonard Cohen had discovered the misappropriation of funds, he ordered an audit of his finances. The auditors discovered that over $5 million from Leonard Cohen’s retirement fund was missing. All that was left was $150,000. That was just part of the story.
Money was missing from Leonard Cohen’s trusts funds and charitable funds. To rub salt into the wound, auditors had discovered that the misappropriation of funds had started eight years previously, in 1996. This was when Kelley Lynch began selling the publishing rights to Leonard Cohen’s music. Over the next eight years, Kelley Lynch had misappropriated the majority of Leonard Cohen’s savings. For seventy year old Leonard Cohen this was a huge blow.
No longer was Leonard Cohen going to be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement after a long and successful career. That was unless he could received the money misappropriated by Kelley Lynch. The only way for Leonard Cohen to do this, was to sue Kelley Lynch.
This is what Leonard Cohen decided to do. To do so, he had to mortgage his house and sell of assets. This was a huge risk, and one not to be taken lightly.
Despite that, Leonard Cohen filed suit in October 2005, alleging that Kelley Lynch had misappropriated in excess of $5 million from his retirement fund. All that remained was $150,000. This was not a lot to show for a career that had spanned five decades. However, things were about to get worse for Leonard Cohen.
It was announced that he was being counter-sued by some of his former business advisers. One adviser, Neal Greenberg alleged that Leonard Cohen was aware of his financial situation, and that the lawsuit was an attempt to recoup the misappropriated monies. Things were getting messy, and indeed expensive.
In March 2006, Leonard Cohen won his civil suit at Los Angeles County superior court. He was awarded $9 million. However, Kelley Lynch had ignored the lawsuit and failed to respond to a subpoena for he financial records. It was looking like Leonard Cohen would be unable to recover the $9 million he had been awarded. Not only was Leonard Cohen no further forward, but had financed an expensive lawsuit.
This had further depleted Leonard Cohen’s finances. His already perilous financial situation had gotten even worse. The lawsuit had been a waste of time and money. It also resulted in Leonard Cohen’s affairs being splashed across the front page of newspapers. For an intensely private and sensitive man, this intrusion was humiliating for Leonard Cohen. He wasn’t used to being in the spotlight.
Instead, Leonard Cohen had been living a quietly. He was a private person, who shied away from the celebrity lifestyle. Leonard Cohen was happy to spend his time writing songs, poems and painting. Occasionally, Leonard Cohen would release an album.
His most recent album Dear Heather, was released in 2004 and was Leonard Cohen’s first album since Ten New Songs in 2001. Ten New Songs was the first album Leonard Cohen had released since The Future in 1992. Leonard Cohen was far from a prolific artist. Dear Heather was only his eleventh since his 1967 debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen. It was a similar when it came to touring.
The last time Leonard Cohen embarked upon a tour was 1993. However, this was about to change. Having failed to recover the $9 from Kelley Lynch, Leonard Cohen decided to embark upon a lengthy world tour. It was scheduled to begin on the 11th May 2008, in Fredericton, in New Brunswick, Canada. By then, Leonard Cohen was just a few months short of his seventy-fourth birthday.
Leonard Cohen would celebrate his seventy-fourth birthday on his World Tour. It was proving hugely popular. Night after night, Leonard Cohen played sell-out shows. He would be greeted by enthusiastically by two generations of record buyers. Many weren’t even born when Leonard released his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. However, they were familiar with his music and welcomed Leonard Cohen to their city. That continued to be the case as the tour continued into 2009.
By July 2009, Leonard Cohen arrived in Europe to undertake what was described as a marathon tour. Everything went well until Leonard Cohen passed during a concert in Valencia, in Spain on September 18th 2009. Reports stated that Leonard Cohen had been suffering from stomach problems, and most likely, he suffered a bout of food poisoning. Three days later, on September 21st 2009, Leonard Cohen had recovered, and took to the stage in Barcelona. That night he celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday with the Catalan audience. This was just the latest successful concert during Leonard Cohen’s mammoth world tour.
It returned to America later in 2009 for the sixth leg. By then, the tour had grossed $9.5 million. Still though, the tour wasn’t over. Further dates had been added, and the next leg was due to begin in March 2010. However, a back injury meant the seventh leg of the tour couldn’t begin until September 2010.
As the seventh leg began, Sony Music released a live CD/DVD set on September 14th 2010. It featured performances from the 2008-2009. Ten days later, on 24th September 2010, Leonard Cohen played the final date on his world tour in Tel Aviv, Israel. The next day, Leonard Cohen was seventy-five.
He had spent nearly two-and-a-half years touring the world. While this should’ve improved Leonard Cohen’s perilous financial position, it came at a cost to his health. Problems with Leonard Cohen’s back had resulted in the seventh leg of the tour having to be rescheduled. However, still Leonard Cohen had completed the marathon tour.
Once he returned home, Leonard Cohen continued to write poetry and songs. The world tour seemed to have given Leonard Cohen a new lesson of life. He wrote the ten songs that explored themes like mortality, sex, depression, and the search for love. These songs became Leonard Cohen’s critically acclaimed twelfth album Old Ideas.
It was released on January 31st 2012 and topped the charts in eleven countries. Meanwhile, Old Ideas reached number three in the US Billboard 200 and two in the UK. This resulted in gold discs in the UK and Sweden. However, in Leonard Cohen’s home country of Canada, Old Ideas reached number one and was certified platinum. The seventy-seven year old become the oldest person to top the Canadian charts. Despite the success of Old Ideas, Leonard Cohen wasn’t about to rest on his laurels.
Grand Tour 2012-2013.
Leonard Cohen was about to embark upon another world tour. The first leg of the Grand Tour began in Europe on August 12th 2012. Just like his previous tour, Leonard Cohen was accompanied by the newly expanded Unified Heart Touring Band. They had added a violinist to the band. This new lineup of the Unified Heart Touring Band accompanied Leonard Cohen each night, as he worked his way through a three hour set. Just under two months later, October 7th 2012, the European leg of the Grand Tour ended. By then, Leonard Cohen was seventy-eight.
He was showing no signs of slowing down. The North American leg of the Grand Tour began in the spring of 2013, and featured fifty-six dates. Once the North American leg was over, Leonard Cohen headed to Australia and New Zealand.
During November and December of 2013, Leonard Cohen toured Australia and then New Zealand. The last show on the Grand Tour was in Auckland. That was Leonard Cohen ’s sixty-ninth show of 2013, and his 387th concert since he returned to touring in the summer of 2008. Closing a three hour show where new songs rubbed shoulders with old friends, was fittingly and poignantly, I Tried to Leave You and a cover of Save the Last Dance for Me. That night, Leonard Cohen transforms a song made famous by The Drifters and makes it his own. As the song closes, Leonard Cohen tips his and takes a bow as the audience give him a standing ovation. Leonard Cohen who was seventy-nine takes his leave for the last time on the Grand Tour.
Following the completion of the Grand Tour, Leonard Cohen returned home. Then as 2014 dawned, his thoughts turned to his thirteenth studio album Popular Problems. Recording began during 2013. Now it was just a matter of completing the album.
Popular Problems would eventually feature nine songs. Leonard Cohen played a part in each of these songs. He wrote Born In Chains, and cowrote A Street with Anjani Thomas. The other seven songs, Leonard Cohen penned with Patrick Leonard. These songs were recorded with a small, tight and talented band. They were augmented by a trio of backing vocalists as Popular Problems took shape. It was completed in early 2014.
Just Old Ideas in 2012, Popular Problems was released to widespread critical acclaim. It was released the 22nd of September 2014, a day after Leonard Cohen turned eighty. The commercial success Popular Problems was another cause for celebration.
Popular Problems reached the top ten in twenty-one countries. However, in America, Popular Problems reached just fifteen in the US Billboard 200. Across the Atlantic, Popular Problems reached number five. Elsewhere, Popular Problems reached number one in ten countries, including Canada. The success of Popular Problems resulted in the album being certified silver in the UK; gold in Austria, Canada and Switzerland and platinum in Denmark and Poland. Forty-seven years after releasing his debut album The Songs Of Leonard Cohen, still, his music continued to find a wide and appreciative audience across the world. This would continue to be the case.
You Want It Darker.
Buoyed by the success of Popular Problems, Leonard Cohen began work on his fourteenth studio album in 2015. This would eventually become You Want It Darker. However, by the time recording began on You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen was suffering from various health problems.
These health problems were probably a result of the five years that Leonard Cohen spent touring between 2008 and 2013. The constant travelling on buses and planes, plus the sound-checks and three hour shows would’ve taken their toll on a man half Leonard Cohen’s age. They were taking their toll on Leonard Cohen. He was suffering from multiple fractures of his spine and had mobility problems. Despite this, Leonard Cohen had written a new album by May 2015.
By then, Leonard Cohen had written the lyrics to nine songs. He also wrote the music to Treaty, Leaving the Table, Steer Your Way and String Reprise/Treaty. Just like on previous albums, other songwriters contributed the music to You Want It Darker. Patrick Leonard wrote the music You Want It Dark, If I Didn’t Have Your Love, It Seemed The Better Way cowrote the music to Traveling Light with Adam Cohen. Sharon Robinson wrote the music to On the Level. Many of the lyrics on You Want It Darker were of a personal nature. There was a reason for this.
At the time, Leonard Cohen knew he was dying and he was turning his attention to death and God on You Want It Darker. However, there was a lighter, humorous side to some of the album. It was recorded in Leonard Cohen’s home, due to his mobility and health problems.
When recording of You Want It Darker began in May 2015, Leonard Cohen’s living room was turned into a makeshift studio. There weren’t the same distractions that there would’ve been. Nor was there a constant stream of people asking how he was. A determined and driven Leonard Cohen continued to concentrate on recording You Want It Darker. For much of the time, pain wracked Leonard Cohen’s body. Despite this, he continued to work on what he now realised was going to be his swan-song. Eventually, he had laid the vocals to the nine songs down.
Meanwhile, the rest of the musicians that worked on You Want It Darker, recorded their parts in studios. Due to advances in technology over the past twenty years, it was now possible for Leonard Cohen to email his vocals to the band. Just like his last studio album, Popular Problems, the band was small, tight and talented.
The rhythm section featured drummer Brian Macleod and bassist and keyboardist Michael Chaves who programmed some of the drum parts. Bill Bottrell added the electric guitar and pedal steel guitar parts. Adam Cohen played classical guitar on some tracks. They were joined by two multi instrumentalists.
This included Zac Rae, who played classical guitar, guitar, mandolin, octophone, keyboards, celesta, mellotron, piano, Wurlitzer and floor tom. The other was Patrick Leonard. He played bass guitar, bass synth, keyboards, organ, piano, percussion and program some drum parts. Patrick Leonard also co-produced You Want It Darker with Leonard and Adam Cohen. By July 2016, You Want It Darker was complete.
Three months later, You Want It Darker was released on 21st of October 2016. Just like its predecessor Popular Problems, it was released to critical acclaim. Leonard Cohen’s musings on death and God were ruminative, poignant, thought provoking and obviously, tinged with sadness. You Want It Darker was a deeply personal album which features a reflective Leonard Cohen. Sometimes, You Want It Darker has a spiritual sound. Other times, an ethereal sound shines through. Throughout You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen variously offers advice; gives thanks on If I Didn’t Have Your Love, while he sounds rueful on It Seemed The Better Way and is almost defiant on the title-track. However, Leonard Cohen realised that the end near, and that soon, he would be Leaving The Table. This adds to a poignant, thoughtful album which features both beauty, darkness and even a hint of humour. Alas, You Want It Darker proved to be Leonard Cohen’s swan-song.
When You Want It Darker was released by Columbia on 21st of October 2016, it reached number seven in the US Billboard 200 and number four in the UK. Elsewhere, You Want It Darker reached the top twenty in twenty-six countries. Of these twenty-six countries, You Want It Darker reached number one in twelve countries, including Canada. This resulted in gold discs in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. However, in Austria, Belgium and Poland You Want It Darker was certified platinum. You Want It Darker had been Leonard Cohen’s most successful album since I’m Your Man in 1988.
Sadly, You Want It Darker proved to be Leonard Cohen’s swan-song.Leonard Cohen who was a singer-songwriter, novelist and poet passed away on 7th November 2016, aged eighty-two. That day, music lost a true great, whose recording career had spanned nearly fifty years.
During that time, Leonard Cohen released fourteen studio albums and eight live albums. They’re a remainder of one of music’s most enduring and cerebral singer-songwriters. Leonard Cohen constantly asked the big questions and tackled subjects other singer-songwriters shied away from. That was the case right up until his swan-song You Want It Darker.
On You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen revisited the subject of death and God. Maybe Leonard Cohen found this therapeutic or cathartic? After all, he knew he was dying as he recorded You Want It Darker. It may be that Leonard Cohen this was Leonard Cohen’s may of coping with death. This is similar to Dylan Thomas writing the villanelle Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. However, Leonard Thomas didn’t: “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
He was rueful, reflective, offered advice and gave thanks on If I Didn’t Have Your Love. It was one of nine songs on You Want It Darker; which was the swan-song of one of the greatest lyricists in the history of modern music, Leonard Cohen.
LEONARD COHEN-YOU WANT IT DARKER.