On Old Ideas, Cohen sang of wanting to write “a manual for living with defeat.” Cohen says:
I wish I could really come up with something ’cos we are all really living with defeat and failure and disappointment and bewilderment, these dark forces that modify our lives. Everyone is engaged in a mighty struggle for self-respect, meaning and significance. The first step would be to recognise that your struggle and your suffering is the same as everyone else’s. I think that’s the beginning of a responsible life. Otherwise we are in a continual savage battle with each other with no possible solution, political, social or spiritual.