Ten New Songs

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Ten New Songs
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 9, 2001
Recordedlate 1999 – mid 2001
mixed at
Still Life Studios,[1] Los Angeles;
Small Mercies studio,[2] Hollywood
GenreContemporary folk, soft rock
ProducerSharon Robinson
Leonard Cohen chronology
Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979
Ten New Songs
The Essential Leonard Cohen

Ten New Songs is Leonard Cohen's tenth studio album, released in 2001. It was co-written and produced by Sharon Robinson. It was produced in Cohen's and Robinson's home studios in Los Angeles. It was also his first album in nearly 10 years. The album peaked at #143 on the Billboard 200, #4 in Canada (where it went platinum), #1 in Poland[3] (where it went platinum) and #1 in Norway.


After successfully touring behind the award-winning album The Future, Cohen was awarded a Governor General's Performance Arts Award for his contribution to Canadian music in 1993 and was the subject of an hour-long CBC Radio retrospective called The Gospel According to Leonard Cohen. Cohen also published a collection of poems and songs called Stranger Music and released his second live album Cohen Live in 1994.

That same year, Cohen unexpectedly retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles to spend time with his Zen Master Joshu Sasaki, or Roshi, a sabbatical that would last five years. In 2001 the singer explained to Mojo's Sylvie Simmons, "Well, I was always going off the deep end, so it was no radical departure. When I finished my tour in '93 I was approaching the age of 60 and my old friend and teacher Roshi was approaching the age of 90, and I thought it would be the right moment to spend some more time with him...I wasn't looking for a new religion or another list of dogma."

Cohen has stated in numerous interviews that throughout the success of the I'm Your Man and The Future tours, he remained desperately unhappy; in the book Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life, biographer Anthony Reynolds quotes the singer: "I'd been drinking three bottles of wine a night on the tour and one of the things I was looking for was a rest...I didn't know what else to do."

Interest in Cohen only grew, however, with a tribute album called Tower of Song being released in 1995. According to Ira Nadel's 1996 Cohen memoir Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen, Cohen flirted with the idea of recording an album of 14 short songs during this period, but eventually scrapped the project. (One song, "Never Any Good," would turn up on the 1997 release More Best of Leonard Cohen.) In June 1999, Cohen returned to his L.A. duplex to live with his daughter and began collaborating with Sharon Robinson (co-writer of "Everybody Knows" and "Waiting for the Miracle") on what would become Ten New Songs.

Recording and composition[edit]

Robinson produced, co-arranged, co-wrote and sang on Ten New Songs, making it a true collaboration. Cohen gave Robinson some lyrics he had written and she built the music around them. Cohen was so impressed with Robinson's demos that she ended up singing all the songs with him, including several leads. "At his insistence", Robinson clarified to Mojo's Sylvie Simmons. "It's ironic, isn't it, that the man who's got this voice that women swoon over just wants to hide it away?" The album was recorded by Robinson and Cohen in near isolation, with Leanne Ungar engineering and Bob Metzger adding guitar to the LP's first single, "In My Secret Life". In 2010, Robinson spoke about the recording with Cohen biographer Anthony Reynolds:

The way the album came about is linked to the actual sound of it. The album had a unique path and it wasn't done in the way an album is normally done. It was also recorded pretty much in the order it plays in...The recording was some kind of extension of his time at Mount Baldy. He was still very reclusive during this time...I would initially sing and play everything, at the time not knowing if we were bringing in other musicians or singers. Of course as it turned out, we didn't so my voice stayed because Leonard liked what he was hearing.

Robinson also divulged to Reynolds that most of the album was recorded in her three-car garage that was adjoined to her house (which she had converted to a studio) and that she would take the raw audio on a portable hard drive to Cohen's converted studio above his garage.

The album was Cohen's first to be recorded completely digitally. "There's a sense of relaxation in the tunes that comes through", the Cohen told Nick Patton Walsh of The Observer in 2001. "There's a kind of pulse, an invitation to get into it - a groove."

Several of the tracks on Ten New Songs existed in some form or another long before they appeared on the album; Cohen first revealed he was working on a new song called "My Secret Life" in 1988,[4] and, in 1995, Melinda Newman of Billboard reported that two tracks, "My Secret Life" and "A Thousand Kisses Deep", were "close to completion... I’d like to have a very intimate kind of record, of a very different nature than actual songs."

"In My Secret Life", a song that wound up being an ode to unrequited love, became the album's first single with an accompanying music video that was filmed in Montreal at Habitat 67. Other songs, such as "Alexandra Leaving" (based on "The God Abandons Antony", also translated as "The God Abandons Antony", a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy, published in 1911) and "You Have Loved Enough", imply departures of some sort or another.

Ten New Songs was remastered and reissued on vinyl by the Netherlands label Music On Vinyl[5] in 2009.[6]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[8]
Blender4/5 stars[9]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[10]
The Guardian4/5 stars[11]
Q3/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[15]
Uncut5/5 stars[16]
The Village VoiceA−[17]

In the October 2001 Rolling Stone review of the album, Steven Chean stated, "Ten New Songs manages to sustain loss's fragile beauty like never before and might just be the Cohen's most exquisite ode yet to the midnight hour." Uncut deemed it "worth the wait." Playboy opined: "Although the tones of these odes and meditations is mournful, at the age of 67 Cohen's pessimism about the human condition is tempered with reconciliation. He'll never be cheerful, but a Zen-like serenity pervades every song."

Cover recordings[edit]

Eric Burdon, Katie Melua, Till Brönner and Edo Zanki have recorded cover version's of "In My Secret Life". Luciana Souza recorded a version of "Here It Is" on her album The New Bossa Nova. Jonathan Richman recorded a version of "Here It Is" for his 2008 album Because Her Beauty Is Raw & Wild.

"A Thousand Kisses Deep" was used in the movie The Good Thief, in the 2010 French movie Le bruit des glaçons, and in Season 3 of the TV Series Veronica Mars. It was also covered by Chris Botti in his album of the same name in 2003. "That Don't Make It Junk" was covered by Widespread Panic three times in 2011.[18]

"Alexandra Leaving" was covered by Canadian singer Patricia O'Callaghan on her fifth solo album, Matador: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, in late 2011. It has also been covered by Anne Hills and Allan Olsen. "The Land of Plenty" was used in the 2004 movie Land of Plenty directed by Wim Wenders. German punk singer Nina Hagen covered "By the Rivers Dark" with German lyrics by Ton Steine Scherben-member Misha B. Schoeneberg as "Am dunklen Fluss" for the 2014 cover collection Poem - Leonard Cohen in deutscher Sprache.

Molly Johnson covered "Boogie Street" on her 2018 album Meaning to Tell Ya.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson.

1."In My Secret Life"4:55
2."A Thousand Kisses Deep"6:29
3."That Don't Make It Junk"4:28
4."Here It Is"4:18
5."Love Itself"5:26
6."By the Rivers Dark"5:20
7."Alexandra Leaving" (based on "The God Abandons Antony", a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy)5:25
8."You Have Loved Enough"5:41
9."Boogie Street"6:04
10."The Land of Plenty"4:35
Total length:52:47


  • Leonard Cohen – vocals, cover photography
  • Sharon Robinson – vocals, programming, arrangements
  • Bob Metzger – guitar on "In My Secret Life"
  • David Campbell – string arrangement on "A Thousand Kisses Deep"
  • Leanne Ungar – engineer
  • Nancy Donald – art direction



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[40] Platinum 50,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[41] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[43] Gold 120,000[42]
Hungary (MAHASZ)[44] Gold  
Ireland (IRMA)[45] Gold 7,500^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[46] Platinum 50,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[47] Platinum 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[48] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[49] Gold 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[50] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[51] Gold 100,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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  2. ^ Discogs - Ten New Songs 2001 US promo
  3. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart - 29 October 2001 (sales for the period 15.10.2001 - 21.10.2001)". OLiS. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  4. ^ de Lisle, Tim (September 17, 2004). "Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen's head?". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Discogs "Music On Vinyl profile and discography" Check |url= value (help).
  6. ^ Discogs "Ten New Songs 2009 Netherlands remastered vinyl, Barcode: 5099750120217" Check |url= value (help).
  7. ^ "Reviews for Ten New Songs by Leonard Cohen". Metacritic. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Ten New Songs – Leonard Cohen". AllMusic. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  9. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (October–November 2001). "Leonard Cohen: Ten New Songs". Blender (3). Archived from the original on August 20, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Browne, David (October 8, 2001). "Ten New Songs". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on May 1, 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Sweeting, Adam (October 5, 2001). "Leonard Cohen: Ten New Songs (Columbia)". The Guardian. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  12. ^ Mulvey, John (October 20, 2001). "Cohen, Leonard : Ten New Songs". NME. Archived from the original on November 14, 2001. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  13. ^ Leone, Dominique (November 4, 2001). "Leonard Cohen: Ten New Songs". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  14. ^ "Leonard Cohen: Ten New Songs". Q (183): 118. November 2001.
  15. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Leonard Cohen". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 176–77. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  16. ^ "Leonard Cohen: Ten New Songs". Uncut (55): 100. December 2001.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 16, 2001). "Consumer Guide: Unpatriotic?! Moi?". The Village Voice. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  18. ^ "Everyday Companion Online - That Don't Make It Junk". Everydaycompanion.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  19. ^ Bolanger, Joe (March 7, 2019). "Molly Johnson still has lots she's meaning to tell us". London Free Press.
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  42. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
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  44. ^ "Adatbázis – Arany- és platinalemezek – 2001" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ.
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  51. ^ "British album certifications – Leonard Cohlen – Ten New Songs". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 3, 2017.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Ten New Songs in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]