And so, at last, “I’m in the family business for real,” he says. “I’m not the rightful successor in the conventional understanding, because my father is an island. But I’m the closest little town on the mainland.” At Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side last week, again precisely fashionable in tight jeans, scarf, and shawl-neck cardigan, he plays through much of Like a Man with a beatific smirk. He jokes that “for those of you who don’t know, I’m the son of a rather famous Canadian singer I’m rather proud of—Celine Dion.” He dedicates a song about the end of the world to his son—“a kind of message in a bottle in case the shit hits the fan.” He sings, with delicate dolorousness: “If the countdown to the end has just begun … thank you for being so beautiful.”
And then he does what he probably always avoided on purpose: “For those of you who came with a certain morbid curiosity …” he jokes, as he begins to strum the familiar opening notes of the famous Leonard Cohen song “So Long, Marianne.” There is something transporting about hearing him sing it: He sounds like his father used to, but—and Leonard has an album out this year, too, called Old Ideas—doesn’t any longer. Adam Cohen even stops playing his guitar to let the audience chant, unaccompanied: “Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began / To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.”
And he’s reminded—again—that he’ll never not be his father’s son.