The Economist Names Leonard Cohen “A Man For Our Times” – Feb 25, 2012

It’s All About The Leonards

You gotta love it. In 2004, Leonard Cohen appeared to have capped a career of – well, let’s go with “suboptimal money management” – with a fiscal catastrophe: the misappropriation of his $5 million retirement fund by his longtime manager, leaving Cohen with only $150,000.1 This earned him much attention from the press, generating stories characterized by the cover of the August 22, 2005 Maclean’s, which paired his photo with the single-word title, “Devastated.”

Cut to today [date of original posting: Feb 24, 2012]. Last month, Leonard Cohen was nominated by the soberly astute Financial Times for “the job of post-financial crisis elderly sage,”2 going on to observe

As taken aback by his success as the rest of us, Cohen wasn’t trying to be the top dog. Mid-life-crisis proof, he wasn’t even trying to be cool. He was just trying to act his age.3


Now, the Canadian singer-songwriter is spotlighted in the February 25, 2012 issue of The Economist. The following excerpts are from the introductory and closing paragraphs of Enterprising Oldies by Adrian Wooldridge:

“A lazy bastard living in a suit” is Leonard Cohen’s description of himself in his new album, “Old Ideas”. Mr Cohen is certainly fond of wearing a suit, on and off stage. But lazy seems a bit harsh. He is 77, which is 12 years beyond the normal retirement age in Canada, where he was born. But there is no sign of his laying down his guitar. He spent 2008-10 on tour, performing on stage in Barcelona on his 75th birthday. “Old Ideas” has won widespread acclaim. Mr Cohen says he has written enough songs for another album. …

Here, Mr Cohen is a man for our times. In 2004 he faced financial ruin when he discovered that his manager, Kelley Lynch, had misappropriated most of his savings. He sued successfully but could not lay his hands on the money. So he had no choice but to go back to work. Mr Cohen told the New York Times that reconnecting with “living musicians” and “living audiences” had “warmed some part of my heart that had taken a chill”.

Both the Financial Times and The Economist articles are well worth reading in their entirety:

Bonus: Leonard Cohen Money Management Tip

Leonard Cohen does profess to have learned from his financial cataclysm. For example, Cohen, interviewed on the March 30, 2007 edition of “Først & sist” (”First & last”), the Norwegian talk show hosted by Fredrik Skavlan, commented on the event:4

Money has a way of disappearing if you don’t watch it very, very closely. That’s a certain wisdom I acquired. I wasn’t absolutely certain of this [before the loss], but now I am. It’s enough to put a dent in your mood.

[Responding to the host’s observation that Cohen seems “quite happy” despite having very little money following the loss:] Well, I don’t recommend this as a spiritual exercise…

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Feb 24, 2012 at


  1. Wikipedia []
  2. See heading, “Leonard Cohen In The Financial Times” at Must-Read Leonard Cohen Posts And Resources []
  3. Bow Down Before The Sage From Mt Baldy by Gautam Malkani. The Financial Times, January 27, 2012 [free registration required at the site] []
  4. See Leonard Cohen & Anjani Appear On TV Talk Show []

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