Sharon Robinson: The Essence of Our Lives
AAJ: What is the difference between writing for oneself and for others?
SR: When writing for other artists, you're trying to understand who they are and what kind of statement they might make next. When writing with other artists, you're hopefully helping them realize their vision. When writing for yourself, you want to take the thinking out of it so that your own voice can find its way.
AAJ: Can you define what makes a song good? Why do you think that some songs last, both musically and lyrically?
SR: It's some kind of mystical math that makes a great song. It's a marriage of words and phrases, melody, rhythm, a certain emotion created by the chord changes and the overall idea that has to work. I think even the greatest writers don't take it for granted. But I think that's part of the key: understanding that you can't think your way into a good song. You have to trick it into being by showing up with all the avenues open.
AAJ: Are songs an act of discovery for you?
SR: Yes, when I allow them to be. In other words, like I said before, when I'm not thinking too much about who I am and what I should be saying.
AAJ: Last year you went on your first solo tour. What was it like? Did you enjoy the experience?
SR: I really had a great time. The audiences were so wonderful. I was deeply moved by everyone's response to my show and the songs. I really appreciate everyone coming out. I would say it was a success and I'm very much looking forward to the next time.
AAJ: During the tour you also performed songs from your forthcoming new record. There was an announcement that the new record will be out this spring.
SR: It's taken longer than I expected to get an album done, so I'm going to release part of it as an EP before I go back out on tour with Leonard. It will mostly be comprised of the new songs I did in my show.
AAJ: Do you have any news regarding a release date?
SR: I'll do a digital release in August .
AAJ: What sort of show can fans expect from Cohen's forthcoming tour?
SR: We're putting together what I think will be a great show. We will of course do many of the favorites, plus songs from Old Ideas and songs from his catalog. In addition to the lineup from before, we've added a wonderful violinist named Alex Bubiltchi, and Mitch Watkins, whom you know from the '79 and '80 tours, will be on guitar this time. We're in rehearsals now, and looking forward to August with a lot of excitement.
Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas (Columbia, 2012)
Leonard Cohen, Songs from the Road (Columbia, 2010)
Leonard Cohen, Live in London (Columbia, 2009)
Sharon Robinson Everybody Knows (Freeworld Records, 2008)
Leonard Cohen, Dear Heather (Columbia, 2004)
Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs (Columbia, 2001)
All Photos: Greg Gold