Leonard Cohen has seen a lot of life and made a lot of music, but the 82-year-old singer-songwriter sounds like he’s finally coming to terms with the fact that it may all be over soon. In a recent profile by The New Yorker’s David Remnick, Cohen confirms that his touring days may be coming to a close and that he’s now more or less “confined to barracks” on account of his health. As Remnick notes, it’s highly likely that the weather-beaten road warrior who toured continuously between 2008 and 2013 may never grace a stage again.
Cohen’s fatalistic tone in the article may be the result of losing his former love and muse, Marianne Ihlen, to cancer over the summer. He suspects his own clock is ticking, too, and sounds dubious about the prospect of completing another album after his forthcoming You Want It Darker, which arrives on October 21st via Sony.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to finish those songs,” he reflects. “Maybe, who knows? And maybe I’ll get a second wind, I don’t know. But I don’t dare attach myself to a spiritual strategy. I don’t dare do that. I’ve got some work to do. Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”
Cohen still has a number of unpublished poems to arrange and unfinished songs to record, should he choose to. As the article notes, “He’s considering doing a book in which poems, like pages of the Talmud, are surrounded by passages of interpretation.”
“The big change is the proximity to death,” he reflects. “I am a tidy kind of guy. I like to tie up the strings if I can. If I can’t, also, that’s OK. But my natural thrust is to finish things that I’ve begun.”