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How Leonard Cohen inspired Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner


Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, a creative with the unique ability to reinvent his approach to music with every release, has never been shy to reference the heavy influence of Leonard Cohen—especially when writing the band’s most recent album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. 

The album, which has saw the band score yet another number one record, resulted in sell-out tours worldwide and yet more critical acclaim. Turner’s lyricism on the new material sparked numerous debates about the change in style, what inspired it and how it has shaped the ever-evolving band.

“I suppose on the last Monkeys record, and even the record [The Last Shadow Puppets‘ ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’] I did just before this with Miles, there are songs that are about what they’re about, you know?” Turner said previously. “Like ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ or whatever, it starts and ends with here,” Turner continued.

“Maybe that thing spills onto some of the other tracks or the tone of that, but I think I became less concerned on this album [with] compartmentalising every idea to the point where each song became this episode that starts and ends in three minutes,” he added. “I feel like I allowed me sen to spread these ideas across this while record, but make them all pull in the same direction.”

The conversation moved on to Turner’s lyrics directly. Asked how he felt about people taking snippets of his words and leaving out the context, Turner replied citing Cohen: “I think saw Leonard Cohen talking about writing and that idea if you pull out one thing from one his songs, you’re gonna be like, ‘What is he on about?’ But in the context of everything, I feel like you know exactly where he’s coming from, especially with a writer like him – you’re right there with him as you listen to a song of his in its entirety or a record.

“Hearing him talk about that idea of pulling one thing out and it not making much sense is definitely something that spurred me on to approaching this record in that way and not be so concerned with making the thing be about whatever it’s about.”

For the keen followers of Turner and his creative exploits, his admiration for the Canadian will not come as much of a surprise considering that his side project, The Last Shadow Puppets, famously released a cover fo Cohen’s song ‘Is This What You Wanted’ which you can stream, below.