Would it be possible to do anything like this album today, give it wide distribution, and have it become as legendary as this album is?
While I absolutely love the album, I found myself thinking that it was pretty odd. Extremely minimalist. No drums, very basic bass, an acoustic guitar played competently at best, and not a particularly talented singer. Plus, the production is rather flat and frankly kind of crappy. Cohen’s strength is definitely his ingenious lyrics, not in his playing or singing.
Very, very highly recommended, although I fear it will appeal to a smaller audience today, as used to crystal clear production as we are.
Didn’t Cohen get his record deal by singing ‘Suzanne’ throught the phone with a record company guy at the other end…?
Many, many artists and groups at the time (say '65 to '75) didn’t make any money to the record company until their second or third or even fourth record.
Answering you question (being a huge Cohen fan myself): Since Cohen was a bit of a renowned poet at the time, he might have been given a chance to-day too. But if he was a nobody from Montreal…?, hardly.
In a way, perhaps things haven’t changed that much…?
I was listening to “The Partisan” the other day and thought “OMG, it’s the model for half of Elliott Smith’s career!” The best half, of course, and all due, loving respect to the late Mr Smith. So if you’re looking for something more recent along those lines. . .
If Leonard Cohen recorded Songs From a Room today I think the playing and production would be in line with what similar artists are doing today. As far as production and sound quality are concerned he seems to adapt to whatever the current practices are.
As for distribution, I imagine he’d get played most often on college and public radio and if people like it, they’d go grab it off of iTunes or wherever. Maybe let some songs be on some movie soundtracks like he’s done. As for legend-hood, will people have changed so much in 25 years that they can’t appreciate it? I’d like to think not.
Agreed. If this album has sold 100,000 copies to date, I’d be surprised. No knock on its quality, I dig it, but Leonard Cohen is as well known to mass audiences as Nick Drake, Tom Rush, Tim Rose and Fred Neil, meaning not at all.
Today there are much weirder albums being released daily- its more surprising it was released back then.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” did okay, didn’t it - but its ongoing reputation may owe something to the rabid cult of journalists who rave about it and who would rave if Springsteen recorded himself pissing in a bucket.
Didn’t Beck also make some albums with Portastudios and home-studio jiggery-pokery?
I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. What I meant was he seems to go with whatever sound and production styles are in vogue at the time he makes an album - more or less. His 60’s albums sound like '60s albums, his 80s albums sound like '80s albums, and his '00s albums sound fairly current. If he came along today he wouldn’t go for a retro sound and try to make Songs From a Room sound like it was recorded in the '60s. At least I don’t think so.