Recent Songs

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Recent Songs
Studio album by Leonard Cohen
Released September 27, 1979
Recorded April - May 1979 at A&M Studios, Hollywood
Genre Folk
Length 52:55
Label Columbia
Producer Leonard Cohen, Henry Lewy
Leonard Cohen chronology
Death of a Ladies' Man
Recent Songs
Various Positions

Recent Songs is the sixth studio album by Leonard Cohen, released in 1979. Produced by Leonard Cohen and Henry Lewy, it was a return to Cohen's acoustic folk music after the Phil Spector experimentation of Death of a Ladies' Man, but now with many jazz and Oriental influences.

The album included Gypsy violin player Raffi Hakopian, Armenian oud player (located in Los Angeles) John Bilezikjian and even a Mexican Mariachi band. Long-time Cohen collaborator Jennifer Warnes appeared prominently in vocal tracks. Members of the band Passenger, whom Cohen met through Joni Mitchell, played on four of the songs. They also served as his tour band later that year and in 1980. Mitchell had also introduced Cohen to her regular sound engineer Henry Lewy, who produced Recent Songs. Garth Hudson of The Band also appeared on the album. The painting of Cohen on the album cover is by the artist Dianne Lawrence. [1]

Track notes[edit]

"Came So Far for Beauty" seems to be an unaltered outtake from the unfinished 1975 album Songs for Rebecca (the horns may have been added later), which also included early versions of "The Traitor" and "The Smokey Life" (then with music by John Lissauer).[citation needed]

"Ballad of the Absent Mare"'s metaphoric lyrics are based on the twelfth-century Ten Bulls (or Ten Ox-herding Pictures). The song has been covered by several artists, notably Emmylou Harris on the album Cowgirl's Prayer (as "Ballad of a Runaway Horse") and Perla Batalla feat. David Hidalgo on the album Bird on the Wire: the Songs of Leonard Cohen.

Three outtakes are known, "The Faith", "Misty Blue" (by Bobby Montgomery), and a studio recording of "Do I Have to Dance All Night", a live version of which was released as a single in 1976. Cohen wanted to include "Misty Blue"/"Do I Have to Dance All Night" as a free bonus single with the LP, but Columbia rejected the idea.[citation needed]

Cohen's 2004 song "The Faith" is based on the same folk tune as "Un Canadien errant" (which was covered on Recent Songs), and Cohen's collaborator Anjani Thomas acknowledged in a 2005 interview (Old Ideas: Notes on Dear Heather) that he used an alternate 1979 track for "Un Canadien errant", adding new vocal line with completely new lyrics, for his 2004 album Dear Heather.

Cover versions[edit]

Martha Wainwright performs a cover version of the song "The Traitor" in the tribute film Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man. Nana Mouskouri has covered the song on several albums (Song for Liberty, Vivre Avec Toi, I'll Remember You, The Rose) and also sung the song in translation, for instance as "Das Fest" on her German language album Ich hab gelacht, ich hab geweint.

The Canadian singer Patricia O'Callaghan performs covers of "The Window", "The Gypsy's Wife" and "The Smokey Life" on her fifth solo album Matador: The Songs of Leonard Cohen released in 2012.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars link
Robert Christgau (B) link
Rolling Stone (mixed) link

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Leonard Cohen, except where noted.

Side one[edit]

  1. "The Guests" - 6:40
  2. "Humbled in Love" - 5:15
  3. "The Window" - 5:56
  4. "Came So Far for Beauty" (Cohen, John Lissauer) - 4:04
  5. "The Lost Canadian (Un Canadien errant)" (Traditional, Antoine Gérin-Lajoie) - 4:42

Side two[edit]

  1. "The Traitor" - 6:16
  2. "Our Lady of Solitude" - 3:13
  3. "The Gypsy's Wife" - 5:13
  4. "The Smokey Life" - 5:19
  5. "Ballad of the Absent Mare" - 6:26


  1. ^ Artist Website with Quote from L. Cohen[1]

External links[edit]