Ten New Songs

Dec 5, 2001 at 12:00 am

Each new thread in the tapestry of Leonard Cohen’s art (songs, poems, novels, etc.) loops back through the same timeless, borderless grid and disappears into the grand design of a single vision. The word “new” in the title of the CD, Ten New Songs, might mean something in a catalog of Cohen’s work, but it means absolutely nothing to a listener or reader. He’s been called a saint, along the lines of Katherine Tekakwitha, the historical object of desire in his 1966 novel Beautiful Losers. He’s been called a prophet for rendering beauty out of a stillness that lets his work transcend time. The stillness can be felt as a cold ghost on the first track on Ten New Songs, “In My Secret Life.” “And I miss you so much/There’s no one in sight/And we’re still making love/In my secret life.” Cohen’s depressive, ecstatic poetic style is, after all, an expression of a soul constantly looking back at itself from some imagined place in the future. By the time he confessed to being a ladies’ man, the ladies’ man was already dead. Cohen’s static dreams constantly anticipate, as if aftermath were the only place to really begin. He continues to construct the perpetual love song by his own rules and romantic dimensions — “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” On Ten New Songs, Cohen still slow dances alone inside the ongoing song, entertained, identified and enlightened by his own visions: “In streams of light I clearly saw/The dust you seldom see/Out of which the nameless makes/A name for one like me” (“Love Itself”). He stops, he turns and begins again.

E-mail Norene Cashen at [email protected].