Set for new album, Leonard Cohen talks about seemingly endless string of "Hallelujah" covers

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There’s good news for Leonard Cohen fans this week: A new album, and the outside possibility that a seemingly endless string of renditions by other artists of his signature “Hallelujah” might one day draw to a close.


Cohen will release Old Ideas on Tuesday. It’s the singer-songwriter’s first new full-length original recording since 2004’s Dear Heather. The idea, old though it may be, was to present some universal truths, Cohen told The Guardian.

“I don’t really like sings with ideas; they to become slogans,” Cohen said. “They tend to be on the right side of things: ecology or vegetarianism or antiwar. All these are wonderful ideas but I like to work on a song until these slogans … dissolve into deeper convictions of the heart.”

An issue near and dear to some fans’ hearts revolves around “Hallelujah,” which since its appearance on Cohen’s 1984 release Various Positions has appeared on approximately 1 billion other albums and TV shows — with notable covers from the late Jeff Buckley, Bono, k.d. lang, Willie Nelson, Rufus Wainwright and “The X Factor” winner Alexandra Burke, among others. Some of his biggest supporters, Cohen said, have requested a timeout.

“There’s been a couple of times when other people have said can we have a moratorium please on ‘Hallelujah’? Must we have it at the end of every single drama and every single ‘Idol?'” Cohen said. “And once or twice I’ve felt maybe I should lend my voice to silencing it but on second thought no, I’m very happy that it’s being sung.”

Cohen says he will hit the road, then reconvene in the studio for a follow up to Old Ideas, with a targeted issue date of “a year or so.”

Here’s a look back at our review of Leonard Cohen’s 2009 live project. Click through the title for full review …

LEONARD COHEN – LIVE IN LONDON (2009): Fascinating and enigmatic, a quirky delight, Leonard Cohen has nevertheless found a series of devoted, adult audiences over the years — selling 21 million records worldwide across four decades, including the gold-certified Songs of Leonard Cohen, his 1967 debut; and 1975’s The Best of Leonard Cohen. That still amazes me. Popular music rarely makes room for true poetry, and even more rarely for singer songwriters who move beyond the typical folk trappings into blues, rock and the avant garde — and almost never for old men. A key influence on a number of rock bands, notably the Velvet Underground, Cohen’s fiery literacy on issues both personal and political actually predates his music. He’s written 12 books, beginning with 1956’s “Let Us Compare Mythologies” to a more recent collection of poetry, prose and drawings — 2006’s “Book of Longing.” Yet an unlikely ride into musical history was finally made complete with the announcement of Cohen’s 2008 induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and this subsequent tour.

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