Recording Studios: In 1974, Cohen returned to studio recordings with New Skin for the Old Ceremony, which while maintaining Cohen’s characteristically downbeat mood also featured fuller arrangements than his previous albums. Among the standout tracks from this offering are “Who by Fire,” “Take This Longing” and “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” about a romantic encounter that Cohen once had with singer Janis Joplin. Cohen toured in support of New Skin before releasing a 1975 best-of album and hitting the road once again, enjoying the adoration of a devoted core of fans, if not the commercial success that his label might have hoped for.
Recording Studios: Failures
But if Columbia was expecting different results with his next album, they were to be disappointed, as would be his fans and, indeed, Cohen himself. Working with legendary and notoriously troubled producer Phil Spector, Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man was problematic from the start, with Spector’s erratic behavior culminating in him holding a gun to Cohen’s head. Spector also mixed the recording without Cohen’s input, resulting in the overblown end product that Cohen himself has described as “grotesque” and identified as his least favorite album. Perhaps hoping to right his ship, the following year Cohen released the similarly titled collection of poetry and prose Death of a Lady’s Man, followed by 1979’s Recent Songs, which, although it saw Cohen return to the sparser arrangements of his earlier work, failed to perform well commercially.
Recording Studios: Hiatus
After a five-year hiatus, during which Cohen released no new material, he made up for lost time in 1984 with the publication of the poetry collection Book of Mercy and the album Various Positions, both of which focus more specifically on themes of spirituality, most notably on the song “Hallelujah.” Counted among Cohen’s best-known, best-loved and most-often-performed songs of all time, “Hallelujah” has been covered by hundreds of artists since, including Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright. The album, however, failed to gain much recognition, and it would be another five years before Cohen would release anything new.