New Skin for the Old Ceremony, Leonard Cohen's fourth album released in 1974. marks a new stage in Cohen's career. On this album, with a new producer in John Lissauer, he breaks away from the spare, guitar-driven folk-poetry of his first four albums and begins to experiment with a more orchestrated, more upbeat sound. This was a shock for many of his followers; following a characteristic pattern for Cohen's work it failed to trouble the album charts either in the US or his native Canada but also it was only a modest success in Britain. Unlike any of its predecessors it failed to make the top 20 albums. Few would count it as one of his greatest works and it marks the beginning of a lean period for him but it contains seeds which will be cultivated more fruitfully in later years and time has been kind to it.
- "Is This What You Wanted" - 4:13
- "Chelsea Hotel #2" - 3:06
- "Lover Lover Lover" - 3:19
- "Field Commander Cohen" - 3:59
- "Why Don't You Try" - 3:50
- "There Is A War" - 2:59
- "A Singer Must Die" - 3:17
- "I Tried To Leave You" - 2:40
- "Who By Fire" - 2:33
- "Take This Longing" - 4:06
- "Leaving Green Sleeves" - 2:38
Why Don't You Trope?:
- Alliterative Title: "Is This What You Wanted", "Field Commander Cohen"
- All Psychology Is Freudian:
You were the sensitive womanI was the very reverend FreudYou were the manual orgasmI was the dirty little boy
- "Is This What You Wanted"
- Carl Jung variant: the cover image, which is taken from an old alchemical text, was used by Jung to illustrate the union of psychic opposites in the consciousness of the enlightened saint.
- As the Good Book Says...
You were Jesus Christ my Lord, I was the money lender
- "Is This What You Wanted"
- "Who By Fire" is based on a Jewish prayer, Unetanneh Tokef.
- Broken Record:
Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me
- "Lover Lover Lover", and not just the title
Why don't you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burdenWhy don't you come on back to the war, let's all get evenWhy don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking?
- "There Is A War"
- Character Title: "Field Commander Cohen"
- Intercourse with You: A lot of Cohen songs are concerned with sex but are wrapped in symbolism. "Chelsea Hotel #2" goes straight to the point, describing an encounter with Janis Joplin in New York's best-known bohemian hotel.I remember you well in the Chelsea HotelYou were talking so brave and so sweetGiving me head on the unmade bedWhile the limousines wait in the street
- New Sound Album: This album was a departure from the spare, acoustic guitar-driven songs of his first three albums. It adopted more of a rock approach with rich orchestration. It didn't go down well with his fans at the time but has survived the test of time and looks forward to his more successful albums of the 1980s.
- Special Guest: Janis Ian shares the vocals on "Who By Fire"
- Product Placement: "Is This What You Wanted"You were KY Jelly, I was Vaseline.
- Questioning Title?: "Is This What You Wanted?" and "Why Don't You Try?"
You told me again you preferred handsome menbut for me you would make an exception
- "Chelsea Hotel #2"
You keepers of truth, you guardians of beautyYour vision is right, my vision is wrongI'm sorry for smudging the air with my song
- "A Singer Must Die"
The patron saint of envy and the grocer of despairWorking for the Yankee Dollar
- "Field Commander Cohen" alludes to The Andrews Sisters song "Rum and Coca Cola"
- "Leaving Green Sleeves" is a reworking of the fifteenth-century song Music/Greensleeves
- Singer Name Drop: "Field Commander Cohen"
- Stylistic Suck: "Leaving Green Sleeves"
- Un-Installment: "Chelsea Hotel #2". There was a "Chelsea Hotel", co-written by Cohen and Ron Cornelius but only ever performed in concert and never committed to disc.