The Theology Of Leonard Cohen

Liel Leibovitz contrasts the singer with his contemporaries:

His peers all insisted that salvation was at hand. To go to a Doors concert was to stare at the lithe messiah undressing on stage and believe that it was entirely possible to break on through to the other side. To see Cohen play was to gawk at an aging Jew telling you that life was hard and laced with sorrow but that if we love each other and fuck one another and have the mad courage to laugh even when the sun is clearly setting, we’ll be just all right. To borrow a metaphor from a field never too far from Cohen’s heart, theology, Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, and the rest were all good Christians, and they set themselves up as the redeemers who had to die for the sins of their fans. Cohen was a Jew, and like Jews he believed that salvation was nothing more than a lot of hard work and a small but sustainable reward.

Paul Schrodt grasps the significance of releasing a new album at 77:

In this way, Cohen bucks the conventional narrative of the aging rock artist, who too many of us often expect to fundamentally transform with the passage of time. He has had no epiphany like Paul Simon, no trip to South Africa, no songs about waking up on Christmas Day. He is who he always was: a guy down on his luck, whose "Hallelujah" was always "broken."

You can listen to the new album, "Old Ideas," in full here. In an impressive post from 2007, Michael Barthel traced how “Hallelujah” became the very famous song we know of today.