Happy 80th Birthday, Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen performs on stage at Leeds Arena on September 7, 2013 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images)

Leonard Cohen is 80 this week (Sept. 21, 2014) and he’s still our man, maybe more than ever.

“Our leading poet of love, wisdom, and sorrow,” wrote Rolling Stone a few days ago, “and according to the lyrics of Nirvana’s ‘Pennyroyal Tea,’ the guiding spirit in Kurt Cobain’s afterworld.”

Cohen’s always been a guiding spirit and we can be grateful that he’s guiding us through old age with his usual grace, wisdom and insight.

His 23rd album, Popular Problems, will be released this week.

Like so many seniors, Cohen is working because he has to, because he needs the money. He faced financial ruin because his manager turned out to be a crook.

And so he put himself out there again, hoping he wasn’t too old to still be Leonard Cohen.

He’s taught us so much about life and love and now he’s taught us that you’re never too old to start over, to be who you are, and to put yourself out there and risk the reaction.

The final track of Popular Problems is “You Got Me Singing” and it goes like this:

“The bulletin is: ‘You got me singing even though the world is gone/ You got me thinking I’d like to carry on.’”

Of all the Cohenisms that tug at you and stay with you, the one that hits me where it matters came a couple of days ago in a pre-birthday interview with London’s Telegraph.

Because Popular Problems deals with the issues in the world, the interviewer asked, “Can a song ever really offer solutions to political problems.”

Cohen replied, “I think the song itself is a kind of solution.”

It’s Cohen’s birthday but, in true guiding spirit, he’s given us a gift: The song is the solution.