Releasing a new album near his 80th birthday, Leonard Cohen cheekily addresses his age in the very first song, intoning, "It's not because I'm old ... I always liked it slow."
The legendary poet and songwriter nonetheless glides confidently through a gamut of themes and styles on the album "Popular Problems," ruminating in his husky and undiminished voice on war, loss and his own spiritual odyssey.
The Canadian-born talent turned 80 yesterday, two days before the release of "Popular Problems." But Cohen said that the timing of his 13th studio album -- his first since 2012 that comes decades after classic songs such as "Hallelujah" and "So Long, Marianne" -- was coincidental.
Cohen, who is concerned about world affairs, has long mourned bloodshed in songs such as the Vietnam War-era "Story of Isaac." He has pleaded for peace in the Middle East but has also defied calls to boycott Israel.
Elsewhere on the new album, Cohen alludes to war and genocide -- and, incongruously, "all my bad reviews" -- and says of them with dark irony, "Lord, it's almost like the blues."
Cohen, who struggled for years with depression, said that he has benefited from the itinerant life of touring.
"Getting back on the road has improved my mood considerably because I was never very good at civilian life," he said at the New York club.
Asked about his plans as an octogenarian, Cohen said, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that he had long intended to resume smoking at age 80, divulging his craving for a strong Greek or Turkish cigarette.