Leonard Cohen’s Son Releases Posthumous Album of Legendary Singer’s Unfinished Work
The son of the late legendary Jewish singer Leonard Cohen released on Friday a posthumously-completed album of music left unfinished by his father.
The new album, “Thanks for the Dance,” is made up of half-finished songs and vocal takes Cohen recorded during sessions for “You Want It Darker,” his 14th studio album released in October 2016, just a few weeks before his death.
The singer’s son Adam Cohen, also a musician, who served as producer on “You Want It Darker,” said the new songs should not be considered as “discarded songs or B sides.” He told The New York Times, “They’re a continuation. Had we had more time and had he been more robust, we would have gotten to them.”
He added that he and his father discussed finishing the songs before the latter’s death. “The conversations were about what instrumentation and what feelings he wanted the completed work to evoke — sadly, the fact that I would be completing them without him was a given,” he said.
Leonard Cohen was already unwell, suffering from leukemia and compression fractures of the spine, when he recorded these final vocals. His decision to have his son produce the sessions was partially because “he didn’t want some stranger in his living room,” Adam explained, adding that despite his weakness, “most of the time, even in acute pain, he would muster the energy to put on a suit and a fedora.”
Leonard Cohen died on Nov. 7, 2016, after a fall, and it took Adam about seven months following his father’s passing to muster up “a tiny bit of courage” to listen to the unfinished songs.
In the foreword to “The Flame,” a collection of Leonard Cohen’s work that was published in 2018, Adam wrote that even toward the end of his life, his father was determined to bring his final poems and songs up to his usual standards, and that “it was what he was staying alive to do.” Adam also noted that his father “was very conscious to be writing from the rung of life at which he found himself.”
“He was not trying to be a nostalgia act, like so many of his contemporaries,” he said. “He wasn’t going backwards. He would say to me, ‘I am taking the inner life very seriously.’ And I think that’s why it resonates so deeply to us. It wasn’t an act. This was a devotional investigation into wherever he found himself.”