Discussing manhood and music with Adam Cohen

After quitting the music biz five years ago, Adam Cohen is back with Like A Man – an album that is not only representative of him giving music a second chance, but a tribute to his last name. Yes, Adam is the son of Canadian music legend Leonard Cohen and after years of trying to be anything but his father, he decided it was time to embrace his roots; his latest album a collection of 10 songs that are both reminiscent of Leonard’s classic recordings and representative of Adam’s intimate songwriting and musical talent.  

You’ve said Like A Man is you finally embracing your family name. What made you decide to take this approach with the album? It was just time to be great, or at least try to be; “Great men undertake great things because they are great, and fools because they think them easy.” I was closer to a being a fool my whole life in music, more interested in being successful than good. More preoccupied with participating in the feast and glamour of the music business then working hard to show myself in true colors and carving out a place for myself among (or near) the greats that inspired me. I just wasn’t that great, so I never even attempted to be so.

How would you compare the musician you were when you began your career to the musician you are now? I’m lucky to have been given a new lease on music in my life; a chance to correct the impression some may have come to regarding what I did, who I was. I’m not embarrassed by my past, but I’m more eager than ever to show my present, and more hopeful about my future.

What was the moment when you decided you were going to make a career out of music? It feels like music chose me, or perhaps I just wasn’t chosen by anything else. I went the only place I felt it was natural, the only place I felt called. It was less of a decision than a response to a calling, a loud, clear calling from a voice within and without, that I’ve heard since very, very little, no doubt because of the family I grew up in.

What and who inspires you? The greats inspire me—the greats of music, of film, of novels, of poetry, of sports. Even a good commercial can inspire me. What I do with that inspiration is a different story, sometimes all too little, sometimes (if I’m lucky) I’ll get a good tune out of it.

Favorites of the past: Serge Gainsbourg, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, Randy Newman, Marvin Gaye, J.S. Bach, Prince.

Favorites of the present: Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, Ryan Adams, James Blake, Damian Rice, Jay-Z.  

This album has a very romantic feel to it – what is romance to you? A demonstration of affection for a loved one, big or small, successful or not. 

What are some of your favourite cities to perform in? I don’t have a favorite place to perform, only good circumstances make for a good show, and that’s all I want, good people, well attended venues, and being on stage with talent the likes of which I’m lucky to have had, many times.  

When it comes to songwriting, do lyrics tend to just come to you or is it more consciously done? Or both? I work hard and long to get the lyric right. It’s not easy for me, whilst the music comes quickly. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Work harder than you want to, much harder, when you want to give up; that’s where the real work begins.  

For more on Adam Cohen, check out his website

~ Caitlyn Holroyd

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